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. Bandnana Says:

    ESTHER!? Of course YES! Slip, stich, and pass is key. But, if you want to listen to those tracks, they are even better in context, just get the shows from Europe. You can’t listen to phish without digging into all the studios. You need that frame of referene at a show for how the track is different, better, crunchier, slower, quicker, etc. Having an idea of what can be played and then being surprised is a big part of my live experience. Gotta do Rift cover to cover. Best

  2. nonoyolker Says:

    I think studio albums are great for their purpose. They all have crispy production and near flawless execution of ideas. I think they are an integral part of the band. I was also in awe that trey said they never made a great album. Billy Breathes and Rift are superb, but for me, Story of the Ghost is where its at. Took a toot load of ‘cid to that album and that shit is in my DNA now. The flow from one song to another, ooohweee! Throw on a studio ghost or moma and funk out. End session is a little of a “what the fuck” moment, but kinda makes sense with a headfull of chem. Obviously phish is more creatively powerful and stronger live, but studio albums definitely have there place.

  3. Dave Says:

    Sorry…I should have attached this to my post:


  4. Bandnana Says:

    @nonoyolker I love end of session, fits in great. Think of that album if Ghost came in immediatly instead of with the whistling wind, it just wouldn’t start right. And it would end too abrubtly without the weirdness at the end. I hear you though, I fell asleep one night at the end of a shroom with Rift playing on repeat while I was asleep. Part of my DNA is about right. Killer!

  5. guyforget Says:

    the one thing that always jumps out on SOTG is the ripping bass lines. Mike seems to be turrned up more than other studios, espectiall on Ghost.

  6. nonoyolker Says:

    Gordeux’s bass is turned up to 11!!!

    But seriously, he drops bombs all album. I just relistened to Moma…shit is Frank Grimes…

  7. SOAM Says:

    yeah-rift is my favorite tape and the Foghat “beast in the East live’ 8 track from their tour of 77 is sweet also..

    I’m conjuring Allen Iverson here today:

    “albums? were talking bout albums, not shows but albums! we talking bout albums-not a show, not a show but ALBUMS”

  8. Bandnana Says:

    I did throw a nod to 3/1/97 Hamburg. Although it wasn’t direct

  9. voopa Says:

    LOL @ Frank Grimes & Allen Iverson!!

  10. SOAM Says:

    sotg- easy on the acronyms-there is only on sot and it;s got an M NOT A G

  11. Billy Breathes Says:

    Howz about the ‘If I Could’ from Hoist…….

  12. guyforget Says:


  13. SOAM Says:


  14. tela'smuff Says:

    whoah – some people have tried to say tehre is nothing special about Deer Creek and this was left unchalleneged? Just like any other shed?

    Before the growth around the venue – it was it’s own festival. And I imagine even this summer, it will still rage unlike any other outdoor show in the surrounding fields, even if it’s only one show. It’s different from other sheds in that the sound is perfect, no matter where you sit. If you are halfway up the lawn, which I have been, the sound still engulfs you. The slope of the lawn is perfect, the sunset that you get in the middle of every first set is perfect. There is something about being in the middle of farm country in Indiana on a hot summer day, surrounded by corn and campsites, that leads itself to Phish perfection. There is little comparison when you look at Riverbend, Polaris, Tinley Park, Riverport, Sandstone, etc etc. But for me the sound is just noticeably better.

    As for Alpine – I have been victimized by the lawn many times. It’s the main drawback to the venue. But the setting is one of my favorites. Everytime I get out of my car there I think of Gamehendge. The place just has a mystical feeling. I feel it everyitme I reach the top of the hill and take in the view of the venue. If you find the right campsite, the aprty there is also off the hook.

  15. guyforget Says:


  16. nonoyolker Says:

    SOAM’s having a dead flashback, give him a sec

  17. Bandito Says:

    Tela’smuff? That’s a bitchin’ handle man…

  18. 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?!

  19. SOAM Says:

    Damn straight on the Creek-place is god’s country – no hassles – camping ….shits the tits

    I remember walking to a gig along the highway from camping and getting SNAPPED with every ride on the rode

  20. SOAM Says:

    or road..

  21. hooks Says:

    a buddy of mine in high school in like ’97 turned in the lyrics to Esther as his creative writing assignment, and he got an A. his teacher loved it. we always thought that was hilarious!

  22. SOAM Says:

    the first time I hear Pebbles and Waves this summer I going to be sporting wood..fair warning-stay away unless your the one tasty wookette out of every 1000 fans-if so-shake em baby-don’t break em.

    Timber Ho too!!!!


  23. msbjivein Says:

    @SOAM, So you like to eat E-bombs and Viagra at the same time also. Sweet! Doesn’t get any better than a 4hr hard on and some Live Phish!!!

  24. Jay Says:

    I think the comment was deer creek the amphitheater alone is nothing special. Just like any other shed. Add in the surrounding camping, farmland etc and the place is special.

  25. SOAM Says:

    Deer Creek is extremely special-it was the best venue to see shows at 15 years ago.

    I do ‘headspins’ different than breakdancers.

    Me and my Louisville get down.

    quick FYI-Saw the leftover Dead saturday night and it may be the worst show I have ever seen-I’m not being vindictive or shitting on senior citizens but they just don’t get it-feel bad for Warren

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