Where Palm Trees Dipped and Seagulls Swerved

Festival 8 (R.Schloffel)

Festival 8 (R.Schloffel)

If Coventry embodied the dark debacle that Phish and their scene had become by 2004, Festival 8 represented all that is right in the current world of Phish. The most accurate word I can use to describe Festival 8 is “paradise.” We had arrived at a tropical site of dreams, and the entire place was set up for our ease and comfort. When contrasting Coventry’s mud-covered clusterfuck with Indio’s days of delight, things couldn’t have felt more different.

To begin with, as we approached the gate with a caravan of five RVs, we expected to wait in some traffic. After sitting on roadways for anywhere between 12 and 24 hours to enter previous festivals, this obstacle seemed like a given. But to our shock, we didn’t wait for one minute. After the thorough search for glass bottles and pounds of weed, the security let everyone through free of hassle. The only thing seized from any of our RVs were two glass-bottled Starbucks drinks. Onward and Upward!

Festival 8 (R.Gibbs)

Festival 8 (R.Gibbs)

After our team captain convinced the attendants to allow us to park in formation, we set up our home base within 45 minutes of approaching the main gates. Given maps upon entering, some exploration was in order. Prepared to walk a couple miles, everyone was pleasantly surprised to discover the concert field just around the corner from our campsite, about 100 times shorter than any festival walk in memory. The vibe of the Eight remained incredibly laid-back throughout the weekend, with well-behaved fans who appreciated the blissful setting. The entire event seemed like a Phish festival all grown-up. With amenities at every turn, shuttles to and from the lavish, nearby resorts, we certainly weren’t in Limestone anymore. Conducive to the band’s family-oriented atmosphere, the guys could hop back and forth between their loved ones and the festival in minutes.

10.31.09 (W.Rogell)

10.31.09 (W.Rogell)

The ease of Festival 8 seems to be the evolution of the Phish festival – easy access and hassle free. Providing a different feel from the absolute isolation of Limestone, this new model is quite¬† logical for the band’s place in time; just as Limestone defined the late ’90s. Virtually incomparable, Limestone possessed a Phishy magic that Indio could not. Just knowing what everyone had to do to reach the tip of America made those ritualistic weekends irreplaceable. The entire events were bigger, vaster, and more adventurous. We had our own city on the edge of the earth, and no one even knew. The unique majesty of those experiences will live inside us forever. But again, that was then and this is now. I’m not sure anyone who attended Festival 8 would have traded Indio for Limestone in a million years. Just as Phish and their fans continue to mature, and their music evolves, so will their signature events.

10.31 III (G.Lucas)

10.31 III (G.Lucas)

On top of everything else, the choice of locale – the Palm Springs desert – made the weekend flawless. With sunny days and cool evenings, the weather never intruded on our good times – something that can’t be said for virtually any other Phish festival. In addition, the site’s proximity to the highway provided easy access for the sundry artists, vendors and attractions. An amalgam of the Phishy spirit and the over-the-top west coast creativity of Burning Man, the art installations at Eight upped the ante from previous festivals, creating the feel of a psychedelic carnival. Throw in multiple bars, shade tents, countless couches, a jumbo-tron showing sporting events and movies, and golf cart taxis to get around the grounds, and this was most definitely not your father’s Phish festival!


Festival 8 (R.Gibbs)

Perhaps the biggest difference between Indio and Coventry is the utter joy engulfing the entire community these days. Back in ’04, we were there to celebrate a legacy – an irreplaceable time in our lives that was coming to a pre-mature end. And regardless of how much fun we had, the weekend possessed an irrefutable sadness.¬† Indio could not have been more opposite. With Phish back in 2009 – happy and on the rise again – everyone wore ear to ear smiles, and the positivity was absolutely infectious all weekend long. I never saw one incident, argument or bit of beligerence from anyone all weekend long, just people rejoicing to be back in the promised land.


Winged-music-noteJam of the Day:

2001 > Curtain > Tweezer” 11.19.95


A standout sequence that kicked-off Charlotte’s second set along the road of Fall ’95.



Festival 8 (Photo: Russell Gibbs)



11.15.95 Sun Dome, USF, Tampa, FL < Torrent

11.15.95 Sun Dome, USF, Tampa, FL < Megaupload

Sun Dome - U of South Florida

Sun Dome - U of South Florida

Making their tour of Florida universities, the band stopped at The University of South Florida a day after playing their legendary Orlando show the night before at The University of Central Florida, and three days after playing Gainesville. Amidst a tremendous run in the Sunshine State, a fierce “Mike’s Groove” holds down the second set of this show.

I: Poor Heart, AC/DC Bag, Fast Enough for You, Rift, Prince Caspian, Sparkle, Split Open and Melt, Sweet Adeline, The Squirming Coil

II: Wilson, Theme From the Bottom, Scent of a Mule, Mike’s Song > Life on Mars? > Weekapaug Groove, Fee, While My Guitar Gently Weeps

E: Suzy Greenberg

Notes: The band won the first chess game with the audience.

Source: Unknown

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435 Responses to “Where Palm Trees Dipped and Seagulls Swerved”

  1. joe Says:

    ok, cool to read that you are hooked.

