2009/12/28 American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL

by Holger 29. December 2009

After a short swim in the hotel pool we got dressed and took the car to the American Airlines Arena. Its always hard to project how long it will take because sometimes traffic can be totally horrible around venues and parking lots. Not today! Despite a construction site approx. 1,5m from the venue on Biscane Blvd everything runs smoothly. There's only a very short waiting line right in front of the official parking garage of American Airline Arena. Guys with "parking 20 USD" signs try to re-direct people to their private parking lots and garages around the block. As the official fee is also 20 USD we take a right and roll straight on an 90% empty lot. Some Phishheads sit outside their cars listening to music, grilling, chilling, smoking and drinking booze.

Its only a 2-3min walk to the main entrance where we are supposed to meet with Justin and his friend from Indiana. Strangely there is only a really short waiting line on the stairs 5min before the gate opens. Back in 2003 people were standing back down to the street. The arena looks beautifully enlightened with yellow, orange and purple light and a huge video projection on the surface of the building showing Phish live footage previously recorded - really cool! Justin is right on time and after a short but enthusiastic welcome (who could expect that we see each other only 6 month after we first met at Deer Creek) we walk straight in. There is no waiting at all. Security check is relaxed. 

First thing you see when you walk in is the merchandise table with all brand new Phish Florida items. I am very sorry but I have to admit that I was massively disappointed with the new goods. I don't like the event poster which is too colorful and looks like an advertisement for orange juice. The 2003 poster looked like a cheap "Kitch" painting by an averagely skilled street artist on Ocean Drive. The colors hurt my eyes. Unfortunately I only found out after waiting in line for 45min and buying #987 (or so) of #1000. Now its on the wall in my flat ;) Thank god to Facebook, Fromtheroad, Twitter, etc. you now know in advance what you get so I did not get in line this time. The T-shirts weren't any better - just not my colors (all kinds of purple, yellow, orange, etc.). Well, the trip was expensive enough and my budget needs some rest. Domestic beer at the venue is 9,00 USD, imported beer 13,50 USD, a slice if pizza 8,00 USD, a cocktail 18 USD, etc.. So while Phish is keeping ticket prices low everybody else is robbing you legally! 

We were standing on the first floor and watching the people flow in. Around 7.30pm when the show should officially begin there were no signs of a soon start. Still hundreds and thousands of people came in from outside. Around 7.50pm we got to section 118 which is one of the lower sections in the middle of the arena. The seats are perfect and its so good to know that we will be there for 4 nights in a row. The people next to us were very nice. One was from Ft. Lauderdale, the other from New York City (seeing his show #96 or so - EU phans can't compete with that numbers but with the intimacy of our tiny venues). 

I don't remember the exact time but it must have been shortly after 8pm when the lights went out. Suddenly people were pumped and you could feel the collective energy. Everybody was waiting for this moment for weeks. Most people were already screaming and dancing when they got up the stairs and through the entrance. So did I. They didn't play Wilson as an opener like I had wished for. They didn't play it all last night. The whole set list and flow of the show was a bit strange and the first set missed a little dancing and party vibe (except some moments). 

Phishtoughts.com is quite disappointed by the whole show and pointing to the half empty venue. Yes, you hear right. Half empty (and the show was almost sold out)! There was even a black curtain covering the 3rd and 4th level behind stage and the lower section behind stage was nearly empty. Everywhere were empty seats - even on the floor. They definitely need to change the way tickets are sold. Print a name and ID# on the tickets and the scalping ends. That's the way FIFA does it with tickets for the soccer world cup. 

The show kicked off with "Sample in a jar" which is one of my all time faves. The version was very tight and I thought it was a great opener. Next song was "NICU" which always is good feel tune to me. It was followed by a rare bluesy "My Soul". The following 4 songs ("Roggae", "Undermind", "Bouncing Around The Room", "Poor Heart") lacked excitement a little bit. Then came "Stash" which brought back my full attention. I must agree with Phishthoughts.com that the flow of the show was destroyed more than once. There was a lot of "humor songs" but the whole mix was strange. "I Didn't Know" (featuring the final vacuum solo of the decade) and especially "Beauty Of A Broken Heart" didn't seem to fit between "Stash" and "Possum" which was a very warm welcomed and superb finale of set 1. 

