On the last night of the Dick’s Run and the end of the epic 2017 summer tour, Phish graciously offered us a free webcast so everyone that desired could share in the groove. During Meatstick, I was taking a couple of screenshots, as I sometimes do to create silly content down the line (weird but true). While I was intently focused on catching Trey in the midst of the glory that is the Meatstick Dance, another bright soul popped upon the screen like sunshine after stormy weather. I caught the above photo of this Phan, and quickly worked up a meme in her honor. Since then, she has been collectively dubbed #MeatstickGirl by Phans across Phish nation, as she added a bit of extra glitter to an otherwise energetic rendition of the tune. She has been honored far and wide across the interweb these past days, and deserves every bit of recognition.
Meatstick Girl was the highlight of couch tour for many that evening – Dazzling us with her spot-on execution of the dance, and her euphoric arm pump and freestyle moves, as Trey ripped into a stupendous solo after the choreographed caper was over. She reminded us that at a show we’re all players in the band, as the music plays us. Yet this is far from the first time an enraptured entity from the crowd has gained notoriety through a Phish webcast. As the term “webcast famous” is entering the lexicon of more and more Phans, Meatstick Girl will no doubt go down in the upper echelon of the webcast hall of fame. From the tuned in Nicholas Peter Orr, dubbed #Hoodboy, to the ethereal Nathan Tobey, knighted #StashGuy, and lest not forget the happiest man at The Baker’s Dozen (don’t have a name for this delighted dude), christened #CaspianGuy. All these folks are falling prey to the whims of the webcast gods, and their lives as Phans have been irrevocably altered, certainly in some ways, after their dance with simulcast serendipity.
Is this a good thing, bad thing, or does it fall somewhere in between? Luckily for us, Meatstick Girl has arisen out of the woodwork, and affably accepted a Stand For Jam invitation to participate in a good old-fashioned Question & Answer session. Initially I provided her with ten questions, certainly covering her newfound notoriety, but also encouraging her to dive deep on other issues concerning all things Phish. Then I came up with one last question, turning this epic Q&A all the way up to eleven.
The full complete Meatstick Girl - Fast forward to 2:26 for the part that made her webcast famous! Thanks to Joel Mazur & Mike Gregory for helping to curate this video!
Introducing (drum roll)………….Heather Craig! Heather wanted to take her time with these questions, felt empowered by the platform, and simply did not want to phone it in. Upon receiving her answers, she commented that “these questions struck many chords with [her] and [her] internal relationship with this magnificent music” – The spirit with which she attacked these queries and her articulately animated answers m̶e̶a̶t̶ mete that out…
Stand For Jam (SFJ): How does if feel to be webcast famous? Did you have any sense the camera was trained on you at that moment?
Heather Craig (HC): I had no idea the camera was on me, but when you’re down there, you always know there’s a possibility of being seen. I think that’s one of the great things Phish gives us all – the ability to be truly ourselves even when presented with the possibility of being observed by hundreds of thousands, whether it’s on the webcast or in the thick of the crowd. What we’re talking about is one of the most terrifying feelings – putting your freest self out into the world without any sort of reassurance of being accepted, but I feel that as long as you’re accepting of yourself, you’re open for whatever the moment asks of you. There’s this internal rhetorical question constantly being asked when I’m at shows: Can you let go of everything that’s holding you back and simply be with us right here for this small moment in time?
SFJ: With Hoodboy, Stash Guy, Caspian Guy, and now you, Meatstick Girl, how do you feel about Phans picking up on these webcast moments, making memes and making folks Phish famous? Is this an invasion of privacy? Where do you think the line should be drawn or if there should be a line at all?
HC: “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together”
I feel if happiness comes from making these memes, I’m all about it! Once the moment was over, it became etched in time and unchangeable. It’s no longer who I am – it’s who I was, a past moment. I personally don’t feel that it is an invasion of privacy. If I were a more reserved person who still wanted to be close to the source within the first 5 rows of the stage, I feel actions could be taken to ensure you don’t end up on the screen. One way could be to walk up before the show starts and introduce yourself to the staff and ask them nicely to not record you, or you could always wear a hat or get silly and rock a handmade mask to cover your face. If you don’t mind being further from the stage, then usually you can have a more private experience.
SFJ: How many Meatsticks have you experienced live? When was your first Meatstick? What does it take to master the Meatstick, as you have done? What’s your secret?
HC: I’ve experienced Meatstick live 9 times (9 times? 9 times.) *Bueller, Bueller* 😛 My first one was at Dick’s 8/31/12, when they spelled Fuck Your Face, an unbelievable show to recall! Whew! Anyway, I was shown the dance by a friend but never practiced it before going to the show. I remember standing in the crowd, around Page Side soundboard area, and I was singing along and a guy next to me says, “Nice! You know the Japanese lyrics, but do you know the dance?!” I think he then tried to teach me, but suffice to say, we both needed practice. Fast forward through a few years of taking out the Meatstick to Grand Prairie 10/25/16 where I followed Mike’s choreography, and from that moment the Meatstick dance became a movement my body would know how to recreate. I’m a student who has a great teacher. The secret to many things is silliness, and surrender truly is the trick. Phish has given me that insight, and I try to hold on (but never too tight) to that intention every time I walk away from one of their shows. So lighten up, and bury the Meatstick! 🙂
SFJ: In that moment, what were you thinking, if anything at all? Phish obviously brings you immense joy – What is it about this band and community that takes you to that point of euphoria?
