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”

  1. Pence Says:

    at what point do you say that they have “proved” themselves.

  2. Avenu Malcenu Says:

    Does anyone out here work?

  3. guyforget Says:

    have we gone beyond the excitement and realization that we will soon all again be enjoying our favorite hobby, that we are now resorted to naysaying?? Just seems like it’s been a different vibe on this site over the last few days. Bickering sucks, espectially about something we are all very excited about. Jeez.

  4. Matso Says:

    @ kevin are hollo and R1-

    Kevin wrote: “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?”

    Just because I spend a buck on grilled cheese does not mean I have to condone or accept that heroin is also being sold in the same market place. Putting restrictions on what can be bought and sold is what a well-regulated market is all about. Just because something can be sold doesn’t mean it should be. Even in the real free market, there are restrictions based on a common morality. And from the posts on this blog, heroin and other stupid drugs are something which most of us don’t want to see.

    In a market, there are also restrictions or regulations which are deemed necessary to make sure the market – and the society it supports – don’t breakdown. For example, the mess in the American economy is down in large part to an absence of those restrictions in banking and capital markets. The same goes for Shakedown. In the end, the whole thing got poisoned and the band quit to save themselves.

    And for the record this does not make me a commie. Besides, even the commies have seen the benefits of the market (see China’s until-recently booming economy).

  5. Mitch Says:

    Just to be clear, I love Hidden Track. It’s set as my homepage on my browser. I wasn’t bashing the site just commenting on that one post.

  6. Pence Says:

    its a discussion site not everybody is going to have the same views/positive vibe. Its what makes it interesting. I think you know im with you as a person on the positive team. I think this would be boring/reduntent site if everybody said “phish is the best oh I love them, oh trey baby, I love you. hehe just kidding with that.

  7. contact420 Says:

    Pence, the point when you say that they have proved themselves is after the summer tour is over. We’ll see how tight they are, post hiatus Phish was not that well played , this is fact. If they can reach form (98 was the last year they consistently practiced) that’s the time to say F yeah Phish is back!

  8. camman Says:

    if phish has anything to prove at all, it’s simply that they can still jam. we know the are the greatest band ever, i guess we’re all just waiting to see what they are going to add to their legacy. i’m sorry if i have brought any negativity to this site. that was not my intention. otherwise i would be posting on some spam board on pt. with all the pestimstic attitudes in our country, what is wrong with be hopeful. we are entering a new age of hope. as for at what point hey proved themselves? heres a list

    NYE ’93- The “Donky Kong” of shows
    NYE ’94- Hotdogs anyone?
    NYE ’95- best show ever?
    All the festivals… all the huges antics they pulled off… everything that they did that no band did before them.. all of that is proving themselves… as some mentioned above THEY HAD THE BIGGEST CONCERT in the WORLD for Y2K

    i want you to tell me, otehr then coventry, which was obviously a emotional roller coaster, how HAVENT they proved themselves?

    just woke up from a nap in computer programming class and feeling cranky from all the complainers!

  9. contact420 Says:

    camman, did you even see Phish in ’93? I’m guessing you might be way too young for that show. Experience goes along way. It all depends when you got on the bus, that determines your perspective. The distance is a little longer. We all want Phish to succeed plain and simple!!!

  10. R1 Says:


    Let me qualify my previous statement. I concur with Kevin in that the marketplace of the lot is inevitable. Doesn’t mean I think “anything goes” should be the sought after ideal. I’m not THAT inclined toward free market economics. I should have been more specific. But again, I frankly don’t care about the lot anyway so . . .

    And I second those who say that Phish has nothing to prove. To whom do they have something to prove Contact420? You? HA! Give me a break.

    Phish doesn’t play concerts as some kind of public service. Did you elect Phish to some sort of public office? No? Well then the only way in which they are beholden to you is that you choose to pay for a concert ticket. If you’re not satisfied, don’t return. I don’t understand what they COULD conceivably PROVE anyway. Please explain to me what you want proven.

  11. lanser Says:

    Yep. another fine post mr. miner. you can buy those frosty beverages from ME!!! All summer long 1 for 3 2 for 5 icy cold sierra nevada! icy cold DUFF
    stickers can’t wait for TOUR!!!!!!!!

  12. camman Says:

    contact.. if you know me, then you know i havent been to any shows….but i’ve heard the tapes and can put it into context…. every year they were proving themselves.. with bigger spectales and monster music… even in 2003 and 2004 they were doing new stuff…

  13. contact420 Says:

    So sloppy Phish is cool with you and you’ll see every show no matter what? Come On!

  14. camman Says:

    i was.. wait for it.. wait for it.. wait for it….. 2 in 1993 yes sirey

  15. camman Says:

    yes contact.. i will…

  16. contact420 Says:

    Cool camman. I want us all to have a kick ass time this summer and camman you will have a blast! I just want a focused, tight frickin band this summer that’s all

  17. camman Says:

    as do i man, and i think we all do, but whether we get some new hotness like 1995 or the extended groovy jam fests of 2003, i’ll be there as much as possible. this band has done so much for me personally, and i want to be there to cheer them on and give back however i can.

  18. snigglebeach Says:

    I like party that pops up during traffic. The excitement of the upcoming show, mixed with the anxiety of being stuck outside the lot or festival grounds.

    But at least you got a goal at that point. Once you get in you have to decide where is everyone, where is Shakedown. How crazy are the local Fuzz. Should I set out lounge and watch the movers and shakers, or go on the run and see whats about.

    When we are stuck on the road is when we all have the most common interest. Not until the music starts does that continue to be the case.

  19. RobAins Says:

    Obviously having been to shows in the mid/late 90’s (as I did) is going to give a different perspective. IMO, Camman listed 2 Top 5 shows, with NYE 94 being Top 10.
    Just because I only saw a few Dead shows from ’92 to ’95 doesn’t mean that I don’t fully understand that 1977 was the shit. As well as Spring Tour 1990.

  20. camman Says:

    i really interested to see what fall phish is going to be like. will they put out a new album this year (i think so) and how will the badn close out the year.. only time will tell

  21. SOAM Says:

    I dig tour-cannot wait for the first show and am very hopeful-but it takes a little run before you can get to a WORCESTER 98 level -anyone who knows how they work and interact knows the more lubricant the smoother the ride-they will have to get used to this again and that comes with shows brother..let’s face it the bands intentions and feelings are known to very few. They have kind of vacillated to the point of insanity. let’s hope they are back but more important, committed to sustainability and not just looking for a check. no one knows the real deal-all we can do is hope

    “it’s what I was afraid of..I stumbled into you”

  22. camman Says:

    soam.. it sounds like your not going to be satisifed unless they come out and play the best shows of their career… why can’t we be happy with good shows?

  23. guyforget Says:

    i heard they will be employing T.O’s, Josh Hamilton’s, and Pacman Jones life coaches/bodyguards on this tour to keep their noses clean and out of trouble on tour.

  24. contact420 Says:

    camman, it’s because we been through this before.

  25. Read Icculus Says:

    …come on now Rutherford, you’ll never make it…….

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