Set 2 continued the spirit of the night. It took until song #4 (after "Mike's Song", "Light", "I Am Hydrogen") "Weekapaug Groove" kicked off the party. My wife Natalie who is far from being a phan felt the jetlag and was not turned on so far. Unfortunately "Weekapaug Groove", "Alaska", "Backwards Down the Number Line", "Makisupa Policeman", "Harry Hood" (all fantastic in my eyes) came too late for her to bring her back to life. "Contact" was a another "fun break" before an energetic "Character Zero" closed set 2. And then came an incredible sick "First Tube" which alone compensated for some mediocre versions last night. Trey was suddenly on fire and CK5 brought on an absolutely gorgeous light show. 

After the show we met Justin and his friend across the street to give them a ride back to their hotel which was on the way to ours. Back in the hotel room I synched my digital camera to the notebook and uploaded some pictures to Flickr (Thanks to Yome who grabs them and puts them up together with my writings which I send from my Blackberry during day). 


More to come tomorrow...


More pictures on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/treyanastasio/sets/72157623084195140/


Phish NYE Miami Tour - Day 3

by Holger 28. December 2009

Got up around 8am, Breakfast at 9am. The people at Best Western seem more white middle class than the crowd at the La Quinta yesterday - maybe its because the price of a room is twice as high. Breakfast selection is smaller despite that fact. I went for bagel with cream cheese and bagel with hard boiled egg plus a yogurt and two cups of extra strong coffee.

After strengthening for the day we drove down Biscane Blvd and crossed over to Miami Beach via Venetian Causeway. Getting a place for your car on Ocean Blvd is almost impossible so its better to go for one of the public parking garages on Washington or Collins. Turned out that we parked behind the Miami Police station on 11th street. From there its only a 2min walk to Ocean Drive with all its beautiful historic art deco buildings. Together with all the palm, the soft sea breeze, the sound of the ocean, the smell of food from the street restaurants, the noisy street and beach life, music from shops and bars it creates the very unique Miami beach atmosphere.

Walking around and thinking about tonight's first of four Phish shows is a surreal feeling. I really don't know what to expect (as always). We will probably here a huge bunch of repertoire with all classics over the next four days. With what song will they open tonight? It should be a statement of what to come. Will there be any guests like P-Funk in 2003. Some rumors whisper Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine which is certainly a perfect fit for the town. I would love to hear "Wilson" as opener tonight! Once your hear the guitar riff and 20.000 people screaming "Wilson" in between you get pumped like hell. I am wearing a old-school retro Wilson tennis t-shirt tonight which I just bought for the trip. It has the big Wilson logo on the front.

While typing these lines we are relaxing on the beach and eating some bananas and apples. Its cloudier than we thought but still quite warm. The weather comes from the Keys and moves by Miami during early afternoon. The sea gulls are walking around us eagerly observing us and hoping to catch some waste. They even fly really close above our heads almost attacking. The ocean is calm and quiet today.

Strangely I have only seen one single guy wearing a Phish shirt today and maybe 2-3 more people who potentially could be Phishheads. I guess 20.000 Phishheads are not to exposed among hundred of thousands of tourists. I wonder what the total number of phans in Miami is right now but probably not more than 35.000 as most of the people go to all shows. So its not 4 x 20.000 but more 15.000 fix + 4 x 5.000 different people each night. The question is if they really would sell out all the huge indoor and outdoor venues across the country night after night if the same people wouldn't go to ALL shows over and over again. Is there any "market research" or theories on this?

I think we head back to our hotel around 3pm, take a swim in the pool for about an hour, change clothes for tonight, drive to the Arena, get the tickets from will call (I am always nervous until I have tix in hand), have dinner at one of the restaurants at the port of Miami and go in once the door open around 6.30pm.

I hope to meet Justin and his friends from Indiana today. I met Justin and Matt (who unfortunately can't be here as he plays a NYE show with his own band "Catch Curtis" in Indiana) in Deer Creek and and all travelled to Alpine Valley. The funny thing is that Justin had to travel longer than we. Our total flight and travel time was approx. 18-19h. Justin's driving time was around 22h (only interfered by a short stop to watch a football game). I love people who are enthusiastic for music!

