The Clifford Ball Essay, Research Paper
The Clifford Ball
The Ball, the ball, the ball. The Clifford Ball 1996, the greatest
musical performance I’ve ever witnessed, a time I’ll never forget.
“Where the fuck is Plattsburg, New York?” That was the main concern on
a warm summer afternoon, as we began to pack up the car for a trip that will
remain crisp in my mind better then vacation I’ve ever been on. It was Tom, Tim,
Joe, Beau, Tom’ brother Steve, Alex who flew in from Wisconsin, Tim’s brother
Sean and myself Tony. The weather couldn’t been better, the mood…excitement,
joy, and a little nervousness. After all it was my first Phish show, and Tom
was the only other one out of us all who had seen a Phish show. I had always
liked phish, but I was always reluctant to get tix for a show, I figured I could
wait till they came to Giant Stadium, or The Meadowlands. One day I decided ?
What the hell!!?
Plattsburg was a good 6 hours up I-87 from quiet River Vale, New Jersey.
So we spent most of the afternoon at Shop-rite, Campmor, and Ramsey outdoor. We
had sleeping bags, coolers of beer, soda, food, and more beer, tents, stoves,
lanterns, bug torches, and clothes. At around 12 midnite Friday morning we hit
the road and embarked, on what would be a scared trip. Tom drove the van with
his brother and myself. Tim in his red Festiva with Joe and Sean, and Beau in
his blue Festiva with Alex. Stopping only to piss and re-fuel, we busted up to
Plattsburg, arriving around 6am. It was amazing to see all the VW Westvalias up
I-87 with Steal you Face, and dancing bear stickers. Once arriving, we picked a
spot to set camp (out of the Wetlands of course) We followed the lead of
crickets bouncing gently round room to a nice spot. Close to the potable water,
yet far enough from the rank smell of port-a-jons. Then we got some needed
We woke up around 1pm and I opened my eyes to my suprise…100,000 other
people arrived while we were asleep!!! Didn’t bother me, the more the merry.
It was really strange. Once I stepped out of the tent, I think I left something
behind. I didn’t have a care in the world. I forgot about my job, my house,
my life back home. I WAS AT A PHISH SHOW, that’s all that mattered. Yeah, in
an ordinary situation, the crickets would have bothered me. I liked um. The
real freaky people that lived off acid and trying to get that one miracle would
have bothered me, not that weekend. Free hug…sure. Do I have any nugs…have
a seat and chill a while. The feeling is like nothing else in the world. Youth,
energy, love, and fun.
6 PM Phish is coming on soon. We exchanged our tickets for wristband and
headed in. Mr. Sanity stepped out and welcomed us to the largest Phish in the
world. The cheers rang, and the chills ran through me, I’m going to have the
time of my life. Phish busted out with Chalkdust Torture. ?I love this song!?
I said to Joe. Before I knew it I caught the groove, dancing around, jumping
singing, till I was at the point that I didn’t know where any of my friends went.
It was to early to worry about that. If I don’t bump into them during the show,
I’ll see them at the end of the set, if not, at the camp-site. I remember
Haley’s Comet and bouncing all over ?I’m goin’ down to the central part of town?
That lyric still stuck in my head. Finally I bumped into Tim, who was tripping
pretty hard, and I figured he could use some nugs. We walked up to those little
houses and received glitter and paint from some one….again, didn’t bother me.
I told the dude what to paint. I asked for a peace sign, got something that more
or less looked like an egg but hey, I’M AT THE CLIFFORD BALL!!! There was so
much to do, so much to see, and a whole other day left. After the band closed
with Amazing Grace. We headed back to camp, where we regrouped and talked for
hours about the fantastic show that was displayed before us. We walked around
talked to thousands of people, we just had a great time.
The next day was better then the first. Phish tore out tunes that I
thought I would never hear. Wilson, A Day In the Life, Suzie Greenburg, Tweezer,
Strange Design… After the show, we regrouped again. At around 2 am some poor
guy face-planted a Habachi that someone just BBQed off of, and he required some
medical attention, we did what we could, but it was pretty bad and we sent him
to First Aid. That was an amazing thing in itself. The layout was perfect. If
you needed it, you could find it. Water, food, help, stupid things that you
forget to bring. All with a stage for a backdrop, and a skyline so beautiful, I
still haven’t seen anything like it.
The Clifford Ball, was like no other show in the world. I’ve seen the
Dead, Allmans, Lollapalooza, Horde…I’ve seen a lot!!! Nothing has come close,
and the only thing that might is next years Ball (hopefully in the same place)
The one thing that stills troubles me though is that Mr. Sanity said he would
show up at the end of the show…and he never did!