First things first.
Phish is not your average band, and the bands’ fans are not your average fans. For starters, Phish concerts are three hours long, and it’s never the same concert. The band changes its set on the fly, calling audibles mid-set, or even mid-song. It’s the musical equivalent of the read-option.
Seahawks fans and Phish fans have much more in common than the average phish-head or hawks-fan realizes.
Phish fans travel across the country to watch their favorite band perform in different cities.
Phish fans brave the elements to see concerts live, outdoors.
Phish fans cut loose at concerts.
Phish fans go online to express their opinion about the concerts they watch.
Phish fans wear band-merch to concerts.
Phish fans are loud, and the band feeds off of them, creating experiences that shake the earth.
Now substitute Seahawks for Phish, team for band and game for concerts in the first 5 statements.
The 6th statement has no factual basis, but anyone who’s been to a Phish festival (especially Big Cypress, AKA, the night Phish played from dusk till dawn in the Florida everglades to welcome in the new Millennium) will agree with me.
The kicker is that Phish and the NFL are best experienced in person, but the best way to WATCH a show/game is now online.
What do we miss by watching the NFL in the comfort of our living rooms? At least for Seahawks fans, it’s The Sound. 68,000 + fans screaming, shaking, exhorting their team. It’s real, palpable, and the national backlash is in full swing. Somehow, we are cheating because we care about the team too much. We are too loud. It’s amazing, and yet no team’s fan base brings more to the table than the Seahawks'. Is it Seattle’s musical heritage? Is it 37 years of football frustration? Is it technical innovation. How about all three?
Just 9 years ago the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl, and the national joke was that no one was a Seahawks fan. Now the fan base is national, even global and the east coast press still hates us, SF hates us, LA is 50/50 and Portland doesn’t really care. Guess what? We don’t care about them.
Geographically we are on an island in the Pacific NW and the tables have finally turned. We’ve flown further to play games then any team in the country, but now, everyone else has to fly to us. It’s a beautifully karmic turn of events.
Seattle has the best defense in the country, the best running back in the NFL (statistically over the last 3 seasons) and a preternaturally gifted quarterback in his 2nd year in the league leading a team and stealing the hearts and minds of fans around the country.
Heck, Wilson even convinced a lifelong Jets fan and founder of a band from freaking Vermont to bestow a 30 year-old song upon him. Phish fans, for the most part, are not football fans. They are definitely not Seahawks fans, as the band’s biggest markets are the North East, Colorado and San Francisco. When Phish frontman Trey Anastasio went public with his Russell Wilson man-crush, it didn’t win him any popularity contests, but he can sense greatness. He saw what we have seen over the past two years, what John Schneider saw at Wisconsin, and what Pete Carroll saw in training camp last season.
I had to experience the Wilson chant in person, so I flew from sunny Los Angeles into the worst conditions in Seahawks history to see the divisional round playoff game against the Saints. I was soaked 90 minutes before kickoff while walking to the game in a monsoon. I stumbled into the stadium pro shop and fought my way through Black Friday lines to walk out with dry socks, a beanie and a sweatshirt. I warmed myself with IPAs and yelled until i was hoarse from section 338, row A, seat 1. Right smack on the 20 yard line, right above where Doug Baldwin made the catch of his life and (pardon my Raible) Marshawn went full Beast Mode, version 2.0. It was magical, and those moments are two that I’ll never forget. Celebrating with strangers, dancing in the rain. Go Hawks.
It’s our duty as fans to embrace this moment, this team and the players. They are castoffs, late round picks and won’t get the credit they deserve until they hoist the Lombardi trophy in New Jersey.
Watching the Saints game later in the warmth of my living room, i’m even more amazed Baldwin caught that ball, or that Wilson called the audible and went for it, in the rain.
What I missed watching online was the Sound, the energy of being at a game. Just like you can watch a concert online, and you don’t see the full power of the Light show, or the energy of the crowd. You may have the best seat in the house, from a dozen different angles, but you aren’t affecting the concert, or the game. (unless of course you are wearing your lucky jersey and practicing all of your pre game rituals / superstitions.)
If you can go to the game this weekend, DO IT. If you can't, watch it with friends. The Backstage, The Novel Cafe, The Tap Shack, Carlow East. They are all amazing places to watch Hawks, and they are not even in Washington State. The 12th Man is global.
(I watched last years Divisional playoff at an English Pub in Sri Lanka with a security guard who who the owner hired to stay the night so that I could watch the game till 5 in the morning. He saw the passion and the agony. What an amazing comeback and bitter defeat).
If you are so superstitious that you have to do something weird like drive in your car and listen to the radio telecast or sit alone at your computer reading the game thread on this manic website, do that. Whatever it takes. We are the 12th man. GoHawks.
Oh yeah, the Wilson chant. It was fun. The crowd is way better at yelling when the Defense is on the field and staying quiet when the Offense has the ball, and that’s the most important thing to do as fans. But yeah, hearing a Phish riff played over a the PA in an NFL stadium is absurdly wonderful. Some Niners fan called it a prank online, and he’s half-right. It’s a prank on the entire NFL, not the Seahawks. If anything, the fact that Trey likes the Seahawks (or at least Russell Wilson) is all part of the gag. Who likes the Seahawks? We do. The 12th Man. And all of you are going to have to deal with it.
The rain was falling, twas after dark, and the Seahawks advanced to the NFC championship, at Century Link.
Bring on the Niners.