East and West

Shoreline (Designed to look like GD's Steal Your Face)

Shoreline (Designed to look like GD's Steal Your Face)

There has always been discussion about the differences between east coast and west coast Phish shows.  “The band plays more intensely on the east coast; the shows are so much better!”  “The vibe and the scene is so much more laid back out west, and the band rips; it’s so much more fun!”  People can debate which they prefer until they are blue in the face, but we need look no further than The Naked Gun’s Frank Drebin for an answer to this debate. When he encounters both his ex and his enemy at the Queen’s reception, an event from which he was banned, his ex exclaims “Frank!” while, simultaneously, his enemy proclaims, “Drebin!”  Caught in an awkward position, Drebin looks up in the absurd way that only he can, and says- “You’re both right!”  And that, my friends, is the answer to our regional Phish debate.

Great Woods - Mansfield, MA

Great Woods - Mansfield, MA

East coast shows and west coast shows carry a very different feeling for several legitimate reasons.  Being an east coast band, Phish’s core of fans still lives in the Northeast.  This holds true for most older fans, while younger fans in the east are constantly being indoctrinated to Phish music and culture.  As a result, east coast shows are more populated and generally more rambunctious.  As you move further west across the country, fewer and fewer people are familiar with Phish; especially in the younger demographic.  I taught high school in San Francisco for the last five years, and I can honestly tell you that none of the kids knew who Phish were- until I told them.  Phish are just are not part of youth culture out west- at all.

The lack of out-of-control young’uns at west coast shows further contributes to the already mellower vibe and increased space.  General east/west stereotyping becomes truthfully magnified in the microcosm of a Phish show.  At an east coast show, confronting a denser and rowdier crowd, you are far more likely to get bumped into while dancing, have beer spilled on you by a passer by, get offered “molly” by someone with a cocked hat looking no older than sixteen, get into an altercation with police, or see medics dragging drugged out fans out of a show on a stretcher.  You get the drift.

Madison Square Garden, NYC

Madison Square Garden, NYC

But the flip side of that coin is that Phish plays their biggest, most intense, shows on the east coast- by far!  I’ll trade being pushed into the back of a GA floor in exchange for a psychedelic Nassau odyssey.  I’d easily have a beer poured on my head in exchange for a ripping night at Hampton or MSG.  So what if there are hundreds of teenagers running around The Centrum?  You won’t see them when the lights go down.  East coast shows may be crazy, but this is Phish’s home turf!  This is where the shit goes down- and has gone down- for over twenty years.  And there’s no arguing with that.

Growing up in the east and living out west, I will sometimes encounter a “west coaster” who says something like, “Yeah- I love Phish, but I can’t go see them on the east coast anymore- it’s just too hectic.”  And while I always politely finish my conversation without laughing, inside my head I am thinking- “Won’t go to an east coast show?….Hmm…Do they even know Phish?”  Not to sound dismissive of anyone or their decisions, but Phish will always be an east coast band, and to not see them there is like always watching your favorite sports team on the road.

The Gorge

The Gorge

But west coast tour is like paradise.  Not nearly as humid in the summer or cold in the fall, the weather plays the first part in this idyllic experience.  The venues are more interesting and less cookie-cutter.  Then, as previously mentioned, take away the under-20 crew, as the audiences out west are generally made up of local 21+ heads and east coast transplants.  The vibe throughout the audience, while maintaining the feel of a psychedelic circus, is far more chill.  It is like people out west are “experienced”- in the Hendrix sense- and understand what this is all about.  The lack of east coast aggression plays into this feel as well, providing a far more laid back experience for the average fan.

Phish most definitely picks up on this aura, and, more often than not, echoes it in their improvisation.  The Gorge, for example, has produced so many jams that simply could not have been played anywhere else.  Although this is the extreme example of the influence of western nature, Phish also responds to the smaller audiences that are often prevalent on the west coast (see Utah 11.2.98 and Boise 9.14.99.)  Things generally run smoother out west, with less arrests and dangerous incidents than routinely take place at east coast gatherings.  And then you have your surroundings.  Instead of strolling out into Camden, NJ, you generally find yourself in more amicable and beautiful locations as you wind your way through the west.  Yet, despite this relaxed energy, Phish has consistently cranked out top-notch shows up and down the coast; they just create divergent experiences.

