26 Lessons From Curveball, Our Stolen Festival

Phish’s Curveball festival was cancelled so late in the game that most fans had already traveled to the area, and many had even set up camp. Would-be attendees were left shocked, stranded, and so, so sad. Here’s what I learned.

by Leora Katz

1. You don’t name a festival Curveball. Manifestation is a tricky beast.

2. The circumstances really did suck and it’s okay to be sad. Of course there are bigger problems in the world. Of course things could be worse. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be devastated and express our dismay.

3. I could tell you my story, where I was and how I found out and why it was so bad. But I don’t need to. All our stories are brutal, and all our stories are the same.

4. When you think about the amount of disappointment on an individual level and multiply it by 45,000+… man, we are dealing with one big, broken heart.

5. Denial is the most immediate reaction to grief. Every person I spoke to said their first reaction was “this can’t be true.”

6. Acceptance comes eventually, but acceptance is a slow and painful bitch. While it may get easier as the hours roll by, any trigger of the initial cause hits right where it hurts. (For example, when you check the time and it’s 3:15pm on Saturday and you realize you should be hearing the first notes of a day set right about now…OUUUUCH.)

7. Speaking of which, you can feel your heart being torn from your chest. It’s an actual, real, physical feeling.

8. The Internet is worse than real life. We’re often drawn to our phones in scenarios like these, wanting to see what’s going on, what everyone’s talking about. But reading comments, tweets, and posts feels way worse than leaving your phone inside and hanging with your friends in the grass, even if it’s pouring rain.

by Leora Katz

9. Heavy-hearted fun is possible, healing, and better than no fun at all.

10. We all know that our people are a huge part of our Phish joy. For those of us who were able to salvage a weekend with our phamilies (and it’s heartwarming to see how many people were), it was beautiful how quickly we could acknowledge that not all was lost. That a weekend away with our closest friends was still a beautiful thing to treasure.

11. With that being said, it is Phish that brings us together and gives us something to rally our friendships around. And no matter how well we managed to salvage the weekend, it was significantly worse without Phish. We’re in this because of the music. The pre-show anticipation, the mid-show celebration, the post-show reflection. We had a band-size hole in our experiences this weekend, and that should only make us love Phish even more.

12. The ability to turn bad into good is an underrated skill, and one worth mastering.

13. It feels good to make a massive, raging fire and let it warm wet toes and crushed souls.

14. Related: Read Airbnb house rules before you do the things it tells you not to do, such as lighting a fire in a 12-foot fire pit and using copious amounts of pre-chopped wood.

by David Gelbard

15. Seeing opportunity is a super power. Whether it’s realizing that 12-foot fire pits should hold fires, or that friends with packed bags, days off, and miles already traveled should make magic happen.

16. Sometimes, you’ll need 250 more beers than you thought you’d need. Count inventory early so you can get more before you’re all too drunk to drive.

17. Listen to Phish, even when it hurts.

18. Mother Nature has ultimate control, and it’s foolish to think anything but. We must respect her glorious powers and treat her with the respect she deserves.

19. On that note: We need a way to do these weekends that is kinder to our planet, generates less waste, and relies less heavily on big box stores.

20. You can buy 8 big chicken breasts at Walmart for $9.81. Something is wrong with that. See point 18.

21. If you think you’re buying too much cheese, you definitely are.

22. There’s always something to be grateful for, and when you live your life with one eye on gratitude — it will undoubtedly improve. We must look at what we have, not only what was lost.

By Jess Senders

23. Empathy is a beautiful tool. While we all have shitty stories about the weekend that never was, we can all recognize that it was worse for someone else. Whether that be a fan who traveled further, worked harder, or spent more money; a vendor coping with what this means for their business; an artist, crew member or event staff who put everything into creating our dreamworld; or the residents of the area who had their homes flooded, property damaged, and roads washed away.

24. Your heart is capable of being broken and full at the same time.

25. Get a PTO day back, and another adventure awaits…

26. If you are truly part of this community, you know that Phish did everything they could to keep the cancellation from happening. They’ve been planning this for longer than any of us, and are now living with not only their own visions crushed — but the guilt of knowing how much so many others put into a weekend that never happened. They love us as much as we love them, and our Fuego will keep it rolling.

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