Festival lineups are coming out. Summer tours are slowly being announced. Everyone’s jonesing for summer. No one more than Phish fans. While there’s a lot of misinformation out there, I do have some historical data that might clear some things up. If Phish does play a festival this summer in the Northeast United States, then the other rumor that Phish will not play many dates in New York and New England might ring true. Let’s break down festival years:
1996 – After coming home from Europe opening for Santana, Phish played an extremely short summer tour. They started in Park City, UT and only played, Red Rocks, Alpine Valley, Deer Creek, and Hershey, PA before heading up to Plattsburgh for the Clifford Ball.
1997 – After coming home from Europe on their own tour, Phish toured more extensively in the summer. They started in Virginia Beach, VA before heading in a clockwise rotation around the US, going through the South, up the West Coast and cutting through the Midwest, before ending at Darien Lake, NY. They then headed to Limestone, ME for the Great Went.
1998 – Again starting the summer in Europe, Phish started the US leg in Portland, OR. The band then worked their way counter-clockwise around the country, heading South down the West Coast, across through the Southern states, up into the Midwest, and then east to the mid-Atlantic, closing the tour at Vernon Downs, located in Central New York. They then returned to Limestone, ME for the Lemonwheel.
1999 – This year was an exception as Oswego was painted as a smaller-scale festival and also the band played two in one year. This year saw Phish play both Great Woods in Mansfield, MA and the Garden State Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ, just south of NYC before heading to Oswego, NY.
2003 – The first full year since returning from hiatus found the band starting their summer tour in Phoenix, AZ before heading up the West Coast. They then headed east through the middle of the country in Utah and Kansas before playing the Midwest and the South, ending the tour in Camden, NJ. They then returned to Limestone one last time for IT.
2004 – The playbook was thrown out and for good reason as soon as Trey announced “We’re Done” in May 2004. Before that, the band announced their summer tour, which oddly opened in the area with two shows at KeySpan Park in Brooklyn, NY and two shows at SPAC in Saratoga Springs, NY. It also included two dates at Great Woods in Mansfield, MA before a final date in Camden. The band would then head to Newport, VT for Coventry, the band’s “final” concert. I feel that this tour might have been booked as the last hurrah before Trey’s official announcement but no insight has been given into how that process transpired from a business standpoint.
2009 – Festival 8 was played in Indio, CA during Halloween. It was a standalone festival that had no bearing on other dates.
2011 – This was a definite exception to the rule. Phish’s summer tour started in Bethel, NY, a mere 145 miles from where the first leg would end at the Super Ball IX Festival in Watkins Glen, NY. In between, the band would also play Darien Lake, NY (113 miles away), Holmdel, NJ, Mansfield, MA, and Camden, NJ, nearly over saturating the market.
So, viewing this evidence, 2011 is the exception not the rule and most likely if there is a Northeast festival this summer, this would mean fewer dates in New England/New York, if no dates at all as it has been in the past. It is more likely than not likely again if a festival is on the books.
As always, no information on when dates are coming but you can keep a cool head by viewing this amazing document created by The Barn Presents: The Phish Tour Announcement Infographic. Trey has said in a Rolling Stone interview that the tour should be underway about a week after “Fare Thee Well” ends on July 5th. As always, I have no insider knowledge and am merely speculating based on existing rumors and the band’s history.