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. camman Says:

    whats wrong with frankie says? i dig that song…

    and what did you mean miner?

  2. full tour: ANNOUNCED! Says:

    100% agreement on “frankie sez” from 12/28/2003! That first set from 12/28/2003 really went to the outer limits FAST! The jam at the end of that “frankies” was deep dark phish psychedelia at its finest. I sat right behind the stage for that show and that 1st set was extremely unique.

  3. camman Says:

    thats what im trying to do miner…. gawd i want this band to be around a while….

    after all this is the “44th” year of the dead…

    could imagine phish turning 44?

  4. SOAM Says:

    Good times Bad times opener then Thriller front to back for 3 nights -jokes on us

  5. camman Says:

    full tour!!!

    i compeley agree… but what show would we meet at, and how could we all get to the same show?

  6. SOAM Says:

    too many good decisions make Jack a dull boy-Who’s got my…..

  7. guyforget Says:

    Hell year, i’ll host at my pad in Phoenix. I’ll charge $75 per carload for people to set up camp in my yard and shit their brains out in my bathroom (singular!!!) for 3 days. Sound familiar to anyone???? 🙂

  8. guyforget Says:

    i meant hell yea…

  9. SOAM Says:

    Cansman-the tire are the things on your car that make contact with the road and enable all the people to get to the same show

  10. camman Says:

    haha…. but people have different resources… and schedules…

    “i can hear you when you sigh”….

    i love how many different version of my name i’ve seen on here…

  11. SOAM Says:

    Can’t wait to drop a bomb at your pad-guy lafleur

  12. camman Says:

    the circus is the place for me with bears and clowns and noise
    I love the shiny music that descends from overhead
    Gordon knew the moment when the stars all turned around
    but from that vantage point I frowned

    if life were easy and not so fast
    I wouldn’t think about the past
    I can’t forget to turn the earth so both sides get their share
    of darkness and of light

    so now I wander over grounds of light and heat and sound and mist
    provoking dreams that don’t exist
    a circus of light where dreams can take flight
    in the peacefulness dreaming dreams brings

  13. SOAM Says:

    I get the dry heaves when fishman opens his mouth

  14. full tour: ANNOUNCED! Says:

    ^^^ lol…..reminds me of that “roggae” dreadie re-growth faux ad from 10/31/1996 in the phishbill. Roggae: the cure for male pattern dreadie loss. LMFAO!

    about the meet ups…not sure really….maybe someone can make a flag that we could all notice on the lot at shows? then convene on the site and let that freak flag wave!

  15. guyforget Says:

    big ole’ mule took a big ole’ dump.

  16. camman Says:

    hey miner,

    what do you think of your site becoming a daily message board for us dozen or so phish heads to kill time on?

  17. guyforget Says:

    the flag can say:
    “All you nerds who should have been working, or paying attention in school for he last 8 months”

  18. camman Says:

    agreed guy… agreed

  19. camman Says:

    3 more mins and i am out of here!!!! not here… but school…

  20. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^^ I’ve kicked around the idea of a message board…honestly, I’m afraid that would degrade with outsiders / trollers (a la P.Tour). I’m still working on figuring out how to paginate the comments to cut down on the scrolling– that way, each post would be a “thread” with pages of comments as opposed to one long document….working on this….

  21. camman Says:

    well as long as we’ve got your permission then cool…

    it is interesting how its the same dozen or so people that constantly refresh and comment on this page… i know im guilty of this….

  22. full tour: ANNOUNCED! Says:

    ** correction: the “Roggae: cure for male patter dreadie loss” faux ad was from the 10/31/1998 phishbill….not 1996. “Roggae”(the song) wasn’t born untill 1998.

  23. Davey Says:

    I love Phish, I listen to them every day and still get teary-eyed driving to work when I good peak comes around. But some of my most profound spiritual and physical experiences have come from LSD and Phish combined. I am perfectly fine going to shows sober with the mentality that “If I was meant to take it tonight, It’ll fall into my lap.” But Other times I want to have secured something like that before the show because I’d like to expand my mind and consciousness. I don’t trip more than 3 or 4 times a year so I’m not a psychonaut or anything but I do like to take my brain out of it’s box every once in a while to put my negative thoughts and stigmas back on the level of what really matters. I don’t know if that makes sense but the world is pretty crazy and sometime you just have to step outside the craziness to see what really matters.
    So basically I am jealous of the people who say “Park > Go in > Come out > Meet up > Get out of Dodge.” Because they know they can acquire what they want with their buddies. The lot scene is sketchy and bunk L is rampant. I just wish I was older and had a good set of old friends and a good sheet or two. It would last me a lifetime.

  24. full tour: ANNOUNCED! Says:

    ^^ Fishman’s “scent of a fool” cologne ad was from the 10/31/1996 if i’m not mistaken.

  25. Chalkdustin Says:

    The flag text is a good idea- I sure wish I had time to read and post all day long, but alas I have to devote my time to pointless tasks at work and cater to an overbearing boss. I try to catch up on all the discussions at the end of the day and by the time I get to the end of the string, all my thoughts have usually already been said.

    But still awesome to read nevertheless! I’ve been feeling that feeling I forgot for a long time and it’s good to know there are people out there who are just as passionate about this band as I am, and who are willing to have some pretty profound discussions, which is more than I can say of most of my friends (not to hate on them or anything).

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