Considering A Smaller Fall

Telluride - 8.9.10 (G.Lucas)

While no official statement has been made regarding the considerably smaller venues comprising fall tour, different theories have surfaced to explain the change. There has been an unquestionable decrease in demand for Phish tickets, especially since they have been playing so many shows. But I think the move has less to do with creating ticket hype or building a younger fan base than it does with the band’s current state of mind. Regardless of anything, Phish could still sell out east coast arenas in their sleep, but for some reason they are choosing a different route. Returning to mid-sized venues throughout this fall, Phish will travel back to the environments where their creativity once soared and launched them into the national music scene to stay.

New Year's Eve 1995

Between 1993 and 1995, Phish made the climb from theatres to arenas, capping ’95 in triumphant fashion by announcing their ultimate arrival with a New Year’s Eve blowout at Madison Square Garden. But that famous show at the Garden was a culmination of so much more. Representing a victory for creativity over conformation and for grass-roots over the industry path, New Year’s ’95 brought the spoils of Phish’s arduous, 12-year, career which spiked between 1993 and 1995: an era many fans still view as the band’s best. Playing far more shows per year than they would after 1995, Phish earned their wings as a touring act, spending much of the calendar on the road to small towns and cities alike. And over this three-year period, the size of venues continued to bulge: from clubs to theatres to college gymnasiums and mid-sized venues to full-on arenas. But this fall, Phish is taking a step back in this pattern, returning to rooms ranging from 6000 seats to 14,000. Gone are the glistening palaces of the NBA and NHL arenas, and back are the gritty, mid-range rooms and minor-league arenas.

But the question remains – why?

8.9.10 (G.Lucas)

With the ability to make exponentially more money playing the largest arenas tour, there is clearly more behind this move than meets the eye. Phish is opting to play rooms slightly smaller than their market demands, shutting some people out but creating a fundamentally better concert experience for the band and audience alike. With general admission floors at every fall stop and half the shows totally GA, the feel of Phish shows will be one of old – and that in my opinion, is the purpose. Riding the crest of a breakthrough summer, Phish is ready to dive deep int0 the pools of reinvention, and what better place to do that than in the environs in which they caught fire the first time.

There will be a different energy in the smaller shows of fall, where even the biggest venue still pulls up thousands shy of the standard NBA shack. In fall’s more intimate environment, the exchange of energy between the band and crowd will take on a more personal and more intense nature. With fewer tickets available for Northeast shows, there will be fewer people attending on whims or casual interest. Put fewer fans in smaller rooms and the vibe becomes instantly more focused and electric. In 14 free-for-all floor scenes of fall, gone will be the 20-something ushers keeping people in their seats and the omnipresent security guards of summer. In these smaller and inherently more laid-back rooms, everyone will tangibly feel the difference. By shrinking their venues, Phish is intentionally creating combustible environments.

12.29.09 (W.Rogell)

Through the years building to their first peak in ’95, Phish shows were defined by an intimate electricity that was lost when the band made the permanent leap to large arenas in 1996. With the palpable energy that filled the smaller rooms of yesteryear, Phish pushed their music through several torrid improvisational phases in 1993, 1994 and 1995. When Phish moved into the college and minor-league arenas of 1994, the rooms most resembling the venues of this coming fall, their music delved deeper than ever and jams were transformed into mysterious voyages into the unknown. A youthful exuberance drove their musical creativity and risk taking overflowed nightly – not such a different dynamic than in August. By no means comparing the music of these eras, the band’s modern approach, however, has taken a distinctly retro feel. Gaining musical momentum throughout June and August, Phish, perhaps, feels their creativity blossoming once again and they are ready to take on the experimentation that comes with reinvention. Maybe this time around is about getting back to place that they had permanently lost with the collapse of The Grateful Dead. Today, with Dave Matthews and plenty of other “jam bands” drawing young bohemian seekers, Phish just may be able to recreate the feeling they forgot over the late’90s and post-hiatus. With another peak musical era emerging, the band is returning to the type of rooms that hosted their original ascent.

