Where Palm Trees Dipped and Seagulls Swerved

Festival 8 (R.Schloffel)

Festival 8 (R.Schloffel)

If Coventry embodied the dark debacle that Phish and their scene had become by 2004, Festival 8 represented all that is right in the current world of Phish. The most accurate word I can use to describe Festival 8 is “paradise.” We had arrived at a tropical site of dreams, and the entire place was set up for our ease and comfort. When contrasting Coventry’s mud-covered clusterfuck with Indio’s days of delight, things couldn’t have felt more different.

To begin with, as we approached the gate with a caravan of five RVs, we expected to wait in some traffic. After sitting on roadways for anywhere between 12 and 24 hours to enter previous festivals, this obstacle seemed like a given. But to our shock, we didn’t wait for one minute. After the thorough search for glass bottles and pounds of weed, the security let everyone through free of hassle. The only thing seized from any of our RVs were two glass-bottled Starbucks drinks. Onward and Upward!

Festival 8 (R.Gibbs)

Festival 8 (R.Gibbs)

After our team captain convinced the attendants to allow us to park in formation, we set up our home base within 45 minutes of approaching the main gates. Given maps upon entering, some exploration was in order. Prepared to walk a couple miles, everyone was pleasantly surprised to discover the concert field just around the corner from our campsite, about 100 times shorter than any festival walk in memory. The vibe of the Eight remained incredibly laid-back throughout the weekend, with well-behaved fans who appreciated the blissful setting. The entire event seemed like a Phish festival all grown-up. With amenities at every turn, shuttles to and from the lavish, nearby resorts, we certainly weren’t in Limestone anymore. Conducive to the band’s family-oriented atmosphere, the guys could hop back and forth between their loved ones and the festival in minutes.

10.31.09 (W.Rogell)

10.31.09 (W.Rogell)

The ease of Festival 8 seems to be the evolution of the Phish festival – easy access and hassle free. Providing a different feel from the absolute isolation of Limestone, this new model is quite  logical for the band’s place in time; just as Limestone defined the late ’90s. Virtually incomparable, Limestone possessed a Phishy magic that Indio could not. Just knowing what everyone had to do to reach the tip of America made those ritualistic weekends irreplaceable. The entire events were bigger, vaster, and more adventurous. We had our own city on the edge of the earth, and no one even knew. The unique majesty of those experiences will live inside us forever. But again, that was then and this is now. I’m not sure anyone who attended Festival 8 would have traded Indio for Limestone in a million years. Just as Phish and their fans continue to mature, and their music evolves, so will their signature events.

10.31 III (G.Lucas)

10.31 III (G.Lucas)

On top of everything else, the choice of locale – the Palm Springs desert – made the weekend flawless. With sunny days and cool evenings, the weather never intruded on our good times – something that can’t be said for virtually any other Phish festival. In addition, the site’s proximity to the highway provided easy access for the sundry artists, vendors and attractions. An amalgam of the Phishy spirit and the over-the-top west coast creativity of Burning Man, the art installations at Eight upped the ante from previous festivals, creating the feel of a psychedelic carnival. Throw in multiple bars, shade tents, countless couches, a jumbo-tron showing sporting events and movies, and golf cart taxis to get around the grounds, and this was most definitely not your father’s Phish festival!


Festival 8 (R.Gibbs)

Perhaps the biggest difference between Indio and Coventry is the utter joy engulfing the entire community these days. Back in ’04, we were there to celebrate a legacy – an irreplaceable time in our lives that was coming to a pre-mature end. And regardless of how much fun we had, the weekend possessed an irrefutable sadness.  Indio could not have been more opposite. With Phish back in 2009 – happy and on the rise again – everyone wore ear to ear smiles, and the positivity was absolutely infectious all weekend long. I never saw one incident, argument or bit of beligerence from anyone all weekend long, just people rejoicing to be back in the promised land.


Winged-music-noteJam of the Day:

2001 > Curtain > Tweezer” 11.19.95


A standout sequence that kicked-off Charlotte’s second set along the road of Fall ’95.



Festival 8 (Photo: Russell Gibbs)



11.15.95 Sun Dome, USF, Tampa, FL < Torrent

11.15.95 Sun Dome, USF, Tampa, FL < Megaupload

Sun Dome - U of South Florida

Sun Dome - U of South Florida

Making their tour of Florida universities, the band stopped at The University of South Florida a day after playing their legendary Orlando show the night before at The University of Central Florida, and three days after playing Gainesville. Amidst a tremendous run in the Sunshine State, a fierce “Mike’s Groove” holds down the second set of this show.

I: Poor Heart, AC/DC Bag, Fast Enough for You, Rift, Prince Caspian, Sparkle, Split Open and Melt, Sweet Adeline, The Squirming Coil

II: Wilson, Theme From the Bottom, Scent of a Mule, Mike’s Song > Life on Mars? > Weekapaug Groove, Fee, While My Guitar Gently Weeps

E: Suzy Greenberg

Notes: The band won the first chess game with the audience.

