What Happened To The West?

The Gorge '09 (W.Rogell)

While some fans are willing to travel to the end of the earth to see Phish – from Copenhagen to Tokyo and Telluride to Prague – many simply can’t make these treks due to life circumstances and responsibilities. As Phish 3.0’s second year begins to unfold, Phish fans on the west coast are still left wondering why the band refuses to come their way, playing virtually no shows on the west coast and southwest since their return. While west coast swings used to be hallowed summer traditions, providing the most gorgeous drives of the tour, the band’s overwhelming focus on the eastern seaboard has left many Phish-less fans on the left coast out in cold.

Using this summer as an example, the only shows west of the Rocky Mountains are the three at The Greek, and everyone knows how hard those tickets have been to come by. Last summer, Phish graced the west coast for exactly the same amount of shows – one at Shoreline and two at The Gorge – and then returned for Festival 8, for a grand total of 6 out of 50 shows. While Phish hails from the east coast and have a concentration of fans, friends, and families there, they have seemingly forgot how many people long for them to come westward. Or maybe they just don’t care.

In Phish’s previous eras, the west coast always comprised an integral part of the summer circuit. Some of the venues changed and others stayed the same, but west coast Phish always provided one of the best segments of tour with notably laid-back atmospheres, less crowds, and stellar weather. A far cry from the overrun amphitheatres of the east, Phish’s music adjusted to the calmer settings, often taking a different direction than east coast jams. Thus far in this era, however, unless a west coast fan lives in the Bay Area, outside LA, or in rural Washington, they haven’t even been able make a reasonable drive to a Phish show.

Phish’s current family-based touring model must play a role in their lack of desire to travel far for shows. Only selecting the most choice venues, west coast shows are now reserved for “special events,” neglecting many fans across the region. With limited vacation days, a less-than-ideal economy, and more mature responsibilities, many core Phish fans can’t just drop things and fly across the country for a week; it’s no longer as feasible as it was ten years ago. Just as the band has changed and matured, so has their primary fan base, and one would think their routing would reflect this understanding.

Coors Amphitheatre - Chula Vista, CA

Throughout the modern era of Phish, the band has chosen venues and tour schedules according to their own desires, leaving fans to figure out ways to navigate smaller shows and harder tickets. In this golden age of their career, it seems that Phish will do what makes them happiest without caring about ease of access to shows or tickets, and they have certainly earned that right. Unfortunately, the lack of west coast shows fits right into this pattern, like it or not.

With an over-saturation of east coast gigs this summer, sixteen shows have, ironically, yet to sell out. Staple venues like Deer Creek, SPAC, Walnut Creek and Camden still have tickets on sale. Other shows with stubs still up for grabs include both Hartford dates, Charlotte, Blossom, and Chicago. And the reasoning is hardly a mystery. Without an expanding fan base at this point, Phish, largely, has a “set” number of fans who want to see them play. With so many opportunities within short drives for most fans on the east coast, many of these shows are not selling out because people are picking and choosing what shows to hit. With an aging demographic and no younger generation to fill in the holes, less Phish fans than ever are doing the entire tour – or even extended runs. With most fans seeing less shows in total, more tickets are left available.

Out West, Fall '95

Logic would have it that less shows in one area would cause them all to sell out, but by scheduling multiple two-night stands within a couple hours of each other every weekend, most fans don’t have the capacity – or need – to hit each one. I don’t think that there are less people trying to see Phish, but the same number are spread out over 16 eastern shows. If Phish cut that number to 10, I bet most tickets would be gone. We can theorize all day, but when it comes down to it, I don’t think Phish or Red Light much cares what we think. Phish paid their dues, playing every village, town, and city throughout the 80’s and 90’s, and this is their time to schedule their lives out of convenience, not necessity. They have their fans, they have their money, why do they need to play where they don’t want to play? I can certainly see their side of the coin.

Though Phish will only play three west coast shows this summer, rumors have started to swirl about a Fall run down the coast. I don’t have specifics, but we shall see. Murmurs of Indio being rescheduled for Halloween weekend have also surfaced, potentially coinciding with such a western swing. With west cost weather holding strong through the autumn months, an eventful run could be in the works; one can only hope. West coast Phish not only offers locals a chance to see shows without boarding a plane, it also provides a totally diverse live experience for those fans traveling from other parts of the country, balancing the clusterfucks of the east.

