Phish summer tour is always something to look forward to after a long winter. Getting out on the road, traveling around America seeing Phish. This is the kind of thing I live for. Moving to the west cost the bands traditional summer tour does not involve coming to this coast. If they wont come to me, I will go to them.
Summer tour was announced with pretty typical venues and what I come to expect. SPAC, Alpine Valley, Bonnaroo, and Merriweather Post for example all included two or more nights. Nothing jumped out at me and for a couple of weeks I didn’t think about it but something changed. I decided summer tour was to good a tradition not to keep it going. Just being on the west coast wouldn’t stop me from my summer tradition.
For some reason I got all excited about going to Chicago. I remember the time coming across the country and having so much fun when I stopped there for a layover. I really got to enjoy some cool stuff so I was excited to go back. Then I remembered where Fenway Park was actually located and that is Boston. Still very excited to visit but some of the luster was now worn off.
As I started planning this trip out things really started to just fall into place. The show was on Friday and Saturday with the Fourth being Thursday. I ended up flying out direct from PDX to BOS early in the morning giving me plenty of time to arrive before the annual fireworks display. I was staying at the W Boston partly because of its proximity to the Charles River. I then stay through Sunday so I could just relax in the city and would fly back home on Monday.
As a first time flier to Boston Logan International I must say it is a pretty bad airport. I found it to be rather cumbersome navigating my way out of the building and finding directions to the metro. I took the longs most backwards way to get there because of poor directions. Eventually I made it to the blue line and into downtown, switching trains once before arriving at my destination. A common theme all weekend was transportation.
Having arriving at a decent hour in the afternoon I was able to check into the hotel and settle in for a few minutes before heading out. I managed to travel a lot around the city that afternoon. At first I headed north via metro but realized the place I wanted to visit was close so that sucked. Then the closest place I found was way south with no direct transit access. I still had to make it to the Charles River for the display. I ended up getting an Uber to make the trip easy and it was the best trip ever. The driver was so cool. We talked the entire drive and opined about various things. Some heady stuff.
Thankfully with Michael’s help I was able to get what I needed and make it to the water with plenty of time before the show. I had it in my head to arrive by like 8pm or something but the display didn’t go off till much later then that. Not to worry. I got a good spot under some trees and watched the sunset over the river. It was also some really good people watching to the time flew. Eventually the Boston Symphony Orchestra comes out to do their traditional concert. While I couldn’t see what was going on I certainly could hear the show. All the acts that night were pretty good. I mean this is a PBS special kinda thing but still very entertaining.
Eventually the moment arrive and the fireworks display started. I don’t know why exactly but I love fireworks. I have all my life for a variety of reasons. I can’t tell you how long the display went on for but it seemed like eternity to me. At first I thought I would be to close to the barge but in the end it was a perfect spot. As people left early and I could get from under the trees the display in front of me got even better.
The entire show was timed with the BSO’s performance. At one point they played Louis Armstrong’s What A Wonderful World and I admit it brought a tear to my eye. In time with the lyrics we saw clouds of white and skies of blue. With love we saw read hearts. It was so well done. The entire performance was top notch in my opinion and I have seen a few firework displays. They even used the bridge which was cool. At the time I couldn’t understand why they had it blocked off when I initially approached the waterfront.
It was well into the evening when things finally were over and everyone started dispersing. It was crazy as shit walking down Storrow Dr with hundreds of others as we all just tried to get out. People were everywhere charting their own escapes from the waterfront. I ended up walking down Commonwealth Avenue Mall which is a nice park. It was going against the grain of all the people but still getting me closer to the hotel. The weather all day was hot and muggy but it finally cooled off now that the sun had set for a while.
That night after getting back to the hotel I was hungry as shit. I didn’t have much food when I got into town and started hopping around. Thankfully in my neck of the woods I has several options for late night eateries. First up was New York Pizza. On that first night I really caught them at a good time. Both slices were perfect. They where hot but most importantly the crust was perfect. It was warm and crispy. When I folded the slice in half, it cracked. It held up to the sauce nicely and tasted amazing. I went another night and the pizza was not as good. The second time was also much later so I understand quality suffering late on a weekend.
Friday was day one of a two night run at Fenway but I already felt like I accomplished so much in what little time I already spent in Boston. The day started off slowly with a quick stop for some goodies. This time the line took me forever but it was worth it to stock up. By the the time this side adventure was over it was lunch time and I was hungry. I lucked out and found a BBQ joint right close which was what I was craving.
A quick walk and I was at Magnolia Smokehouse in Brookline. I gotta say the brisket was mighty impressive here. It was flavorful and fatty but not chewie. It was still tender and had some form to it but it melted in your mouth when you ate it. The smoke ring was great and the smoke flavor wasn’t overpowering which was nice. The pork was good and the turkey was…..well turkey. Sides fantastic here too. I was thoroughly impressed with the brisket and recommend stopping here if you are in the neighborhood looking for some good eats.
