Should We Stay Or We Go?

As summer tour rumors and sets of fake dates continue to swirl around cyberspace, let’s look at a few venues that, in my opinion, Phish should and should not return to thru the lens of the dancing fan’s experience.

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Let’s Go Back!…

Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, Alpharetta, GA

Alpharetta 2010 (Wendy Rogell)

This smaller amphitheater, new to the Phish circuit last year, replaced Lakewood as the hot spot in—or in this case—outside Atlanta. With a massive. seat-less, GA “floor,” Verizon Wireless provided ample dance space and flat ground, two things that are always at a premium on summer tour. Though the security could have managed the the over-crowding of the floor more effectively, everyone still found their spot for the July 4th stand last year. Removed from Lakewood’s seedy environs and placed in suburbia with all hotels and restaurants within miles of the venue, Alpharetta is the perfect place for Phish fans to take over for another weekend. And rumor has it that we will return come June.

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nTelos Pavilion, Portsmouth, VA

nTelos Pavilion 2010 (C.T.Cycle)

Set up with a large cement dance floor in front of the stage, much like Alpharetta, Portsmouth’s intimate 6,500-person nTelos Pavilion one ups its southern counterpart with a total GA policy. Set right on the water in southeastern Virginia, the freedom to roam this undersized venue provided wonderful respite from the yellow-clad, security guards who plague summer tour.

****

Hershey Park Stadium, Hershey, PA

Hershey Park 2010 (M.Ladd)

Overhauled with a bumping sound system and rubberized dance floor since Phish’s last visit in 2000, Hershey Park—once scorned by fans— provided, arguably, the best concert-experience of 2010. With a total GA policy and ample room for groups of twenty or more to throw down together in prime real estate, dance pits popped up all over. The powerful, open-air sound and endless personal space make Hershey high on any list of venues Phish should play again.

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Venues That Should Jump Off Tour:

Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD

Merriweather 2010 (Graham Lucas)

Despite the fact that Merriweather Post is a historic venue that Phish tears apart, it is at the bottom of the barrel in terms of fan-experience. The lower pavilion is patrolled by teen-aged girls who are backed by inner city bouncers, ready to kick people out of the pavilion (or the show) as if they have a quota to fulfill. Treating their paying customers with utmost disrespect, the security staff at the venue should, honestly, all be fired. A venue where crossing a painted lines is cause for banishment or ejection, there is barely room for enjoyment at Merriweather. The side sections of the pavilion are removed visually and acoustically from the stage, and the lawn may as well be in another county. If I had to pick my least favorite venue on summer tour, Merriweather would take home the first, second, and third place trophies. There is not a single part of the Merriweather experience I find enjoyable, and the staff is there to ensure it stays that way. If I had one tour-based request to be granted by Red Light, it would definitely be to get Phish (the #&@!) out of Merriweather forever.

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Jones Beach Amphitheatre, Wantagh, NY

Jones Beach 2010 (Mitch Ladd)

After a fourteen-year absence from the Long Island venue on the water, Phish has played a two multi-night stands at Jones Beach this era, totalling five shows. But if they care  about their fans’ experiences, they should not return. Run more strictly than a military academy, anyone in the lower pavilion is another zone where one is reprimanded if they cross painted lines, and are implored—sometimes physically—to get back in their row. Moving into the stadium seating, the audience becomes so far removed from the band once in the second deck, I can only imagine the ants on stage from the upper deck perspective. With no space anywhere in the venue, fans are forced to stand side by side while watching music meant to move your body. When leaving Jones Beach ’09’s three-night stand, it felt like being freed from a cage and let out to prowl on summer tour. There are plenty of locales for Phish to play in the New York metro area, so let’s leave this one behind.

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The Greek Theatre, Berkeley, CA

The Greek 2010 (W.Rogell)

Though Phish played some of their most impressive shows of the year at this Bay Area icon, the experience, itself, was far from ideal. With a total GA policy, very few fans went to the steep lawn that is hardly in the concert, causing an incredibly overcrowded situation in the free-for all amphitheatre. Thankfully, The Greek has the best acoustics on the planet, because any real dancing was all but impossible. As people flooded the venue in the early afternoon to hold down space, it created an unnecessarily annoying situation. A beautiful place to visit, I see no need for Phish return to a venue in which people are packed together like sardines and any official attempts to ameliorate the situation are non-existent. With proper strategy and aggressive territoriality, one can make The Greek happen to some extent, but for those of us who need more than a square foot of room, it just doesn’t cut it. The next time Phish visits the Bay Area, they should finally get with the program and play a stand at Oakland’s Oracle Arena, formerly named Oakland-Alameda Coliseum when it was the stomping ground of The Grateful Dead.

