Living in Evanston, Illinois at the time, I had to choose between two trip options in the fifth month of the new millenium. I could hit the 126th running of the Kentucky Derby with all of my college friends and witness the depressingly awesome infeld debauchery, or I could wait two weeks and return to my home state for the popular rock band Phish’s highly anticipated Radio City Music Hall run.
I chose the former and left for Louisville in an extended highway caravan. The trip turned out to be grueling, gruesome, and part of me wanted to fly home for Radio City anyway, just to wash out the taste of grain alcohol and Kentucky. But when I got back to my room after our long trip home, the well-tacked Grateful Dead at Radio City poster that adorned our walls had fallen down onto the floor, the tape inexplicably losing grip for the first time ever. Like Jules Winfield, I took it as a sign from the gods and gave up on thoughts of heading home.
And every time I hear the Ghost from the 5/22/00 show, I cringe at my amateur decision-making skills. I mean, the Derby was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me, and I’ll never shake some of those infield images for as long as I live (in a good way). But that multi-faceted, multi-sectioned Ghost shows you everything The Phish are capable of, an improvisational wet dream for fans, with all four band members going off on their own tangents while weaving a jam for the ages.
This is one of those jams that can better be explained with phrases like “Holy fucking shitballs, man” or “Damn, brah, you fuckin’ hear…? Wow, what just happened?” than anything the smartest rock critic can put together. It’s jams like these that mesmerize an entire audience, and sometimes you can only laugh at the dead silence of thousands of like-minded folks whose brains are experiencing the same thoughts at the same time. And therein lies the beauty of Phish, and that’s why we make no apologies for our unconditional love of this foursome, and that’s why, on the seven-year anniversary of this show and this jam, you’re subjected to long-winded bloviation by a guy who wasn’t even there.