The Lot Paradox

There has always been endless debate about the culture that exists on Phish lot.  Many have decried the drug-focused and money-making endeavors that they have observed there.  Others have espoused the lot’s vibrancy, culture, and diversity, using it as an illustration of Phish’s community that has evolved over the years.  If I were to interject in this debate, I would venture to say, “You’re both right!”  The Phish lot is a place that can be both inspiring and downright depressing; a place that highlights the creativity and artistry of Phish fans as well as a place for those unconcerned with the music to hang out, do and sell drugs while pulling down the vibe of the community.  It was always a very delicate balancing act on lot.  Was this a positive place or was it a degenerative place?  The question will never be answered definitively, but it can certainly spawn some discussion.

2311745_fe310e65c9Upon arriving on Phish lot at your first few shows, you couldn’t believe the immense amount of activity going down.  People hawked everything from beer to burritos, from patchwork to Xanax.  The marketplace, itself, was overwhelming as “Shakedown” took on a life of its own.  This was exciting to the new fan; not many other concert experiences could provide the type of extra-curricular entertainment and open market that Phish lot could.  Artists sold their work, from paintings and jewelry to clothes and photos, and creativity overflowed from the committed bohemians who routinely turned lot into an their own craft show.  Witty lot t-shirts, psychedelic artwork, amazing works of blown glass, handmade garments; these were the fabric of the nomadic street market.

508809808_6a5329e1c4But as Phish continued to grow, especially after the Dead’s demise in 1995, the lot gradually became a seedier place.  A population of hanger-ons began flocking to Phish shows for the lot and not for the music.  The potential economic gain was too hard for drug-selling “kidz” to stay away; the customer would come to them every single night.  Soon there was an infiltration of these “pseudo-hippies” who came to the scene to hawk their drugs, take their drugs, and ride the coattails of the greatest band on earth.  Most never cared about going into the venue to see Phish unless a free ticket landed in their hand.  These were the ragged kids that dragged malnourished dogs behind them while listing the drugs they had to offer.  While I am sure there are some innocent folks in this demographic, it was this group who used Phish for personal gain without loving Phish at all.

It was one thing if a fan was on tour trying to get from show to show by selling bags of weed or providing people with their desired party favors.  It was a complete different thing when disenchanted and disconnected kids flocked to the lot just to engage in the harder drug trade of substances such as cocaine, oxycontin, and heroin.  These are the people that eroded the community.  And it was substances like these that drove Phish to quit for survival back in 2004.  Given these circumstances, we arguably have a certain responsibility to maintain a cleanliness to the Phish scene for one another, and for the band.

lsd_blotter_full_sheetBecause Phish grew out of the psychedelic counter-culture of the ’60s, as carried into the ’90s by The Grateful Dead, these mind-altering substances will also always be present on Phish lot.  Psychedelics in moderation, however, don’t usually cause any problems.  One may bug out and miss what they came for, but no one is going to OD on mushrooms or LSD.  It really all comes down to intentions.  What does one want to get from the experience?  The use of psychedelics to enhance your personal show experience can be profound, but no drug should define your experience.  When it comes right down to it, Phish’s music is the most powerful drug on the planet.

2153734696_c2f7c31812What is of far greater concern than people ingesting one thing or another for the show is the rampant drug market that exists after the show, which is an open invitation for fans to hole up in a hotel room and overdo it. I have always thought that leaving a Phish show is one of the “purest” states I have ever felt.  With all the crap in life swept aside, I am able to see what is truly important.  It was always a bizarre juxtaposition to watch people scour the lot, buying all sorts of powders to “party” all night long.  But alas, all you can control in this world is yourself, and if we are all looking after our own and our friends’ best interests, we can all significantly impact where Phish culture will evolve to in 2009.

2206130814_2621f3c169I am not naive.  I don’t think the negatives of the the Phish lot will magically vanish when they return to the stage, and with a new younger generation, who knows what will happen!  I probably won’t spend too much time investigating.  By the time 2.0 came around, my game plan had morphed into “Park > Go in > Come out > Meet up > Get out of Dodge.”  No doubt, it is the greatest to hang out in the lot post-show while feeling Phish’s energy still bubbling inside you; that “post-show glow” is one of the best feelings in the universe.  This energy is enough to carry you through the night all by itself.  Sure, add some decompression drinks and smoke, or absolutely nothing at all.

