Tag Archives: Saratoga Springs

Phish Saratoga Peforming Arts Center July 8th 2012

SPAC 2012 poster
SPAC 2012 poster

After a scorching show the night before I was looking forward to the last show of my mini vacation and the last show of the summer 2012 leg 1 tour.  I had spent all morning hiking in the beautiful mountains of Vermont and was looking forward to a good meal and lounging on the lawn with several thousand of my closest friends.  Summer tour is a tradition and I look forward to it every year.  There is nothing like spending an evening out under the stars listening to some great music.

Unlike the previous night, I didn’t feel any need to rush to the venue to get my seat.  I wanted to enjoy my kike in the woods and would make it to the venue when I made it.  I probably got a parking spot and made it onto the lawn about 7:30.  The lawn was pretty full but not packed already, many people take their time and know Phish starts late.  I did want to get close tonight so I started following people deep into the lawn.  Eventually I found myself right at the front with only a steel barricade between me and the pavilion.  It was surprising sparse this close and not long after the show started, I think I know why.  While you get a pretty good view of the band and the light show, I kept finding myself looking up at the screens.  Unfortunately the audio was not in sync with the video and this drove me nuts.  This spot is also flat so you don’t get the advantage of the sloped lawn to look over everyone’s head, I was looking right at them.  I is also cramped, with people constantly passing in front or behind you and no room to dance.

copyright Dan Little 2012

As for the set itself, I thought it was great.  The show got going with AC/DC Bag into My Soul, kinda a fun version into a slower tempo My Soul.  Camel Walk was next and something I had not heard since Albany 2003 when Phish was doing their mini 20th anniversary tour.  The Wilson > Party Time was rocking and I love this tune from Fishman.  There are few lyrics, but the guitar rift from Trey is great.  It doesn’t get played much but is certainly a fun song to dance to.  Things started to slow down with Nellie Kane, Driver, Foam, and then If I Could.  I thought the set was lost with all these mellow tunes.  The songs were good but I hate when they play all these slow tempo songs in a row.  For me it just kills the vide of the crowd, the energy is just sucked out of the place.  Thankfully they ended with an 11 minute Split Open and Melt into the bust out of the evening, La Grange.  It had been 301 shows since it was last played, a welcome addition to end the set that was perfect.

During the set break I headed to the top of the lawn.  My water bottle was empty and I needed a place to sit down.  I found a place near the top of the lawn with the family and cooled off for a while, chatted with a few people around me and mentally readied myself for the next set.  I thought about just sitting here to enjoy the rest of the show, these old bones find it hard to stand in one place for so long.  When they started set 2 with Axilla and I couldn’t see the band or the light show, I quickly got off my ass and headed to the lawn.

copyright Dave Vann 2012

I didn’t make it far down the lawn.  Fighting the crowds didn’t appeal to me and I wanted some room to move around.  Second set is generally where the band shines these last few years and they brought the furry with them tonight.  Axilla went into Light which I know some people don’t like, but I love this newer song from them that they jammed for 13 minutes before going into Twist.  The set continued with the high energy, only a few songs slowed things down, but were quickly pull back into full force.  Everything about this set was great, Kill Devil Falls, Piper, Free, Harry Hood > Cavern > David Bowie.  These last three closed the set and are classic Phish tunes.  I know they get played a lot but I love them, especially Harry Hood.  The glow stick war during Harry Hood was HUGE!  In fact all night the crowd was throwing glow sticks at just the right time.  Trey or someone, would hit a note and bam, in unison hundreds of glow sticks would be tossed into the air.  There is no venue like SPAC when it comes to glow sticks.

YEM vocal jam, copyright Dave Vann 2012

By the end of the set I was exhausted from dancing.  I couldn’t believe the set they just played and wondered what was next.  The night before they dedicated Sabotage to MCA, what was tonight going to bring us?  Again I go back to the fact it was the last show of the tour and it was SPAC.  They busted out YEM, something everyone was looking for to all three nights of the run.  Now this song is not something you can just play for 5 minutes and move on.  I settled in for a 20 minute version of this classic Phish jam.  You get the full instrumental jam and crazy lights but quickly the band starts to slow things down and ditch the instruments, going vocal only at the end.  What a perfect song to end a show and tour.  Trey thanked the crowd for a great three nights and just like that the show was over.  I was on cloud nine.  I am not the only one to think this was the best second set of summer 2012 leg 1 tour.

