Sleeper Shows

Shoreline '03

Shoreline '03

In a summer tour that is filled with a selection of the finest venues and plenty of excitement, it seems that almost every show is receiving a massive dose of hype- except a few.  While the buzz in the scene has centered around Red Rocks, The Gorge, Fenway, Asheville, and The Fox, it seems that Summer ’09’s slate of other venues is a laundry list of memories past.  Deer Creek, Alpine, Star Lake, Merriweather, SPAC, Darien, Camden, Great Woods, the list goes on.  But amidst all of these high key shows and memorable venues, there are three that look to be the sleeper shows of the summer.

Toyota Park - Chicago, IL

Toyota Park - Chicago, IL

On a Tuesday night in August, Phish will play Chicago, but somehow everyone forgot.  After every single show sold out in minutes, this one took almost a day!  Pretty odd seeing it’s the same Phish and the show is in one of the three biggest markets in America!  At this point, extras are flying around like mosquitoes on Lake Michigan, and something tells me people will be giving them away at the show.  Coming on a Tuesday after the west coast run- two days after the Gorge- and before the final four-night swing around the northeast, this Chicago show is truly the show in between.

All of this and the show is in Toyota Park, an MLS soccer stadium with a massive GA field!  To be honest, this may be one of the most enjoyable experiences of the summer.  With plenty of room inside the 30,000 person venue Phish will surely match the size of their setting with massive musical endeavors.  Having a propensity for rocking the Windy City, this time should be no exception, especially since they have somehow made a stop in Chicago an out-of-the-way show.

Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, TN

Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, TN

In Knoxville, on a Wednesday in June, Phish will play a gig at the University of Tennessee that was squeezed in between the much talked about affairs of Asheville and Bonnaroo.  Added after the original tour was announced, this arena stop was also one of the easiest tickets of the summer, as Knoxville’s local ticket system worked beautifully- likely due to tempered demand.  With many fans already resolved to hitting the first four and last four of June, you can be sure not too many people will be flying into Knoxville for Thompson-Boling Arena; this show will be for the people on tour.  On a Wednesday night indoors, this one looks like a dark-horse success story in the making.


Shoreline '03

Although it’s hard to call Phish’s only stop in the Bay Area a sleeper show, I’m going to go ahead and do it, and here’s why.  The Red Rocks stand is clearly the focal point of all Phish west of the Mississippi this summer, and an all-out effort will be made by all fans to get to Colorado.  But even if people are shut out of Red Rocks, no one will be shut out of The Gorge, the west’s most magical venue, and location of endless Phish lore.  Due to scheduling, Shoreline got hung out to dry on a Wednesday night on the peninsula.  With Red Rocks and The Gorge being “destination” shows, Shoreline is receiving very little attention- the first ingredient to a sleeper.  Coupled with the fact that Phish tears apart Shoreline routinely, there is no doubt that this will be a mid-week special.

With summer’s white hot spotlights falling elsewhere, these three shows will likely emerge from the shadows with some epic jams and more than a few surprises.  Just as Phish is known to rise to the occasion in the “big” shows, so are they famous for taking “out-of-the-way” audiences for cosmic rides.  Call it a hunch, but these less-talked about shows won’t hold the same label come the end of the summer.



6.16.95 Walnut Creek, Raleigh, NC < LINK

6.16.95 Walnut Creek, Raleigh, NC < TORRENT LINK

1995-06-16gnThis legendary show of summer ’95 has been recently re-popularized by the “Left Nuts” CD that came with the Walnut Creek ’97 DVD.  On the sampler are select soundboard versions of the multitude of highlights from this show, including the epic “Runaway Jim > Free,” and the “Dog-Faced > Catapult > Split Open and Melt.”  To cap the show, there  is also a huge “YEM” featuring Boyd Tinsley on violin.  Amidst a week of incredible outings in 1995, this one is among the best.

I: Halley’s Comet > Down With Disease, Esther, Ya Mar, Cry Baby Cry, It’s Ice, My Mind’s Got a Mind of It’s Own, Dog Faced Boy* > Catapult > Split Open and Melt

II: Runaway Jim > Free, Carolina, You Enjoy Myself*, The Squirming Coil

E: Bold as Love

*With Boyd Tinsley (Dave Matthews Band) on fiddle for a portion of the jam.

Source: Neumann RSM190i > Neumann PS > D7 > JVC XD-P1 [patch master used in xfer]

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159 Responses to “Sleeper Shows”

  1. Billy Breathes Says:


  2. Harpua Says:

    I realize this has probably already been mentioned, but phishows is back up.

  3. old dude Says:

    voopa – always though 3rd Stone would make a nice H2 replacement in MIkes Groove

    Light my Fire (or did Fishman do that one already?)
    Ring of Fire
    Great balls of Fire
    I’m on Fire (ain’t that a tunnel of love song?)
    just don’t do that fucking Billy Joel song

  4. EL Duderino Says:

    Mr. Completely 2/24/74 is my second favorite Dark Star…very jazzy 🙂

  5. Corey Says:

    Well, I have successfully gone to some amazing “sleeper shows” as you put it. 10.29.95 Louisville Gardens, 11.6.96 Knoxville and Row A seat 20 – (front row center, that is…nothing like having literally the best seat in the house) for the next night’s mayhem in Rupp Arena 11.7.96, 7.25/26.97 Dallas and Austin TX (woohoo TX shows!!), 11.19.97 Assembly Hall — oddly just like Chicago this year, after the last west coast gig in Denver and before the famous Hampton shows, 11.23.97 LJVM Coliseum, and made it out of Lexington only to have my car die on the way to 11.15.98 MTSU, Murfreesboro TN. Hmm, I see a Tennessee trend here. Oh, and yay me!!! For I am going to ALL 3 Sleepers this summer — Knoxville Shoreline and Chicago. Woohoo! See ya’ll at Fenway in 30 days.

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    Completely- Cypress Roses? just a stab

  7. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    i wud have guessed ALO tweezer.

  8. mmm hmm Says:

    I certainly understand the idea of sleeper shows (most recently, what everyone thought about Star Lake in ’03 and check out that segue fest…) but I’m not sure how you can label any of these shows sleepers due to the magnitude of this tour. Sure some are talked about more than others, but Knoxville is a 21,000 seat sold out event smack downtown in Knoxville, doesn’t really sound like a sleeper…although you might get yawn-ie after drinking brews in the lot and sobering up during the show with no beer served inside…

  9. Jonah Says:

    Hey all, I have 4 extras (2 GA and 2 Reserved Sect 133) to Toyota Park that I need to unload fast! Selling at face value. Any takers? Email me at!

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