After much anticipation, Phish has finally satiated us with a slate of ten shows comprising the June leg of their first summer tour in five years. As yesterday passed, things finally began to come to fruition. Hampton is now less than two months away, and Summer ’09 is only five months out. Once again, we have Phish to look forward to– and everything feels different again, different as in way better! I, for one, had a very hard time focusing and accomplishing anything non-Phish related today. From the moment the dates were posted, and in fact long before that, there was little else occupying my mind other than the question of summer tour. Now that we know where the scenes will be in June, let’s take a closer look.
One of the first things I noticed when looking at the dates and on-sales is that Ticketmaster has been shut out. The band is now using Live Nation to sell their tickets, hence the selection of venues. Without using Ticketmaster, Phish had to select venues that don’t have exclusive contracts with Ticketmaster, most likely why we will be heading to Jones Beach instead of Darien, SPAC, or some of their other classic haunts. I am not fully aware of what venues have contracts with each company, but I do know that while using Live Nation, they can’t play “Ticketmaster venues.” It remains to be seen if the change in corporate sellers will result in an increased availability of tickets to real fans. Interestingly enough, Ticketmaster’s scalping little brother, TicketsNow, has taken all summer tickets off of their site, leaving only the Hampton shows. Maybe we are making some progress here!
Now to the dates themselves. The tour kicks off with one of only two two-night stands, at Jones Beach in Wantaugh, NY. Having not played the Long Island Amphitheatre since Summer ’95, this seems like an odd beginning. Fans have already complained about the poor sound at the venue, though when the sun is setting with water behind the stage, the setting is quite serene. These should should be a fun way to rev up again. After the opening couplet, Phish will travel north to play only one night at Great Woods in Mansfield, MA. It’s pretty surprising that the classic Phish venue, first visited in 1992, opening for Santana, isn’t getting two to the dome. Having played two night stands in ’94, ’95, ’99, ’00, and ’04, I thought two shows would be a given. Yet, it seems that Phish is trying to keep it simple on the first go round, which is probably best for the long haul. There will be a classic Phishy “Cannonball Run” down I-95 after the Mansfield show, as the circus heads for Camden, the site of so many great memories. 70% of the cars on the road all night will be packed with lit up Phishies, and filled to the gills with summertime accoutrements. The one night in southern Jersey, hosted by the Philly nitrous mafia, will cap Phish’s first four-night run since coming back.
Everyone will have a day off to make the drive down to Asheville, NC for what is sure to be one of the hardest tickets of the tour. With the Civic Center holding only 7,654 people, this stop is virtually inexplicable. As fun as the intimate show will inevitably be, why would someone make the decision to create another ticket fiasco? It is a Tuesday, so that should soothe some of the potential crowd, but you can bet Asheville doesn’t know what it’s in for with thousands of ticket-less fans sure to flood the small mountain town. The show should be phenomenal once inside, but that is gonna’ be a challenge. Following this show are five open days, two presumably to be filled by Bonnaroo when the lineup in announced on February 3rd. The tour can be split into the pre and post-Bonnaroo sections, with five days carved out for the clusterfuck festival.
After Phish and their fans emerge from Manchester, TN, they will move out to another special indoor show. Returning to the Fox Theatre in St.Louis for another Tuesday night special, this time only 5,060 fans will get to witness what is sure to be one of the standout shows of the tour. Although this night will be amazing, there will be a lot of fans scratching their heads at this decision as well. To put the size in perspective, Radio City fits 6,000; but the context doesn’t necessarily compare. New York City on a weekend for the first shows after Big Cypress created one of the highest ticket demands in recent memory, with people flying in from all over the country. But The Fox on their comeback tour, albeit in St. Louis on a Tuesday, is gonna’ be a scarce stub. Lots of fingers in the air here, as the band could fill the arena with their guest list if they wanted to.
Yet, instead of complaining, fans have the option of taking the week off, skipping the two smallest and the two biggest shows, and hopping back on at Star Lake in good ol’ Burgettstown, PA. It’s great to see Phish returning to a place of so many spectacular musical moments, ready to create new ones on the first night of the leg’s closing four-night run. The second show will bring us back to the cornfields and campgrounds of Noblesville, IN in a highly-anticipated one show return to Deer Creek. A venue with so much Phish history, mostly in the form of multiple night stands, will only be getting one night of action. You can bet the house, however, that it will be one of the most exciting nights of the summer! There will be no time to camp, however, as the the tour will head directly north to Alpine Valley. The classic pairing of Deer Creek and Alpine lives on! Tour will wind up at Alpine Valley for two nights of fun in the northern sun. With so many great shows having gone down at Alpine, and with multiple tours having ended at the great wooden amphitheatre, it certainly feels like a nostalgic home for the scene. With its sprawling parking lots and endless people, this will be a fun way to wrap up Summer ’09: Leg One.
So there you have it– what we have all been waiting for– Phish Tour! Ten shows confirmed; ten nights of summertime bliss, and that is only half of it. Phish is back in action and the universe is looking up. Here’s to a phenomenal 2009 with endless potential! Cheers, all.
SUMMER ’09 RUMOR MILL: If everything with Rothbury works out, don’t rule out a headlining slot for one or two nights between July 3-5th, a little more than a week after Alpine. This announcement would obviously come later as the folks up there are still sorting things out.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
6.29.95 Jones Beach, NY < LINK
This is the sequel to the show up for download yesterday, and Phish’s last performance at the amphitheatre that will inaugurate Summer ’09. A monster “Free > Bowie” highlights this night, along with a juicy mid-set YEM. The first set is solid all the way through, closing with a tasty ’95 Melt.
I: Runaway Jim, Taste, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, The Divided Sky, Cavern, Rift, Simple, Split Open and Melt, Carolina
II: Free > David Bowie, Strange Design, You Enjoy Myself, Acoustic Army, A Day in the Life
E: Theme From the BottomTags: Summer '09