Phish kicked the holy shit out of the old girl numerous times, including two pinnacle holiday runs in 1995 and 1997. They also busted out of hibernation and unleashed Phish 2.0 there on Dec. 31, 2002. It’s only appropriate that Phish 3.0 makes an early appearance as well.
2. Coventry, Northeast Kingdom, Vermont
Even the best of the best have off nights and Phish’s final performance in the calm after the storm was as off as you’ll ever hear. But the band, clearly deserves a shot at home-state redemption and the fans deserve more than three feet of mud and cow shit and a cringe-worthy performance.
3. American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL
The last great Phish run came at this venue to ring in 2004. The band was at its post-hiatus best pulling out all the stops for the four show stand. The music was smoking, including a Down With Disease that is so good it will make you cry, and the guys reached into their bag of tricks for everything from a George Clinton throwdown to a “to be conitnued Wilson” to make it extra special. And Wearing shorts and a t-shirt to a show in December is a pretty damn good bonus.
4. Post-Gazette Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Something about this outdoor shed brought out the best in the band. With it’s tree-lined lawn and surprisingly friendly staff (who often couldn’t resist boogie-ing down themselves), this venue was the perfect place on a summer night. In 1997, when it was still Star Lake, Phish launched into one of its funkiest grooves ever with an absolutely filthy Gumbo.
In 1998, Trenchtown Rock opened Set I and a monster Runaway Jim opened set II. In 1999 a Gold Soundz cover came off fairly well and in 2003 the venue became bustout heaven with a setlist that included Daniel, Camel Walk, Cool it Down, McGrupp, Crosseyed and Painless, Brother and Harpua. Although not quite “halfway between Eerie and Pittsburgh,” this venue clearly has a special place in Phish lore.
5. Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA
The three shows there in 2003 were mostly forgettable with the exception of the funktastic Contact and a few other select moments. But throughout their history, Phish has typically scorched it up at the Mothership. In 1997 they performed back-to-back monsters and in 1998, Hampton Came Alive with two shows that were released in a box set. The show there in August, 2004 started off promising with a hot first set but an All of These Dreams second set opener set the tone for a below average capper to the night.
The only negative about shows at Hampton are the ridiculous police officers who seem to almost outnumber the fans. Nothing worst than a cop in Virginia with a burr under his saddle to crack some hippie skills. But I bet those Days Inns and La Quintas in the area would welcome the band back to the venue with open arms.
The Great Lawn, at Central Park, New York, NY
The only venue on the list that the band hasn’t actually played so let’s call it a longshot bonus. Plenty of other acts have played smack dab in the middle of Manhattan to mixed results. Paul Simon furthered his legacy with an incredible performance there in August, 1991. Garth Brooks ruled the world in 1997 and a whole lot of bad music fans went and saw him there. Dave Matthews took the big stage in September, 2003 to the delight of screaming Long Island girls everywhere. Bon Jovi performed there this summer when attendance numbers ranged from 50,000 to 8 million depending on who you ask.
But Phish could bring a Limestone, Maine-sized crowd to heart of the greatest city in the world and give tens of thousands of fans the chance to see the band and then enjoy some seriously tasty post-show food instead of the usual veggie burritos and grilled cheese.