The Summer Tour (Leg 1) Breakdown

Blossom Lawn 2010 (P. Brotherhood)

Finally! After months of speculation and waiting, the Phish gods have handed us dates to plan our summers around. To be honest, I welcomed the break from Phish after their lackluster performances at MSG over the New Year. When mid-February rolled around I was getting the itch pretty bad to know when I would be seeing Phish again though. Thankfully they announced at least their first batch of dates on Leap Day (which seems fitting considering the band).

The 19 shows Phish added on top of their already-known Bonnaroo appearance boasts some impressive stops; it starts and ends in the Northeast and Alpine Valley in Wisconsin is the farthest west the band will travel. On top of just assuming that summer tours will automatically have a second leg now, I’ve been told that this is likely the first of two legs by people that know more things than I. Possibly a second leg will bring the band further west once again.

The biggest things that pop out at me from this tour announcement is the three-night throwdown in Atlantic City, the return to Deer Creek and Alpine after a year hiatus, the two-show indoor opener, and the fact they are playing at Riverbend in Cincinnati again (yuck).

Centrum on Summer Tour? What?!

When initial rumors of dates started coming out, many people were in disbelief about this one. Never in history has Phish played this venue earlier than late November in the winter (I consider 2003’s February show to be late in the winter), now they are playing two in early June? Yeah, it’s kinda shocking. However, Phish played three indoor shows in the summer of 2009: Thompson-Boling, Asheville, Fox. They also played the three nights at the UIC Pavilion the past summer. So, Phish playing indoors in summer really isn’t that unique. It’s just weird to have a Centrum show without having Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the New Year fresh on your mind.

Bader Field--before Phish destroys it

Not Excited for Bader.

I think it’s really cool that Phish is doing the three-nights at Bader field for a pretend festival. It’s a cool location, it’s going to have a lot of fans, it’s even got it’s own silly FAQ page usually reserved for actual festivals (I think Telluride had one too). For some reason I just can’t get over the feeling that this will be a weird mix of the AC Halloween shows and SBIX. Both events I see as fun parties, but musical disappointments. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I think the most-hyped shows on tour perform the worst (in 3.0). I certainly hope I’m wrong about this.

nTelos Has Yet to Deliver.

This intimate outdoor venue was announced for the first time in 2010 to immense excitement and speculation. It ended up being a “radio” show–one short song after another. The people that paid upwards of $500 for a ticket to this over-sold show were quite disappointed.

The venue was played the following summer and admittedly opened with a very cool Harpua > Brother for Father’s Day but boasted aborted jams and a lack of vision thereafter. The stop/start in Sand was impressive, but it quickly was pushed aside for a jamless Sneakin’.

Dads come out for Harpua - 6.19.11 (SpencerBC)

This year it’s booked as a double-header. Let’s hope they finally treat this small crowd to a big show!

The Midwest Delivers and Riverbend SUCKS.

It’s refreshing when Phish leaves the safety of the east coast for the wide-openness of the Midwest venues.  Phish also, in 1.0; 2.0; and 3.0, has proven time and again that they throw down in the Midwest. The most recent examples are from ALL the recent Midwest shows: Pine Knob, Blossum, Riverbend, and UIC. It’s almost as if the air is different once you get into Ohio–the band is more relaxed or something.

Riverbend: Awesome view of the stage! Sweet "Chili Vision" too!.

Last year Phish played Riverbend for the first time since 2000. It was my first time seeing the venue. It was an awful experience. The sightlines are awful inside the pav and almost non-existent in the lawn, parking is a mess and they don’t allow any “loitering”–which they enforced, the traffic in front of the place is horrible because it’s one road with phans trying to park and families entering and leaving the Scooby Doo waterpark next door. Security kept a very watchful eye too. The show was good but the experience was poor. I really was hoping Phish wouldn’t return.

I am, however, excited that Phish will be returning to Star Lake (now known as First Niagara Pavilion) this summer for the first time since 2009. I feel like a lot of people look down upon this interesting venue and I don’t know why. I think the inside of the venue is manageable and clean, I think it’s cool that it’s in a state park, I think security is lax, and I think Phish puts on stellar shows there. Yes the lot is a bit rocky–whatever.

I love that Blossom is fixing to be a new ‘regular’ on summer tour. It was only played in 1995 and 2000 and now it’s been on three consecutive tours starting in 2010. I hope they start doing multi-night shows there soon! Blossom is gorgeous, manageable, and Phish puts on great shows there. This is not a venue you want to miss. It’s a true treat nestled in the hills and rivers about a half-hour outside of Cleveland.

What’s Up With the Three-Day Break in the Middle?

After Blossum there is a weird three-day break. There is only a one-day break between Virginia and Ohio and between Alpine and Jones Beach. Why would there be a three-day break between two venues that are only a few hours separated? I know this messes up my tour schedule. I’m not going to sit in a corn field wasting time and money for three solid days doing nothing. I wonder if Phish will add a date at DTE Energy in Detroit again (crossing my fingers).

Deer Creek and Alpine Return.

Praise the Lord! I honestly thought that Phish wouldn’t be returning to these two houses of worship this summer after skipping them last year and not selling out even smaller venues. One of my favorite ways to describe these two venues has always been with Mr. Miner‘s words from his piece titled ‘Midwestern Meccas,

And while the two venues share the rustic, off-the beaten path, vibe, they each offer unique amenities. Deer Creek likens church, while Alpine is a party.

What can I really say about these two that people don’t already know or expect? Hey, they both have bomb shows, there is corn around Deer Creek, Alpine’s lawn is steep. Just be there this summer and you won’t regret it; the end.

Alpine 2010 (D. Vann)

Oh, Phish Closes the Tour They Started on the East Coast with Five Shows in New York.

I guess I didn’t expect anything different. But seriously? Can you guys at least pretend like you don’t favor the Northeast. Five shows in the same state to close out the tour after six shows are already played in neighboring states to New York? It’s like they need to detox from the stench of the cow manure in the Midwest.

Nevertheless the three-night closer at SPAC has got people in a tizzy, and rightfully so. Phish usually treats multi-night closers as a wrap up to all the positive things they got from jamming during the tour (think UIC).

This Tour is Going to be GREAT.

After summer 2011 was so much better than the two summer tours before it, I feel like this will be yet another step up. Phish was firing on all cylinders last summer after a six month break, and it’s bound to happen again. Phish has a lot they can work with now: storage jamming, the theremin, and Trey’s new chops/dexterity.

Look to see if anything happens in that odd three-day break after Blossom too, I know I will be.

Stay tuned to OPT for more opinionated content. The tour season is approaching!