After such a great meal I needed something sweet to wash it all down with. A good distance from where I was I found Athan’s European Bakery with a great selection of sweets. I got some crazy chocolate mouse dipped in chocolate sauce and nuts that was excellent. I also got a good amount of baklava to take with me. It was something I have been searching for months but unable to source. Everything here was so good.
After stopping back at the hotel one last time it was getting pretty late in the afternoon. I figured it would be busy but it was a big venue with lots of entrances. They handle sellout crowds where regularly so a Phish concert should be easy. I remember arriving wit 30-45 minutes before the show would start. I thought plenty of time to get past security. Unfortunately security was a nightmare for everyone and it took forever.
Security was so bad getting in that first day I didn’t even make it into the venue by the time they band walked on stage. I don’t think it was for several songs before I was finally into the place and could relax. My ticket for Friday was in the upper section so I headed up to the top. When I got there I found a crowded second so headed down to the lower level which had plenty of open seating. Here I found a nice comfortable place to enjoy the rest of the show.
This location was by no means was an ideal one. I could barely see Mike playing. What I could see was the play of lights off the crowd and the venue. I have seen Phish so much now that actually “watching” them is kinda boring. The light show is great but there isn’t much to the band once you seen them play twice or more. What I love is getting the perspective of the band. Seeing the lights play off the crowd and how the crowd reacts to what Phish is playing in real time.
Anyway my seat was covered and pretty high in the lower section. Everyone here had plenty of space to lounge out and enjoy the show how they wanted to. Anther reason I search for remote spots like this, more chill people. We all understand the limited view, it just gives us more room to groove.
Set one started off rather strong I thought but for me it faded as the set progressed. The energy I thought was lost the longer the played. It could have just been my mood as well which has clouded my memory of this first set but I stick by my assessment.
Second set and things really start to pick up. Some really spacey and far out there jams. The song selection again wasn’t the best but I really enjoyed the far out jams during the songs. This past year I think has been highlighted by more of these space noodle jams then in recent memory. It reminds me of the late 90’s in some ways with the jams.
The the curfew the show ended rather early for a typical Phish show. While it was a nightmare getting into the venue it didn’t take nearly as long getting out. I decided to skip metro and just walk home. It was so early and again it was a blazing hot day so with it finally cooling off I wanted to take the opportunity to enjoy Boston while I was there.
Phish Friday, July 5th 2019
Fenway Park – Boston, MA
Set start at 7:00pm
- Free >
- Blaze On
- Brian and Robert
- Halfway to the Moon
- Ocelot >
- Rift >
- Everything’s Right >
- Runaway Jim
Set over at 8:17pm
Set 2 starts at 8:54pm
- Sand >
- Mercury >
- Wading in the Velvet Sea >
- Fuego >
- Say it to Me S.A.N.T.O.S. >
- Character Zero
Set over at 10:00pm
Encore starts at 10:04pm
- Squirming Coil
House lights at 10:20pm
Saturday and it was going to be another scorcher of a day. Today there was the added worry. A storm front was moving in which was going to cool things off but it could also produce some wicked summer afternoon thunderstorms. All afternoon I kept an eye on the weather while I was out and about enjoying Boston.
I jumped right in by skipping breakfast and going straight to lunch at a brewery. Not far from the hotel was one I wanted to check out. Unfortunately when I got there the place was smashed and I had little patients to deal with crowds in the growing heat. Not far was Hopsters Brewing Company which really worked out. Here I got a variety of beers and some good food.
Next I was on the hunt for something sweet so headed to the Faneuil Hall Marketplace for a variety of sweet shops. This market is rather large with a wide variety of stuff. They had several sweet shops so it wasn’t hard to find something good. I eventually stopped at Carol Ann Bake Shop to get my fix.
By this time it was getting close to the open of the venue. The weather wasn’t looking good either. I could see a line of storms brewing on the radar. I decided that getting to Fenway right when doors open was going to be a good idea because of the weather and my experience the night before. After eating my dessert I headed backed to the hotel for a quick stop. It was about this time I saw the email from the venue saying they where opening early and starting exactly on time because of the weather. They advised everyone to arrive early.
Despite the warning this time around there was not much bustle around the park. Security was still a pain to get through but this early there were just fewer fans and it would seem they had more staff on hand. This night I again didn’t bother with my assigned seat. I was there so early I picked a “good spot” way to the right but under the bleachers. By the time I arrived to the park they already decided to not let anyone on the field because of possible lightning strikes in the area.
The weather really had it in for the show that night. Mother nature did her best to drown out the performance but in the end the show must go on. The rain really started coming down and delayed the show by an hour and half from the scheduled start. The band eventually announced that tonight’s performance would be just one set because of the delayed start. I was saddened and excited all at the same time when I heard the news. I was happy the show would still happen but disappointed in only one set. Because of the curfew I wasn’t expecting anything super late either.
The venue eventually was packed with people all huddled tightly under the bleachers and or sheltering on the ground floor. The weather just kept getting stronger and stronger, heavier and more rain just kept coming. Eventually things passed over and there was a great roar from the crowd as the authorities declared the field open and safe for people. It was already around 8pm or something when this happened so we were all excited for them to get started with the show.
