, attached to 1985-11-23

Review by kipmat

kipmat From The Phish Book, p. 140-143:

Mike: "I had my peak musical experience of all time during a gig at Goddard College in November 1985. At the time I was an engineering student pondering a transfer to film. I'd just completed a series of tests, and the pressure was temporarily off me. The entire week was a peak experience of sorts. I'd played jazz bass solos for the first time in my life during an open-mike gig with [Jazz Mandolin Project leader] Jamie Masefield, the night before our Goddard cafeteria dance. The snow had just fallen for the first time that fall the night we played, but it was still fairly warm outside. Located out in the middle of the woods, Goddard was something of an anti-institution at the time. Only about fifty people were on campus the night we played, and of the ten people who came to the dance, eight left after the first set. This was an official college event, so not coming definitely made some sort of statement.
We set up in the school cafeteria, part of which consisted of one of those circular rooms in which you can hear whispers traveling around the walls. Jeff was still in the band, and we all faced each other in a circle. We were playing two kinds of gigs at the time: either loose gigs with great jams or tight gigs were we got the (chord) changes right - but never at the same time. Our light show consisted of one red floodlight, one yellow flood, and one green flood. A couple of band members began playing while we were still setting them up, and I knew even before picking up my instrument that this gig would be infinitely tight and loose at the same time. The sun was setting, and it looked perfectly white and tranquil outside. During the first set we played "Wild Thing" and a few other songs that had been scrawled on the blackboard we set up for requests.
We went out into the hallway and passed a joint around with some strange people after the first set. I got really, really high, and as the rest of the band returned to the cafeteria, I realized that I couldn't stand up. When I finally did, I just sort of glided like a hovercraft back downstairs. Jeff was playing volume swells on his guitar, which I thought was the most incredible sound I'd ever heard. We turned off all the lights, and I started jumping up and down with the beat, not caring how I looked for perhaps the first time in my entire life. as we jammed, I felt more spiritually in tune than ever before. i felt at one with the building, wall outlets, chandeliers, and these people I loved. as we kept jamming, my ecstatic state didn't diminish no matter how I played or what style we played in. At one point I had a vision of Trey standing beside me in white tails with a pocket watch, as if we were performing during the 1920's.
The whole experience was like viewing a huge well-lit room after having been blind. I felt completely illuminated. I decided then and then there to start a journal, and I've kept one ever since. The first two volumes were completely about that experience, then they branched off to concern related experiences of life, art, and music. How do music and art help me and others to actualize ourselves? What's the formula, if there is one? What conditions make it most likely to occur?
I was more like myself that show than ever before, but I was also part of Phish, five people in a circle who seemed to hover above the forest and move slowly through the trees. I wandered into the woods after the second set and decided never to return. Yes, film-making was better than engineering. But film had nothing on the musical experience I'd just had, and I was afraid I'd never be able to recapture it. So why bother? When I did return, the rest of the band decided to play another set. I was terrified another set would soil my past experience, but it turned out to be just as great! We played for hours to the two or three people listening to us in the darkness. I decided my goals in life were to live in the woods, travel around from city to city, and try to replicate the experience I'd just had as often as possible. The whole gig's on tape, but I'll probably never listen to it."


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