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Jam of the Day:

Reba” 10.18.94 I

A re-post of a classic version.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/ph94-10-18sbd.d2t04.mp3]

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

11.26.1994 Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis, MN

FLAC Torrent (via etree), Mp3 Torrent, Megaupload < Links

Fall '94

This beast from Fall ’94 boasts, likely, my favorite “Bowie” of all-time and “Slave” made famous by A Live One. A classic night through and through, this show goes out via reader request to Dan A! Enjoy this one of a kind adventure.

I: My Friend, My Friend, Possum, Guyute, If I Could, Foam, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Poor Heart, Cavern

II: Halley’s Comet > David Bowie, Sweet Adeline, The Lizards, Sample in a Jar, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Rocky Top

Source: DAUD/OTS AKG SE 10’s > Marantz PMD-700@48kHz

Tags: ,

817 Responses to “Should We Stay Or We Go?”

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  1. Selector J Says:

    whoa! Did not expect the Greek to be in the ‘jump off tour’ category. However, I do hate being amongst the competitive seat crowd, too. Wouldn’t mind chilling in the last row for any Greek show, though.
    I’d also be game for the Oracle.

    The only two I’ve been to on that list are Merriweather and nTelos.

    Merriweather is kinda nice to look at but the sound does suffer in the lawn. (Never made it to the pavillion.) I do like those trees… not enough to compensate for the sound, though.

    nTelos was $$$ in every category. And with grandparents-as-free- babysitters/hotel nearby, I’ll try for all future shows at that place.

  2. freshtracks420 Says:

    I’m a little surprised that no mention was made of The Gorge or Red Rocks…I know that those would certainly be high on my personal wish list for 2011 Summer tour stops. I haven’t really been following the rumored dates too closely…any word on if these should be back on for this summer…anyone got any solid info?

  3. Jam on Dude Says:

    Here’s to going back to Alpharetta!!

  4. BrandonKayda Says:

    I honestly didn’t have an issue with MPP lawn – maybe that was because we were in the front, I would bet the sound is rough in the back.

  5. laurville Says:

    As a Baltimorean, I am saddened by MPP presence on your site but am not surprised at all.

    Securtiy- sucks!

    Back of the lawn- sucks! (Seriously, pay more for a PAV seat)

    It being 20 minutes from my house and knowing where to park for free – Doesn’t suck.

  6. kenny powers Says:

    FYI

    the Bowie and Slave miner mentions from today’s DOTD are both included in SBD on the “Tier 2” compilation i upped last week on my blog (and on the ‘noid)

  7. kenny powers Says:

    and i have to strongly disagree w/ JB. well, i can’t speak to this issues of crowd control in the lower pavilion, but i can most def disagree with the

    “I can only imagine the ants on stage from the upper deck perspective”.

    I was in the absolute highest row, dead center both nights. yes, you are far away and you cannot see the band up close. but since i don’t really need to see their faces and am much more concerned with the sound and CK’s lights, i was pleasantly surprised on both fronts. and, of course, you have all the room in the world up there and no security presence whatsoever. and the view of the ocean from up there? fugghetaboutit.

  8. Calpain Says:

    I am glad MPP is #1 on this list. The ’09 show there was tough to listen to from the lawn. The 46 Days is money on playback, but at the time there was so much that was lost.

    Saw MPP night 2 this year, just left of the stage in the pavilion. I couldn’t believe how shitty the sound was. I then realized that the only speakers in the pavilion were pointed straight (nothing to the sides). So the sound I was getting was just reverb off the back on the pavilion and lawn.
    What a joke of a venue, saw a guy get kicked out for having his foot in the aisle.

    Although there are a lot of woods around, so no need for a poop-tent. 😉

  9. Calpain Says:

    I am surprised that there haven’t been more complaints about The Greek in the past. Considering the ‘tarp-folk’ and the whole GA policy, I can’t imagine how much of a pain that would have been.

    Which has me wondering, what did the spunions do during The Greek run?

  10. willowed Says:

    I was up front for Jones Beach in 2009. Security is very strict in the first five rows. They gave us a wrist band at the begining of the show (if you were up front) and would not let anyone in the first 10 rows without a band. This made for wide open dance space. Very good time. This was one time I was glad security was strict.
    In 2010 I was in the rafters with KP. Are you far away…yes. Can you see the band up close….NO.
    But the sounds is the best I’ve ever heard for being so far away. The lights up there look brilliant and the views of the sunset and ocean is sirene. There is no security at all, total free for all.
    The lot scene at Jones is one of the best. They let you park where ever you want (not hurded like cattle) which allows you to hook up with your crews pre-game.
    Is Jones a concrete jungle…Yes….But such a great little venue if you find the right pockets!

  11. ThePigTail Says:

    Does anyone happen to remember the dates of the rumored southern run? ATL specifically? May ??-??

  12. burblelover415 Says:

    I hear you on the Greek free-for-all, but you have to admit it’s worlds better than Shoreline.

