Phish’s Jam Band Parking Lot

Phish returned to Shoreline after five years to greet its community of rabid fans, many of whom travel the country following the band much like the Deadheads of yesteryear. Here's a look at the pre-show festivities in the parking lot hours before the doors opened.

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Carlos Zapata
Phish returns to the road after a five-year hiatus, as does their traveling community of fans. Hours before The Shoreline Amphitheater opened its doors Wednesday night, thousands gathered in parking lots A and B selling wares, dancing to sound systems blaring all kinds of tunes and reuniting with long lost friends. Here Lindsay Mealy from Pecos, New Mexico shows off two stemless bubblers her friend made and is selling for $250 each.
Melvis from Southern California stood on the top of this car to take a few pictures of the parking lot before I snapped this picture of him.
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Holly Bowling of S.F. holds up a sign trying to sell tickets to the next two Phish shows at the Gorge near Seattle after a "friend from New York bailed on the show. It is a 15 hour drive," Bowling reassured herself while friend Warner Davis from L.A. kept her company.
Josh Keppel
Nick Bilich from San Luis Obispo walked around the parking lot handing out free cds of his band Still Time. Bilich said he brought 250 copies to give out because his band is "groove rock, folk rock, reggae, like Phish!"
Wheels wears a blond wig and seems to know many people in the parking lot that he was continually reuniting with. Here he bumps into college buddy Rob Vou from Milwaukee, WI.
Wheels dances in front of this bus while cracking and selling coconuts so people can enjoy a little coconut milk in the parking lot.
Morgan Edel quickly scooped up one of the $5 coconuts. She said, "I ususally have one a day. It is one of the only isotonic beverages you can drink. You can use it for blood transfusions in a pinch, like in third world countries."
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Wheels said, "I sold eight cases (nine per case) at Red Rocks," in Colorado where Phish had played four nights of shows before heading to Shoreline. Wheels said he sold three cases in Mountain View on Wednesday night.
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Russell Howze from San Francisco wore his hat from the 1995-1996 Phish tour saying, "it's vintage you know," when asked about his ensemble. A fellow Phish fan tried to explain to me the significance of the name "Wilson" embroidered on the arm of Howze's marching band coat, but my eyes glazed over at the lengthy explanation. Something about Gamehendge Wilson...?
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This group of people played a game called "Cornhole" where two people stand at either end of the wooden boxes and try to toss beanbags into marked holes to score points.
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High winds made these first games of Cornhole a little tough. Here you can see Lee Martin's beanbag in midair before dropping into the five-point hole marking the first score of the day.
Robert Cutler with Jermaine the dog (er, puppy).
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Sugar Magnolia (dalmatian) and Paxton refresh themselves with some nice cold water. Dogs were not uncommon in the parking lot.
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Sugar Magnolia and Paxton's traveling partner shows off his impressive beer selection. They all drove from Austin, Texas for the only show in California at Shoreline before heading up to The Gorge near Seattle, WA for two shows over the weekend.
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Tom G. was working as event security and walked around explaining the rules to the parking lot to the fans. The rules seemed very fair, like no open flame since this site is a former landfill. If you have a beer, put it in a cup, like this guy, don't blatantly disobey the law and it is fine to sell goods, but not food or drinks with out an expensive health permit.
Unfortunately, the Mountain View Police had other ideas, and these two officers walked around making every person who was drinking a beer, even out of plastic cups, pour it out onto the ground. This group of friends from Tahoe gets the bad news and the order to "dump!"
As the cops circled the parking lot, beer consumption increased. Hopefully each of these cups Marklar from Portland, OR is drinking from doesn't equate to one downed beer. I think that rule mostly applies at the ball park.
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Aaron Robin stands in front of his original paintings for sale from $400-$1200. He said they are mostly, "live art from String Cheese Project."
