It's the age old debate (Or at least one that’s been fretted over for about the last 10 years or so): “Couch Touring” Vs. the “In Person” experience.
I have been privy to those who claim couch touring is not a valid way to see a performance; In fact, I’ve heard people say that those who have streamed shows in the comfort of their homes can’t really count that as officially “seeing the shows”. In other words, if I’d been to 30 shows, but 15 were on couch tour, I’ve technically only seen 15 shows.
Well, I beg to differ for the following reasons, and I’d like to use the recent Phish “2012-2013 New Year’s Run” at Madison Square Garden in New York as an example.
JUMPING THRU HOOPS
Like every other Phish fan in the world, my son Phil (My concert going partner in crime) and I heard about the holiday run the minute it was announced. We entered the lottery and, yet again for another year, were disappointed by the news a week later saying we hadn’t been chosen to receive tickets. Yeah, yeah – the lottery sucks – grumble grumble.
Flash forward to Friday Oct 19, 2012 – One day before tickets go on sale at Ticketmaster, and I am prowling the parking lot of the local mall to formulate my morning invasion plan...
Saturday morning, we arrived around 9am. It really didn’t make a difference what time we got there because the store did a “line lottery” at 11 am which placed us near the back of the line (Numbers 13 & 14 respectively).
At noon, we were ushered thru the store and to the ticket desk. Oh no - The line is moving slowly. The Ticketmaster clerks are taking their time. The computers are freezing due to overwhelming volume. It’s impossible to get through on our cell phones. We fear a sellout before we even get a chance to make an attempt.
When we finally made it to the desk (12 minutes later), we luckily managed to score (1) New Year’s Eve ticket and (2) tickets for 12/28 (My heart can settle down now).
We sold the New Year’s ticket to a friend, and used the proceeds from that for transportation by train from Hamilton, NJ to Penn Station, New York on the 28th.
We got off the train and snaked our way through the overcrowded New York streets to Stout’s Bar on 33rd Street, where some of our favorite “pinners” had assembled for a preshow get together, and then back to Madison Square Garden when the doors opened around 6:30 pm.
Without going into too much detail, the 12/28 show was worth every single hardship it took to get there. The 2nd set was exceptional - The Tweezer/Maze & Fluffhead/David Bowie jams were mesmerizing and reminiscent of some of the material I’ve been hearing from the late 90’s. It should enter the books as a 12/28 show to be remembered and revered.
Honestly, I’m a concert veteran. I’ve been to hundreds of shows in my lifetime and have experienced all of the above more times than I can remember. It really is fun to be on a mission - To drive, fly, take a train, hitch hike or do whatever it takes to get to that “special” destination; To meet up with old friends that have become like family; To stay in that swank hotel or not so swank motel or even less swank tent; To make new, lasting memories that live on timelessly in your mind and heart. I understand every part of that wholeheartedly, but……..
FROM THE COMFORT OF MY HOME
I can think of all the things that can be avoided such as waiting in line for tickets (Or even worse, having to be raped by scalpers or ticket agencies), paying for gas and tolls or plane fare and rent-a-cars or overpriced parking, food, alcohol or shelter. I can have my friends over to watch in HD (With a 10 angle pro shot) on a 46 inch TV thru a decent sound system and we can eat, drink and be merry in the comfort and privacy of home. I know this because my son and I couch toured the rest of the nights of the run, and then went back and watched the 12/28 show as an added bonus and the experience was “all that”, just the same as every other couch tour event we’ve sat in for.
I think anyone who saw the shows in any way, shape or form would be fit to agree that 12/28 was the strongest show of the 4. The golf “tee off” routine on New Year’s Eve was not as exciting as watching the guys fly in, but was still fun (Especially for that fan up front that Page nailed with a line drive to the face – Ouch).
For all you couch tour naysayers – My $58 for a 4 night webcast was my admission to the show. It was my ticket. I may have been there in a different perspective, but I was still there.
Trust me. It counts.
Set One: Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, The Moma Dance, Funky Bitch, Army Of One, Tube, Stash, Nellie Kane, Kill Devil Falls, Free, Wolfman's Brother / Little Drummer Boy Jam
Set Two: Tweezer, Maze, Twist, Theme From The Bottom, Fluffhead, David Bowie, (Encore) Bouncing Around The Room, Good Times Bad Times
Set One: Crowd Control, Mound, AC/DC Bag, Rock And Roll, Sugar Shack, Reba, Halley's Comet, Limb By Limb, Wading In The Velvet Sea, Bathtub Gin,
Set Two: Golden Age, Waves, Prince Caspian, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Suzy Greenberg, Bug, Cavern, 46 Days, (Encore) The Squirming Coil, Grind, First Tube
Set One: Runaway Jim, Cities, The Divided Sky, Back On The Train, Ride Captain Ride, Ocelot, Ya Mar, Horn, My Friend, My Friend, Run Like An Antelope,
Set Two: Down With Disease, Twenty Years Later, Carini, Backwards Down The Number Line, Julius, Slave To The Traffic Light, (Encore) Harry Hood, Show Of Life
Set One: Garden Party, Possum, Roses Are Free, Rift, Sample In A Jar, Alaska, Mike's Song, Walk Away, Weekapaug Groove, Character Zero
Set Two: Birds Of A Feather, Ghost, Piper, Light, 2001, The Horse, Silent In The Morning, You Enjoy Myself
Set Three: Party Time, Kung, Chalk Dust Torture, Auld Lang Syne, Tweezer Reprise, Sand, The Wedge, Fly Like An Eagle, Wilson, Lawn Boy, (Encore) Driver, Iron Man