    One they haven’t played in ages would be my all time personal favorite – the Mann Music Center in Philly. Camden has taken it’s place, but we had lawn for 6/25 and could barely hear a thing. Oh, and the Mann lot was always a ton of fun, no matter who was actually playing…

  13. mitch Says:

    Jones beach is on state owned land. Hence the lockdown. Any show without booze inside means the pat down feels like a colonoscopy. Not to mention the only way you can get away from security sometimes is to just jump off the balcony. (too soon)

    I don’t want them to go back and I live here…

    Here’s to more Hershey, gorge and red rocks.

  14. KfL Says:

    my first post this am was going to be: get ready for some cheering for the upper deck at jones beach in 3…. 2…. 1….

    but i see i’m already too late 😮

  15. phoammhead Says:

    i was at Alpharetta and agree with MrM – great venue and great locale with lots of hotels within short distance

    i was at MPP1 and agree with MrM – i was at a pretty good place toward the middle of the pav and had a great time, but everything MrM said was/is true about that venue and the vibe

    i was at Greek and can’t agree that the boyz should not return – the place is Epic, but if there are better alternatives, then i guess that’s what MrM is getting at. i had a great space all three nights in the stands – kinda lucky but resourceful on my part – sound is incredible and backdrop is well, you know. i would not have wanted to be in the upper, very steep tiny lawn or shall we say strip of grass and i would not have wanted to be on the floor – all you could see down there were heads and i’m not talkin’ as in a phan – the place was packed like sardines

    one thing is for sure, i hope the band, management or whoever is making decisions listens to us phans – after all, we are paying the bills!

    great writeup, MrMiner – well done! i hope the boyz and management are listening and continue to listen on this journey.

  16. Foul_Domain Says:

    Morning BB

    I’d like to see a return to Star Lake (Post-Gazette Pavillion, rather) this summer

    Ive only been there once, but loved that venue. Great lot scene, great sound, great time!

  17. T. Leo Says:

    Does anyone have any idea what these rumored dates are?

    Personally, I loved Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. The sound in that amphitheater is outstanding, the park setting makes for a cool vibe, and the security was pretty lax.

  18. sumodie Says:

    Phish needs to play Bethel Woods, NY – best ‘newer’ venue in the northeast that I know of:

    http://www.bethelwoodscenter.org/photoalbum/display.aspx?id=15&start=17

    Beautiful grounds, bucolic views, courteous staff, excellent sound, and home of Woodstock! How can you go wrong?

  19. phoammhead Says:

    also, bathroom lines at the greek and mpp were simply intolerable – lack of basic necessary facilities alone should be grounds for banishment . . . unless, of course, you know who would pitch a . . . . . oh, sorry we should not go back there today – keep it elevated, boyz – let’s make MrM proud of his fLEGION!

  20. Henry Says:

    I had a decent experience at MPP this past summer. For night 1 I was on the lawn, and sound was great, actually better than night 2 when I was in the left lodge. horrible sound there.

  21. lastwaltzer Says:

    I will second THE MANN! First venue I saw trey play in, what a spot! Its basically surrounded by a park which as burblelover said makes for a great preshow. The inside is really nice and the “lawn” has seats and grass. Can’t go wrong.

    Also I’ve heard nothing but good things about bethel woods.

  22. KfL Says:

    best two venues i was at this year were in colorado

    brimfield (small and all ga) and telluride (obv)

    strolling in 10 minutes before show time and walking right up to the soundboard with plenty of space to dance was great, at both places

    obviously telluride is a special case. but all GA is the only way to go

  23. butterflyeffect Says:

    i will say this about MPP: out of all the venues i hit in summer leg 1 with a freshly repaired tibia, MPP was the ONLY one whose staff agreed to give me a ride to and from my car in the lot. it isn’t run by livenation, hence the flexibility outside of livenation’s ridiculous liability protocol. can’t speak to the other factors, though, because i was just trying to stay standing for the whole show.

  24. nonoyolker Says:

    Jones, no booze = not $$$. Does feel a bit like a concrete schoolyard

    I know I am going to catch hell for this, but I don’t dig on SPAC. It’s impossible to see from the lawn with the second tier seating (yes, I am a lawn creature…) and I have gotten lost in the woods trying to find the car every time i’ve been to the venue.

    If you are bringing the kiddies (of which i have none – that i know of), not a bad place though, as there is ton of room on the grounds away from the commotion that you can relax and still hear the music. The grounds are beautiful too, but security has really cracked down on the lot scene. Saratoga also gets sold out on lodging instantly, which means the dreaded spun drive to Albany post show. I vote for Bethel too!

  25. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Hands down, for me, Hershey was one of the most comfortable concert experieinces I’ve had in a long time. As Miner stated, plenty of space and an incredible sound system. And then there’s the chocolate…

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