What Happened To The West?

The Gorge '09 (W.Rogell)

While some fans are willing to travel to the end of the earth to see Phish – from Copenhagen to Tokyo and Telluride to Prague – many simply can’t make these treks due to life circumstances and responsibilities. As Phish 3.0’s second year begins to unfold, Phish fans on the west coast are still left wondering why the band refuses to come their way, playing virtually no shows on the west coast and southwest since their return. While west coast swings used to be hallowed summer traditions, providing the most gorgeous drives of the tour, the band’s overwhelming focus on the eastern seaboard has left many Phish-less fans on the left coast out in cold.

Using this summer as an example, the only shows west of the Rocky Mountains are the three at The Greek, and everyone knows how hard those tickets have been to come by. Last summer, Phish graced the west coast for exactly the same amount of shows – one at Shoreline and two at The Gorge – and then returned for Festival 8, for a grand total of 6 out of 50 shows. While Phish hails from the east coast and have a concentration of fans, friends, and families there, they have seemingly forgot how many people long for them to come westward. Or maybe they just don’t care.

In Phish’s previous eras, the west coast always comprised an integral part of the summer circuit. Some of the venues changed and others stayed the same, but west coast Phish always provided one of the best segments of tour with notably laid-back atmospheres, less crowds, and stellar weather. A far cry from the overrun amphitheatres of the east, Phish’s music adjusted to the calmer settings, often taking a different direction than east coast jams. Thus far in this era, however, unless a west coast fan lives in the Bay Area, outside LA, or in rural Washington, they haven’t even been able make a reasonable drive to a Phish show.

Phish’s current family-based touring model must play a role in their lack of desire to travel far for shows. Only selecting the most choice venues, west coast shows are now reserved for “special events,” neglecting many fans across the region. With limited vacation days, a less-than-ideal economy, and more mature responsibilities, many core Phish fans can’t just drop things and fly across the country for a week; it’s no longer as feasible as it was ten years ago. Just as the band has changed and matured, so has their primary fan base, and one would think their routing would reflect this understanding.

Coors Amphitheatre - Chula Vista, CA

Throughout the modern era of Phish, the band has chosen venues and tour schedules according to their own desires, leaving fans to figure out ways to navigate smaller shows and harder tickets. In this golden age of their career, it seems that Phish will do what makes them happiest without caring about ease of access to shows or tickets, and they have certainly earned that right. Unfortunately, the lack of west coast shows fits right into this pattern, like it or not.

With an over-saturation of east coast gigs this summer, sixteen shows have, ironically, yet to sell out. Staple venues like Deer Creek, SPAC, Walnut Creek and Camden still have tickets on sale. Other shows with stubs still up for grabs include both Hartford dates, Charlotte, Blossom, and Chicago. And the reasoning is hardly a mystery. Without an expanding fan base at this point, Phish, largely, has a “set” number of fans who want to see them play. With so many opportunities within short drives for most fans on the east coast, many of these shows are not selling out because people are picking and choosing what shows to hit. With an aging demographic and no younger generation to fill in the holes, less Phish fans than ever are doing the entire tour – or even extended runs. With most fans seeing less shows in total, more tickets are left available.

Out West, Fall '95

Logic would have it that less shows in one area would cause them all to sell out, but by scheduling multiple two-night stands within a couple hours of each other every weekend, most fans don’t have the capacity – or need – to hit each one. I don’t think that there are less people trying to see Phish, but the same number are spread out over 16 eastern shows. If Phish cut that number to 10, I bet most tickets would be gone. We can theorize all day, but when it comes down to it, I don’t think Phish or Red Light much cares what we think. Phish paid their dues, playing every village, town, and city throughout the 80’s and 90’s, and this is their time to schedule their lives out of convenience, not necessity. They have their fans, they have their money, why do they need to play where they don’t want to play? I can certainly see their side of the coin.

Though Phish will only play three west coast shows this summer, rumors have started to swirl about a Fall run down the coast. I don’t have specifics, but we shall see. Murmurs of Indio being rescheduled for Halloween weekend have also surfaced, potentially coinciding with such a western swing. With west cost weather holding strong through the autumn months, an eventful run could be in the works; one can only hope. West coast Phish not only offers locals a chance to see shows without boarding a plane, it also provides a totally diverse live experience for those fans traveling from other parts of the country, balancing the clusterfucks of the east.

Portland '98

Hopefully, Phish will escape from the vortex of Verizon Wireless venues of the east, and figure out a way to unveil more western dates before the year is up; but without any real incentive, west coasters shouldn’t hold their breaths. For the time being, west coast fans will have to live with quality over quantity, as some of last year’s most stellar shows took place at The Gorge and Red Rocks, and this summer the band will hit up the Greek and Telluride. (Though let’s not pretend that Colorado is a west coast state.) With their roots firmly planted on the east coast, it remains to be seen how geographically diverse modern tours will become. But for now, west coasters, score those Greek tickets, keep your luggage accessible, and save those frequent flier miles, because who knows when Phish will be back on the left coast.


