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. st8 of mind Says:

    Robear- thanks. Gotta rep. Should be a good one!

  2. Neemor Says:

    I’m glad today’s topic came up, it’s been really interesting to see the different viewpoints running the gamut on the Limestone/Indio thing.
    I personally love the idea of Cypress again, I love the idea of Maine again. I get the viewpoint that moving away from Limestone might make sense due to traffic concerns and other issues…but I think there’s a lot to be said for the nostalgia of that decommissioned Air Force Base in the middle of nowhere…
    Hate to see it fall into history, but I also love the idea of a an Iowa/Nebraska Corn Field ala the Woodstock of the Midwest…a great way to inject some much needed funds into the crippled economy that is our heartland’s farming situation…
    As long as it moves back towards their NorthEastern roots, there are a lot of situations that might make sense…
    When it comes down to it, though…they’ll do what we least expect like they always do and we’ll be pleasantly surprised I’m sure.
    It can only get better from here.

  3. Neemor Says:

    I may shoot you an email regarding a possible seat swap at the CCCC…Adam mentioned you might be interested…not sure if that rings a bell?

  4. halcyon Says:

    Indio was probably the best choice there is. Traffic non-existent, lines were minimal, ample space and room to wander, clean bathrooms, available water, plenty of lodging, and dining choices on site, and off site, stable weather. Logistics for this production were in place.

    Goldenvoice puts on huge festivals every year at this location, with much larger crowds, and it comes together nicely.

    They (Phish, Red Light, Goldenvoice) took everyone into consideration and it worked. It was the total package.

    More people = more headaches = more logistics, they learned their lesson with Coventry. Festivalography even mentioned Page’s aversion to hosting a festival in VT.

    If they host festivals in Indio in the fall, I will always make an attempt to be there.

  5. sumodie Says:

    <emThe 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

    @KWL: Yeah, I ignored that factor and figured some unknowns that make Indio more expensive than Plattsburgh would make up for that omission. Of course, I also didn’t include the extra cost for a parking pass either.

    The Indio price point may also have been higher because they assumed fewer fans would attend…so many variables!

  6. bearito Says:

    Glad you had a flawless experience Miner!

    My experience in electric Ladyland wasn’t far off but did have a few negative attributes:

    a) The Balloon mafia was all up in my shit at times and I just wanted to bitch slap em’. They were those kids who were there for the profit, adding negativity to the scene.

    b) Late night techno blaring Wooks seemed to post up in a horseshoe like community around our camp. Thank jeebus for ear plugs!

    That’s really about it. The walk wasn’t that bad from ladyland and the showers and Farmers Market were also close. Overall I give it an A+.

    $200 in this economy, with all the amenities that were offered… SIGN ME UP again!

  7. Marshall Says:

    To be clear, I was NOT begrudging Phish for ticket prices at all. I was merely suggesting that just because they didn’t sell 75K tickets, that they didn’t necessarily not make money.

    I would have paid $300 for the Indio F8 experience. Heck, I paid $200 to see them in Asheville for one night.

  8. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    in a kind of related vein, I have a good friend who’s grandfather is the namesake of Loring AFB. He’s not much of a phan but I always thought that was kind of cool. Too bad I didn’t know this back when we were going up there…

  9. bearito Says:

    ^$140 to see em in Asheville here Marshall.

  10. beepaphone Says:

    I might be paying over 200 just for Cobo tickets, but for the opposite reasons…my buddies are looking like a no-go and nobody wants to buy them for a reasonable price. I’m going to just pretend that the show is so hype and bursting at the seams, that I had to pay the 240 or whatever just for my 1 ticket. Bah.

  11. Marshall Says:

    Above face here, below face there. It all evens out if you go to enough shows. Just remember to have a line item in your budget for Phish and then add 15%.

  12. Marshall Says:

    @ Beep – can you really put a price on IT? 🙂

  13. halcyon Says:

    lol Marshall….I added up my receipts last weekend and came in 15-20 %more than I planned for ….

    It was that great of a time.

  14. Marshall Says:

    Listening to MitM from the acoustic set again. Why does this song remind me of the GD? I know there are the songs that get thrown in that category, but this one definitely dips into that place.

  15. sumodie Says:

    @Neemor: I am in no way complaining about F8 ticket prices. The ticket prices for phish fests have always been a fantastic bargain, imho.

    Just a little daily mind wandering, that’s all. And while I think Phish is still sharing plenty of love in 2009, it is apparent that the Coran Capshaw number crunchers have been paying better attention than those from the previous eras. And I’m still not complaining -just observing.

  16. beepaphone Says:

    No, but i still don’t fuck around when it comes to finances…I’m going to go and I’m going to love it. I may be upset, but have only myself to blame for buying more than I needed.

  17. KWL Says:

    that sucks beep… I can def relate on being the point person for getting tickets (not to mention all the other logistics). Still trying to collect some debts from summer tour… Was more careful about who I spotted money to for fall.

  18. KWL Says:

    and ya, not complaining at all about f8 prices–worth the money no question about it.

    only thing to complain about is scalpers. Hope their suffering this fall.

  19. Neemor Says:

    I was just nudging. Hence my little smiley face, I know you were just crunching numbers.
    :::High Five:::

  20. beepaphone Says:

    I love being the point person on tour…the planning is fun…I always have an ear to ear smile when i’m booking hotels, google mapping routes, scoring good seats, etc. I’m even happy to drive the whole way. I was made for tour logistics, but this Cobo debacle has somewhat blindsided me.

    But that is why I love this site. Peeps back out on Cobo? No problem…I’ll just meet up with BTB, Ocelot, Aqua, Robear, etc….IT will still be a grand time.

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    having been involved in festival event production numerous times, and having read everything about how 8 was set up, I am quite sure that the $200 ticket price was in no way a profit gouge. They spend huge amounts of money and it wouldn’t surprise me if their break even was near or even over 30k attendees.

    @Birddog – I used to get comps to most west coast shows as well, and backstage passes to many – and like you say, all of that is completely gone. I don’t mind though. With the very extreme exception of Coventry and its legendarily immense guest list, from some direct knowledge (friends who work in the box office of venues Phish plays), the number of comps they gave out, while on the large side, wasn’t enough to impact the bottom line.

    That is to say – I don’t think the cutoff of comps is a purely business decision per se. I think it has more to do with them intentionally shrinking their social circles and the scene in general. Just my impression.

  22. Marshall Says:

    Phishthoughts is THE reason I made it to F8.

  23. beepaphone Says:

    Hell yeah marhall…you Cobo bound? Your hype helped me stay in good spirits last night

  24. Marshall Says:

    My Destiny is unbound at this point. I find that I waver more about shows these days and then make last minute decisions. If anything happens for me this fall it will either be a drive up to Cincy (7.5 hours again) or a last minute jaunt to NYC. If Detroit was closer to SC, I would be all over the cheap tickets.

    I’m going to keep saying this. Burning Down the House will be played at Cobo (most likely as an encore).

  25. halcyon Says:

    I don’t think there is any complaining sumodie, neemor. One of the most consistent defining attributes regarding the band, and whoever their management may be is that they do not screw their fans.

    Unlike many bands, they have never done a moneygrab from their fans.

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