We all owe it to Phish to bring our best selves to these shows this year, as the band has worked with dedication to do the same.  Bring your spirit, bring your heart, and bring your dancing shoes; let’s keep in real and rage it in ’09!



Western St. College Gym, Gunnison, CO

Western St. College Gym, Gunnison, CO

3.14.93 Western State College Gym, Gunnison, CO SBD < LINK

Here we have a classic relic from the analog era with a tape that almost every fan had at one point or another.  The show took place in a small college gym and was filled with Phish’s zany humor and wonderfully tight ’93 playing.  This is two sets of great Phish, highlighted by a massive YEM medley in the middle of the second set.  A first set “Stash” and a rare “Ballad of Curtis Loew” also stand out in this overall great show. The recording includes most of the soundcheck as well.

Soundcheck: The Ballad of Curtis Loew (missing), Loving Cup, Tale of Ulysses Jam > Sunshine of Your Love Jam

1: Loving Cup, Foam, Guelah Papyrus, Sparkle, Stash, Paul and Silas, Sample in a Jar, Reba, Punch You in the Eye > Runaway Jim

2: Halley’s Comet, David Bowie, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, You Enjoy Myself > Owner of a Lonely Heart > Low Rider > Spooky > Oye Como Va > You Enjoy Myself*, Lifeboy, Rift, Big Ball Jam, Great Gig in the Sky, HYHU, The Squirming Coil

E: Memories, Sweet Adeline, Golgi Apparatus

*End of instrumental jam included a quote tease of “A Spanish Piece” (Pink Floyd). Vocal jam contained: “We Will Rock You” (Queen), “We Are the Champions” (Queen), and “Welcome to the Machine.”

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162 Responses to “The Lot Paradox”

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  1. c0wfunk Says:

    With the Hampton craziness right up front for 3 nights we’ll know pretty quickly what the scene will be like. That place was always able to thrive on our biggest parties, so it should be fun. The summer tour, as has been noted, seems placed to trim down the craziest venues (camden always got extra schwilly — nitrous mafia, multiple nights at deer creek turned into a ghetto campground, etc)

    One thing that always got me was kids who would walk through the show, back to the band, searching for “L” or “E” or whatever letter of the alphabet they hunted that evening, completely forgetting the reason why they’re there.

    I’m one that has so much fun that people look at me and figure I must be on *SOMETHING* so I get all kinds of requests inside — it’s a little obnoxious the reliance some folks have on their “supplies” to have a good time at the show. I’m a pretty live-and-let-live type of guy, but to me , the prevalence of powders and pills in the scene (and in our culture altogether really) has long been one of the biggest negatives on the scene-in and out of the show. Keep it green, keep it psychedelic, and keep it to yourself!

    great download pick, this was one of my first tapes!

  2. camman Says:

    Amen Mr. Miner!!!

    even though ive never expierenced the lot, i cant agree more. I’m looking forward to checking it out and chilling for a couple of hours befoer the shows, but by no means will i be partaking in anything that is a pill or paper. i have no respect for the people that come to shows just to do that. you said it perfectly that phish is the greatest strongest most pure drug there is. that truly dawned on me about 2 years when i put the band away for a couples to explore some new music, after a week i seriously felt like i was going through withdrawls and i could hear Yem and and Mike’s song echoing in my head. Anyways… i’m not going to let not going to Hampton kill my postivity about this year. i jsut need to get another job and not not the devil steal my 20 dollar bills. with the addition of the knoxville show, i think my summer is going to be Knoxville> Bonnaroo> Fox Theatre. That means knoxville will be my first show. have they ever played that venue before? what all do we know about it? also, is it possible to by day passes to the roo, so that i could just go the days phish was playing and try and cut down on the cost?

    “Keep it green, keep it psychedelic, and keep it to yourself!” – Couldnt agree more.

    What a truly great time to be alive….. 2009 will be “infectious”

  3. camman Says:

    Getting to school at 7am sucks.. thank God for this blog and the fact I’m graduating in 118 days

  4. Jeff Says:

    as much as it’s nice to think that the bad elements can be kept in check by the “real” fans, it’s highly unlikely. It can only be held down by the band/management deciding to take a stand, heavier prescence by the po-po, or just smaller, scattered tours. But again, much like you Minor, by the end I was rolling in and rolling out and really had little interaction on the lot. That’s a young mans game. From my experience, those seedier peeps don’t frequent message boards so they rarely pick up on the message that they are not appreciated as much anymore. That’s of course until someone needs some paper.