Portland '98

Hopefully, Phish will escape from the vortex of Verizon Wireless venues of the east, and figure out a way to unveil more western dates before the year is up; but without any real incentive, west coasters shouldn’t hold their breaths. For the time being, west coast fans will have to live with quality over quantity, as some of last year’s most stellar shows took place at The Gorge and Red Rocks, and this summer the band will hit up the Greek and Telluride. (Though let’s not pretend that Colorado is a west coast state.) With their roots firmly planted on the east coast, it remains to be seen how geographically diverse modern tours will become. But for now, west coasters, score those Greek tickets, keep your luggage accessible, and save those frequent flier miles, because who knows when Phish will be back on the left coast.


Jam of the Day:

Wolfman’s > 2001” 7.24.98 II

The highlight of today’s Download of the Day.




7.24.98 Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands, TX SBD < Megaupload

7.24.98 Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands, TX SBD < Torrent

Mitchell Pavilion @ The Woodlands

A dark-horse show from outside of Houston, along the Texas run of Summer ’98.

I: The Moma Dance, Runaway Jim, Bouncing Around the Room, Stash, My Soul, Taste, Golgi Apparatus, Loving Cup

II: Wolfman’s Brother > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Scent of a Mule > Ha Ha Ha > Scent of a Mule, Slave to the Traffic Light, Chalk Dust Torture

E: Character Zero

Source: SBD

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608 Responses to “What Happened To The West?”

  1. KWL Says:

    hey blackboard!

    anything good today? can i get a setlist up in here?

  2. voopa Says:

    Cash for your extra Greek tix!

  3. Jape Says:

    Quick point: If you could pick any 5 shows to see this summer, wouldn’t they be Greeks and Telluride? That’s got to be worth something.

  4. Denver dude Says:

    RIGHT FUCKING ON!! I live in Denver and was lucky by the grace of amazing luck to get into two of the Red Rocks show last year. Was not able to score Telluride this summer though, which while technically in Colorado, its 6-hours away!

    It does suck that Phish has neglected the western part of the country. Especially the Colorado region since the shows they did play and are about to play had such limited availability. Total shitshow.

  5. Ken Says:

    i doubt it has much to do with the east coast crowds being more energetic and responsive compared to the laid back west coast fans. It’s just that the guys are not 25 year old kids anymore…they are grown men with families of their own. I think they all saw what it did to their home lives the first time around (Page, Mike and Fish are all divorced) and we all know what it did to Trey. No worries, west coasters…they’ll probably do a run around Indio for Halloween.

  6. COCRAIG Says:

    Never posted a comment before but this topic hits the nail on the head. As a 20 year Phish fan and a 20 year Colorado resident 3.0 has been frustrating. Scoring tickets close to home has been impossible. First the 4 night Red Rocks run and then Telluride both of which I had no luck getting tickets to the conventional way. I did pay out the ying yang for one night at Red Rocks, but once there couldn’t help but notice that very few in attendance were actually from Colorado. It’s a big bummer to have Phish play an hour and a half away from your home and not even be able to go to shows. Of course Telluride sold out in a heart beat and I know no one from the state that is going to attend. I do have a friend form Albany that got tickets to Telluride, but do they really need to Travel to Colorado to see Phish shows? Afterall, Phis plays up and down the east coast regular and they aren’t even selling out shows this summer. I wonder how many sorely due western state fans will be at Telluride? Not many I bet. My I suggets that the next time Phish plays Colorado or a saught after West venue they give ticket preference to people who live there?