While I have no inside information about the intent in planning this tour, it follows common logic that the band is making a conscious decision to alter the fabric of the Phish experience this fall. For whatever reasons, Phish is harnessing 1.21 jiggawatts and sending us all back to the future next month. With no plotted course and the collective imagination teeming, fall tour is bound to be something special. When Phish came back, we didn’t know what form they’d take but understood that the return, itself, was the ultimate blessing. As the band prepares to embark on an unprecedented fall tour, the line they sang at their Hampton reunion has never seemed so appropriate as it does now: “The only rule is it begins…”


Jam of the Day:

Light > 46 Days” 8.18.10 II

In their last set of tour, Phish threw down one more shining “Light,” their unquestionable anthem of summer. Merging with “46 Days”  again, Phish strengthened the modern song pairing




4.16.1994 Mullins Center, Amherst, MA < Torrent

4.16.1994 Mullins Center, Amherst, MA < Megaupload

4.16.1994 - Amherst, M

This is Phish’s first visit to Mullins Center at UMASS in 1994, a college-based venue hosting a two-night stand sixteen years later in Fall 2010.

I: Runaway Jim, Fee, Axilla (Part II)*, Rift, Stash, Fluffhead, Nellie Kane, Run Like an Antelope

II: Sample in a Jar, Poor Heart, Tweezer > The Lizards, Julius, Bouncing Around the Room, You Enjoy Myself > The Vibration of Life > You Enjoy Myself, The Squirming Coil, Tweezer Reprise

E: Fire

Source: AKG460b/ck61 (FOB-17th Row Ctr) > DAT (Teac DA-P20

Tags: ,

788 Responses to “Considering A Smaller Fall”

  1. Mr. Completely Says:

    right @plord, that’s a more accurate statement than the nuanced one I made…they transitioned to captialism while keeping the social trappings of communism, and subsumed capitalism in the structure of the state…

    @dude, I see what you mean – the economy – sure. You have been personally hit hard by the recession, I know that, so I can totally respect where you’re coming from on that.

    I just mean in terms of personal experience…you can’t control the economy…but you can control your own perspective…however it’s hard to maintain a positive perspective when you’re stressed about money all the time, word to that

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    right, that’s a more accurate statement than the nuanced one I made…they transitioned to captialism while keeping the social trappings of communism

  3. sumodie Says:

    2 ptbm strike outs & 1 w/ 4 augusta

    at least ill be able to take my folks to show #3 if they wanna come

    gonna be a fun 2 day online scramble -arghhh

  4. BeantownBoy Says:

    If anybody has two extras to the 29-31 hit me up.
    beantownboy35 at gmail dot com

    I can meet up in the Boston area for a quick and easy exchange.

  5. albert walker Says:

    The old man got hit for all 3 nights Bloomfield

    Can’t believe this cat

    He got hit for Telly also

    Fucker should play the numbers tonight.

    I think I have a pair or Uticas we can’t use also if someone ends up needing em

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    oh shit no the fan presale thing really is happening NOW for Mike shows!

  7. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ yup. got my independent tix.

  8. snowbank Says:

    the meaning of the ocelot lyrics totally changed for me over the weekend.

    now when I hear it, I think of Ocedoc. as in … trey, bring your ocedoc out to play. of course, it renders the rest of the lyrics nonsense but whatever.

  9. halcyon Says:

    cactus presale until the 16th….tickets come to 31.00 each.

  10. BeantownBoy Says:

    Has anyone, who ordered for multiple shows/cities, had their entire order filled?

    No one in my extended circle has….

  11. Mitch Says:

    i may need one of those uticas. working on a ride. will take it if you still have it when i find out.

  12. Mitch Says:

    p.s. AW, freaking sweet for your old man to pull telly AND colorado.

    does he live in colorado? they hook him up for that state twice??

  13. Jeffiem Says:

    I love where you are coming from. It sounds a lot like real conservatism… small/local government, reasonable respect for institutions and other people and skepticism of snake oil salesman. Sadly, modern republicanism only hits 1/3 on those, and doesn’t do that well.

    I’d juxtapose that with a good liberalism of a large government trying to mend social ills through the legal system and policy.

    I’m still 20 so I have to half heartedly believe that solid public policy can lead to progress. After the last couple of years, though, I often wonder why. I agree with just about everything you and Silly have said.

