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. beepaphone Says:

    The plains of Iowa or Kansas would be badass….picture the rolling hills of Vermont, but about 1/8th the size, and thats western Iowa…prettier than it sounds though.

  2. whole tour! Says:

    $7 cobo tickets….i’m fucking going!
    booking plane right now.

  3. BTB Says:


  4. Stupendous Says:

    @ Looking for Owls
    Nice to hear youre up in Tampa… Im bout an hour south of ya in Sota

    Im gonna see if I can get that week off from work…
    to go, but im so broke right now….I cant afford the lotery much less starting to look for hotels & such…
    maybe ill just try to get NYE tix and hunt the other ones down elsewhere…
    Last time I went for all 4 nights and didnt really have a place to stay for the first 2…roughness in the city contrasted by a magical condo the last 2 nights on South beach! This time around im feeling like camping…

  5. Marshall Says:

    @ sumodie – I factored in the third day ($201-(($75/2) x 3)/((75/2) x 3)).

    A 3Day ticket at Clifford Ball would have cost about $112 (assuming my $75 2Day ticket price is accurate??).

    Using the US Consumer Price Index, $112 in 1996 is equal to $154.00 in 2009.

    I know this is very simplified, but it goes to the point that margins for Phish could be up. But, there expense ratios could also be higher (I have no idea about this).

  6. Marshall Says:

    their expense …

  7. KWL Says:

    repost from last night:

    the official word has come down: Blue Tusk will be open before and after the Cuse show.

    I hereby nominate the Tusk as official PT meet up spot (I don’t do the Facebook thing if someone wants to post it on there). Great beer selection, great music.

    I’ll be there, taking care of my ticket trade w/a fellow PTer and getting ready for the madness…

    Its right downtown, 165 Walton. Directly across the street is a really great brew pub, Empire. Bout half mile away from the venue.

    their message to me: ‘It’s on man, Tusk will be open and jammin’ out before and after the show!
    See ya there bro.’ Nice.

  8. KWL Says:

    Mr C, too early to digest your responses, but I’ll get to it haha. Thanks.

  9. sumodie Says:

    Also, consider the difference in ticket prices … I think it was something like $75 for two days of Clifford Ball versus $201 for F8.

    I suspect the price increase isn’t that great if you factor in inflation and the third day. Where’s our economists?

    Looks like $75 in 1996 is worth $99.49 now. To account for a third day at the Ball, I just divided 99.49 by 2 and added that back in to get $149.17. I’m guessing Indio has a higher cost of living than Plattsburgh, so the final difference between F8 and the Ball is not too bad.

  10. st8 of mind Says:

    Being a resident of Michigan, I would like to encourage people to show up at COBO. Tix are CHEAP. You can get them at stubhub for 10$ a piece. It is sure to be a rager. If you’re worried about being in Detroit, well don’t. There is nothing to worry about. The Red Wings will be playing just across the street. Greektown Casino is a great place to stay.

    Phish hasn’t been to MI since 12/2/99 (great show BTW), almost 10 years. COBO will be a great venue for them as well. See some of you there! I can’t w8!

  11. bhizzle Says:

    @ KWL

    Do my best to bump into you there…absolutely love that place. No matter what I am doing in Syracuse I always find myself there at some point for sometime. As you stated brew selection is immense and now the wine bar ta boot. The music ambiance has never dissappointed either.

  12. Marshall Says:

    Hold on a sec and I’ll call up Red Light and request the actual data 😉

  13. Robear Says:

    kwl, If I make it to the mid-west for the tour kick-off, I’ll be there!

    One of my favorite things about Feight was meeting phellow PT’ers and seeing who would beat me back to the Oasis between sets.

  14. sumodie Says:

    @Marshall: Haha -you did some analysis too.

    I could see the band valuing their brand more in 2009 than in 1996 (in spite of the 5 year break) -that would also account for Indio’s higher cost. Ok, no more math geeking for me…

  15. Robear Says:

    st8, I’m a native michigander, transplanted out west. Way to rep the ‘MO!

    Phish hasn’t played in the city of Detroit since May of ’92, fwiw. Judging by how tight the band was playing was on 10.30, I don’t see any rust coming into play @ Cobo.

    KWL, my speed reading failed me. I thought you were talking about a Cincy meet-up. I won’t see you in Syracuse.

  16. Marshall Says:

    “We’ve got it Simple … cause we’ve got a BRAND. And we’ve got symbols ($$$) in the Brand”

  17. sumodie Says:

    Seriously, though, regarding costs, marketing, and phish tour, while F8 may have been a nice calculated risk that benefited those who could attend, the remainder of tour this year has not been geographically adventurous. Not saying I would have wanted it otherwise, and I totally understand that this was the first year back, but I hope down the road the band branches out and hits venues out of its safest comfort zones.

  18. KWL Says:

    the other thing to consider re cost of festivals & ticket prices is start up costs. These have got to be immense. The one time cost of setting up the entire site has got to be larger than the day-to-day running expenses. So by this logic, if I’m making sense, a 3rd day of a festival would be super cheap compared to the 1st day (since just 1 day requires a huge investment to get the thing off the ground). Each day would then become subsequently cheaper…

  19. Marshall Says:

    @ sumodie – I agree. Would love to see them hit some more theaters (a la Fox). It seems that demand is not so overwhelming to make venues smaller than arenas out of the question.

  20. KWL Says:

    damn, Robear, you got my hopes up. We’ll get together in NYC though, at least I’ll stop by the waterwheel booth.

    Maybe I’ll see the Wisco kids in the Cuse…

  21. Birddog Says:

    Yeah I gotta say, a close friend of mine does tshirts and posters for the band. In previous years he never had trouble getting comped tickets etc. He tried to get me some tickets for summer tour this year and they were having none of it. Felt a little like Phi$h.

    That said, the new production company is waaay pared down and I think the band is pretty hands off so I’m going to give the band the benefit of the doubt and realize that they really had to cut out alot of the folks that were just along for the ride.

    That said you know they are looking at the bottom line.

  22. Marshall Says:

    @ KWL – your logic is why the city of Gamehendge makes economic sense.

  23. Marshall Says:

    backwards down the number line … is that another way of saying “in the red.”

  24. Neemor Says:

    3 shows-$60 a piece at a regular venue.
    $21. to make sure we have all the accommodations we need including daily port-a-john service?
    We’re not really complaining about Festy8’s ticket prices are we?
    We’re not begrudging Phish a few extra bucks after what they just provided us, are we?
    Holy crap…Fall Tour is UPON US!!!!!
    Can’t wait to meet you guys…
    Thanks for the wishes, I’m feeling much better now.
    Drink your Vitamin C, all!

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ for real! Thanks for the reality check Neemor!

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