The Love is in The Journey, and the Juice Was Worth the Squeeze
by Russell S. Glowatz
It all began with a chance encounter with Sam Cutler at the Joe Russo’s Almost Dead show on July 21, 2017. An epic weekend was sprawled out before me, beginning with JRAD, before catapulting head first into The Baker’s Dozen on night two – strawberry donut night. Sam was extremely gracious – we discussed his part in Long Strange Trip, and he took a moment to take a photograph. I was enamored by the meeting, and thought it to be a good omen setting out upon my musical journey. Little did I know that only a few days later, Sam would head to a Phish show as well, proceeding to sodomize our favorite band in a scathing Facebook review.
The encounter and subsequent “eff you” he laid out in glorious fashion on the internet, highlights the intricate web that’s often weaved when seeing Phish. That photo of us was first a point of pride, yet quickly became a moment of chagrin before swiftly transcending into the hilarious heirloom it currently remains. It’s a mix of kismet and karma, with a dash of humor, and the joke is always on us! Over the course of The Baker’s Dozen, Phish enthralled us with what they do best – a fusion of supreme song, epic jams, and harmonious humor running the gamut from donut themes, to transcendent “Lawn Boy” improvisation. As a clan we pick up on the synchronicity and jocularity, throw it back in the bands face, only for them to flip it back on us.
Recently laid off, setting out upon the world of donuts was going to be a frugal affair by necessity. Budget and logistics permitting, I would be lucky to attend two of these shows – maybe three if the donut-shaped universe was on my side. Little did I know that when all was said and done, I’d have the pleasure to experience seven glorious Baker’s Dozen performances in person, with a few more on the couch to boot – and through all of this, I still had a few bucks in the bank at the end of session. It was the most pleasant surprise, and served as a stupendous silver lining atop of my newfound unemployment.
Perched at my seat in the riser section for night two, my first foray into a world that runs on dunkin’, a Phan walked by and handed me a fresh pack of pocket tissues – He said “You’re gonna need these bro – You’re gonna cry tonight!” While tears never materialized (until “On The Road Again” of course) , I certainly cried “Joy” on the inside, and this portable pack of tissues came in handy for the entirety of the run. Every night I carried those tissues in my pocket, and nearly every night they were used by myself or a Phan in need nearby. And when the mid-run Baker’s Dozen wook flu hit me like a bat out of hell, the tissues were there to soothe my soul. Thank you tissue man, not only for gifting me extremely handy show gear, but for reminding me that with the right attitude, you will always get what you need when you need it, if you give what you can when you can.
The law of attraction on steroids is often what many experience at shows and festivals, and this small yet relevant tissue saga serves to highlight that phenomenon. Little karmic anomalies dotted my whole run at YEMSG, from buying a bar stool ticket by accident on Jam night (turned out to be the best mistake ever!) to getting a miracle ticket on Powder night. That miracle ticket led me to taking in a show with one of my oldest friends – we haven’t been at Phish together since Jones Beach on the reunion tour, so it was a special moment to say the least – we partied like it was 2009. Showing up on Maple night with the expectation of a Jerry song (since it was his 75th birthday) – and getting a Drums & Space nod mid “46 Days” – plus a “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” encore instead – reminded me to never have expectations at a Phish show. When I showed up with zero expectations the next night to Holes, I was rewarded with one of the greatest shows of my lifetime. With positivity and a heightened karmic awareness, synchronicity is boundless – and as a collective we achieved something otherworldly at The Baker’s Dozen – not everyone in the building felt it – yet most did – Lift off!
When it comes down to it, we all know it’s more than just a show, just a run, or just a festival – this is a community, our community, a lifestyle we choose to live and love. The Baker’s Dozen embodied the goodness that the Phish community offers in the most magnificent way. We laughed, we danced, we cried, we sang. We were stupefied, awestruck, amazed, and blazed. We made new phriends, met up with old compatriots, and ran into folks we never thought we’d see again. We tried new things, like Section 119 Spicy Chicken Sandwiches, or “Strawberry Letter 23” – And we basked in the familiarity of old things, like a favorite Phish t-shirt, Trey’s spaced guitar face, and the Meatstick Dance. This was more than a residency of shows – this was a fleeting love affair with a band beyond description and its eclectic followers. The feeling will certainly be revisited at shows in the future, yet it will be different by then – a different time, a different space, a different energy.
If one could bottle the dynamism of The Baker’s Dozen and distribute it far and wide, it wouldn’t be The Baker’s Dozen anymore. Just like everyone that experienced The Great Went, Big Cypress, Lemonwheel, or IT, this run slipped through our fingers as quickly as it arrived – and that’s the beauty of it! For a meteoric moment in time we experienced a flash in a pan, so bright, so beautiful, so full of boundless love, we’ll take memories of it with us through the rest of our existence. Now it lives in our photographs, videos, the soundboards, and our collective consciousness for eternity. This was a redefining run for Phish – and for me – an array of events that has catapulted my life and creative sensibilities in a new direction. All these weeks later, with a New Year’s extravaganza on the horizon, I’m still buzzing, as I’m sure are many of you.
Love, light, and good vibrations to you all. To the countless new phriends I made at The Dozen, until we meet again – see you for another Garden New Year’s in a few months. Our trip is short to YEMSG reprise – Seventeen in Seventeen! “When you bait the hook with your heart, the [Phish] will always bite.”
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