Coors Amphitheatre, Chula Vista, CA

Coors Amphitheatre, Chula Vista, CA

You’ll never hear me say that east coast shows are better than west coast shows, or vice-versa; the argument is futile.  They are both the greatest.  This summer will provide a perfect taste of both flavors, as Phish is hitting some of their classic haunts on both coasts.  A renewed energy will certainly encompass every crowd across the country, but no matter how hard you’re tripping, you’ll never mistake Shoreline for Great Woods.  Why?  Because the east is the east and the west is the west, and that’s just the way it is.


ALBUM UPDATE: A lot of nonsense has been flying around the internet about Phish’s new album.  Such absurd rumors had their newest album, “Party Time” (in reference to Trey’s quote in Rolling Stone) containing mostly past unrecorded tracks dating back to the band’s collegiate days.  But yesterday, these pictures from Phish’s studio- a track list and Trey’s new guitar- surfaced at surfaced over at liquidgoggles.com.  While the list may not be the final track listing for the album, we can see what the band is working with.  Ironically, a track, and possibly the album, is called “Party Time!”  Not all the tracks are legible, but most of it is, and it looks very exciting! This is what I can make out; the songs that have been performed in any capacity have asterisks.

1Backwards Down the Number Line*

Kill Devil

Ocelot (?)

20 Years Later

Splinters of Bat (?)


Party Time

Let Me Lie*

2Starting Time From the Fourth Plan

Only a Dream

If I Told You

Sugar Shack



I’ve Been Around

Time Turns Elastic*



12.28.96 The Spectrum Philadelphia, PA < LINK

12.28.96 The Spectrum Philadelphia, PA < TORRENT LINK

1996-12-28moBy avid reader request, here we have the first night of Phish’s New Year’s Run from 1996.  A solid show from start to finish, this kicked off the celebratory run in style.  First set highlights include the first quasi-jammed out “Wolfman’s,” “Split, and “Mango.”  The second set started with a standout “Makisupa > Maze” that was featured Monday, and a proper “Mike’s Groove” to end the set.

I: Runaway Jim, NICU, Wolfman’s Brother, It’s Ice, Billy Breathes, Ginseng Sullivan, Split Open and Melt, The Mango Song, Frankenstein

II: Makisupa Policeman > Maze, Bouncing Around The Room*> TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu, Mike’s Song > Strange Design > Weekapaug Groove, The Star Spangled Banner

E: Johnny B. Goode

*With Digital Delay Loop Jam before “TMWSIY”.

Source: Schoeps cmc641>oade>da-p1

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211 Responses to “East and West”

  1. wanderin Says:

    Mayor Miner: Oh SOAM. I don’t want any more trouble like you had last year on the southside. Understand? Thats my policy.
    SOAM: Yes, well. When I see five weirdos dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of the park in plain view of a hundred people, I shoot the bastards, that’s my policy.
    Mayor Miner: That was a Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar, you moron! You killed five actors! Good ones!

    Lol…..I had to do it.

  2. notkuroda Says:

    Thanks Al, I love the Bowie. It’s not the longest or most experimental but it’s Evil Trey at his best!

  3. TheDropper Says:

    I think that Track 3 is Ocelot, the “tweener cat” that haunts the Rain Forests of Central America.

  4. John Says:

    Hey Miner, love the site, I check it just about every day when I check my e-mail and stocks. I was just wondering what you think Phish will be like at Bonnaroo this year. I saw my first show at Hampton (I’m only 20 and I only got really into them around 2006/2007), but I couldn’t get tickets to any other shows. I might get a ticket for Knoxville if my sister decides not to go though. But anyway Bonnaroo was the only show I could score tickets for. Do you think the big mainstream fest vibe will influence what they play? They’re playing 2 shows there and I hope they’re killer, but I’m worried every song will be shorter than 8 minutes to appeal to the crowd, many of which will probably have never heard of Phish. Just wondering what you guys think. Thanks.

  5. Bapslap Says:

    YES!! Thank you Mr. Miner!!!

    This was my very first Phish show. I wish I could go back and truly appreciate it…the Ice and Maze are rippin’!!!