  5. Little Buddy Says:

    I am not naive enough to think that the negative aspects of the scene will not be present in v 3.0. That being said, I have a strong hope that the new kids, who haven’t experienced Phish before will bring a fresh energy and perspective to the scene. I remember in 1994 when I started going to shows that what struck me most was how intelligent and creative the Phan base was. People were talking about and trading books, etc. It was a psychedelic scene that quickly morphed into a hard drug scene when Jerry died and all the losers from Dead lot needed a place to get there fix. Camman – you’re obviously a cool kid and I’m hoping that there are a lot of pther kids like you out there who are smart and into Phish for the right reasons. The drugged out wooks looking for a pill and a schwill aren’t going away, I’m sure, but maybe some fresh energy from kids like you will help to balance it out. For people like me, who are apparently considered elders now (kind of weird since I feel pretty young at 32), we need to take it on ourselves to keep it positive and welcome new kids like Camman to the scene in the same way that we were welcomed 15-20 years ago when it was more about a psychedelic musical mystical experience. Somebody wrote yesterday that Trey said the only thing that is real is the music. Its important that we keep that in mind. Phish can be a mystical religious experience if done right. It can also be an ignorant, selfish drug fest. Its your choice! I’ll be at Hampton, I’ll be clean other than the green, and I’m gonna have the time of my life just like I did when I was 18. Amen!

  6. bhizzle Says:

    I’ve never had a problem in the lot. Not to say that I don’t believe they exist. As I noted previously, I have read the saddening post on PT and, granted, there are some serious embellishers posting I know some are true. But that does not deter me from enjoying a pre-game there. I know, I know. It IS really all about the music. But I have to say that one of the things that attracted me to go “see” Phish was having a great time on that chilly April day in Binghamton waiting for the gates to open. From that point on I have been to the shows well in advance to chill, watching passers-by, meeting new friends, having a drink or four or searching for some different sticky, stinky smoke. Lot is what you make it. For me it is part of the show. I must admit I high tail it out of there after the show. Like you said Miner, I amped up as it is from the music and just want to get to a place where me and mi amigos can talk about what just happened and not worry about being harassed by security to get the hell out.

    @ Jeff – young man’s game? Are 50 or something?

  7. full tour: ANNOUNCED! Says:

    nice post mr. minor. Nothing wrong with having some fun when you go to see this band. Those people who could care less about the band are the problem. Looking out of the venue in miami on new years eve 2003 during a setbreak, i was stunned to see
    almost more people were outside filtering through the lots than were actually inside the shows. I couldn’t imagine going to a phish show just to sit in the parking lot missing all the action inside. It is unfathomable for me to even think about missing the music, but i guess those thousands of people milling around outside the venue were there just to parasite off the scene. You were right when you said the music is the only drug anyone needs. Lately, as i listen to phish sober, i still get those epic vibrations flowing through my body….flashbacks almost. The goosebumps, the chills, the adrenaline rush. Watching some videos of that miami run on youtube put me into a state of bliss the other night that no drug can capture.

    “what you need is in your soul..” — “simple man” L. Skynard

  8. Weyoun42 Says:

    “But alas, all you can control in this world is yourself, and if we are all looking after our own and our friends’ best interests, we can all significantly impact where Phish culture will evolve to in 2009.”

    Right on. Like you said, the bad aspects are going to be there. Not much can be done about that. The trick is to not let it affect you and your enjoyment. When it comes right down to it, isn’t a Phish show about five people? The four masters on stage and you? Everything else is just atmosphere: breathe it in. Just like air, most of it will be good for you and some of it won’t, but don’t let it ruin what’s going on between you, the stage, the lights and the speakers.

  9. Jeff Says:

    ha ha. nope. early 30’s. BUT, i’ve grown comfortable with chilling in a bar before shows, or staying at the campsite until the last possible minute. the lot scene isn’t part of my phish experience anymore, but i see the thrill of it for younger peeps who this is or will be new.

    greatest lot scene of all-time? buckeye lake – grateful dead.

  10. Jonathan Says:


    You are spot on. Don’t get me wrong, I like to get down but over the last few years on tour, that place got a little creepy. I always take refuge in this though, our numbers are stong. There are a lot more of us than there are of them.