    @Silly, if you are still hanging around, I want to hear about your law school experience. It’s a life path that is a major possibility for me right now, and we seem to be on the same page with things. If you see this I’d love to ask you some questions. m j lahaye at v t dot edu .

  14. snowbank Says:

    DMB fans reckless –

  15. halcyon Says:

    scalpers already want 150 each for broomfield……

  16. Rob S. Says:

    Haven’t really been following the discussion – here’s my 2c based on what I know about the music biz –

    1. Trey doesn’t book the shows. He may be involved with some of the conceptualizing, and may OK the process, but this is strictly the realm of a manager. If their manager screwed them with crappy shows, he’d get fired, but otherwise, it’s really out of their hands. I’ve heard the band talk about designing Fest. 8, etc., but this is the exception rather than the rule.

    2. The management is exclusively driven by doing what they think will earn them money, within the parameters set for them by the band. Could Page say “Please only book venues of 3000 people”? Probably, but my guess is the management came to them with a proposal and said “Boys, this tour itinerary allows Trey to be near his family, and with the smaller venues like you mentioned in our meeting 3 months ago, and we think based on X,Y,Z, that we will sell out these shows with this cut for the band”.

    3. They decide what venues to book based on what their cut would be. TD Garden in Boston might say “Hey, you didn’t sell out Great Woods, and we don’t think you’ll sell out the garden, so we need our $400K before you get paid” this could be a bad deal compared to small venues in Rhode Island.

    4. Management knows Phish sells best in the northeast – they may have signed contracts when they booked Great Woods back in the summer saying “You won’t play within 75 miles of Boston for a year” – thus the different venues.

    All of this is speculation, but it jibes with (what I know of) other bands’ tour booking policies. Phish is great, but they have to play by the same rules as other great bands like – say – Wilco. True, they have been the top grossing talent at times in the (recent) past, but I doubt they could sell out the Meadowlands for 13 nights straight, etc. Nothing against the music, just reality for them.

    In my opinion, this all boils down to more fun though! Yay. Now if I hadn’t moved all the way to SF from Boston…

  17. sven Says:

    Lincoln Hall was the old Three Penny theater, across from Victory Gardens. REally nice, small place. Saw Orgone there last week and was blown away by them and the overall venue. Great beer selction taboot.

  18. albert walker Says:

    My girl’s sister got hit for 4 floors for 10/31 also and she’s kicking us a pair

    Looks like I just need 2 floors for 10/30 and 10/29 and we’re all in

  19. Selector J Says:

    “my idea of politics right now is trying to decide which street kid is more likely to spend the $5 I give him on food as opposed to dope”

    I have solution for this particular dilemma, Mr. C.
    Give them food.
    My wife taught me that one.
    Smart lady.
    re: politics
    Great post by lots of folks. Really thought C, SW, and snowbank were all spot on.
    @LW You admit that all previous commie states have failed but still hold a belief that there is something great about the system.
    What makes you so sure that communism can work given its track record?

  20. BTB Says:

    BTB Fest II for the Cleveland Cactus show! Bring your snow shovels bitches!!

    Just kidding. I will be holding no such event.

    I got no tix in the PH lottery either. I’m not very useful to anybody! Sorry dudes and dudettes….

  21. albert walker Says:

    I’ve heard great things about Lincoln Hall

    Want to check it out but Mike shows aren’t really my cup of tea.

    About a half black walk to the venue so I may have to check it out.

    I’m still scared after the last show at the Park West. Damn terrible. I’ll give him another shot though.

  22. sven Says:

    FWIW – Forgot to add, I belive it is owned or just run by the guys who own Schuba’s.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    very thoughtful post @rob

    yay I got my 2 Mike tickets for a total of $48 including fees

    that last time we saw him was pretty fun. the band is limited but game and it’s a blast to see Mike up close.

  24. BTB Says:

    Snowbank – thank god your google alert for “Dave Matthews is Fucking Sweet” caught that awesome clip 😉

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    FWIW @aw the show we saw got much better as it went on

    first half of first set was pretty weak
    second half of second set was ok
    first half of second set was pretty fun
    last half was more or less rippin’

    I enjoyed it, but then, I can have fun just listening to his amp tone

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