Photo by Amanda Sandwicch
Written by David Goodie
Obsessive, eccentric, and different, those are the easy ones for me to describe. That’s the jam band community. Now I can only speak for myself and for me I obsess over two bands and one event, all of which changed my life in their own respective ways. This doesn’t mean I think they’re better than everything else (I may…but shh lets not crap on each other’s opinions). I’m eccentric because I feel it’s important to show emotions, a full range of them. I don’t just want to be happy, I want to be ecstatic. I want to find things that move me emotionally and be passionate about them. I want to love my friends and family with all of my heart. I want to be a light for myself and those around me. Fun, loving, caring, passionate, life changing, uplifting, powerful, obsessive, eccentric, and definitely different, this is the harder description for me to pull off but is how I feel about the community that I feel blessed to be a part of.
In 2011 I started seeing live music. I had only seen one terrible concert before then (Nickelback, 3 Days Grace, and Hinder…please refrain from throwing things). That had been my only live music experience and I really thought it was ok at best and a total waste of money. A couple years later one of my friends asked if I would go to a 2 night run of Phish shows with him. He said he would pay for my tickets in advance and I could take as long as I needed to pay him back. I accepted his invitation and saw what I consider my first real music experience.
When I got there I knew, this was different, there’s something special here, I had never felt energy like that, never been so free to be happy and fun-loving. It changed my life. To this day I will defend Phish with my every breath if I have to. They provide something almost no other band can. A funk and prog oriented jam band concert where you get to experience the energy of 10k-30k people every night, beautiful historic venues, shakedown outside of a festival, 4 healthy best friends playing well thought out music in the loosest yet tightest way possible. They were my only band for years, almost the only thing I listened to until Vegas ’14 (the hardest ticket I’ve ever tried to get) happened. I got shut out of on sale, there was nothing anywhere near face for resale. Friends were booking hotels and needing to know my plans. It was all stress, and planning, and difficulty, and everything that Phish wasn’t supposed to be for me. So I decided against going.
I instead took my money and asked a friend to come to a new festival with me. It was pretty cool. He was a festival person who had seen Phish with me and I was a Phish person who was going to go to my first festival with him. I had no idea what was in store for me that weekend.
The first Resonance was magic, there isn’t better way I could describe it. I felt at home as soon as I got there. Before we had even left camp I told my friend that I really liked this place. There was just something about it. I spent two days exploring the grounds and seeing band after band perform top notch sets of music. I already felt pretty hooked but then Saturday night my friend got too drunk and passed out early. He was the only person I knew at the festival and I had never been to any music event by myself. I was nervous. I decided to make my way to a dome that we had been in earlier, The Love Light Dome, a dome covered in a white tarp with colorful art set up and a stage for a band to play on. My first time in the dome they were very welcoming, asked that no one smoked inside, offered me free tea or coffee, it just felt like the right place for me to be.
Once in the dome I was sitting Indian style enjoying the music, wondering how my night was going to go, I was really nervous when out of nowhere a guy leans back and all he says is “Hi, I’m Lucas. What’s your name?” I felt all of my stress melt away in that moment. I knew I was going to have a good night and that this was going to be a special for me. We talked for a while and he introduced me to his brother. We went our separate ways for Papadosio. I had seen them before but it had been a couple years and I was never really that into them so I had never paid much attention but this weekend I wanted to give them an honest chance. I walked around the artist village for the beginning of their set, it was perfect. I wanted to catch the rest of their set from the hill at Frontier. A couple songs after I sat down they invited Chris Houser (The Werks) to the stage to play an absolutely perfect “Utopiate.” I refer to it as the song that made me a Papadosio fan. You see, I used to think of Phish as this larger than life kind of thing, like there was music and then there was Phish, a band that could make me experience all of my emotions in a way nothing else could. I couldn’t help but think of all of the times I said music can’t make me feel like this only Phish can and realized that Papadosio just shattered that belief for me. I sat on that hill in tears, it changed the way I look at music. I finished out the set in the crowd, dancing as hard as I had all weekend. After it was over I was beginning to walk away and hear someone yell my name from afar, I look around and see my friend Lucas from earlier. We ended up hanging out all night and to this day he and his brother are people I love and care about, they are my family. When my night ended I told myself that I needed to take it easy with all of the Phish and experience festivals for the next year or so. That’s exactly what I did.
My friend group started shortly after that. We all went to a Dosio show at Bogart’s in Cincinnati. One of my friends was having people over after the show. Due to poor ventilation I fainted and was kicked out. I spent all night meeting people outside and had an incredible night out there in the cold. After the show we all piled in cars and went to the after-party. Right around 15 people hung out for the first time that night and fit together like puzzle pieces. It was like we had been best friends for years. We became a very tight knit group of friends. Over the next few months my friend Nolan and I started convincing all of these people to come to Hoopla with us. We somehow got almost everyone to come and experience their first festival with us and despite it being cold, and wet, and muddy, and awful, it ended up being one of the best weekends I had ever had. Getting to be at Fronter again, having so many friends (including my sister) being introduced to this world with us, waking my friends up from naps to make sure they didn’t miss Dosio and then Dosio playing a set that felt like I wrote it for them, Bill Nershi playing one of the best sets of bluegrass I’ve ever seen, these things all played into the last Hoopla being a beautiful weekend. At that point I knew that this was right, this was the right place, these are the right people, and this is going to be a hell of a ride.
The summer following I took my friend to his first Phish show followed by our first Werk Out (same weekend). Dopapod played the set of my life due to this running donkey kong/banana joke I started with my friends at Earth Night that year. My friends became the kind of family I only could have dreamed of. I had such a fun summer and at Second Resonance I had a realization, in front of who other than Papadosio (fitting). I realized that the past year, Resonance-Resonance, had been the biggest year of growth in my life, I took myself out of my comfort zone and in doing so I had become more myself and more comfortable with being myself than I ever had been. I fell in love with new music, new art, and most of all new people. I was in tears of joy.
There is something so special in this community, something that isn’t quite normal and I’m not sure that it should be just yet. Whether you love Phish or Umph, Tribe or Dosio, whether your favorite festival is Bonnaroo or Forest, Hula or Lockn, or you prefer the smaller events like Resonance or Mad Tea. What we experience, the people we meet, the connections we make, the energy we feel, the music and visual art we see, these things are so different and unique than the things we can experience elsewhere. I feel so blessed to have found this world and have it be a part of my life, to have introduced my sister to it, to have friends who became family, to have all of you and all of this. Thank you to all the bands, artists, workshop organizers, event promoters, and fans that make this community what it is, it means so much to so many.