Below The Moss Forgotten: Phish in the Pacific Northwest

On May 17, 2019, at the Phish Studies academic conference at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, the Phishsonian Institute and PhanArt presented “Below The Moss Forgotten: Phish in the Pacific Northwest,” a comprehensive exhibit covering 27 years of Phish concerts in the region. Assisting with the presentation were the OSU School of History, Philosophy, and Religion and the Benton County Historical Society. Presented here is a virtual exhibit of what was presented.

Venue #9: Memorial Auditorium


(Photo Credit: Matthew Thorson – Seven Days)

Address: 250 Main St, Burlington, VT

Shows at this venue: 11/14/85, 5/16/86

Notable song debuts: Dear Mrs. Reagan

Status: Still standing but barely. The building has been condemned and its future is unclear.

Can you visit it? You can walk around but you can’t go inside.

Memorial Auditorium was a crown jewel when it was built in 1927. It was a great community space for years hosting craft fairs, college basketball games, and concerts from Johnny Cash to Bruce Springsteen, Bob Marley to Metallica, and Primus to LCD Soundsystem. It was long believed that Phish never played the big room as they had exceeded the capacity of the room by the time they were playing arenas. The 1985 gig was definitely downstairs in the space currently known as 242 Main. However, the 1986 show has recently been discovered as an opening set for poet Allen Ginsberg. So, Phish may have played Burlington’s largest room after all. Some fans may remember Trey Anastasio Band’s excellent 2 night stand here in the the summer of 2003.

Venue #8: Finbar’s


Address: 167 Main Street Burlington, VT (Corner of Church and Main)

Shows at this venue: 4/6/85, 5/7/85, 10/17/85, 9/10/86

Notable song debuts: I Am Hydrogen, Letter to Jimmy Page, Run Like an Antelope, Dave’s Energy Guide

Status: Still standing. Became Manhattan Pizza in 1993.

Can you visit it? Yeah. Great spot for a slice while hitting the bars of Burlington.

When I lived in Vermont, I used to stop into Manhattan Pizza for a quick bite roaming around Burlington. It was only recently that I found out Phish had once graced its tiny stage. Still a bright spot in Burlington’s changing bar scene, this place still has that old school feeling.

Venue #7: Hunt’s


Address: 101 Main Street Burlington, VT

Shows at this venue: 3/2/85, 3/4/85, 4/19/85, 10/30/85, 2/3/86, 3/2/86, 4/1/86, 5/24/86, 9/3/86, 10/15/86, 1/19/87, 1/21/87, 9/2/87, 9/3/87, 10/14/87, 10/21/87, 11/18/87, 11/19/87

Notable song debuts: Harry Hood, Dog Log, You Enjoy Myself, Icculus, AC/DC Bag, Lushington, Sanity, Clod, I Didn’t Know, Dinner and a Movie

Status: Still standing. Original venue became Sha Na Na’s in the late 1980s. Fire gutted building in 2003. Renovated in 2014.

Can you visit it? Yeah. Upper part of building is lobby and pool for Hilton Garden Inn. Lower part is Vermont Comedy Club.

While everyone knows about Nectar’s, nobody knows about Hunt’s. Maybe it’s because it didn’t survive the 80s like Nectar’s but it is just as, if not more, important in Phish’s history. Take a look at that song list and you’ll see how important it was a space for Phish to grow. Hunt’s was also a marquee music venue for the city of Burlington during its 10 year run from 1977-87. Among those to grace its stage include B.B. King, Roy Orbison, Gregg Allman, Pat Metheny, Taj Mahal, and Jerry Lee Lewis. That Phish was able to take that same stage just years after forming speaks loudly to how much they had taken Burlington’s music scene and were quickly moving up.

Venue #6: Doolin’s


Address: 159 Main Street Burlington, VT

Shows at this venue: 2/1/85, 2/15/85, 2/22/85, 2/25/85, 3/8/85, 3/16/85, 3/29/85

Notable song debuts: Mike’s Song, Alumni Blues, Sneakin’ Sally Thru The Alley

Status: Still standing.

Can you visit it? Yeah, it’s a sports bar and restaurant still.

Located just next to the Flynn Theatre, Doolin’s was Phish’s first steady bar gig, playing during happy hour. Not much is known outside 3 short set lists that survive but nonetheless, the legacy of Burlington’s Main Street in Phish’s career must include this spot, if only for being the birthplace of Mike’s Song.

Venue #5: Nectar’s (Upstairs) (aka Metronome)


(Photo credit:

Address: 188 Main Street Burlington, VT

Shows at this venue: 12/1/84

Notable song debuts: Slave to the Traffic Light, Cities, Skippy the Wondermouse (early McGrupp), Fluffhead

Status: Still standing. Most likely renovated since Phish played there.

Can you visit it? Yeah. Buy tickets for an upcoming show at

I probably don’t need to go one too much about the importance of Nectar’s in Phish history. However, it is important to note that this show, one of the earliest bootlegs to circulate, didn’t happen in the main room downstairs. It happened upstairs in the space now known as Club Metronome. The 3rd gig billed as Phish, this show also marked the formal start of the band as many treasured tunes still in the Phish catalog came out of this show. First fan Amy Skelton recalls Phish playing many other shows upstairs at Nectar’s but this is the only one currently on record.

Venue 4: Slade Hall


(Photo credit: Sabrina Hood/VT Cynic)

Address: 420 S. Prospect St. South Burlington, VT

Shows at this venue: 11/3/84, 5/31/85, 9/27/85, 10/20/85, 11/2/85, 2/28/86, 11/14/86, 2/21/87

Notable song debuts: Camel Walk

Status: Still standing. Lightly renovated in 2014-16.

Can you visit it? No.

The first Phish venue to have some real history, Phish played 8 shows in the basement of this UVM dorm starting on 11/3/1984. This dorm was built in 1928 and designed by McKim, Mead, and White, the architects behind such grand buildings as the original Pennsylvania Station, Boston Public Library, and Burlington City Hall. Slade Hall is currently different from other dorms in that it has operated as an environmental cooperative since 1981. Many of Phish’s environmental directives, such as bringing Greenpeace on tour earlier in their career and the work of their WaterWheel Foundation, most likely stem from Trey’s time as a resident of Slade in the fall of 1985. However, the Slade Cooperative is under threat as renovation work has stopped and the former residents are being asked to merge with another dorm. You can find out more at As of now, Slade Hall remains under construction so no visitors are allowed.