I was at a rave
in October of 1999, and I went around talking to everyone in the damn place thanks to a certain notorious empathogen-enactogen
, and I got a lot of email addresses, including the one of a girl named Remi. I emailed her off and on, and out of the blue, I get a message from her that starts out, "Do you like Phish
?" Apparently, she had an extra ticket to their New Year's concert and the guy who was going to go with her couldn't go. She had a car and tent and everything all lined up. All I had to do was say yes.
My friend Jon purchased a ticket and joins us in the crusade, and on the morning of December 26th, Remi picked us up in her new Neon and we headed south. It turns out that Remi is a pharmacy technician (vicodin, klonopine, and hydrocodone, oh my!). For the next three days we drive, listening to Phish, Lords of Acid, and trancecore and slightly hazy if we aren't in the driver's seat. (The best way to pass a long road trip).
Around noon on the 28th, traffic on the Florida interstate comes to a halt about ten miles before the Alligator Alley exit. See, two interstates run along the sides of the state, and Alligator Alley runs from one across to the other. Both interstates were packed with people trying to get into the one lane that went towards the Indian Reservation on either side. In the middle of the state, the two lanes of traffic on Alligator Alley are trying to get onto the one lane that goes into Big Cypress. More than 80,000 people were there. You can see why traffic problems would ensue.
For hours we were basically just sitting. This was my first and hopefully only experience consuming alcohol behind a steering wheel (I wasn't being irresponsible, if the car has been in the same place for three hours, I don't think that you can consider that drinking and driving). We finally get into the campsite about 1 in the morning and for the three of us being fucked up (and none of us are what you could consider the outdoors type), it took almost no time at all to set up the tent. After that was done, Jon and I went out to party! I came back about four in the morning (Jon and I got seperated as he spotted someone with balloons).
The next day, we all walked around and explored the strange little city that had been set up for us out in the middle of nowhere. It was completely crazy. There were police officers on horseback there, but they didn't care about drugs or anything (they must not have, because people were buying things right in front of them).
We made our way to the concert field for the first set of the event. Jon forgot his tray so he used my bare back as one. About five people took pictures of that...well, there goes my chances at a political office.
Water in the Sky
Light Up or Leave Me Alone
Limb By Limb
Native Greeting Song
Good Times Bad Times
Chalk Dust Torture
Run Like an Antelope
When The Circus Comes
I am Hydrogen
Boogie On Reggae Woman
It was right before the first set of the afternoon that Jon got lost. We're all sitting down, waiting for the concert to start. "I'm going to the bathroom, I'll be right back." Big mistake. Thirty seconds after he left, the concert started and there was no way he was going to find his way back. That was a given, we'd just thought that he'd meet us back at the tent and enjoyed the first set. He didn't come back to the tent in between sets, and so we went without him again for the last two. Then we went back to the tent to wait for him, and fell asleep.
I'd forgotten to change into warmer clothes so I woke up around 4 am shivering in the cold. Jon still isn't back. I leave heard techno music playing so I leave the tent and follow the sound. They have turntables set up on top of some campers and everyone is dancing. I join them, thinking, 'If Jon's out partying, he's sure to come here!" The sun rose, and it was so beautiful. The last sunrise of the year. It was incredible.
I spent the entire day looking for Jon. Remi stayed at the tent in case he came back to make sure he wouldn't leave, and I roamed the huge campsite. I must have walked over ten miles and I came back with a wicked tan, let me tell you. I met a lot of people but never ran into Jon. I reported back to the tent every hour or so, and then we went to the afternoon set.
I Didn't Know
Punch You in the Eye
Bouncing Around the Room
Split Open & Melt
Get Back on the Train
It was almost midnight and Jon still wasn't with us. Remi and I injested our magic mushrooms and headed for the concert.
I was sad, I would have to spend New Year's Eve without my best friend.
The show was still incredible. The band rode to the stage on a giant hot dog right before midnight. The crowd counted down and it was midnight. I was subjected to the best display of fireworks I have ever seen as giant balloons (and we're talking giant) bounced over the crowd. Trey told us to chant "Cheesecake" rather than clap and cheer at the end of the song..."The crowd appears to be chanting...cheesecake?" says a thoroughly confused ABC correspondant. It was an excellent way to start the new millenium.
New Year's Eve
Midnight to Dawn
Here's Mud in Your Eye
Auld Lang Syne
Down with Disease
Rock & Roll
You Enjoy Myself
Crosseyed & Painless
Slave to the Traffic Light
After Midnight reprise
Silent in the Morning
Roses are Free
Harry Hood intro tease
Wading in a Velvet Sea
When the show was over, after a few scant hours of sleep, we awoke. Jon still wasn't back. This wasn't funny, everyone was packing up camp and leaving. Remi started to cry. I wanted to, but felt that I needed to pull this situation together. We walked some more, talked to a police officer. Maybe he had been arrested, but no one had. He wasn't hurt at the on-sight hospital. Surely he hadn't wandered off into the woods and died?
I didn't know what to do, so I found a nice person with a cell phone that worked out here and called his house back in our hometown. No one was home. Then I called my mom. "Jonathan just called!" Oh my God, where was he? We were so happy to know that he was all right. My mom told us that he was waiting at the only gas station on the road.
We packed up everything, including the tent, in less than a minute, I swear...only to enter into traffic gridlock. We weren't going anywhere fast. So Remi took the Neon offroad a little and we were soon out of Big Cypress Indian Reservation. We saw 18 alligators off the side of the road!
Jon wasn't at the gas station. I called my mom again. Apparently he got a ride to Miami to try to take a plane home since he hadn't seen us in days, but he was on his way back to Big Cypress as we spoke. After half an hour he showed up, looking like all hell. I couldn't help but be mad at him, geez, we thought he might be dead! But when I saw him I wasn't mad at all. We got the heck out of there and I started crying and he started crying, but we were all happy to be together at last.
Despite all the problems, I still had a blast at Phish New Year's Eve 2000.