  2. Henry Says:

    does anyone have any good copies of the ’03 NYE run at miami? i’d love to snag some in preparation for the upcoming run.

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    wow thats some mighty bad singing on Misty Glade there

    otherwise fun so far

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    mix on alaska sounds different to me btw…

  5. Mitch Says:

    so did everyone get the email that their joy box shipped but me? I’ve held off listening to joy this whole time and now party time is out. give me a break already.

  6. gus Says:

    I didn’t get the email, but I went to the drygoods website, and went to my account and saw my order status, and it said it had shipped.

  7. gus Says:

    oh my god, I cannot get over how awesome If I Told You is. it’s just so unlike phish to put out a techno-ish song. but it’s soo sick.

  8. whole tour! Says:

    if “alaska” on “party time” is from Asheville, then chances are that i’m on the recording somewhere! We sat right on the rail behind the stage.

  9. neemor Says:

    Mr. C, who is on vocals on Misty Glade? Fish?
    Henry, I know it’s lame, but never underestimate the clarity of LivePhish releases. That’s where I purchased NYE ’03 and I think it’s imperative that we support livephish whenever possible…just my opinion.
    Mitch…I feel your pain. No Spoilers Joy Box not working out so well…

  10. whole tour! Says:

    the nye 03 livephish sound dank as hell.
    Every show from that run is worth getting.
    The second set on NYE is fucking outer space stash > 7 below land.
    12/30 is all out classic.
    12/29 had the mother of all pipers and a bad ass Ghost > Free.
    12/28 set one is funk fest.

  11. neemor Says:

    That is Fish. Wow.

  12. Mitch Says:

    checked the order status before my post with no info.

  13. Henry Says:

    Yeah, i figured I might as well buy at the very least 12/31 and 12/30 if for no other reason than the P-Funk guest spot.

  14. KWL Says:

    The Asheville Alaska featured Trey only singing the first line once (and thus didn’t include Page’s ‘sing it three times’ line). It does sound live on Party Time at points to me though.

  15. KWL Says:

    after a quick back to back listen, I’m gonna say the PT version is not from Asheville.

  16. neemor Says:

    Henry, it’s got it’s moments. If I recall, the Shafty is cool and the LA Woman teases are nifty.
    I would suggest buying it for the feel of the Miami run….good call!

    That Alaska is clearly studio.

  17. whole tour! Says:

    12/31 was the weakest musically…imho…besides a few moments of glory..set 2…set 1…ect

    12/30 is a must own….one of the best shows i ever saw out of over 40. They literally had the entire arena swaying back and forth. If ever there was one of those where everything was exactly perfect…band and crowd interaction wise…it’s 12/30/2003. Absolutely off the chain.

    12/29 is also a monster…just good from front to back.

    12/28 set one was the fucking HEAT! the music on the new miami splash page for the 2009 run on phish.com is the opening jam before they dropped into bowie. They straight up came out and dropped right into a psychedelic space jam. The “Frankie sez” is the all time best version IMHO. No other version is even remotely jammed out like that one.

  18. neemor Says:

    I think it speaks well for Phish being able to capture the “live sound” on disc, though which is something they’ve struggled to do in the past.
    Pretty cool.

  19. Henry Says:

    thanks alot, now I am going to have to buy all 4 nights….

  20. whole tour! Says:

    if you’ve never heard the 2003 miami run…your in for a treat. ASeriously the best shows from that whole year (IMHO). It was a great run and a great cap on a very heavy year of touring for me.

  21. Henry Says:

    I honestly haven’t heard much 2.0 phish. A few summer ’03 shows and coventry is all I have listened to I believe.

  22. neemor Says:

    whole tour:
    What about the February run East Coast ’03?
    Did you enjoy 2/26/03 Worcester?
    For me, I can listen to that more frequently than Miami…
    You’d stick with the NYE run as best of ’03?
    Just curious…

  23. gus Says:

    haha I have’t even listened to coventry besides the failed curtain with.

  24. whole tour! Says:

    Trey had a distinctly more latin than usual flair at those 2003 shows.
    Page was using those psychedelic “zen” notes on the clav or rhodes or whatever he uses to make that sound.
    Mike’s bass during that run was like a Buoy out in the ocean or something..very commanding style of play.
    Fishman was just onfire the whole time.

    That’s why i was so surprised to hear those vegas 04 shows. I thought they were tearing shit up on a new level after those miami shows. The only hint of what was to come was the sloppy playing from Trey in set 3 of the new years shows. It was the first time i ever heard him let go and not care so much. I just chalked it up to them being tired after four nights at the time, but he was obviously on some heavy shit at the time.
    He was “getting down” with george clinton on the 30th, but the whole band just sounded fucking amazing. I’d be tired too the next night if i were hanging with ole george.

    2009 is gonna be off the chain down there. Last time it was epic.

  25. Henry Says:

    I felt it was my duty as a fan or something to tough out the coventry shows, and in a way i’m glad I did. Obviously it doesn’t compare to those who hiked in and such, but even just hearing the shows makes me appreciate so much more their return.

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