Monday morning and time to drive home.  I took my time in Albany as I got supplies, fueled my car and had a hearty breakfast to get my day going.  The weather was perfect so I drove through New York with the windows down, jamming to some great music and enjoying the country side.  It is hard for me to express sometimes how much I love seeing Phish here.  I have tried numerous times and only hope it comes across in my writing.  Till next time…


Set 1
show starts at 8:15pm
01. AD/DC Bag >
02. My Soul
03 Camel Walk
04. Sample in a Jar
05. Wilson >
06. Party Time
07. Gumbo
08. Nellie Kane
09. Driver
10. Foam
11. If I Could
12. Split Open and Melt >
13. La Grange
set ends at 9:37pm

Set 2
set begins at 10:09pm
01. Axilla >
02. Light >
03. Twist[1] >
04. Kill Devil Falls[2] >
05. My Friend, My Friend[3] >
06. Swept Away >
07. Steep >
08. Piper >
09. Free >
10. Kung >
11. Harry Hood[4] >
12. Cavern >
13. David Bowie
set ends at 11:46pm

encore beings at 11:48pm
14. You Enjoy Myself[5]
show over at 12:10am


[1] Brief In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida tease from Trey.
[2] Theme from Jeopardy! tease.
[3] No “Myfe” ending.
[4] Kung quote.
[5] Flash Light tease from Mike; theme from Sanford and Son teases in vocal jam.

Phish Saratoga Performing Arts Center July 7th 2012

SPAC 2012 poster
SPAC 2012 poster

As the years have passed it has become more difficult to tour with Phish. It doesn’t help that they are playing fewer shows each tour and recently have been splitting each tour into two legs. So far for summer 2012 I caught the second night of Portsmouth. Two shows mid-week meant I had to pick only one between the two to see.  When three shows at Saratoga Performing Arts Center were announced, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I was in. I couldn’t make the first night but I wanted to see both weekend shows. This venue is one of my favorites. I love that it is a park and so spread out.

Like usually I didn’t plan to well and only got my hotel room on Friday. I also waited to find a place to hike on Sunday. In fact I finalized the location and directions to the park during the set break on Saturday.

I didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before thanks to the Nats game and got a much later start then I planned. Fortunately I was able to check into the hotel room and still make it to the venue with enough time to enjoy a sandwich before walking the three miles to the entrance. I used the long walk to enjoy a cigar. They even let me walk into the venue still smoking, at one point when going through security, I had it in my mouth.

First night I scored a pavilion ticket and made my way down to my seat. It is very rare that I get a pavilion seat so I was excited about the close view. While I was closer, it was way to the left. By the time the show started, I didn’t even notice. Tonight’s performance was being broadcast on Sirius so I had high hopes for a good show. Kevin Shapiro even did part two of From the Archives as pregame while I was in the lot.  I just had a feeling that tonight’s show was going to be a rager!

I should have noticed the a cappella mics on stage because Phish opened the show with Grind. The first set didn’t contain any long jams and few segues, but the song selection was pretty tight.  The played an excellent Possum and Moma Dance and a newer ones I haven’t heard, Torn and Frayed.  I also got Peaches en Regalia which I have only heard one other time in Raleigh a few years ago but is not played very often.  This went into another one of my favorites, Bathtub Gin.  Good Times, Bad Times closed the first set, usually this is an encore performance but they played it early.

an energetic crowd

I took the set break to just sit and relax for a while.  I made friends with a few guys from Canada who came down from Toronto to see the Saturday and Sunday show.  I started to feel old while talking to them, they where headed out west in a few weeks to catch some show and I could only catch three from leg 1.  I told them in my younger days I could have done it, but now that I have responsibilities, it is much harder to tour with Phish.