  6. Chalkdustin Says:

    Man, I really wish I could make it to JB but after looking at finances and logistics, I just can’t swing it. Seeing as I’ve only been to a few shows outside of the Midwest, I think it would be important to the development of my Phish show repertoire to branch out a bit (and it would be fricken awesome), but alas it’s not possible. I’m still happy with what I’m hitting this summer and I’ll save my money for Halloween/NYE 🙂 . Anyone need two JB night 2 (6/4)?

  7. Manny Phresh Says:

    Like I said yesterday, I can’t to experience Phish out west.


    I would make good use of those JB tickets if still available.

  8. wanderin Says:

    Pretty accurate descriptions of the scenes. Living out west now for 12-13 years, seeing shows on both coasts and in between; I have adjusted and grown accustomed to the west coast vibe, and dig it. I am sure many of you can agree that the west coast / midwest / east coast vibes are just different for every band, or every type genre. Seeing shows in Arizona are just about the most mellow it can get. Maybe its the hot desert temps just wearing people down. San Diego, and LA are mellow, not as mellow as Arizona though. Denver and San Fran know how to throw down, just without the east coast edge. IMO of course.

  9. JerZ Says:

    Thanks for the download- this was my first show- and ironically, when I got out of the car, I found a ticket for the next days show and $90 on the ground- so I took it as a sign- and the rest was history.

  10. SOAM Says:

    I need JB’s-haaard Core-Have 2 fen’s and 2 dariens or cashish

  11. msbjivein Says:

    I’ve seen shows on both coast and Miner pretty much nailed it on the head. I think all of us that have hit shows on both coast agree that they both have their advantages. Now that I’m back in the Midwest(Moved back from Seattle 2yrs ago) I can’t fucking wait for some midwest heat this summer!!! IMO The Midwest is the best!!!

    @ Wanderin, I think you have to throw The Gorge in there as a rager also. W/ on site camping it gets pretty nuts @ The Gorge. The ultimate party is DEEKCREEK!!! Camping for miles around the venue. After shows @ Campgrounds That place turns into a Phish city when they spend a couple days there.

  12. tela'smuff Says:

    I’ve seen shows on all coasts and in my opinion, the Midwest is the best. Deercreek and Alpine are the best two venues (maybe other than Gorge) for shows and I find it too be a perfect balance of laid back aggression. Alpine has it’s lawn drawbacks, but doing those two back to back is where it’s at for me.

    That Maze from 12/28/96 is still my personal favorite. The next night I loved for the Caravan. That was a treat!

  13. SOAM Says:

    Second Deer Creek as best venue in country-

  14. Pencilneck Says:

    Deer Creek rules.

  15. SOAM Says:

    altthough the last time I was there i was traumitized-7-2-95-last dead show

  16. Jay Says:

    I think it goes a little deeper than than the east coast being “home turf”. The Dead’s home turf was the west coast but east coast shows always seemed to be higher energy. I think there is something in the water 🙂

  17. Jay Says:

    Deer Creek is one of the best “outdoor” venues but Hampton will always remain the best indoor venue in the country for me. This summer will be my first visit to Redrocks and something tells me that Redrocks will become my favorite outdoor venue after that experience.

  18. JerZ Says:

    As far as east coast summer venues go- I am a big Darien Lake fan. There is something special about being able to hang out with a bunch of smelly hippies in an amusement park before going into a show.

    I like East Coast Phish waaay better- but you gotta admit, the Gorge is as cool as it gets

  19. SOAM Says:

    Last time at Darien we camped there-I think?-can you stay in the back lots overnight?

  20. Manny Phresh Says:

    I have to agree that out of all the venues I’ve been to Deer Creek has been the best outdoor venue to see a concert. Going to the Gorge this summer, so my opinion might also change after that.

  21. msbjivein Says:

    Natural Amp= #1 Red Rocks #2 The Gorge

    Sheds=#1 DeerCreek #2 Alpine #3 Shorline


  22. msbjivein Says:

    I haven’t hit a lot of east outdoor shows. Almost all my east coast show were indoors. That’s why I’m not showing any love for east coast sheds.

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

    east, west, midwest- love em all- but how bout the new ALBUM!? Almost all new material! Can not wait.

  24. JerZ Says:

    Hampton is great, but I think that MSG shows are even better- just my opinion. The energy in MSG is unbelievable. I don’t particularly even care for NYC, but there is no arguing with the shows

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ agreed MSG is THE venue.

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