HC: What I’m concentrating on at Phish shows is connectivity – less of a single thought and more of an emptying of mind, expectation, restraint, and turning my attention to everything I can soak up out of every little moment. Becoming a sponge or empty vessel – I let the music course through me, allowing it to undo any tensions I have mentally, physically, or emotionally. They’re my connection to source, a connection to my Self. Each passing year we all undergo trauma to the mind, body, and soul – kinks that need to be worked out through our own preferred method, and Phish is my way of release. The community of Phans is, of course, a beautiful support system as well that feeds my flame. I’ve gone to many shows alone and have felt completely at home, safe, and loved in a crowd of strangers. To then dance with them for 3 hours forms a bond that is hard to match elsewhere. Then to have all these people you’ve met and befriended across the nation, it’s like starting a fire from tinder pieces.
Alpine 2015, Night Two, Lot. The Harry Ladies (They really wanted a Harry Hood that night, and in their excited state kept saying "Haaaaarryyyy, Haaaarrrryyy!" in Heather's ear)
SFJ: When, where, and how did your love affair with Phish start?
HC: A friend gave me a copy of Island Tour ’98 and said with a smile, “To get you hooked.” Not thinking much of it, I gave it a listen on my way to work. 4/2/98 Stash 13:22 made my eyes water and ears fall in love. The contrast of the chaos to the bliss was too easy for me to relate to. I didn’t want to leave my car. I didn’t want to go in to work, and I like my job! I wanted to sit there and listen to them for another moment…and another…and another… I was enchanted. After that, I listened to everything I could get my hands on – live and recorded – and started attending shows as often as possible. “Was it for this my life I sought?” ?
SFJ: As a community, I’d say we’re nine parts love & light, and one-part stuff that’s troubling. Whether from the nitrous scene, to tarpers, GA etiquette, or the rising awareness of female Phan harassment, as a Phan yourself, is there any particular trend that concerns you in the Phishaverse today? Any ideas on how to rectify the issue(s), if there’s any issue(s) at all?
HC: This is an unfolding view of what happens when people are set free. It’s difficult to find the balance when people have different moral codes within that freedom. Without paying close attention, greed, overindulgence, and disrespect of all kinds seeps its way in through unseen cracks and decides to stick around for a while beleaguering equilibrium. What each of us can do to rectify these happenings is to observe the choices we each make and ask our freest selves within us if this is the environment we are truly wanting to foster. In regards to sexual harassment at shows, when it involves another person’s safety and comfort, being courageous and speaking up when we see disrespectful behavior around us is a huge step we can take and a responsibility we all have. We can’t force a change, all we can do is lead by example towards a more healthy, loving, and wholesome community.
SFJ: What’s your favorite thing about Phish?
HC: My favorite thing about Phish is how they bring hundreds of thousands of people together for a live experience and how they concentrate our attention for extended periods of time. For many of us, they are a form of meditation to guide us to our individual interpretation of freedom and happiness, so we can take that freedom and happiness and spread it around when we leave the shows. We take them and their lessons with us, that is an absolutely incredible accomplishment! It’s how minds are opened, it’s how change becomes workable.
SFJ: If you could ask one band member one question, who and what would it be?
HC: Trey, may I live in your pocket?
Seriously though, the band has been answering many of my unspoken questions since I began to pay attention – most of the questions came in forms I wouldn’t know how to pose succinctly or verbally, but I feel there’s already a healthy conversation that happens between artist and audience/audience member.
Heather at Dick's '16 - Swingin' Dick's - rocking super appropriate head gear! - Photo Credit: Michael Howard
SFJ: Request time: Name a song you’ve been chasing, but have never gotten?
HC: Bye Bye Foot or Shafty. There are so many I haven’t caught yet that I would love to hear live, but I know each one comes in its own time and place and if you go around expecting and wishing, you may miss many magical moments being gifted to you right then.
SFJ: If you could sum up this whole Meatstick Girl experience in three words and/or a phrase, what would they be?
Three words: “Shocks my brain!”
Phrase: After Meatstick, you chop wood and carry water.
SFJ: Any causes or charities close to your heart that you’d like to give a shout out?
So other than the happenstance of being caught on camera, what makes Meatstick Girl and her webcast cohorts so unique? I believe we see ourselves in these isolated moments, and in turn make these folks Phish famous to celebrate US! For those that get it, we have all been enraptured in the frenzied excitement of a Meatstick Girl moment, or worn the face of stupefied awe while a song was peaking, just like Hood Boy. Heather framed it best when she quoted The Beatles verse above – “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.” Trey told us “The Walrus was Jimmy,” yet perhaps he was really saying the Walrus is us all!
Before she was Meatstick Girl - Heather in all her glory soaking in the beauty that is TAB at Red Rocks - 5/31/17 - Photo Credit: Miles Chrisinger
Thank you to Heather Craig, aka Meatstick Girl, for wholeheartedly throwing yourself into this Q&A! You’ve not only awed us with your dancing, but now your prose.
Answers by Heather Craig, Questions & Paragraphs by Russell S. Glowatz
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