Second sets this tour have been long jam with song after song being played.  Sometimes the flow is a little off but sometimes they nail it.  I didn’t know it at the time but this evenings was one of those times they nailed it.  They started with DWD but left it unfinished and headed into Blister in the Sun.  I thought I heard the rift start and when they busted out with the song I about shit my pants.  I remember this song from when I was growing up and love it.  They quickly went back to DWD and again left it unfinished as they headed into Boogie on Reggae Woman.  It was played during From the Archives earlier in the day and seemed appropriate.  This classic Stevie Wonder song is a great funk classic that Mike will slap the bass silly when playing.

All through the second set Blister was teased or played on its own.  I loved how the band teased the song through the entire set, going back to this classic song from the Violent Femmes.  I saw them do this once before with I Saw it Again at Merriweather back in 2010.  This circling back is on the same song, peppering it throughout the set, is awesome.  The band really has to think about how to integrate the song into other tunes and segue properly in and out of the tune.  The teased it in Number Lines, Mike’s Song, and Weekapaug.

copyright Dave Vann 2012
copyright Dave Vann 2012

Other highlights were 2001 and the Mike’s > Contact > Weekapauge.  Of course the traditional song in the trio is I am H but I love when they switch it up.  After a short break they came out and dedicated Sabotage to MCA who died earlier this year of cancer.  I heard this song first when they debut back in 1998 at Merriweather.

This show was awesome and one of the best in recent memory.  This is another reason that I love coming to SPAC, the shows rarely if ever disappoint in their energy and song selection.  The crowd is great and I love the close stick wars that happen throughout the show, they are huge and colorful.  Getting out of the venue was a little difficult because I had to walk across the tiny ass bridge that was a choke point.  Other than that getting out of the venue was easy and I headed back to the hotel for a nights rest.  I was not going to get much sleep before getting up and heading to Green Mountain National Forest for a hike, all before heading back to SPAC for my second show in the run and the last one of the tour.

Set 1
Start time 8:25pm
1. Grind *
2. Possum >
3. Golgi Apparatus
4. Moma Dance
5. Torn and Frayed
6. Rift
7. Cities >
8. Maze
9. Lawn Boy
10. Peaches en Regalia >
11. Bathtub Gin
12. Good Times, Bad Times
Set ends at 9:43

Set 2
Start time 10:17pm
1. Down with Disease >
2. Blister in the Sun # >
3. Down with Disease >
4. Boogie on Reggae Woman >
5. Golden Age >
6. 2001 >
7. Backwards Down the Number Line @ >
8. Prince Caspian >
9. Scent of a Mule >
10. Blister in the Sun >
11. Scent of a Mule >
12. Mike’s Song @ >
13. Contact >
14. Weekapauge Groove @
Set ends at 11:34

Encore starts at 11:36
15. Sabotage $
Show ends at 11:40

* accapella
# Violent Femmes cover
@ with Blister in the Sun tease
$ Beastie Boys cover

end of show, getting ready for Sunday

Phish at Saratoga Performing Arts Center June 19th 2010

Saratoga Performing Arts Center

The second show I was able to see on Phish’s current summer tour. I just saw them at nTelos Pavilion with my friend Jeremy on Tuesday and now I was making the eight hour drive to Saratoga Springs, NY for the first night of a two night run. I was able to score lottery tickets for both shows but was only able to make the Saturday performance.  I would however be back home in time for Fathers Day at my Dad’s house, so it all worked out.

The drive up was pretty uneventful. I got a rather late start but I still managed to arrive in Saratoga Springs at about 6pm. I was hoping for a quick nap but it took over an hour to get into the venue parking lot. I was surprised it took so long as people had been gathering for hours to tailgate. I had read that cops and park police would be making a strong presence at both show, cracking down on drinking in the lots. Being a state park there is no drinking in the lot, only from the vendors inside.  Few people followed the rule and partied anyway, they were not deterred by the police presence as there is safety in numbers. The police report from the weekend does mention several arrests, mostly for drug possession and drinking. I was able to get about five minutes of shut eye before it was time to head inside and try to secure a good seat on the lawn.   Show time was scheduled for 7:30 which means they will start about 8pm for their sold out show on Saturday night.