Source: Unknown

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435 Responses to “Where Palm Trees Dipped and Seagulls Swerved”

  1. neemor Says:

    Yeah, Vegas was rough.
    At the time, I naively chalked it up to a cold or something. Really tough to listen to.
    So glad that’s not where it all ended.
    I’ll be giving the ’03 Miami run a re-listen.

  2. whole tour! Says:

    @neemor… i love that Centrum show. That first set is on fire. The only ever phish version of “drifting” was awesome. That “moma” is perhaps the best EVER imho. They jam it wayyyyy out there.

    I dig that winter tour. the Nassau heat “tweezer” and The Greensboro Fire “piper” > “2001”

  3. sumodie Says:

    ptime tracklisting was copied from jambands.com. w/out hearing, does seem doubtful that alaska is fr. asheville.

  4. neemor Says:

    wt, I’m somewhat biased…that was my one and only front row show.
    The ride up to the show, all I wanted to see from the front row was the trampolines.
    YEM opener. Holy crap. One of the great moments in Phishtory. We discussed high-energy openers earlier this afternoon…that blew my socks off!
    And the Ghost (among many other highlights) from that show is one of the all-time Funkasaurus unearthings that I can ever remember.
    Plus I made eye contact with Mike. I’m pretty sure we had a moment.

  5. neemor Says:

    Now maybe I’m absolutely crazy, but as I listen to Party Time, I’m recognizing these songs, specifically Birdwatcher and Only a Dream.
    Were these leaked previously? I know I’ve heard them prior to today….

  6. Henry Says:

    Birdwatcher was played on one of the From the Archives during F8, the second one i think?

  7. whole tour! Says:

    “in a misty glade” was leaked with the barn demos from 1998.

  8. whole tour! Says:

    only a dream was played by gordo on his solo tour.

  9. gus Says:

    also, Birdwatcher was played when trey was DJ’ing Sirius in 2007. I’ve had the song for a while, glad to see it was put on Party Time. and Mike played Only A Dream on his solo tour last year, and this year.

  10. gus Says:

    ahh ya beat me to it wt!

  11. Henry Says:

    hmm, jamtopia has birdwatcher listed as the 8th track on FTA 14.2 but when I listen back the 7th track, ghost, is the final song.

  12. neemor Says:

    Anyone recognize that the opening of ‘Can’t Come Back’ is borrowed from ‘Saw It Again’?
    Right before they descend into the refrain “I saw it again!”, and the music that backs that refrain…..
    If you have the capability, give it a listen and compare.
    I think it’s pretty obvious and cool, and if you don’t agree, well…at least you got to check out ‘Saw It Again’….again!

  13. whole tour! Says:


  14. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Asking tonight and again until I find it.

    ANyone know of or seen sight of any of the latenightfeakout sessions from the Bunny from 8? Also Soundcheck? We were pulling in as they were finishing up.


  15. KWL Says:

    @Neemor I got the ‘Saw It Again’ right away…

    Really just made me wish that much more that they’ll play SIA this fall

  16. KWL Says:

    and, damn you all for making me want to re-listen to a bunch of 03 when I don’t have all my collection with me, nor enough bandwidth to start downloading… %*!@!E$@!!

  17. Mitch Says:

    I think they left burdwatcher off since it was coming out on a cd.

  18. KWL Says:

    btw my most-listened to 03 show is Nassau 2-28. For a long time (maybe still) for me that Gin was the best of what 2.0 had to offer.

    Only show I’ve ever been shut out of.

    Couldn’t believe it when my crew told me they dropped Destiny.

    What a terrible ride back from Long Island.

  19. quazi motto Says:

    about arguments at Festival 8. i saw 2 unfortinately. which did seem out of place. yes i indio was sweet. but 30,000 phans may not be enough to keep the boys and staff afloat. they may need to draw more of a crowd.

  20. joe Says:

    shoreline from 03 also opens with YEM. I had (up until all this new music) that one in the listening rotation for awhile.

  21. Henry Says:

    ah, Mitch, thanks for clearing that up.

    Also, I know Miner had a post about this a few months ago, but I really want to see a Phish Grayhound Rising this fall. Gone reminded me of it.

  22. whole tour! Says:

    shoreline 03 is tight…that whole first set rips!

  23. Harpua Says:

    Can’t Come Back : Theme From The Bottom :: Sugar Shack : The Mango Song


  24. neemor Says:

    Oh and BTW, just decided to listen to 7/7/00 Burgettstown (for probably the first time ever-thank you phishows.com) and that Ghost 2nd set opener>Jibboo is a straight up descent into the depths….classic ’00 Phish, my favorite year.

  25. neemor Says:

    Let me defend that Worcester show…Shoreline was a poseur for dropping the YEM opener trying to match the madness of Woosta’s atom bomb drop.

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