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. VTsnowboarder802 Says:

    sidenote: i’m just getting to the phil and friends recordings (backlog of new stuff to listen to). I’ve never been a dead fan, but never really gave it much attention either… I’m loving this recording, and thinking I might need to revisit those few days forum posts for some good starting points for a dead-n00b.

  2. guyforget Says:

    on the topic of studio albums, i do think it’s good practice for new phans to be versed in them. I actually just gave all my studio albums to my buddy to listen to to prepare for summer. He’s also listened to tons of shows, but it’s essential to know the albums.

    sidenote. love Coors Amp. that place is sweet, and the lot is about the chillest ever….

  3. Twiggy Says:

    Sorry, but not a technical kinda guy. I don’t even listen to lyrics. Not gonna start either. SOAM said it best yesterday. Just find a place and shake the bones.

  4. Mugician Says:

    Fromthetub, you around? I’d definitely rather take those tickets off your hands.

    But… I’ve said it here, and I’ll say it again, who has Shoreline Pavs for my first Phish show?!

  5. msbjivein Says:

    With all this album talk why hasn’t anyone mentioned Slip Stitch and Pass??
    I think this is another great album. With great songs Like Wolfmans, Cities, Mike Song ect.
    @ Guy, I think this album’s a good one for new Phans. Lot of groove in Slip Stitch and Pass. Also CoorS Amp is killer! Last time I was there in ’03 it was hardly full at all! You could walk pretty much right up and sit in a seat by the SB easily.

  6. guyforget Says:

    That’s some nifty info on Shoreline being build to look like SYF. Very cool, and adding more enthusiasm to me seeing them there for the first time this summer. Cheers Miner.

  7. guyforget Says:

    Yeah, but Slip is a bunch of live recordings…..doesn’t count in my book as a studiio album, but killer nonetheless…

  8. Mugician Says:

    Just listened to Run Like an Antelope, I almost forgot how killer it is!

    I really like Phish’s studio work.

    Listening to Junta now…

  9. msbjivein Says:

    True^^ That’s why is so easy to listen to. Great mixes on those songs.
    When it comes to pure studio albums Story of a Ghost is killer! It also has some great songs! I would go w/ Lawn Boy or Ghost as my fav pure studio album. Rift is up there also.

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    Slip Stich == very awesome but not studio

  11. msbjivein Says:

    @ Complete, Yeah I know. It’s just one of my Favs to listen to. When it came out I had only been listening to Phish for 2-3yrs and at that point I thought it was the Best album I’d heard. Mainly because of the funk groove in it. I still like rockin it!

  12. Mugician Says:

    I don’t have Slip Stitch and Pass… 🙁

    In fact, I don’t have very many albums either… I really gotta work on that.

  13. Dave Says:

    Hey guys, not sure if this has been posted…go check out Bonnaroo.com. They will be streaming Clifford Ball througth their 365 program. Even cooler is the downloads of some choice live perfomances…anyone have info on those? Are the official SBD quality?

  14. old dude Says:

    Story of the Ghost = almost brilliant studio. But WTF with “End of Session”?! Complete utter mistake. going out with Moma as they came in with Ghost would’ve, could’ve …

  15. old dude Says:

    Nectar will always be my favorite album since i tripped most to it. Ingrained in the membrane.
    Rift may be their best though. AT least until Party Time.

  16. msbjivein Says:

    @ Dude, Yeah I never got that either. I think I’ve only listen to “End of session” the 1st time I played the album. They should’ve just left it off. The Moma ending would’ve kept us dancing even after the album was over.

  17. Mugician Says:

    Does anyone else here LOVE Esther?

  18. jahvolunteer76 Says:

    What about the Midwest or the South?

    Deer Creek anyone? Alpine, UIC, Champaign, Michigan venues. Dayton, Atlanta.

    I do agree with the statement that there is nothing like an East Coast show, but I would narrow it down to a New England show (Maine, the way life ought to be!)

  19. Pencilneck Says:

    Toronto shows are where it’s at. everybody knows that. well, everybody from Toronto anyhow.
    I love me some Esther!
    End of session is kinda strange now that you cats mention it.

  20. msbjivein Says:

    ESTHER!!!! YES!! I haven’t heard Esther since ’98 live!! I will freak the fuck out if i hear that this summer!! After Roxy came out on cd I couldn’t stop listening to that Esther on there. EPIC!!!!!!!!

  21. Mugician Says:

    Right? Shit, I’m gonna freak out this summer anyway. I still have a tough time believing that this band that I’ve been listening to for 3 years, and fantasizing about seeing live for just as long is actually playing again, and that I’m actually gonna see them.

    I was literally jumping off walls when I got my confirmation email 😀 .

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    Esther is my wife’s favorite Phish song

  23. Mugician Says:

    It’s like if Bob were to come back to live and start touring.

  24. Mugician Says:


  25. msbjivein Says:

    @ Mugician, You lucky fucker! I never hit the lotto! I hope your ready to get your mind blown bro!! Have fun!

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