When the show started just after eight the lawn was jumping. As the band hit it’s first note of the night a large haze of smoke rose from the audience. I just couldn’t believe everyone and their mother was smoking. No literally, there was a couple easily in their 50’s next to me that whipped out a joint and lit up. Security and cops stood on the walkways leading to the upper pavilion and looked down menacingly at everyone, but there was little they could do. They where not about to wade through the crowd to get a couple pot smokers. The crowd was also a little routy. I saw a guy climb up one of the support beams for the walkway. He certainly was a monkey hanging around there, I just didn’t want him to fall and ruin everyone’s fun.

Copyright: Dan Shinneman

The show opened with Tweezer Reprise, something I found out later was very very rare.  It had been almost 15 years since they last did that as an opener.  After the show I started reading how Hersey didn’t have a Reprise and the night before in Hartford they doubled up on the Reprise.  In fact the Coventry Blog has a really good write up about the whole Tweezer Reprise thing, well worth a read for any phan.  It was great to be a part of Phish history, and besides, the show kicked ass even without the whole Tweezer Reprise gag.

Pretty much the whole first set kicked ass.  There were a lot of older songs played that I love to hear including Runaway Jim, Chalk Dust, and one of my all time favorites Bathtub Gin.  I know that during Bathtub there was a glow stick war and surprisingly there was one during Suzy Greenberg too.  There is a the slight pause in the song and Trey then yells “Suzy….Suzy….Suzy Greenberg” there was a giant launch of glow sticks.  In fact the whole performance had several glow stick wars during both sets, I believe there were at least four in total.  It was also great to hear Fluffhead again, I had not heard it in many years and it is always a classic.

Second set was a mix of old and new.  Opening with Rock and Roll there was a great long jam in the middle of the song.  They interspersed several songs off of Joy and even some new new songs, one that had never been played before.  After attending two shows already and seeing the set list from several others, it would appear they are testing out songs for a new album.  I would expect to see something later this year or early next, just in time for a winter tour.

For the encore Squirming Coil started things off and this is always a slow song, but I love the guitar work from Trey.  As the song progresses everyone slowly fades out leaving Page playing by himself.  It is always a great way to end a set or close out a show during the encore performance.  Character Zer0 brought things back to life, just in time to complete the show with Tweezer Reprise….again.  What a great show.  In my opinion things got better as the tour progressed.  I know the SPAC and nTelos shows were less than a week apart, but things just felt much better at the SPAC show.  I have certainly not been disappointed with either show.

After the show I headed back to the lots to decompress.  It took an hour to get into the lots so I was not expecting to get out any time soon.  I took the opportunity to catch a few zzzs again while I waited for the lots to clear.  It was an eight hour drive up and I had to be back home on Sunday so I started my journey that night after the show.  I drove past Albany and stopped at a rest stop for a few more hours of sleep.  I have slept there before and it is nice to wake up and see other fans sleeping in there cars too.  Plus, they have a Star Bucks inside that really helps get my morning going and prepare me for the rest of the drive home.  Once home it was a a short 6 days before my next show, this time on home territory.  I feel that Merriweather is my base of operations when it comes to Phish.  I saw my first Phish show there and have seen every performance there but the first back in ’92.  With a two night run I was excited.  I was also hoping for a better show than last years which I thought was disappointing.  Six days and counting….

Set 1: started at 8:01
Tweezer reprise
Chalk Dust Torture
Funky Bitch
Runaway Jim
Ya Mar
Sample in a Jar
Bathtub Gin
Suzy Greenberg
ended at 9:18

Set 2: started at 9:53
Rock and Roll
Backwards Down the Number Line
Halfway to the Moon*
Prince Caspian >
David Bowie
Show of Life
ended at 11:05

encore: started at 11:08
The Squirming Coil
Character Zero
Tweezer reprise
show over at 11:26

*First time played
This gig featured the first Tweezer Reprise opener since November 9, 1995 (482 shows) and the debut of Halfway to the Moon. Suzy contained a Living After Midnight (Judas Priest) tease. Tweezer Reprise closed both this show and the previous night’s show in Hartford as well, making this the first time since July 16, 1993, that two consecutive Phish shows had each closed with the same song. (Freebird closed both the July 15 and July 16, 1993, shows.)