This was another great performance from Phish just like the previous night at Fenway. The song selection was a bit random at times but the one consistency was the spaciness jamming during many of the songs. They where of all energy levels but still posses this weird funkiness to them.
As the night wore on I kept expecting the band to end the show. I thought there were several opportunities to end the show on a great song but they would just bust out another song and keep going. They did this for about 30-40 minutes past what I thought they could. The eventually stopped playing at 10:59pm by my watch.
Myself and the other fans where blown away by the performance that was just laid out for all of us to enjoy. The night started off pretty rocky with the severe weather and extremely late start time for the show. Phish was able to turn this into a great performance and a once in a lifetime kind of event for how things worked out. In the end Phish played for 2:40 minutes was was amazing. They just kept going and playing awesome songs and jams.
By the end of the show I was exhausted from dancing and grooving. I decided to walk down Commonwealth Avenue Mall on the way back to the hotel. The weather was amazing that evening after the rain. Things really cooled off which made it tolerable to be out. I was sweaty from the show so the cool crisp weather felt good. It was crazy humid but it was so cold the humidity made the chill more pronounced.
All this left me very hungry so I stopped for some sushi at Genki Ya which I found was open late a few nights earlier. I got so much sushi and ate it all. The performance was still fresh in my mind and my body was spent from the long day and awesome show. That night I don’t remember what time I finally got back but it was well into the next day. I couldn’t wait for bed. I was completely satisfied with the day and ready to crash.
Phish Saturday, July 6th 2019
Fenway Park – Boston, MA
Set one starts at 8:30pm
- Carini >
- Set Your Soul Free >
- Wolfman’s Brother
- Reba 
- Back on the Train
- About to Run
- Down with Disease  >
- Simple >
- Backwards Down the Number Line >
- Death Don’t Hurt Very Long >
- 46 Days >
- What’s the Use? >
- Mexican Cousin >
- 2001 >
- Split Open and Melt
- Suzzie Greenberg
Set over at 10:59pm
Encore starts at 11:01pm
- Rise/Come Together >
House lights at 11:11pm
 No whistling.
Major thunderstorms caused a huge delay because of the threat of lightning. One long set instead of two shorter ones.
I didn’t have to worry about leaving town on Sunday and took full advantage of the situation. I stayed up way late on Saturday, slept in late on Sunday and generally got a slow start to the day. I cleaned up while watching Sunday Morning and then I was off. At 11am the US Woman’s soccer team was taking on Sweden in the FIFA 2019 World Cup. I had been following coverage especially the last two weeks and was excited to see them play. I wanted to drink beer during the game and that was more difficult then I expected.
Alcohol laws are different in every state. I think here they are pretty strict like Virginia is so it was hard finding places open in time for me to watch the game and grab a bear. I found a cafe that was open so headed downtown. As I was walking there I saw Beerworks Brewing Co. was open and immediately dove in. The doors were open and the bartender said they where serving beer. Oddly enough they didn’t have any coffee.
I spent several hours here at the bar drinking beer, eating food and writing letters. The game was also amazing. The entire first period I was on pins and needles things were so tight. Finally in the second period Lindsey Horan scored in the 3rd minute and I was a little more relaxed. That goal really shifted the game in the US’s favor. They started playing better and the Sweds you could tell were crushed.
It was so awesome drinking at Beerworks Brewing Co. in downtown while watching the US team win their fourth world title. As the morning went on the bar started to fill up as well so that by the second half a decent crowd was there. Hearing everyone react to the same thing was pretty cool.
I just decided to wing it all day and walk around. Being this downtown I decided to just keep going and crossed North Washington Street Bridge to Boston National Historic Park. I didn’t walk into any of the buildings or ships, just walked around. I found a good spot to sit at the Charleston Navy Shipyard Park that overlooked the rest of the park and the harbor. The weather was absolutely gorgeous that morning and afternoon.
From here I walked and trained back to Boston Common. I found a relatively high spot that over looked a large portion of the park and allowed me to watch the sunset over the park and city. I did so much writing while I was here. In fact I did so much I had to walk back to the hotel to stock up on additional supplies and go back to complete all my writing.
The day in the park was absolutely what I needed at that moment. The day was filled with perfect weather. Cool temperatures and clear skies with a slight cooling breeze. I spent hours in both parks and just wanted to spend all day there. Eventually as night feel I started to get hungry. Pho Pasteur was near the hotel and offered up some pretty good pho. It was a good broth with tender noodles just like it should be. It certainly hit the spot for comfort food while traveling.
After this entire experience I have a bit of a rant. Boston was a pretty amazing city and I would love to come back for another event. The train system here totally sucks. Honestly the problem is its so old, never been upgraded and no one wants to pay for it now. So the people suffer with a system that is difficult to use. The stations are not linked so often you can’t cross from one side to another. They are loud, small and cramped. The stations don’t have AC and few of the trains did so when its hot you bake. Event the train schedule just seemed wrong. I felt like I had to wait longer then I should have in a major city. It at least pasted the sniff test of having direct access to downtown from the airport via metro.