With a nationwide, carpet-bombing of mail order tickets yesterday, the final countdown to the Greek Theatre has officially begun. Energy, anticipation, and anxiety has already flooded the scene, as the hype for Berkeley’s three-night stand has come to a head in recent weeks. While people finalize plans, scour the Internet for extra tickets, and prepare to head west, the appearance of second-leg stubs at doorsteps across the country yesterday, upped the adrenaline for all fans trying to focus through one more week.
The tickets for Leg II sport venue-specific designs, the Greeks decorated with a graphic take of the theatre’s backdrop. With “Phish” written in lightening bolts on the tickets, the band gave a subtle nod to the Grateful Dead as they prepare to set up shop on their forefathers’ home turf. The excitement is peaking for many, but others are still trying to get their hands on that last ticket to complete their three-pack. By not releasing multi-night packages, Phish and Ticketmaster left a lot of fans to face the worlds of ticket trading and brokering. With Saturday night stubs being the scarcest, prices in the secondary market have climbed over $300 a pop for the intimate GA shows. Since these are the only west coast dates scheduled, the migration to the Bay will come from far and wide, as this is the closer to home Phish will come for thousands of left coast fans. All of these factors have converged to create quite the pre-show hubbub for the upcoming nights in Northern California.
Phish’s only previous visit to Berkeley’s famed amphitheatre came on August 28, 1993, as the finale of Summer ’93. Concluding one of the most prolific months in their history, Phish capped August with a start-to-finish smoker that provides a quintessential portrait of the band in that era of history. “Maze” and “Stash” stood out in the first set, while highlight versions of “Antelope” and “YEM” sparkled in the second. The Dead had just finished a summer run at Shoreline the day before this show, and many first-timers crossed the Bay to check out an up and coming Phish. But since that night, relived countless times through the soundboard tape that became a staple any collector’s stash, Phish has never been back to the Greek.
Ever since 1995, Phish has made Shoreline their routine Bay Area tour stop. With a capacity of 22,000 (almost triple The Greek’s 8000), it simply made more economic sense to play the larger venue. But those days are gone and in this modern era, Phish plays where they want, when they want. With the ability to sell 44,000 tickets over two-nights at Shoreline, Phish, instead, chose the less profitable route of selling 24,000 tickets over three nights in Berkeley – but the experience will be incomparable. Despite being Bill Graham’s baby, Shoreline’s design likens most amphitheatres across the country. But when one steps into the Greek Theatre, it becomes quite apparent they have arrived somewhere special. And when Phish looks out onto the classic stone amphitheatre, they will also feel the mystique of he Greek, and their music will likely reflect their surroundings.
These upcoming Berkeley shows represent the Red Rocks of 2010 – a multi-night party in one of music’s hallowed venues to kick off the second leg of summer. Last year, the band’s improvement between Leg I and Leg II grew so significant, it became virtually inexplicable. The five-weeks between tours – whether used for practice, sorcery, Oh Kee Pah Ceremonies or family time – produced a far more evolved band in August then we’d left in June. I’m not sure we can expect such a colossal leap of progress over this month-long break, but if a musical shift brings any semblance of congruity to 2009’s giant steps, we are in for some good times. Having established a new sound and style for 2010, Phish looks to further their exploits of the early summer…next week!
Jam of the Day:
“Run Like An Antelope” 8.28 II
The last time Phish visited The Greek…
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY: Greek History
8.28.1993 The Greek Theatre, Berkeley, CA < Megaupload
Phish’s last visit to The Greek – seventeen years ago in August ’93; a completely different animal altogether.
I: Llama, Bouncing Around the Room, Foam, Ginseng Sullivan, Maze, Fluffhead, Stash, The Squirming Coil, Crimes of the Mind*
II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Rift, Run Like an Antelope, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Sparkle, It’s Ice > Big Ball Jam, Purple Rain > Hold Your Head Up, You Enjoy Myself > Oye Como Va Jam > You Enjoy Myself > Contact**, Chalk Dust Torture
E: Daniel Saw the Stone, Amazing Grace
* w/ Dude of Life on Vocals, **out vocal jam, JJ Cale opened