August 06, 2003

IT'S ALL OVER: Despite an

IT'S ALL OVER: Despite an overnight traffic jam, three days of muck (and mire), and a glaring lack of affordable T-shirts, I had quite a good time at Phish's 2003 IT Festival in Limestone, Maine. While I probably won't be going to any more such festivals in the future, this one was a helluva time.
The ride up was mostly without incident, that is until my three friends and I arrived 20 miles from the concert grounds when, apparently, the other 60,000 people all reached the same spot at the same time. This resulted in traffic barely moving at all for a nearly 12-hour period- yes it was a pain in the ass, but it resulted in some fun moments, such as us taking out beers, roadside, at 5:00 AM, and a girl knocking on our door to tell us that she had a) had a flat tire, and b) had run out of pot- and that she wanted to know if we had any pot (when my friend offered use of a spare tire, the girl walked away). We finally reached our campsite at around 11:00 Saturday morning, about 30 hours after leaving New York.
The festival's communal vibe was fun, although I preferred the layout and atmosphere of the band's Big Cypress festival in Florida back in '99. I liked that they had a "Live Phish" booth set up in which concertgoers were allowed to burn CDs for free. And the "Shakedown" area, in which various independent vendors were allowed to peddle their wares, was the best I'd ever seen. Predictably, there was much visible support for Howard Dean (who shares a home state, and lefty, weed-loving fanbase, with the band), though I did also see a Kucinich-for-President van. Rain for days before the festival started also created a virtual river of mud/muck that was reminiscent of Woodstock.
As for the band themselves, they were in top form, despite what some called lackluster song selection. Phish played six sets scattered over two days, though a couple of those lasted only an hour, and included bloated, seemingly never-ending versions of mediocre material, most eggregiously a 38-minute rendition of "46 Days" that opened Sunday's third set. But the band did break out some classics, including an excellent "You Enjoy Myself," "Chalkdust Torture," and "Wilson" (in its shortest version ever) on Sunday, following highlights "David Bowie," "Down With Disease," and "Meatstick" from Saturday. Here are the setlists, for those interested.
All in all, a hell of an experience; watch WKIKYA for his account of the same events.

Posted by Stephen Silver at August 6, 2003 12:01 AM
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