Jam of the Day:

Wolfman’s > 2001” 7.24.98 II

The highlight of today’s Download of the Day.




7.24.98 Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands, TX SBD < Megaupload

7.24.98 Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands, TX SBD < Torrent

Mitchell Pavilion @ The Woodlands

A dark-horse show from outside of Houston, along the Texas run of Summer ’98.

I: The Moma Dance, Runaway Jim, Bouncing Around the Room, Stash, My Soul, Taste, Golgi Apparatus, Loving Cup

II: Wolfman’s Brother > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Scent of a Mule > Ha Ha Ha > Scent of a Mule, Slave to the Traffic Light, Chalk Dust Torture

E: Character Zero

Source: SBD

Tags: , ,

608 Responses to “What Happened To The West?”

  1. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    All for some Otter Pops taboot.

  2. EL Duderino Says:

    Otter Pops?!?!?

  3. Kurt Says:

    nice, never did the molly or what not til the ol girlfriend came along, she loved that shit. hindsight: probably not the best of people or ideas, love that family though, fluff just reminds me of going to the ozarks for the schwag, lost many a electronics in that river by the bluffs, anyone know what im talking about???

  4. EL Duderino Says:

    I know about nailin’ the girlfriend on Molly.
    I know about the Fluff.
    I know about the ozarks

  5. EL Duderino Says:


  6. EL Duderino Says:

    The Dudes dinner menue for Cinco De Mayo:

    Fresh fruit Banana Margaritas with blue Agave tequila

    Homemade guacamole

    Chicken Fajitas

  7. flarrdogg Says:

    El Duder- That was my first show- Nautica stage ’94. I’m in a lab right now and cannot dload. Will there be seeders up for a while? Is this source the best of the best? Will certainly be an improvement over what I’m currently rocking- sounds like they’re playing from a convertible doing 110 through a tunnel.

  8. EL Duderino Says:

    @ flarrdog

    Yes this is the best source in circulation! I had the GEMS source which everyone has. It straight up sucks!

    I’ll seed till tomorrow morning at 9:00am

    Jump on board brah 🙂

  9. EL Duderino Says:

    @ flarrdog

    Were you Jimmy selling doses to me and my friends on lot???

    Little Jimmy had some good doses at Nautica!

  10. flarrdogg Says:

    El Dude- Thanks. Much appreciated.

    Kurt- Welcome aboard.


  11. Kurt Says:

    dude: you seem very well informed, all those things sure are great arent they

  12. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Kurt

    The Dude abides!


  13. flarrdogg Says:

    Summer ’94 was preshady days for me. Fresh faced high school graduate. Had already done some GD in summer/ fall of ’93, but that was my introduction to the live ph. Grew up in Cleveland, so it was a hoemtown show. I remember that I was out of my tits and thought I could see through people’s head and into their skulls. Fail. Should have known then that moderation wasn’t my strong suit.

  14. Chuck D Says:

    smoko cinco de weedo everydayo

    (my grandpa would just put an “o” on the end of english words and think they it became acceptable Spanish. Actual quote: “Uhh, excuse me waitero, el checko please por favor.” enjoy your evening.

  15. EL Duderino Says:

    @ flarrdog

    you hittin’ Raleigh and Charlotte?

  16. (Formally Known As) BrandonKayda Says:

    You guys talking about the lots and the scene and everything is making me all the more excited for my first Phish at MPP this summer! Sorry for mentioning that so much but the great weather lately has really got my mind reeling.

    MPP this summer is going to be incredible

  17. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Remember the zero expetations rule.

  18. Jtran Says:

    About to mow the lawn and listen to 10/21/95. Excited to say the least.

  19. Jtran Says:

    ^^^For the first time

  20. Luther Justice Says:

    Your dad will love the lots.

  21. Angryjoggerz Says:

    I agree the wares on GD tour were awesome… I remember the first time I found a glass piece, took me a whole summer. Blown by a guy named Jason who was a student of Snodgrass (sp?). Been a while, but still have that chillum.

  22. flarrdogg Says:

    El Duder- No southern swing for me. Probably Hershey (gonna be back that way for a wedding). Greek, DC>AV.

    Jtran- You may want to step away from the machine with the quickly rotating steel blade while listening to 10/21/95- especially set II. Health risk. Just lookin’ out for ya.

  23. Robear Says:

    lovin’ the old school ‘bouncin fan’

    herbs, pressies and roots. you go boy!

  24. Robear Says:

    flarr, you driving or flying to the Greek?

  25. Uncle Ebeneezer Says:

    Yeah flare, what are your plans? I’m doing Greek, creek, av, wouldn’t mind a travel partner for some of it atleast out of Seattle.

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