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. msbjivein Says:

    ^^LOL! @ You and your Louisville!!

  2. fromthetub Says:

    @Mugician… I spoke too soon. I’m sorry about that. We’re trying to trade the extra Shorlines for Jones Beach 6/4 or 6/5. Did you check out Miner’s ticket exchange board? Maybe something there?

  3. guyforget Says:

    Miner – what are you top 5 current venues to see the band? anybody else chime in too with your lists..

  4. Bandnana Says:

    In no order
    Red Rocks
    Fox Theatre – St Louis
    Aragon Ballroom – Chi Town

  5. guyforget Says:

    Camden – only because they rock the house there every year.
    Coors Amp
    Thomas & Mack
    Roseland – special night, even if it was a one time only deal and they would never be able to pull it off again….

    Of course, new venues i will be heading to this summer may crack this list, and include Fox, RR, Shoreline and Gorge

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    @SOAM sad

    we had the exact same experience last time they toured

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    Red Rocks (never seen phish there, but doesn’t matter)

    the latter one has nothing to do with the actual venue. the thomas and mack is a perfectly OK dump but the charm is in the setting. And by “charm” I mean “the fact that you can walk out of a show tripping your face off and walk down the street dressed like a freak and no one even looks at you twice as long as you have money.”

    Plus: hookers

  8. voopa Says:

    Red Rox
    Shoreline – the lawn sucks sometimes, but the pav always rocks
    Nassau, for the vibe
    and what Mr. C said about Vegas

    Ventura was fun but kind of a dump, the LA Greek is OK, and I like Phoenix too. The Knick seemed a little…big.

    Embarcadero stage in San Diego was a fun place too.

  9. voopa Says:

    Oh shit, The Warfield!
    Plus having a couple shows in my backyaard was a treat: Crest, Cal Expo, Arco.

  10. Mr. Icculus Says:

    About the Alpine Valley Camping im really freaking out cause i have no reservations and everything is booked tight. Can anyone tell me from previous experience if these camps grounds will let you toss a tent anywhere or will they turn you away!! Will i be able to find a spot if i skip Creek and get there early? Do people offer private camping nearby? I talked to a chill guy from the Mukwonago Campground. About 9 mile from Alpine they have about 35 actual spots that are first come first serve no resv. and he said people will show up like wed and fill these. but he acted like they have alot of empty field space and they might help people like me. Help please

  11. Mr. Icculus Says:

    Red Rocks
    Blossom (Cuyhoga Falls)

  12. Bandnana Says:

    @ Voopa thats why Aragon made my list. Grew up in Chi town. I could go for UIC too. I had a post about a month ago, but I wish the new Chicago venue on Northerly Island was bigger. Couple of my friends saw Trey there, and just imagining Phish on the Lakeshore, with the Chicago skyline right on top of you would rule. But alas, the list will stay as is, and dreams will remain just that.

  13. Mr. Icculus Says:

    How could i forget the best two of all
    Sunshine Daydream (Trips Farm)
    Nelson Ledges
    These venues have it all except the BIG acts. Speaking of the ledges anyone else headed there this weekend. Supposed to be sunny and 80* with two nights of HOoka for $50 this weekend is a steal. Very kid friendly place camp onsite playgrounds sandy beach bball court fishing ponds cant wait till Fri. Nice to live within a hour of these two gems!!!!

  14. guyforget Says:

    as for gorge camping. do you guys recommend getting the camping pass on TM or can you just pay when you get there? i guess i’m asking does it sell out?

  15. Mr.Miner Says:

    I prefer indoor shows x 1000000

    so…I would say


    #2)UIC Pavilion
    Nutter Center

    #3) Any GA indoor show.

    Outdoor: Chula Vista, The Gorge, SPAC, Deer Creek,

    (off the top of my head)

  16. Mr.Miner Says:

    and any outdoor lawn is a 100% different experience than being in the pavilion

  17. Bandito Says:

    @guyforget – I highly recommend that you DO NOT buy the camping passes for the Gorge through TM. I’ve done that before then shown up and the Gorge wouldn’t honor them and made me buy them directly from the Gorge. I’ve never had any issue with the camping area being sold out for Phish before, but then again these tours seem different as far as finding tickets and all.

  18. Bandnana Says:

    @ Miner word on indoor venues I don’t have any infinite key on my computer or I would use it. Even gorge, which is like THE BEST for me, I would rather go indoors and watch the energy try to pull the venue apart. GOD! I LOVE IT!

  19. Mr. Icculus Says:

    Common guys you have to give Blossom some props for the oldschool like venue of made of wood. It creates a very earthy feeling under its pavilion!!!!

  20. guyforget Says:

    haha. let’s go with worst venues.

    Jones Beach

  21. Powder Lips Says:

    I also have big love for indoor Ga venues, especially Hampton, because the sound is great in that building and is quite trippy on the outside. Huge shows played MSG, but as a venue I generally like smaller buildings. Out door venues with GA floor like the Gorge are real sweet too. Also Southpark Meadows in Austin. First time going to Red Rocks, I like that there’s a GA section in front.

  22. Bandnana Says:

    Worst Venue, Alpine Lawn, lol. Size and steepness makes it its own separate entity entirly. Oh, and I’ll be there 2 more times this year. Get in early on the lawn rail and your golden.

    Never been to RR for phish, but been there. I like gorge better. All GA, everywhere rules, picnic style atmosphere, way out not like RR being by Denver. Sweet venues both, but gorge is just head and shoulders above on every front.

  23. Mr. Icculus Says:

    My worst experiece at a venue had to be the Tweeter (Mansfield MA)
    Mainly because they would not sell us out of staters beer in the venue and evan at the stores in the nearby area. Also cops came up into are hotel rooom after the show (Trey 01) said they had a noise camplaint nd shook us down. What motel sends 4 cops to ur room for a noise complaint!!!! Fuck this place said id never go back!!!!

  24. wanderin Says:

    In No Order IMO my favorite large venues
    Red Rocks – It can be a pain to get in sometimes, but once you are in IT is on
    MSG – what more to say
    Pepsi Center Denver – Seen a bunch of shows there and people can throw down
    The Knick in Albany – Good Ole Upstate Indoor B-Ball arena for shows always a good time
    SPAC great venue pavillion and lawn
    Jones Beach _ they (cops and security) can be pricks there, but its always fun
    Nassau – A f’in blast one drawback is see Jones Beach
    I guess the list can go on and on thats all my spent brain can remember right now

    For those of you not going in to Jones Beach, and if you know a friend who has a boat on the south shore, take the boat to the buoy line in the bay, on a calm night the music sounds great

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    props to Blossom- have had great times there! Love the woody feel!

    Hartford is Hartford, but the pavilion is big and has a lot of dance space. My only real concern at shows is finding a place where it sounds great to blow it up and with no hassle. Everything else is secondary- including seeing the band. Can’t compromise on the sound though- or the space. 😉

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