My actual setlist notes from June 2004
I love Phish. I take so much guff from my friends and family for being a Phishead and following them all over the world. But you know what? I don't care about that. They can make fun of me all they want because in the end... it's their loss. The music of Phish moves me, inspires me, and soothes me.
Yes, I've seen Phish 151 times including six shows in Japan in 2000. I loved them that much that I made the trek to Japan to see them play their music and share it with an entirely different culture. I saw my first show at the Wetlands in 1989 as a snot-nosed high school kid in New York City and the last show I saw (obviously) was Coventry in Vermont. I walked five miles in the mud with my friend Molly to see them. That's dedication.
I was working in London in October 2008 when I heard the serious rumblings of an impending reunion. Based on a strong and reliable tip from one of our readers, I booked a hotel room in Hampton, Virginia for four nights... and I waited... and waited. And then we got the message that every Phishead had been waiting for.... the boys were returning for Hampton for a three show run.
Phish is back.
I went through the mail order process and got stiff-armed. I went the Ticketbastard route and got shut out. That's when the whispers of the ticket-conspiracies began popping up. Only a handful of my friends that were Phisheads actually got tickets. The rest were gobbled up by brokers and other corporate ticket entities... one of them owned by Ticketbastard themselves.
The only way that I was going to see the Phish Reunion in Hampton... was to buy a ticket from a scalper. (Hold off on that thought for a second...)
Flash forward to the 2009 summer tour announcement. Everyone got pumped and bubbled over with excitement. The Joker felt as though the summer tour would alleviate the demand for Hampton tickets and overall tickets. Ergo, he honestly felt deep in his heart that we'd get to see our favorite band... for face value.
Of course, we went through the mail order process for summer tour (including the added date for Knoxville). I requested tickets to 11 shows and I only scored two lawn seats to Burgettstown. My girlfriend only scored one lawn ticket to Burgettstown. Ooooomph. Three tickets to Pittsburgh. All lawn.
I had to call in a favor from an old friend from college to score a ticket to Asheville. I paid him 2x the amount and have to give the guy poker lessons. I thought that was a fair trade for a hot ticket.
And then the day of reckoning... the first wave of public tickets sold at Live Nation on Friday morning. I woke up bright an early on the West Coast to pick up tickets. I expected a clusterfuck and got one. I kept getting timed out. When I finally reached Deer Creek it shot out an error page. Repeat that process for an hour before I gave up.
Frustrating is a word that came too mind. Futile was another, like a monkey trying to fuck a football.
A internet savvy friend of mine told me that there are armies of workers paid by online ticket mafioso types to do just what we are doing... trying to buy tickets. Add the thousands of Phisheads to the mix and you have a limited amount of tickets available to real fans.
Maybe the gang at Phish will try to re-think their ticketing system and give the power back to the fans instead of it getting sucked up by the brokers and ruthless corporations.
So now, where does that leave me? A rabid fan who only scored tickets via lottery to one show out of 14. I scored another via the old-fashioned barter method. I feel lucky that I even got those tickets.
But what about Hampton... and the rest of the summer tour?
I have three options...
1. I need a miracle. I have to get lucky and hope that I built up enough karma that someone (a fan or reader) will give me one of their extra tickets at face value. I'm a gambling man and I figured that the percentages of that actually happening are low. Maybe I can score one ticket that way. Two at the max.
2. Shakedown Street. I guess I can get lucky and try to score a ticket in the lot or in Shakedown Street. But to be honest, the kids and freaks and scammers and wookies in the lot today have zero honor. They'll rip you off in two seconds if they are given the chance. Even then, I'm gonna have to pay at least double face for the chance to get a legit ticket. I figured that I could score one or two legit tickets via Shakedown. And I can't imagine how many bunk tickets will be going around the lots this summer.
3. Broker. My last resort is a broker. If I buy from a broker, then I hurt my fellow Phisheads and destroy the community. The only way to render those brokers/corporate ticket thieves powerless are to not by tickets from them. In theory, that should work. In reality, I have a life to lead and it's short. I love Phish and want to go see them. I also bust my ass to make money as a freelance writer and I also play a little poker on the side to supplement my income. I have substantially more money now than I did during Phish 1.0 and Phish 2.0. A decade ago, I was a long-haired tour rat slinging pharmies in the lot to pay for tickets and relying upon my girlfriend to whip up a batch of veggie burritos to sell for gas money. Tickets were at a much smaller demand then and the technology wasn't as sophisticated as today. None of that matters.
Today is what counts. And there's a battle between the haves and the have nots. The haves are the corporations like Ticketbastard and the various ticket brokers. The have nots are you and me... the phans. We walked into Coventry. We were made fun of by our friends. We were harassed by redneck cops in the South for "looking like pot smoking hippies." We even sat through Velvet Sea encores even though we couldn't stand that song. Some of us even followed around second and third-rate jambands just to get a Phishy fix.
And now at the day of reckoning... public sale... all we want is a fair shot at buying a ticket. Alas, that did not happen. I used to live in Las Vegas and I play enough poker to know when the fix is in or you're playing against a stacked deck. The house always wins.
So there you have it. My tirade in a nutshell. I have three options to see Phish this summer. I'm praying for a miracle from friends. I have to trust that shady wookie with an extra in the lot won't fuck me over. And I'll have to cut into my gambling wins in order to buy a couple of Hampton tickets from a broker. Heck, at least the broker will sell you a legit ticket. Maybe it's worth the hefty price... to guarantee that you get into the show instead of rolling the dice with a spun out wookie with a flat-billed STS9 hat.
I miss the good old days when you had to go to the post office with a wad of cash to buy money orders for Phish mail order tickets. Then you drew cool designs on your envelopes in hopes that whoever checked Phish's mail in the Burlington office would pick your funky envelope out of the pile.
In 151 shows, I only got shut out of 2 shows that I wanted to see... first night of Radio City Music Hall in NYC (May 2000) and first night in Tokyo (June 2000). My buddy Senor and I stood outside the back door of the Tokyo venue to hear the gig with a small group of other heads who flew to Japan but didn't have a ticket to that show. Looks like I'm going to add a few shows to that list... like St. Louis.
I have the time off from work. I have the money. I just don't have the tickets. So... who's got my extras?
Cross Alpine Valley, Deer Creek, and Camden off my wish list. Daddy's sister scored an extra lawn ticket to Alpine Valley both nights. My buddy Iggy from MMAJunkie.com scored me a Deer Creek lawn seat. They graciously miracle'd me those tickets. Thanks guys.
And two hours after they went on sale, my girlfriend (even though she's not going) scored me a lawn seat to Camden. I heart Change100.
I'm still looking for Jones Beach (both nights), Great Woods, Knoxville, and St. Louis. Oh and any Hampton extras... of course.
I know that the Joker and BTreotch are both in search of Asheville and Knoxville tickets.
I also have one extra lawn to Burgettstown that I'm looking to trade. Let me know if you want to swap. Shoot us an email.