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Hollie Dilley (left) and Dirty Diana show off the recycling bags they are handing out to everyone in the parking lot to put their recyclables in. Dilley and Diana are working on the Green Crew, a group championed by Phish that turns empty bottles and cans into $1200 - $2000. This money is then donated to local organizations close to the venue after each show across the country.
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Pu Tzu brought these "fine gems and minerals from around the world" to the parking lot to sell. Tzu has a store in Sebastopol called The Uncarved Block and he said that he "travels the globe to collect these."
Douglas and Rachel Bragg from Eugene, Oregon sit in front of their glassware for sale. Wednesday night was the first show that the Braggs had seen since Phish took a break five years ago. They are planning on going to all seven of the remaining shows on the tour ending at Saratoga Springs, NY on August 16, 2009.
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One of my friends said he was surprised to see some of the huge display cases people had set up at this show selling things like glass pipes. According to him, at past shows people had smaller operations walking around with just a few items for sale, but now people like the Bragg's have hundreds of pipes to choose from, almost like a traveling head shop.
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Warner Davis (left) and friend carry a heavy (ie. stocked) cooler through the parking lot.
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Kimmie Vaccaro of San Francisco held up two extra Mail Order Lottery tickets for sale. While the show quickly sold out in March, many, many people had extra tickets in the hours that led up to the show, with $60 tickets being sold for as low as $5 or, in many cases, free or "miracles" tickets were left or handed out to lucky fans.
There was a main area of the parking lot where a number of cool, tripped out buses lined up and people gathered in a hippie Midway, Main Street sort of vibe.
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Dylan Liuingearth spins hip-hop records while DJ'ing inside the Common Vision bus.
Most of the buses had sound systems with people dancing to the varied styles of music playing throughout the day. Here Jonesy from Sebastopol dances while double fisting some smokes.
Jonesy getting down (or up as it may be).
This bus had a strange blow up centipede of sorts crawling up the side of it.
Molly Henderson of San Francisco folds some shirts at her t-shirt stand. Henderson said she started this tour in Jones Beach, NY in early June, 2009.
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Henderson (left) has been selling shirts at shows for 22 years, starting first in the parking lots of the Grateful Dead. "I've taken a 14 year break, now I'm back on the road," she said.
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Rachel Koleer of Santa Cruz sports some face paint a friend painted onto her before the show.
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Nathan Bruce of Williamsburg, VA holds up a holographic 3-D Phish poster he was selling for $25.
Matt Horsley of Sacramento quickly snaps up one of Bruce's poster.
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Brittany Barrett of Bebirdie Designs holds up a bunch of hand made earrings for sale.
Barrett designs and makes jewelry out of "shells, feathers and all kinds of natural materials" for the summer and then takes them out on the road.
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Barrett said Wednesday was a good day for Bebirdie Designs saying, "Business has been really good today, actually. Not a bad surprise."
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Ben Morrow from "all over; Africa, Kentucky, LA, all the way to here" posts up next to his truck selling "International aroma therapy at its finest."
Tristan Champaigne from Santa Cruz reaches into the window of his T@b teardrop camper to adjust the music pumping out of the speaker behind him. He said the mural was done by Kansas City artist Scribe (
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This was the first show I'd been to where just as many people were walking away from the venue as were walking towards it, with people first wanting to check out the parking lot before heading into the amphitheater to take their seats.
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Many people climbed to the top of the hill in the background to get a bird's eye view of the parking lot and venue. I went up at night and saw a cool view of Moffett Field, just on the other side of the hill.
Jillian Monack (right) of Deleware and Jillian Bobowicz from Oakland watched over Bobowicz's sister's booth where hand made earrings, bracelets and necklaces were for sale.
Jess Junk (left) was ecstatic to find that the booth was still open for business after fearing it had been closed for the night.
Bob Rudd from S.F. smiled while heading into the show saying, "I'm happy to see Phish in my own back yard!"
When I asked Rudd if I could take another picture where I could see his t-shirt better, he stuck a pose for me. Thanks!
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As the sun started to set, people flooding from the parking lot into the venue.
