Phish Super Ball IX – 2001 glowstick wars into Harry Hood intro
Photo Credit: Dan Shinneman
We all know the history of it. Born during Harpua in 1994 then reemerging prominently throughout Hood jams in ‘97, Phish fans young and old join together to create a virtual light show called a glow stick war. We’ve even gotten smarter about it over the years, trading in the heavy “flying death” green sticks for the smaller, safer glow rings. Whether you are a thrower, a gawker, or a ducker, there’s just no way to Opt-Out of a glow war. Even the band has participated by asking CK5 to turn down the lights so they can watch the glow invasion and jam along. It is a truly awesome spectacle. I will freely admit to participating in throwing handfuls of glow rings, glowball making (SPAC 04, with string!), glow chain passing, and all sorts of glowing shenanigans. I say all this because I want everyone to know I have really enjoyed this spectacle. and I’m not here to tell you all to follow my lead. But for me, it’s time to move on. I’m switching from glowsumerism to glowservatism. So here is a promise: I’m officially announcing my retirement from active glow war status. It’s old hat. Been there, done that, did it again. It’s time to listen my inner voices. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to kill my neighbors, I mean the voice inside that tells me “You’re missing the damn jam to throw garbage in the air!”. But.. I hear retirement can be very lonely. So I’m hoping a few of you might join me in the glow retirement home. Besides the fact that the Salisbury Steak at the home is TO DIE FOR (and rich in minerals), there are a few other reasons for you to join me in glowtirement. Without further adieu, here are four reasons not to glow forward in 2012:
1. They are not special anymore.
Let’s face it, the glow stick wars have gotten out of hand. They can and will happen at any time for no particular reason. Something that used to be delegated to a 10 minute portion of Hood now will show up ANYWHERE. Hell, there was a glow stick jam in Silent in the Morning in ‘99. What’s next? “OMG Rocky Top!” *glowsplosion*. With the wars being whenever, they have lost their glory and become nothing but…
2. They are a distraction.
A distraction to the band, the audience, the crew, everyone. Did we drive hundreds of miles, spend a fistfull of cash and get a full body cavity search by Bubba the security guard to throw trash in the air? We came to see Phish! Instead, during the very thing we ALL want (Jam. Melt. Face.), our minds are occupied with flying objects and rampaging glow recyclers plowing haphazardly through our dance space picking up glowing refuse just to toss it back in the air. Which brings me too..
3. They are garbage.
No matter how you wanna play it out, the fact here is that we have thousands of “Save the Earth Man!” hippies throwing handfuls of chemical filled plastic up in the air for 3 minutes of fun. Good Lord, what if the Republicans found out? If we are to take ourselves seriously as protectors of the earth and responsible conservationists we need to minimize our own consumption. Think of the poor janitors man! And heck, what’s in those things anyway? Look out, incoming point!
4. They are dangerous.
A glowstick is basically an outside plastic shell with a thin breakable cylinder separating hydrogen peroxide from dye and dephenyl oxitate. Bending the stick breaks the inner cylinder and allows the chemicals to combine causing a chemical reaction that makes the dye glow. Phenol and carbon dioxide are created as byproducts of this reaction. Phenol can be deadly in the blood stream and at the least is a definite nasty skin irritant. IE: Don’t get any “fun” on ya folks! Hundreds of those things are breaking in the middle of the glow mayhem and getting on lots of real people. And no one actually makes the rings anymore, they just dump them out of the tube and let loose. While these are small light objects they still have pointy ends and are being hurled as far and hard as humanly possible? What if one of these sticks were to hit a 4 year in the eye? Great first Phish experience for a young fan. Or how about a certain red-haired guitarist? Hell, what if one of them sticks in the soundboard and FUCKS UP THE MUSIC. Di-saster. Maybe it’s not so stupendous throwing all those tubes?
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Now I like to pretend I’m a realistic fella, and I know nothing will completely stop the glow phenomenon and I’m certainly not condoning anyone running around during the show lecturing people on the dangers of glowsticking. But I feel we Phish fans are ingenuitive creative people that always find a better way to show our enthusiasm. How can we maintain the thrill of a glow event while also being respectful to our earth and fellow concertgoers? What if we all had one of those colored flashlight sticks they sell everywhere now and waved it over our head in unison? That would be a cool spectacle and those things are reusable! (Cover My Ass Note: For the love of Icculus, don’t get “drunk” and start chucking them!) The Crowd Lights application for smartphones is also an interesting idea. Crowd lights allows for a network of phones at an event to send a synchronized display back to the stage. Does it work? Who knows. Time to start passing out flyers?
How about you fans? What fun ideas do you have to glow forward in Phistory? I’d love to hear your ideas and share them in a future article. Thanks for listening and happy Phishing.