    I quote the great Davis Hasselhoff

    “I’m six foot four, an all-American guy, and handsome and talented as well!”

    Sorry everyone…I confuse myself sometimes.

  11. Jonathan Says:

    One last thing.

    I can not wait to see the nice mix of phans. I am 32 with a wife and three kids (all iunder 6). I can’t wait to see the new scene at these shows. I am wondering if I can handle it. What the hell am I saying, of course I can. These new younger kids willl give me a boost.

    In the past I would say “Whose got my nuggets?”

    Now I will ask “Whose got my Tylenol and Fresca?”

    I just got a brand new pair of “Freeport Shoes” for Phish Tour 2009. These boots are made for walkin’….. I hope my corns and bunyons will hold up.

    Ha Ha

    Can’t wait!!

  12. Mitch Says:

    Well done Miner. Someone send a link of this to the soapbox dude on hiddentrack.

  13. HSV 007 Says:

    Mr. Miner, you are right on the money. The phish lot is a conglomeration of all fans, from all backgrounds & lifestyles, all with their own specific agendas. Shakedown is awesome with every manner of item for sale: food, art, clothing, drugs, alcohol, services (!). I have always loved a hot grilled cheese, a 32oz Sammy, & a re-cap with friends after a blistering show waiting for the traffic to die down. My closest friends & I are there to see the band play & enjoy the experience, plain & simple. I wouldn’t do anything that would impede my (or others) enjoyment of the music or the experience of a show.
    From 1998-2004 the lot scene changed dramatically. Hard drugs (cocaine, heroin, pills, etc..) & violence abounded (fights, domestic conflicts, etc…). I was completely disgusted in Cincinatti 03, sitting next to some “kids” in the lot who were preying upon “custies”, disrespecting fans that did not look & act like they did, all the while shooting up in the back of their truck. They had no desire to see the show, enjoy the music, or relish in the joy that we all get from a Phish show. They were there to make a buck & get high. To each his own, but it brings such negative enegry to a completely positive scene. If someone wants to imbibe, do so responsibly & without affecting other fans experiences. The lot is a market place for all manners of goods & a great time can be had, you just have to decide what is most important to you: the music or the market. Thanks again Mr. Miner.

    43 days…..tick-tock, tick-tock

  14. Brad Says:

    I am 19 and my first show will be jones beach and i will end at mansfield unless I can score a camden ticket. A couple years ago during the GRAB tour i was talking to a couple of phans who said that was the closest to a Phish lot they’ve seen, and i LOVED it. I pick up two sick phish shirts and a couple of patches.

    Can’t wait to see the real thing though. Pumped for this summer.

  15. In Flagrante Delicto Says:

    I’m right there with you, Minor, with comment. You imply that the scene has an obligation to keep itself clean because drugs contributed to the break-up of the band. Then, on the other hand, you state that the only ones we control are ourselves.

    For the band’s sake, I hope the latter statement holds true, and the members of Phish control the behavior of the members of Phish. Not that I don’t support them, but I also don’t hold out much hope for a cleaner lot in v. 3.0. It is simple market forces. The drugs will go where there are buyers, and the trash elements always follow the drugs. The Phish lot is full of buyers of drugs of all levels, so the trash isn’t going to go anywhere.

    I can’t imagine the former backstage Betty Ford Center all of a sudden turning into something like the backstage of Aerosmith, who ban all drugs, booze, and drunks. So the boys better be able to handle themselves.

  16. camman Says:

    i gotta say though,i hope to make some money at the lot on the knoxville show, but i’ll simply be selling sandwiches (and i’ll trade to 😉 the only way i’ll be able to make this trip is if i can make some money back. i hate ripping the bacnd off like that, by using them to make money, but i figure as long as i’m respectable, control myself, and control whats coming out of my minute part of the grander lot scene, all will be good. i can’t wait to see them, and i really want to do the whole tour. anyone know about the bonnaroo situation as far as day passes go and all that shiznitit? thanks for the shout out guys… but i’m not entirely hopeful about my generation behaving, so i wont speak for them. all i can do is speak for myself and say i can fucking wait to boogie on down this summer, although, does anyone wanto contribute to the “Get Cameron to Hampton” fund?

  17. AbePhroman Says:

    Good article, but I don’t let the lot bring me down. I’m gonna have a good time, and I’ll party with the schiwlly kidz if they are nice to me.

