Phish Summer Tour: Some Thoughts

Bethel Woods

Just like most recent tour announcements, Phish dropped this one on us on another Tuesday morning. Since the leak at the Riverbend site last week, people have been rabid for more information. Hampton isn’t over Memorial day as many speculated–the Memorial Day Weekend shows will take place at the old site of the original Woodstock. The tour will slightly dip into the Midwest before the band quickly darts back to the safety of the East Coast in Virginia. This is likely to be the first leg of a two-legged summer tour (including Watkin’s Glen?).

Bethel Woods opened in 2006 and is gorgeous. These three shows are sure to have a sort of festival feel to them. Aside from honing in the spirit of the epic Woodstock festival of decades past, everyone will be in “tour opener” mood. When a tour opens with a multi-night stand, it only intensifies this. No one has the feeling of being rushed either home or to the next venue after the first show–people are really able to let loose. In contrast to last year’s Summer Tour opener, this year’s is going to feel much more natural and pleasant. I enjoyed Toyota Park but, let’s face it, Brideview isn’t exactly an ideal summer concert setting. Bethel is located about 90 miles from NYC and holds approximately 15,000 people. If last year’s first three shows of summer is any indicator, this three night stand is sure to be hot.

Blossom at Night

The band travels to New Jersey after a one-night break to play the PNC Bank Center (formally known as the Garden State Arts Center). The band has not played this venue in nearly 12 years. They first played the PNC in 1992; they played it two times within nearly a week span–the first for the H.O.R.D.E. festival, and the second to open for Santana. They eventually headlined it themselves in 1994.

Out of nowhere, Phish decided to scoot up to Detroit to play the 40-year-old DTE Energy Center. I really know nothing about this venue other than its age and location. The next night is what I’m really excited about: BLOSSOM. I consider Blossom the best outdoor venue east of the Mississippi. Phish threw down the most underrated show of the 2010 there last summer. Parking in the rolling green parking lot, free of charge, on a beautiful day is about as good as pre-show partying comes. And don’t forget the gorgeous natural surroundings of the state park it’s in, the beautiful structure, and the glorious sound. Immediately after Blossom, Phish will finally travel to Riverbend–the venue that started the summer fever.

One interesting tidbit about this tour is that Darien Lake’s adjacent amusement park will allow people with concert tickets in for free and will be open exclusively to Phish fans. If there was ever a time to do drugs and go on roller coasters, this is it.

Encore Park, Alpharetta, GA

To the excitement of many, Phish will be returning to the new-favorite, Encore Park in Alpharetta, for anotehr two-night stand. I’m sure the mid-week scheduling won’t keep it from being sold-out ASAP. The tour will end with the tiny, 6.5k person, nTelos Pavilion for a total of 18 shows going into the end of June. I’d imagine that Watkin’s will be the Fourth of July soon thereafter.

I was going to write all about what Phish should/need to do tonight for this post, but I’ve decided to write about that next week seeing as the fact that they will not be touring in the fall may change what I write. Stay tuned and good luck in the lotto!