A Small Ball?

"Thunder Road" - Unofficial Print (J.Lamb)

Over the weekend, some surprising information leaked about the ticket sales for this weekend’s Super Ball IX—there haven’t been many! The rumored number of pre-sold tickets has hovered around 25,000, a number that even with 10,000 walk-ups, will be far cry from the band’s northeast extravaganzas of lore. The Clifford Ball hosted 70,000, while the The Great Went brought 75,000 fans to Limestone, Maine. 60,000 trekked north for Lemonwheel and 65,000 attended Camp Oswego. Big Cypress drew 85,000 to the Everglades, while IT and Coventry each came in around 60,000. Sure this isn’t the late-‘90s and Phish’s fan base is older, but, shit, even Indio—on the west coast—drew 40,000! So with the smallest Phish festival in history likely about to go down at Watkins Glen International, what the heck went wrong?

6.12.11 (G.Lucas)

Business-wise, Super Ball seems like a clear case of over-saturation. Putting the festival so close—both in time and physical space—to Bethel and Darien’s leg one shows (not to mention 15 other east coast affairs) the driving need for people to be at Super Ball doesn’t seem to be there. With plenty of more Phish on the horizon this summer, especially for west coasters, there is little incentive for many fans to travel far away for a holiday festival when Phish will soon come to them. After just feeding their core fan base a month of stellar shows and about to visit the west in August, it seems like only the most passionate and local Phish fans (who had budgeted this weekend into their summer) will be attending Super Ball—a factor that could contribute to a dreamlike vibe. Tack on a late announcement for an event on July 4th weekend—a summer holiday that often entails family commitments—and you’ve got the recipe for the most intimate Phish fest to date.

Super Ball IX

For fans, this number will likely mean reduced traffic, reduced stress, and a generally easier time navigating the festival grounds. The multi-mile walks from campgrounds to the concert field will shrink with no need to push people so far from the central part of town. But what will be the band’s reaction? Will they be disgruntled by a less-than-full concert field? Phish has always been pretty good at going with the flow, and if I had to make a guess, any sort of attendance count won’t change their musical output. In fact, many fans have sited “The Dark Side Axiom,” theorizing that Phish will throw down harder with fewer people there. But with many thousand more set to tune in via Sirius radio (to be announced soon) a la Festival 8, who knows the real answer?

I suspect the weekend will be phenomenal—unaffected by any shortage of the masses—and blossom into an intimate and memorable party for 35,000 people. The numbers are meaningless to us, if not a bit fascinating, because when the first notes bellow out of those speaker towers, the last thought on any of our mind’s will be the number of people in attendance. Once you and Phish and endless dance space converge, little else tends to matter.

Tags: , , ,

841 Responses to “A Small Ball?”

  1. ihatepockets Says:

    12 Minute walk from the middle of BFE

    I figure, 20 minutes, max, from the shittiest campsite in this whole SOB.

    This is good.

  2. alf Says:

    official map is upside down for planning purposes – glen close is directly south of concert field, main camping is east

    approach from the east for general camping, west for glen close, and north for RVs

  3. ihatepockets Says:

    Good…so me, arriving from the east, would naturally land in Hawaii.

    ::irons hawaiian shirt::

  4. ihatepockets Says:

    sheeit I mean arriving from west

  5. stitchstash Says:

    I saw this LLama Hawaiian shirt while I was shopping for my Dad on Father’s Day. I went for the commemorative Father’s Day shirt but I have plans to buy him this one for his birthday. He collects Spooner. Naturally, he’ll have to wear it to his first Phish show.


  6. alf Says:

    stitch – you ballin? was just thinking about emailing you

  7. Robear Says:

    Rare rain just started falling in NorCal.

  8. stitchstash Says:

    Funny you should ask, I was just looking at that map thinking of ways to get there. Unfortunately, No is my answer for now. I hope you’re going at least!

  9. stitchstash Says:

    Those are tears for us not making it to the ball. Where’s my fairy godmother?

  10. bigjig Says:

    Robear- is it April? Last year they blamed all of this crazy weather on the volcano in Iceland, what’s to blame for all this weirdness now? btw- not going ballin, got to go to a friends bachelor party at High Sierra. I know crazy right? His winery has been the wine sponsor for the last five years.

  11. Robear Says:

    Sounds like a great wknd, jig.

    I blame the poles shifting on their axis. That or the solar flares.

  12. bigjig Says:

    not really. Kind of feel like my wife does when she goes to shit she doesn’t really want to be at.

  13. stitchstash Says:

    Alf, (Mitch?) I’m not sure you have my email. It’s stitchstash @ yahoo in case you didn’t.

  14. stitchstash Says:

    Who’s playing the High Sierra? It couldn’t be that bad could it?

  15. stitchstash Says:

    I looked it up. Maceo Parker will be fun. My husband likes Ween. I’m not sure who some of these other bands are but it might not be all that bad bigjig. I hope you at least like wine.

  16. vegtabill Says:

    It may have been said already, but the delayed ticket announcement had a lot to do wit it for us. By the time Phish announced, many Summer festivals had been on sale, and some were near sell-out levels. It’s hard to keep money set aside for something you’re not even sure is going to happen. Earlier announcement would have meant more ticket sales!

Leave a Reply