  18. Jer Says:

    Eh, I’m 30 now and I’d much rather sit down and listen to the show and enjoy the one thing I would be going to the concert for anyway (the music) in the comfort of my own home over getting out and having to experience/deal with the many unsavory elements (and traffic) that come along with Phish. I’ve experienced plenty of the Phish “scene”… and it was never my thing…I was there for the music. Granted, some of the best memories of my life came at Phish shows. In my younger days I would accept the negatives as a necessary evil just to be part of the experience…now, I think I’m just too ornery to deal with that shit.

  19. kevin are hollo Says:

    i still marvel at the utopian gauze that people pull over their eyes when going to see phish!

    let’s get one thing straight: the “lot,” the “scene”, the “community” that creeps/crops up wherever phish is playing music is simply a marketplace. and wherever you find a market, there will be commerce. and with commmerce, greed. and with greed, addiction. and with addiction, strife. and with strife, poverty. etc etc etc. you see where this is going?

    the marketplace is neither good nor evil, a positive or negative. it’s a necessity! do you want to join me in a straight-edge revival? even then i would hope for a coffee before showtime. where would i get that? i could make my own, i suppose….

    as a former trafficer in this “lot,” living on both sides of the service/customer coin, i can attest to it being a very sad place. but i can also tell you that it’s completely necessary! all you people make it so! it’s bewildering to think that you’re immune from this stuff b/c you only smoke weed, or drink beer. anyone who has ever purchased anything in a parking lot has in some way signed on to the marketplace. to start putting restrictions on what can be bought or sold? well, that sounds like commie talk, don’t it?

    if you really wanna get utopian, why not everyone bring everything they need to the show, and just hand it out if anyone is asking for it? remove the cash from the equation, and at least you get back to the spirit of the thing (“i made this thing, and i’ll trade you for the thing you made”). or just refuse to buy anything.

    don’t criminalize one drug but not another. i’ve had countless friends whose lives have been seriously jeopardized by smoking ganja. even more so from alcohol.

  20. camman Says:


    “isn’t a Phish show about five people? The four masters on stage and you? Everything else is just atmosphere: breathe it in. Just like air, most of it will be good for you and some of it won’t, but don’t let it ruin what’s going on between you, the stage, the lights and the speakers.”

    that really reminded me of a yonder show last fall i went with my ex, BIG mistake. people were lighting up everywhere, puffing the magic dragon, having agreat chill time, just taking it all in. She couldnt stop complaing about the smoke and the lack of drums. anyways.. i think i’ll be doing my part of the topur solo, except for chilling with my uncle at bonnaroo… why does it sem that more guys are into phish then girls? is my perspective askew?

  21. c0wfunk Says:

    Camman I don’t think the band ever considered selling food in the lot using them or taking advantage. They’ve only been supportive of the scene, outside of nitrous. The important thing is *go for the show* everything else is gravy.

    And I’m pretty sure there are no day passes at the bonnaroo.

  22. eric Says:

    I think this article should be read by everyone planning on seeing Phish in ’09 and beyond. We all like to have a good time (and still will), but there is definitely a line to cross. Miner, I think you did a great job conveying this idea and also conveying where the ‘line’ should be.

    “We arguably have a certain responsibility to maintain a cleanliness to the Phish scene.”


  23. camman Says:

    speaking of gravy.. i dropped a headphone in some this morning, no worries though it still works and i got it all cleaned off. of coarse i’d be just going for the show, but some of us do need to find ways to facilitate going, and thankfully the band is aware and understanding of that. the bonaroo situation sucks.. becuase we may have to end up paying for 4 days when really we just want to go to one or two days. (any news on how many nights they are playing?) i think this site has become sort of a phish “bible” and anyone going to see them band should read it. i do becuase i love to hear about shows i missed or hadn’t heard, and i want to know what is and isn’t acceptable in the phamily.

    123 days until summer tour, oh yea! who has nothing better to do in physics when the teacher is in D.C. and the sub is watching planet earth… yep that’d be me

  24. jon_hansen Says:

    “Given these circumstances, we arguably have a certain responsibility to maintain a cleanliness to the Phish scene for one another, and for the band.”

    Well put!

    That said, I think what the scene could use is more brats and Italian sausages. That’s my Alpine lot calling card.

  25. camman Says:

    *noteto self.. also bring brats and Italian sausages

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