For an example of how the Phish fanbase grew exponentially in 1994, you need to look no further than at the venues the quartet played in New York City that fateful year. In April of ’94 the band sold out three shows at the 2800-capacity Beacon Theatre. Just eight months later, Phish sold out the 20K-capacity Madison Square Garden in a matter of minutes.
[Kenny’s Castaways – Home of the First NYC Phish Concert]
While Phish went from a theater act to an arena act over the course of eight months, they were far from an overnight success in the Big Apple. The group first performed at Kenny’s Castaways in 1988 and slowly built their audience over the next six years before the explosive success of ’94.
Phish in NYC ’88 – ’94: Venue Segues
Kenny’s Castaways (5/12/88) > Tramps (6/23/88) > Wetlands Preserve (3/04/89, 06/03/89, 9/02/89, 10/26/89, 12/30/89, 3/03/90, 6/09/90, 9/13/90, > Ukrainian National Home (12/15/89) > The Marquee (12/28/90, 02/16/91, 05/18/91) > The Academy (7/15/91) > Roseland Ballroom (3/14/92, 2/5/93, 2/6/93) > Beacon Theatre (4/13/94, 4/14/94, 4/15/94) > Madison Square Garden (12/30/94)
Capacities: Kenny’s Castaways (250), Tramps (400*), Wetlands Preserve (500**), Ukrainian National Home (1200***), The Marquee (?), The Academy (1279), Roseland Ballroom (3500), Beacon Theatre (2894), Madison Square Garden (20K)
* – approximately, ** – 500 is official capacity. They probably jammed between 7 and 900 people in there for the Phish shows though, *** – w/ Blues Traveler
Phish has gone on to perform a total of 13 concerts at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” starting on that cold December night in 1994 including four New Year’s Eve shows. By the time this week is over the band will have completed their 16th show at the venue. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another seven years for the next ones.