The Relentless Communicator: Summer Tour & Stages Of Grief

Phish announced more summer tour dates yesterday, which included a return to The Gorge, a first ever trip to Tahoe, Outside Lands and the Hollywood Bowl. While intriguing to many, these dates just aren’t doing it for me. Most importantly, they don’t include the rumored dates that I’d really been hoping for. It’s silly what impact Phish has on our lives, but this one has me upset. I figured I’d better whip out the trusty ole’ Kubler-Ross five stage model for dealing with grief to handle things.

Denial. First off, we can’t be totally sure that this is it for Phish this summer, right? I mean, there’s got to be a leg three announcement later, right? I mean, there’s plenty of room on the calendar on either side of Super Ball IX! Maybe a September run a la 2000? Nope. I didn’t think so. Truth be told, these dates say “that’s it” to me. I’m not expecting more. Phish continues to play in interesting venues, and throws the West Coast a bone. It actually just seems like all the dates for the rest of the year, but maybe there’s still hope…?

Anger. Probably not. And it’s annoying! Seriously Phish, no Deer Creek and Alpine Valley? You got to be kidding me! What are you doing? Not only was I counting on a return trip to the Creek, tons of other Midwestern-ly inclined heads had been counting on that too! Now, all you’re giving them is three nights in a tiny arena! It’ll be great for some, but a lot of folks are going to get shut out. More importantly, what’s with leaving my hometown venue of Star Lake Amphitheatre First Niagra Pavilion off of the tour docket for the second summer in a row?!?! Phish has thrown down some legendary shows there, and have now ignored the Steel City for two straight summers! It’s enough to get me really damn fired up!

Bargaining. Then again, no Deer Creek or Star Lake should mean that I can replace those shows with something else… maybe Super Ball IX? Maybe head to North Carolina and re-connect with some old friends in the dirty South? I could just swap those out, but honestly, I just wanted to go back to Deer Creek. The Thunderstorm show in 2009 is the only one I’ve missed since 1997! I can trade those shows for something else, but it’s just not the same. I became a Phish phan in those cornfields. That said, there will be vacation days that I had planned on using, and extra cash in the bank, maybe I could do a last minute roadtrip… those are always the best!

Depression. Then it just hits me: no Creek, no Star Lake. No fun. I’d like to replace them with other shows, but it’s just not convenient. I’m already in for Blossom and Merriweather, and adding North Carolina OR the Super Ball still puts un-needed stress on that whole “maintaining an adult job” thing. I mean, DelFest plus four out of five long weekends with Phish? It’s tough to do that when you’re not the boss, and I’m not the boss. It’s a drag. I was kind of counting on being able to put off my last Phish adventure of the year for later in the summer when things had calmed down a bit. Besides, I’ve had perfect symmetry since Phish has returned, hitting five shows each year. Not a ton, but enough to feel like I’m getting to see the whole thing. I was really hoping a pair in the Indiana cornfields would’ve kept that streak running this year. Looks like it’s not happening now, and that’s a real drag.

Acceptance. It is what it is. In a lot of ways: good for Phish. Since they’ve returned, they seem to be playing exactly when and where they want to, and more power to ‘em. Sure, I’d love it to be more convenient to me, but who wouldn’t? The truth is, maybe I’ll be able to add a show or two, or maybe I won’t. During the five long years of the breakup, I’d always said that Phish could, and should, come back on their own terms. I said plenty of times that they could simply play one festival every summer and it would be enough for me. The truth is, as they’ve come back strong over the last two years, I’ve gotten a little greedy. I’ve seen some sick shows, and the band looks happy, healthy and energized. It’s enough to make my gut instinct to be to get out there as much as possible! I never thought I’d never miss a show, so I’m not too worried about it. I know I’m getting to three this summer, and my gut tells me that at least one more will get added to that list. Tell me I could do that in 2006, and I would’ve kissed you on the mouth.

See you this summer!