  7. eric t barnes Says:

    Another BIG difference is that phish has been gone for 3 generation of college kids.It seemed some thought they woul like, but half seen one leg then quit.Cincinnati marked the first real show where I started to feel the feeling I forgot.My theory is expanding or not as a phan base which I think if they preyed on college folk then I don’t see why college folk won’t get it after 3 years or so and filter out the new fans.I think most of the older fans either died from dope or have families and not as many can swing a tour.give it a few years and a fan base will be reinvented like if gerry came back alive I don’t think people would back off.the economy is bad so close is good and west coasters get festival 8 which I didn’t bitch, I flew with the flock and made it back to west virginia in one piece and cheaper than most 5-8show runs I go on around my area.these days plane tickets can be cheaper than gas.The main point though I wanted to make was the reason tickets arnt sold out yet.Does anybody remember last year when they released hampton,then leg 1,then knoxville,then bonnaroo,then leg 2,etc.They let out only a few shows at a time and made everybody think leg 1 was it and everbody panicked to get tickets.they even added another nokia and added fenway park.4 add ons after leg 1 was set so everybody grabbed those up.Then leg 2 comes out so half the amount comes out again with only 4east coast shows, and a central show in chicago.The rest were west so by this point a lot of those newbies were finding out if they really did like phish or not.I felt like letting a few shows out at a time last year was like throwing a bone to somebody with a pack of wolves around them.I mean people should be thaankful that there are a bunch of phish shows close.like you all said the economy is bad and I’d rather see 5 shows in a 1 hour drive each way than drive 500miles to each show.Touring is fun but I go for the music and if that music finds a location out west where its beautiful then I won’t bitch, ill do what I always do, go out west and have an adventure and camp for free in all those national forests that let you do so.I’m not trying to contradict myself either.I just like shows that are close and I just like shows that are exotic,rare, or on another world.ps….do you really want tickets to be harder to get and worry about them being sold out or would you rather be able to buy tickets for face without having to hover over every key on your computer panicking to get a request in and score a ticket.I think most would rather get tickets easily and not have to buy off taxed brokers.Which is a good point, by releasing all shows at once for the entire summer they can’t buy up all tickets nor are they worth a much if there was only ten shows.there will still be tons of tix on staple lots for 20$ and there won’t be a shortage of shows for brokers to get all the tickets and rape everyone of their money.LAST YEAR PEOPLE BITCH BECAUSE BROKERS GOT ALL THE TICKETS AND THEY COULDNT GET TO ANY SHOWS AND NOW I HEAR BITCHING THAT THERE ARE TOO MANY PHISH TICKETS TO BE BOUGHT BECAUSE THEY DIDNT SELL OUT LIKE BOTH TIMES THEY RETURNED FROM HIATUS.this seems like a WONDERFUL THING, phish tickets I don’t have to call off to TRY to get.I can actually get them anytime almost.Yeah, that really sucks or is just the most fucked up shit I’ve heard.Last year was chaos trying to get tickets to places and this year I’m not worrying myself to death.I don’t feel like I have to go to fucking stub hub.I mean with the way the tickets are not selling out and the close range of shows should allow people to fly out east like I do west, but only to find a show or 2 night stand is but an hour away and not sold out.It sounds like I would of spent less money if this were last year with these circumstances and I flew from japan.I payed 220$ for 5000seat asheville for best buy and that would of payed my plane tic.bonnaroo 300$ just to see 2phish shows would of payed food/lodging.the rest of the shows I had to get off other people or pay around 100$ to get.even though deercreek,alpine, and star lake were as usual as they have always been in the 90s.those places always have tix anytime cheap.the reason is the more shows let out at once gives less panick and instead of everyone trying for those ten shows like said by someone, they are getting to choose from 16 shows and don’t have the time to get them all leaving plenty of time for others in a bad economy to not be left out because they couldn’t get there quick enough because they had to wait a month to even afford one show.where there is a will there is a way-west and east coasters.would about central plains?I mean st louis got one but chic and alpine don’t exactly count but if so there were only 4 of those, six if u count deercreek.I would go anywhere to see phish and usually flying is cheaper when nobody has money nor is flying.That’s why I flew into palm springs to festival 8 for a total round trip of 175$.That’s 3000+miles there and 3000+miles back.It was the cheaper of all the mini tours I went on and the best time I’ve had since shoreline 2003 when I was so excited to go see the west, just like west coasters you think would be, but I don’t know maybe the west is the best, I sure do love it and nothing has stopped me from going to alaska either.I’m heading there soon.peace!

  8. eric t barnes Says:

    I jummbled some words from being half asleep but ILOVE the fact that I can buy phish tickets at will instead of at mercy.Ill write more but try to reword my spelling.Too early!

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