- Download the soundtrack to 7/10/1992 HORDE:
- or just a sampler via minimix
- Don't forget Panic 7/9/1997: part 1 part 2 part 3
This was a big one. I mean, they're all pretty good, or I wouldn't be wasting time blathering on about 'em like this, but really this one may be the granddaddy of them all. The moment where I can go back and pinpoint the true onset of my little live music "problem" -- where the show itself became the drug and the music the big enabler.
It started off innocently enough: a day off from job at summer camp, a bunch of friends heading back to Syracuse with our $10 (ten bucks! SHEESH!) tickets to the HORDE tour... what was really looking like a glorified Phish show. I remember stopping at my house beforehand and my mom had cut out an article about the show from the Post Standard. Except the article didn't really talk about Phish too much, more about these two bands from the South with a big trippy picture of the Aquarium Rescue Whoozits in full technicolor. Maybe we should get to the Fairgrounds early to check 'em out?
We rolled up easy as mincemeat and surveyed the grounds. Subsequent shows I've been to at the New York State Fair have been in the grandstand which is actually as it sounds, nothing too special. But this show was in the courtyard inside the fairgrounds themselves, a decent swath of grass with plenty of room to do whatever it is you might want to do. The smallness of the crowd made it feel that much larger. ARU was on stage when we arrived and already getting down to it with John Popper letting loose. After the requisite 15 minutes of hackey sack [mandated in the bylaws of live-concert-going circa 1992, it actually stipulated this on the back of my ticket] the music coming from the stage grew too damn interesting to ignore. I'll never forget looking over to the stage and seeing the boyfriend of one of our group (a guy we just met) just thrashing with his hands on the speaker stack while Col. Bruce and company were pushing the limits on volume and intensity. Man, life seemed much better when the speakers were just sitting on the stage and there was no consideration that our hearing might never survive til the age of the iPod.
Anyway, something drew me in and the next thing I knew I was a few feet from the stage and -- it was, if I remember correctly, Time Is Free -- the whole damned Unit (inc. Matt Mundy and the Count) + Popper were just locked into a groove that was unlike anything that ever made its way to my ears. That spiralling Time Is Free riff, I can hear it, see it, smell it. It's not like it was a new kind of music, it was like everything previous might not have actually been music at all. I was starting all over. And here -- right here -- here's where my life started to get a little more interesting... Jimmy Herring, Colonel Bruce, Dave Schools, John Bell... it all became a total blur and a little switch deep down in my undersoul that I didn't know a unkempt 18 year old from the northeast had... that little switch got switched and it's been 15 years of "you just don't get it" ever since. By the time they got to the cruel and unusual Widespreaquarium Rescue Panic clusterflux... well I'm pretty sure I crawled right out of my skin, molted snake and molten brains.
Five years ago, on the 10th anniversary of my first Panic, in the shadow of Mikey Houser's illness, I got down to my usually verbose self on the Spreadnet and reflected a bit. That post -- in three parts -- is here, here and here. So I'll refrain from too much more, but would encourage to click and read. It is sweet to think that the first time I laid ears on Widespread Panic they were bumping uglies with Jimmy Herring, though -- free-form filth.
Oh yeah, Phish played as well. That was really the summer where it became my mission to turn everyone I loved onto Phish and for at least those next couple of months it worked pretty well. The show was mediocre by the band's standards at that point, but it served its purpose. Reba, Antelope, Cavern... I loved it all, of course, but I really loved watching my green friends, the ones I loved, falling in love as well. For me, though, really, they were just the lure -- the whole point of the HORDE was the bait and switch. I can't imagine it worked on too many people or I wouldn't have had to travel to so many wherethefuckamI's to get my Panic fix... but it worked on me. Guess I was the sucker.
But as with the best shows, this was much more than just a concert. Hell, the guys I went to the show with are still some of my best friends and we probably quote at least one moment of hilarity from 7/10/92 every time we get together: from my drifting through 3 lanes of traffic trying to get a lit cigarette off my shoulder to my whacked out posse pulling an all-nighter with my dad's VHS collection (and the kind Roger Rabbit > Harry Met Sally segue that brought 'em on home). Really, it was one of those perforated moments in my life, where one could easily tear across the dotted line and separate the before and the after: the segue between high school > college, not knowing who WSP was > deep dark obsession... ARU > WSP. Smooth, tight, next-level.
By the time Blues Traveler took the stage (they closed the show) I was overloaded on musical insanity. The blur of ARU/WSP was like a brand on my brain -- I couldn't have differentiated between the two of them, but may have killed kittens to get more at that point. The Spin Doctors were a welcome dose of tangible rock and roll, they seemed to incredibly earthbound after those two. Phish pushed me over and after that we were relegated to tourists -- a bit to eat, hydration and an important purchase back in the merch section: my first Phish t-shirt. Amazingly, I still own this shirt, but I do not own this body or these boyish good looks any longer.
15 years ago this evening, I was so juiced on music, I literally sprinted through the parking lot. It's a feeling I continue to chase to this day. The wonderful thing about it, is that I fell so madly and deeply in love with what was in essence an opening band, another first for me and something that resonates with me all the time. Heck,some of the bands I'm most excited about today -- i.e. Emergency Party, St Vincent et al -- I discovered when they were opening up for someone else. I believe there is a moral in there, but for now, enjoy the tunes and these fun videos.
Part 2 of this inverview; Part 3
The edited piece on MTV
There is a postscript to this post. Within 5 years I was Panic around the country as much as I could afford to. Leading us to Baltimore, MD 10 years ago yesterday. For Panic, Baltimore was most certainly "in the northeast" and the small-but-feisty crew made it to Pier 6 for the show. About all you need to know about this show is that they opened with Tie Your Shoes (quickly followd by a set-making Fishwater) and jammed the hell out of a lot of stuff. TieYourShoes>Fishwater,LastStrawHatfieldBlight...every Panic show should start off like this... but end a bit stronger. Listening to it 10 years later, it strikes me that this is the perfect Panic show in the fact that it is a pedestrian setlist, the playing is average-at-best Panic for spring/summer 1997, no fireworks, really no nuthin' and yet... if you were to stick me on a desert island with just this show to listen to, I'd be pleased as a pig-on-a-spit to the end of my days. Ain't that Widespread in a nutshell.
The show was at a great little outdoor amphitheater right on the harbor. The kind of place where Sunny's chimes would be ringing the entire set. Last year I was in Baltimore for work and staying in a hotel right on the harbor and I could see this venue from my window... although I had forgotten about the show. So I'm looking at this neat little spot and having weird deja vu flashbacks. I finally walked by the place and saw "Pier 6" on the side and it all came back: the wicked opener, the deeply nasty Ain't No Use and the premier of a new Mikey song: It Was You. It's worth a download just for that.
Somehow the show was the right combination of total disappointment and sheer sweetness that I was convinced to go to Hampton a few days later which was most certainly not in the northeast. I believe it was when Schools said "come on, come to Hampton" that we knew our fate was sealed, but still... idiots. Of course, it was totally worth it... and when I get my hands on the show again, I'll be sure to share. And if you're still reading -- wow!