Phish Saratoga Performing Arts Center August 16th 2009

Day two of my mini run and the last show of the summer tour.  My day started early because of the long drive I needed to make to Saratoga Springs, NY.  I booked a camp site at Schroon River Resort which was about 45 minutes north of the venue.  It was not the closest campsite to the venue, but it was the only one with spots available.  Again I waited to the last minute, Saturday morning in fact, to start calling around for a spot.  Some of the closer campsites posted on their website they were booked for the weekend and others simply didn’t answer the phone.

copyright: Mike Wren
copyright: Mike Wren

I was hoping to leave by 8 but didn’t hit the road till almost 9am.  The traffic was light for a Sunday and what little there was was headed south.  Actually the drive all the way up was pretty easy, never really hit any heavy traffic, even around New York.  But as I got closers to the venue I started to realize that once again, I would not be able to make it to the campsite and back to the venue before the show started.  So I skipped the campsite and drove straight to the venue down the center of town.  Arriving when I did, did not afford me enough time to fire up the grill for some burgers.  But I did get some time to relax and enjoy the scene in the over flow lot before heading into the venue.  I would have to wait till I got home before I could test out my new grill.

As show time approached I started to get a little concerned about the weather.  Ominous clouds started rolling in from the east and they looked angry.  While at one of the rest stops in New York I jumped on their free wi-fi network and checked the weather, “cloudy” is what is said.  I messaged Jeremy to have him check the weather and he reported back with “cloudy.”  Nothing said rain so I assumed I would be safe, but you know what they say about assuming.  When I got about halfway to the venue entrance, and it’s a long walk across the golf course, it started to drizzle.  No biggy, I decided to take some shelter under the trees for a while and wait for it to pass.  I know it’s a bad idea, but it was just a little rain not a thunder storm.  As I sat there with other Phisheads the rain got heavier and heavier till it as a full on down pour.  I tried to hug a tree for a while but it was fruitless, I was soaked.  At that point I decided to walk towards the venue in the rain.  Every where I walked there were puddles of water with rain coming down in buckets.  I was doing everything I could to protect my ticket.  When I reached the venue they had some covered areas that were packed with people trying to dry out before the show.

copyright: Brian Sherman
copyright: Brian Sherman

Now when I got in line to get in I was thrown back to when I first started seeing tickets.  For years now when you walk into the venue the ticket taker has some type of scanner that reads your ticket, making sure it is valid and has not been used already to enter the venue.  Because it was still raining the ticket takers couldn’t use the scanners and they had to resort to tearing off the stub to signify the ticket was used.  It was crazy seeing all these people holding out their wet tickets and the takers ripping off the stub.  Some people had print-at-home tickets that were bleeding ink all over the place and ticket takers did their best to tear off the bar code.  It is amazing how quickly things can break down when you don’t have the computers you rely on to do your job.

About the time I made it to the lawn the rain stop but dark clouds always loomed in the distance.  It already rained when it was not suppose to, so what was to prevent it from raining again.  The rain delayed the band from their usual start time and I was hoping it would lead to a better show.  Maybe get a Divided Sky or something like that.  Or hear a little banter about the rain and everyone getting soaked.  Those of us on the lawn were definitely in high spirits.  We might have been soaked but the rain couldn’t dampen our spirits.

