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. burblelover415 Says:

    Longtime lurker, 1st time poster…

    8 was one of the best weekends of my life. The ease of traffic on the outside, the great vibe on the inside…made for an epic weekend. The music was pretty good too 🙂

    For future fests, wondering if they would try to throw down in the mid-west. Rothbury has gone on twice and I believe that is outside of Chicago. Not sure how volitile the weather is there, but a late summer fest could be nice and central for heads from both coasts to attend.

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    The one time cost of setting up the entire site has got to be larger than the day-to-day running expenses.

    Hm. Not really. It takes a lot of people to run an event of that scope, and people are expensive, especially in Cali. Certainly the cost to rent the venue itself is the largest single cost; personnel costs are second, and could actually be more in aggregate.

    Splitting hairs though.

    30k peeps at $200 each is $6 million gross revenue. They made a profit, I bet, but probably not as much as you might think.

  3. Neemor Says:

    Wait…did I hear someone mention that they were part of a beer run for Tom Marshall and the Dude of Life?
    Can we revisit that story?!?!?

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    @KWL, if you want to follow up, which would be fun at some point, let’s do it in email or in yesterday’s thread…I’m out for most of the day again btw

  5. Mr.Miner Says:

    Neemor – hit me up at mrminer@phishthoughts.com

    Definitely interested!

  6. Marshall Says:

    @ Neemor – on a related note, I was not being alert at all when The Dude stopped by Robear’s oasis one night asking if it was Tom Marshall’s. I didn’t know who he was and had no response other than to laugh. Rob, being the connected guy he is, caught the crowd as they were leaving and hollered out “if you find him [Tom], bring him back here.”

    Next time someone asks me a question like that, I’ll be better prepared. Who knew?

  7. sumodie Says:

    @neemor: love me some number analysis

    :::High Five returned:::

    All this Cobo talk is trying to make that crazy part of me convince the rest of me that Cobo isn’t that far from Worcester, MA -no,no,no,no! Magical thinking can be dangerous indeed….

    Anyway, just committed to seeing MMW tonight at Mass MOCA in North Adams (awesome modern art museum & venue in a gorgeous old funky brick General Electric factory in NW Mass -love going there for any reason. Mass MOCA often usually has some far out trippy art displays).

  8. bearito Says:

    ^you’ve got a good night ahead of you sumodie.

  9. Highway Bill Says:

    …how bout that Fall tour.

  10. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    sumodie, I wish I could make the drive to North Adams tonight too but it ain’t happening. I’m only two towns east of you…

  11. Neemor Says:

    Wait, wait, wait….
    The Dude of Effing Life…
    Steve Pollak…
    Stopped by the Oasis?!?!?
    That is great.
    Meeting Tom at Carnegie Hall this past summer, I’ve got to think that spending some time with him kicking back at the Oasis in Indio would have to be the best capper to Fest8 ever.
    Really down to Earth and friendly.
    Dude, though….that’s another story.
    I wonder if he was spun/lost trying to get his bearings! Fun to speculate….

  12. llamalee Says:

    mr miner, great write up. this was my first phish fest and i went by myself not knowing anyone there and was a little nervous honestly on the way to cali but once i got on the bus there i met nothing but kind people and this continued the whole weekend. made great friends that im going to keep up with. i finally have some friends that dont think im crazy for going these distances to see phish, its nice.

  13. whole tour! Says:

    asheville was $300 for me.
    I could have seen 30 cobos for that price…lol
    but it was worth it.

  14. Marshall Says:

    On a song-related diversion, Undermind get’s the “most improved” award, IMO. Debuted at Hampton … played two more times this summer … KILLED at F8. I think this young gun has a bright future.

  15. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    burblelover415 can only be one person…..

    HI MATT!

    has Burble called yet???

  16. halcyon Says:

    Sumodie .. have a blast there, I have always wanted to catch some shows at Mass Moca in North Adams. I almost caught Josh Ritter there between Hartford and SPAC this past summer but logistics prevented me from heading there.

    As for MMW I can not wait for my Radiolarians Box Set to arrive. Just started dl’ing the Halloween Shack project of theirs on etree.

  17. BTB Says:

    “Cobo isn’t that far away from MA”

    Ha, now your talking!!

  18. Marshall Says:

    OK – I drove to Indy for DC and AP shows this summer, yet I’m not already planning my drive to Cincy, which is closer. What’s wrong with me?

  19. KWL Says:

    has Burble called yet???


  20. BTB Says:

    @KWL – I put your Cuse meet up spot on the FB group site.

  21. Stupendous Says:

    whats this MMW Haloween thing?

  22. sumodie Says:

    @Type III and Halcyon: Unlike when I lived in Amherst, I’m not exactly happy about driving Worcester>North Adams. However, the trade-off is that it’s at Mass MOCA and I know MMW loves to play off of super cool venues. I was soooo bummed when I missed them there a few years back.

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    yeah, not the most fun drive from Wormtown to N. Adams… but definitely worth it!

  24. sumodie Says:


    mmw halloween shows here:

  25. halcyon Says:

    stupendous … on bt.etree.org there are several projects of various bands where collectors are seeding shows from a specific era ,

    The MMW shack project is seeding/ collecting MMW shows. Currently their halloween runs are being seeded. I caught several of their Halloween shows and they always were a blast, guest DJ’s guitarists, percussionists, vocalists…Always a blast, and the shows were in various theaters in NYC

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