I had just returned to the U.S. when Phish announced Coventry. I had been in Peace Corps in Cape Verde, a tiny little country off the coast of Senegal. I had a good friend there named Steve, who had started seeing shows in 1998 and had continued until the hiatus. I had started seeing shows in 1993 and stopped--for various reasons--in 1997. We bonded over stories of epic shows and adventures, talked about the phases the band had gone through, and spent a fair amount of time sipping beers and listening to shows.
When I heard about the festival, I contacted Steve. It only made sense that we go together. It would be an adventure, and our first trip back in the States. When the band announced that it would be their final show, we knew the trip was a must.
I had wanted to do something with video for a while. This was before YouTube blew up, and I think I had delusions of making movies. I bought a cheap little Sony MiniDV camera and came up with the idea that we would interview fans and hear how they felt about the final festival. Or something like that.
What actually happened has been well documented, as most of us know. Torrential rains made a colossal mess of the festival grounds, backing up traffic until people had been in their cars for as many as 36 hours. Thousands never made it, even though they had tickets.
Our story: We left from Burlington, Vermont at around 11 p.m. Friday night, hit traffic around 1 a.m. or so Saturday morning, and had moved about a mile by the time Mike Gordon came on the Bunny around 8 a.m. and announced that the band had to turn people away. Like thousands of others, we parked, paid a farmer to camp on his lawn, and started walking. One of the great ironies of the situation, and this video, is that Saturday was sunny and gorgeous. (Oh, there's mud, but you won't see it for a while.)
This video is the story of our trip. It's just one of many. I hope folks who also made that crazy journey enjoy it. I'm happy to share it with you.
Special thanks to Steve, as always.