When the show finally started the first set was peppered with great tunes, no Divided Sky however or any mention of the rain.  But the opener of Llama was a great choice and the crowd was full of energy.  Moma Dance was alright at best, they have not been hitting it like years past, just to short.  When they got into jamming the song, it’s already over.  Other set one highlights include Cars, Trucks, Buses, Chalk Dust and a mighty David Bowie.  For the closer they played one of my personal favorites, Antelope.  Throughout the first set there must have been no less than 4 glow stick wars.  The middle section of the lawn was filled with glowing pieces of plastic flying through the air.  It was so great to see the crowd getting into the spirit of the show and having some fun despite the rain, wet conditions, and thick humidity.

copyright: Brian Sherman
copyright: Brian Sherman

After the set was over I walked to the top of the lawn to stretch my legs.  The wet ground made it impossible to sit so I walked around instead.  I also just wanted to be amongst the people.  The crowd was dense but it was great rubbing shoulders with other fans in such close quarters.  Everyone was smiling and mingling with those around them.  I walked aimlessly for a while just enjoying the vibe, eventually settled down in the middle of the lawn.  If there was going to be another glow stick war, and I had little doubt, I wanted to be in the middle of it.  It is so cool to look up towards the stars when glow sticks are flying overhead with Phish playing in the background.  Surreal almost.

By the time the houselights lowered for the second set everyone was ready for a killer performance.  The first set was pretty good and now it was time to do a little jamming and exploring a deeper selection of tracks.  Set opener Number Lines was played for 20 minutes before it lead into Twenty Years.  After Halley’s Comet they played Rock & Roll by the Velvet Underground, one of many covers during the night.  When it was finished things slowed down for a minute before they busted out Harpua.  Jeremy and I talked about this at the Merriweather show and how great it would be if they busted it out.  Again Jeremy lucked out and they played it tonight, so something special was about to happened.

What followed was some crazy stuff on the part of the band.  Trey sat down at the drums and Jon took the mic to sing a song.  The night before Jon debuted a new song of his called Party Time, so I couldn’t wait to hear what was going to be playe.  The first few lines that Jon sung didn’t register, nor did the accompanying music.  But when he sang the line “I kissed a girl and I liked it” I realized what song it was.  Definitely a new interpretation of the  song, I would even say that Jon butchered it.  But covers, and new ones at that, are always cool to witness.  Next up was HYHU and back into Harpua to close this portion of the set.  Next up was YEM that dropped like a bomb on the crowd and closed out the set, a solid 20 minute performance.

copyright: Mike Wren
copyright: Mike Wren

So here we are at the end of the set for the last show of the tour till Halloween and Festival 8.  The band walks off stage and the crowd just goes silent.  This has happened every show I went to over the summer tour, the band walks off stage and there is no cheering or clapping, nothing to bring the band back out.  At least with tonights performance there was a proper glow stick war, but when it comes to encores the audience just expects it now.  They don’t cheer or clap and with all the lights people have, they don’t even raise those.  If I was Phish I wouldn’t come back on stage unless the crowd really got into it, but that’s just me.  After a short time they walk back on stage, with not much fan fair, for the encore.

The encore included an accapella Grind, lame, and another new song, I Been Around.  It was the last song to be performed from their forth coming album and prominently featured Page on keys and vocals.  It was alright, nothing special.  The final song was yet another cover and I thought an appropriate way to end the show/tour, Highway to Hell.

With the show over it was time to head back to my car and get out of Dodge.  This time I took the road back instead of cutting across the golf course.  The sprinklers were on and I decided I didn’t want to get soaked again.  When I left it was off to a rest stop a few miles down the road.  Since I never checked into the campsite I had to settle for sleeping in my car.  But the cool air that night made for a rather comfortable nights rest.  Like always I was joined by several other car loads of fans headed home from the show making a stop to rest from the party we all just left in Saratoga Springs.

Set 1:
1. Llama
2. Moma Dance
3. Guyute
4. Anything But Me
5. Cars, Trucks, Buses
6. Chalk Dust Torture
7. Golgi Apparatus
8. David Bowie
9. Cavern >
10. Possum
11. Ocelot
12. Run Like an Antelope

Set 2:
1. Backwards Down the Number Line >
2. Twenty Years Later
3. Halley’s Comet >
4. Rock & Roll
5. Harpua >
6. I Kissed a Girl* >
7. Hold Your Head Up >
8. Harpua
9. You Enjoy Myself

10. Grind
11. I Been Around*
12. Highway to Hell

*First time played