Flying and driving, two Europeans in America

by Yome NetSan 20. November 2013

This is my first article relating my trip to the USA to see Phish for the first time. It took me longer than I wanted to finish it and I hope the following ones will come quicker. I'll try to be as complete as possible and will throw every good (or at least not too bad) pictures I took during travels and concerts. I won't write extensively about the music itself as I'm not good at it and you had already listened to the shows anyway. Moreover, I haven't listened back to the shows I've been yet so it will be about my first impression as I was there.
Let's start where I left this tuesday morning, on my way to the airport...

 

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013 - 6h50

My first flight was short, just a hop to Brussels. While the clouds glide below me, I wrote two cards for the person who helped me buy my tickets and the band, in the hope to find a way to give them along with the gifts I prepared before leaving.

I was the first time I went to Belgium and the hour and a half long stopover gave me plenty of time to visit... the airport, on my way to Gate B01. I took 2 minutes to pay me a coffee and I was soon joined by Gilles. After writing with him since August, it was great to finally meet him in person. Immediatly, we began to talk, naturally, continuing our perpetual ever-going email conversation, just if we knew each other for years. We actually talked so much that the US Airlines staff were already calling our names when we realized we were late for boarding ! And it was not a flight to miss !

The plane was half empty so we easily managed to sit next to each other, with a free seat for our stuffs ! The 8 hours flight went very smoothy between talking Phish and sleeping. One of our worries was the customs. But we were among the firsts in the line and it went fast. I spent less than two minutes in front of the officer before hearing "Welcome in the USA".

 

8 PM -> 3 PM

Gilles had reserved a car to rent so our first goal was to find the Dollar rental. A bus came to pick us up and drive us to the office. The driver saved our life on the way by avoiding another car which turned at the last second. At the rental agency, we took the car, installed our stuffs in it like GPS, music and photo camera ready to snap. Then we changed everything again to go in the right car... Finally, we took the road with a nice and sunny weather.

The day was nice and we could watch the beautiful surroundings as we drove, first the city of Philadelphia in the distance, then smaller houses along a river with small docks and boats. The trees colors was magnificent, green, orange and red... true autumn colors like you see in movies.

We kept on talking about concerts, music and Phish of course. Gilles put a CD that has been rumored to be the Halloween album : The Yes Album. I've never heard anything from Yes before (although I knew the name) and I was surprised how it would perfectly fit in a Phish Halloween set, but almost too perfectly for my tastes actually.

Along the road, we haven't believed our eyes when we saw several signs for King of Prussia. We had no ideas a place could be named like this ! America's full of surprises !

Reading, PA

As soon as we arrived at Reading, we went for a quick stop at the hotel. We laughed hard when Gilles spoted a SUV with funny Halloween decorations on it ! There were plenty of Phish fans in it obviously. The room was big, simple and nice.

But it was already 6PM, doors would open in 30 minutes and we hadn't eaten yet. Reading is a nice little town. We passed before beautiful victorian-looking houses, often decorated for Halloween. For us european guys, it was the typical american town.

So, our first american diner has been at Burger's King's but I couldn't finished it : too big, too fat, too salty and maybe I was becoming a little nervous.

We found a place to leave the car rather near the Santander Arena and followed the many fans to the venue. On our way, Gilles stopped at an ATM. He had problems with one of his cards but he finally managed to have some cash. 

 

The Santander Arena

As we walked towards the venue, the air started to feel more and more electric. The direct roads had been closed by the police to leave room to the constant flow of walking fans. On our left, on a parking lot just across the street, I saw a strange gathering with a lot of people, smoke, vendors, and so on. It was the famous Shakedown Street I've heard about. I was such in a hurry to get my ticket that I decided I'd take a closer look later but I ultimately forgot and never went. I also haven't think of taking pictures of the venue or the fans in the streets...

There was nobody at the will call so I got my ticket quickly.
Yes, simply and easily, after so many year, I had my first Phish ticket in my hand !

Help yourself, you can redeem this tix number ;)

But Gilles had another problem : he realized while waiting for his ticket that he lost his credit card at the ATM just a few minutes ago ! He ran to it while I waited for him at the box office.I had a french flag with me so that the french fans with whom I had an appointment (Cassandre and Jean-Yves from Phish.net) would spot me easily. But unfortunately, as we were rather late, I met nobody. Gilles finally came back without his card but he managed to block it with a phone call.

We decided to part ways as I didn't want to wait to much to go to the floor. I stopped at the merchandising table and bought right away my first souvenirs : a mugthe T-shirt of the night and a Record Player Slip Mat. I was afraid they would sell out before the end of the show but they ultimately didn't and I found myself with stuffs to carry during the show for nothing.

I walked all around the arena in search for the floor entrance and it gave me a good impression of the mood. Everybody was smiling and already having a good time. I was smiling too, I made it. I just had begun to realize what I was about to witness in a few minutes.

On my way to the floor, I quickly met Yasu, a japanese fan whom Holger had met in Chicago this summer and had introduced each other on facebook. It was his last concert of the tour for him.

After walking a little bit closer to the stage, I laid down on the floor to relax and rest my back.

I closed my eyes, waiting for Phish...

 

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