We interviewed our February Artist of the Month, Erica, for Erica In The Trees for a musical inspiration festival piece! Just in time to get’chu in the mood for the road trips, the campin’ trips and other trips too! Check out her story of her musical moment that inspired her!
I’m trying to think of one story to share about my love for music. An experience that stands out. One that inspires me. I’m having a hard time doing so because all of them have shaped who I am, my art and my soul. One band though is always at the top of my experiences, for it’s the band I’ve seen the most and also the one that really hooked me on the scene. I wouldn’t be the same person if I hadn’t discovered Phish. I know that for certain. From my first full summer tour with them in 1996, to a New Year’s Eve show at Big Cypress on the Seminole Indian Reservation, to Coventry, which was supposed to be their last show, and all the shows in between, both before and after….the one experience that really stands out most vividly for me was Festival 8 in Indio, CA.
It was late October and my husband and I loaded up the VW van and headed south from Oregon to the California desert. The drive was almost 20 hours, but we would have driven 20 more to get to Indio. Phish was playing a 3 day festival on the gorgeous, lush lawns of the Empire Polo Club. It was also a Halloween show, so a musical costume was in store for us. In all my years of seeing Phish, I had never caught a Halloween show, so I was very excited! I spent the last few weeks before our trip sewing and piecing together our costumes. I knew that this festival was going to be a treat and I wanted the fun attire to go along with it!
We arrived in the late afternoon to sun and warm temperatures. However, as we pulled into the campgrounds there were long lines with intense vehicle searches happening. Apparently the polo fields had a strict no glass policy and this caused some chaos at the entrance point.
As we sat there, we ran into our good friend who was in town for the shows too. He had rented a super nice house only a mile or so away from the venue. It turned out to be a great thing that we ran into him, because as our car was searched all our beer was found. They were going to throw away 2 cases of good Oregon microbrews! We were allowed to leave and take the beer to our friend’s place. Wasting beer is a big no-no in our household, ha!
That night we set up camp on Voodoo Child Avenue, one of the many festival “streets” named after albums the band was possibly going to cover for their musical costume. It was a chilly night in the California desert, but I woke to the most amazing sunrise! We spent the early part of the day wandering around the festival grounds, checking out the art, the vending (I wasn’t vending this time around, just enjoying myself at the show), and the people.
There was so much to see and take in and the weather for late October was absolutely phenomenal. Once inside the venue, my heart skipped a beat. It was even more stunning than I could have imagined. There were so many cool sculptures and the flat, lush grass was perfect for dancing! We enjoyed two great sets of music, opening with Party Time. When knew it was going to be an amazing weekend and we were hungry for more!
The second day of the festival was Halloween. I love Phish fans because we’re all so wacky to begin with, but add in Halloween costumes and the craziness ensues! All day I waited to put on my costume, as it was just too dang hot to sport black. But I sure did have fun watching everyone else roast in their attire! Once the sun started dipping low on the horizon, we knew it was show time and the costumes were busted out. I slipped on my dress, pulled on the leggings, wrapped my boa around my neck, placed my wig on my head and added all my accessories. The final touch, my mask, really made my costume! Can you guess what I was? I’m late, I’m late….
That night was one of the most memorable of the show. Phish played three sets of music, the second set being their musical costume, which was The Rolling Stones Exile On Main Street. I danced and danced, taking on the character of my costume and tripping some people out big time! The party lasted until the wee hours of the morning and finally, exhausted, but full of joy, I slipped off to bed.
The next day, Sunday morning, was a wonderful culmination to our festival experience. Phish played a special acoustic late morning/mid afternoon set. We hit up the Bloody Mary bar and headed out to the fields to listen to the band. Everyone was mellow and enjoying the warm sunshine and sweet music playing. Later, that evening, Phish closed out the weekend with two additional sets. I was beat by the last set and actually went back to the van to listen from the comfort of my home away from home. It was absolutely perfect.
This festival continues to stand out in my mind as something really special. Maybe it was the venue, maybe it was the people, or maybe it was because it wasn’t that long ago…whatever it was, I was grateful to be a part of it.