CashOrTrade CEO Brando Rich was more disciplined than most in high school. Rich had started taking karate lessons at the age of seven and by his early teens had received a blackbelt. By the time he was a junior in high school, Rich and his brother Dustin would get out of school early and teach classes until 8pm six days a week.
“It was fun and super motivating. It was amazing to have an impact on people’s lives,” Rich told Amplify. “We certainly learned what commitment, dedication, and self discipline was all about. I would say learned to weave it into our everyday lives.”
The Rich brothers were similarly dedicated to another past time. After seeing Phish, Grateful Dead, and an incredible Lollapalooza in a single year, the two found themselves enthralled in the live music scene. The camaraderie and excitement of the shows sold them on the importance and impact of live performances.
“Phish came back in 2009 after a hiatus,” Rich explained. My brother and I “were excited to see them again and tickets sold out immediately. We saw them for thousands of dollars online and we realized something had happened with the tickets.”
Since the two had spent the last 17 years as web developers, they decided to do something about the predicament and started CashOrTrade. They packed a van and decided to hit every show on Phish’s tour to promote the site.
“We would hit the grocery store first and get everything that we needed, then hit the parking lot early. We would sell some burritos and usually make enough money to buy gas to get us to the next location. In between driving from city to city, we’d be stopping at coffee shops and hopping on a laptop to work on the site,” Rich said.
“Each night on the road, we would set up our CashOrTrade tent,” Rich added. “We put up a bulletin board with pieces of paper so that people could write a trade or if they had something to sell they could post it right there.”
By the end of the tour, CashOrTrade had 5,000 members made up of Phish fans alone. The brothers continue to run their fan-to-fan face value site and even continue to post bulletin boards on certain tours.
“It draws a lot of traffic and people stand around and read the bulletin board,” Rich said. “People leave their cell phone or their email and someone calls them up and says ‘I saw your post here. I’m at the CashOrTrade tent. If you come by I can make this trade.'”
Amplify caught up with Rich to find out about those three shows that started it all and a couple others to round out his top five.
Phish at UNH Field House in Durham, New Hampshire
May 8, 1993
This was my first Phish show and really my first live concert. I was 14 years old. I bought my ticket from a ticket broker who scalped it to me for $50, when they were on sale for like $15 at the time. I was new to listening to Phish, but all of my friends were going and I didn’t want to miss it. We showed up and as soon as I got out of the car I dropped my wallet. A guy came running up behind me to hand it to me. I was like, “Sweet! This is a great scene!” While sound quality has been better (the field house is a gym) the show itself was out of this world. The setlist was packed! They closed with “Amazing Grace” and jammed it out. I was hooked.
Lollapalooza at Quonset State Airport in North Kingstown, Rhode Island
This was one of the first large music events I traveled to and it was a wake up call for sure. We were not in Kansas anymore (or Southern New Hampshire). I had never seen so many people in one place before in my life. Lollapalooza taught us how to work the crowd. We’re on the shorter end so we learned to move in and out and get around the concert venue. During Primus, we crowd surfed as a mode of transportation. We would have some people lift us up and toss us on the crowd and we would thumb where we wanted to go and the crowd would carry us. It was absolutely nuts. Dusty, my brother, went from the back for the crowd to the front and was tossed on stage.
Grateful Dead at Boston Garden in Massachusetts
After Lollapalooza and my first Phish encounter, I was yearning for more. The Grateful Dead announced a six show run at the Boston Garden, the Ship of Fools tour, about an hour from where I grew up. We caught the first half of the run before returning to New Hampshire for classes. Luckily there was a weird day off of school, so back to Boston we went to close out the second weekend. At the time, Dusty and I were constantly in trouble with our parents. Needless to say we were grounded at the time and practically had to run away to attend these shows, but it was worth it. The phrase “there is nothing like a Grateful Dead show” is right. I had never seen a lot like the one outside a Dead show. The drum circles, the hare krishnas, people packing the streets from end to end. It was truly a scene. After we entered the venue, I left my friends and went off on my own. They opened the second set with “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” by the Beatles. It was something else. We ended up sleeping under a bridge that night. We listened to 13 car accidents above us and were woken up by some glass falling off the side of the bridge the next morning. I felt so honored to finally participate in the Grateful Dead.
Phish at The Centrum in Worcester, Massachusetts
Dec. 31, 1993
This might be the most influential show of all time. The energy of this show was blowing out the windows and popping the roof off the Worcester Centrum. This was just before they released Hoist which debuted the song “Down With Disease.” I believe this was the first time Phish filled a venue of this size and it was non-stop off the hook. They barely took a break between songs. It was one into another and there was no stopping them. Come the new years countdown, the band came down from the ceiling in scuba gear playing “Auld Lang Syne.” The entire stage was set up like a fish bowl and with the lights and seaweed and clam on stage, it looked like they were swimming while playing. Following “Auld Lang Syne,” they played the jam from Down With Disease. No one had heard it before and the place went crazy. The place was hot. I’ve seen 14 New Years run tours with Phish and this one tops it for sure.
Dead & Company at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts
Fast forward many years… I am now 39. This past November I went back to the Garden in Boston to see Dead & Company. The venue has gotten a lot of upgrades since my first Dead show 24 years prior. Urban development has led to efficient ways to manage people. There was barely anyone outside, no more cuddling under a bridge outside anymore. It was so special to stand in the same venue and see some of the same guys tear into it all over again. The music is different without Jerry Garcia, of course, but Dead & Company is a great way to reminisce and dance to the very same tunes I grew up on.
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