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This was the first one-night Phish performance at Shoreline since 1997 (the band played two-night runs in Mountain View in 1999, 2000 and 2003).
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Blankets were laid, beers was drank, and people were hyped for the start of the show.
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Mother Sanchita (clockwise from top right), sits with daughters Nia and Minnoli and father Arvind while the family from San Jose waits for the show to start. Arvind is the big Phish fan in the family, having seen them 14 times. He pointed out that "what distinguishes [Phish] from the Greatful Dead is the lights. Chris Kuroda (lighting artist) jams with them while they play."
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Just as the sky was lit perfectly...
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...the band took the stage.
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As the members of Phish were readying the first notes of the show, a large military plane did a low fly-over to get things started.
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Fans went crazy and the party got started.
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The band played for about 20 minutes without stopping, and about half way through that the plane made another pass before...
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...the aircraft made a third and final flyover just as the band ended the first grouping of songs. That's what I call an amazing Production Coordinator. Wow! The thought of planning three flyovers with a military aircraft and to have the first and last one perfectly timed gave me chills. It was the highlight of the night for me, and the show had just started.
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I took some shots of the band from the lawn with a fixed lens camera I was allowed to take into the venue, (not my good camera). The pics are okay, not the best, but it'll give you an idea of what it looked like from the cheap seats.
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Phish played a sold-out show at the Shoreline Amphitheater for the one night only on Wednesday August 5, 2009.
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Even in the daylight, the lights were still full-on.
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This shot I actually like... See the couple making out in-between sections at the bottom of the frame? Don't know if they knew each other or not, but a guy was walking with his friends in the 200 Section walkway and he jumped up and lip locked a lady on the lawn. Pretty funny.
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Here's a look at bass player Mike Gordon and drummer Jon Fishman.
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People on the lawn were in heaven.
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Lauren Madry from Austin, TX is following the band up to the Gorge near Seattle, WA.
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Madry had the best eyelashes of the night!
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Guitarist Trey Anastasio (left) and bass player Mike Gordon.
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Even the young ones were having a good time.
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I thought this was one of the strangest outfits of the night. First off, I was surprised to see someone wearing a Faith No More t-shirt, just like I'd be surprised to see someone at a F.N.M. show wearing a Phish shirt. Then I saw that the shirt says, "The Fish Lives," referring to the 1990 "Epic" video with a flopping fish-out-of-water final scene. Is this guy wearing this shirt just because it says "fish" on it?
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Then I took in the full outfit to see that there are some tattered shorts with fish on them as well and I'm thinking maybe this is this guys Phish show uniform. Did he have piranhas eat away at the outfit to make it that much more authentic? I wish I'd asked him.
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As night set in, the lights got more intense and the fans got more excited, hearing both old favorites and new tunes with a few covers thrown in for good measure.
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After taking the stage around 7:50 p.m., Phish took a break from about 9 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. before launching into their second set and encore.
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Here is a half-time shot of the set list compiled by teacher Kevin Flinn (pictured with gray hoodie). He told me that he used to write concert reviews and I asked him to do one for this story and he did an amazing job. Look for it on this site (Phish 3.0). Thanks Kevin!
Josh Keppel
Arvind was right, the lights were amazing during the performance. Especially after the sun had set and they could be fully realized.
I like the idea of the lighting guy being another performer in the live show experience. Thanks for the heads up, Aruind!
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At one point during the show, on cue, everyone threw up any glowing thing they could get their hands on, reminding me of the audience participation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings I would go to as a kid.
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The people in the back of the lawn were treated to large video screens.
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Here's a better look at one of the screens with Trey Anastasio singing in a bath of blue and white light.
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Top of the hill at the back of the Shoreline Amphitheater lawn.
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I left the show a little early and listened to the band as I climbed the hill on the other side of the parking lot.
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Here's my favorite bus at night with one of the venue security staffers walking the grounds just before the fans came streaming out.
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I'll leave you with my view of Moffett Field at night over the grassy knoll.
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