Phish draws big crowd, raises more than $1.2M

The Green Mountain Gods returned to their home Aug. 14 in an effort to breathe new life into the regions of Vermont that were ravaged by the recent deluge – the reckless child of Irene.The Champlain Valley Exposition hosted the Phish show that was “A Benet For Vermont Flood Recovery,” and proceeds from ticket sales, as well as additional donations, went to residents of Vermont victimized by Irene.The immense crowd of nearly 12,000 people conrmed the event an utter success as benets amounted to more than $1.2 million.A golden sunset shed light on a lively preshow parking lot, which was riddled with dreadlocks, tie dye, drug dealers, tail-gaters and jungle cats – yes, there was a man in a tiger suit.It seemed to be an archetypal cast of characters, one that could only be summoned by the likes of Phish, especially when one considers the band’s seven-year absence from Vermont.Many devoted fans reected their appreciation for Phish by braving the incredibly long ticket lines, and some held their ground throughout the night.”I waited in line for almost 14 hours,” attendee and avid Phish fan Sarah Dattilio said.While some devotees offered mere hours of their time for the band, others expressed their years of adherence and love for the Vermont-born group.”This is my 95th Phish concert, and my rst one was on Dec. 2, 1995,” enthusiast Stephen Blackstone said.As light began to leave the landscape, a seemingly eager crowd made way towards the stage as an energy seven years dormant was brewing.Perhaps to the surprise of the audience, Gov. Peter Shumlin took the stage prior to the show to speak of the state’s fortitude following Irene.His inspiring words bred a crowd that cheered wildly, and it was apparent that Shumlin’s presence had magnied the already-present sense of unity among Vermonters and Phish fans alike.”We are going to rebuild this state stronger than when she found us because of you,” Shumlin said.Shumlin’s encouraging speech seemed to further foster the excitement of the already ardent crowd, as they cheered and raised their hands to the band who was assembling their formation on stage.The crowd became a bedlam as front man Trey Anastasio’s smiling mouth crooned the words of “Chalk Dust Torture,” the opening song of the band’s three and a half-hour-long set. It is argued that the lyrics to this song reect some drug-related undertones, making it very much relatable to a portion of the crowd – let’s not kid ourselves, a sizable drug scene is nearly always prevalent at Phish concerts.The band proceeded to play tunes such as “Funky Bitch,” “Bathtub Gin” and “Suzy Greenberg” – they portrayed a fairly diverse collection of their repertoire.After a long journey through a sonic roller coaster of jams that ranged from upbeat to slow and stark psychedelic, the crowd seemed to be in awe as comments were made about how incredible the show was, and how happy people were that they had made it there.”It was the best show I’ve ever seen,” rst year Sam Frankour said. “It was something everyone could be proud of, not just for the music but also for the cause behind it – all for the sake of the state of Vermont.”