Yippie, the sun comes out again so please excuse me... ;)



More pictures from Miami

by Holger 28. December 2009

Phish NYE Miami Tour - Day 2

by Holger 27. December 2009

Got up around 8am, breakfast around 9am. Thank god its Sunday so the serve breakfast until 10. We stayed one night at the La Quinta Miami airport east just because it was the closest hotel (besides red roof and embassy suites) to the Alamo car rental station and was average in price and ok in ratings/reviews. A one way street made it a little complicated to get there though and it was already dark.

Once we entered the lobby and breakfast room we immediately recognized that it was totally overcrowded by a wild mixture of nationalities and colors. You got Hispanics, Asians, Europeans, Americans and Afro-Americans. Breakfast selection was the usual bagels/toasts and cream cheese, cereals, juices, fruits and coffee which is fine with me for a couple of days although I usually prefer a good selection of italian cheese and sausages. at home. I helped myself with slices of hard boilded eggs on a medium toasted bread with butter. Good choice!

It seemed like a miracle but after returning from the buffet style selection a table for two was just waiting for us. Each of us had approximately 3-4 orange juices as we didn't have anything to drink the whole night and we were totally dryed out. The reason was that I couldn't change any money in advance and we forgot to do it at the airport as we were too tired I guess. 20 USD were still in my wallet since the last Phish trip to Deer Creek and Alpine Valley in June this year but the vending machine seemed not too trustworthy to give it my last cash and hope for the return of change.

After the breakfast we checked out and got to our car on the parking lot - a silver Jeep Patriot with Florida license plate. After waiting on the phone for the Alamo roadside assistance over 15min I decided to keep the car and see what happens (if anything) due to the required oil change. Like in Indiana I will put a Phish logo sticker on the bumper to brand it the right way! Outside the weather was just brillant: sunny and warm like you imagine Florida to be. Its so cool to walk outside in December wearing nothing but shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops.

Next stop was a bank to withdraw cash and a pharmacy to get sun cream, contact lense fluid and a Revlon make up for my sister. Seems banal and not worth to mention but I looked up 2-3 stores in Indiana back in June to get it for her and I couldn't get it. Its the only thing she was asking for so I want to be a good brother and make her happy (I know she reads so blog so please forgive me to bore the rest of you on this one). Silke, I got it this time! ;)

Around 11.30am we reached our final destination - the Best Western waterfront Hotel which is located on the small island of North Bay Village between Miami and Miami Beach and is about 6-7 miles from the American Airlines Arena where the Phish NYE run will take place like in 2003 (our last time in Florida by the way). Our room with king size bed is located on the second floor with a view on the pool which looks a little bit like an 8 (coincidence after "festival 8"?). We could't restist and jumped in our bathing clothes to take a swim in the mid-day sun. Man, what do I have to say? Swimming under palms on Dec 27th and 4 Phish shows just one day away - what a great feeling. Now I know again why we took the long trip. My wife (we are only married since a week) is swimming like a dolphin and sun bathing like a lizard. We can't stop to smile. I know she's a little bit worried that 4 shows are too much for her as she likes some Phish but is not a fan. I am really grateful that she always supports my obsession. I guess that's unconditional love and what else can one demand? On the other hand there are worse places to be right now and if she gets beaches and palms and shopping malls all day long and I get rock'n'roll all night long evrybody is more than happy. That's the simple deal. Plans for the rest of the day are to walk the beach in North Miami beach and to drive to the Aventura shopping mall before having dinner at Shuckers Bar+Grill. That's all folks for the moment...

More pictures on http://www.flickr.com/photos/treyanastasio/sets/72157623084195140/



Phish NYE Miami Tour - Day 1 Part 4

by Holger 27. December 2009

I am officially dead! It's 4am (Berlin) time, 10pm here in Miami and we are finally at our airport hotel for the first night. After standing up at 6.30am yesterday this is almost 22h of travelling. No fun so far.

The Alamo choice line didn't bring us luck either. We picked a Jeep and once we left the Alamo station I recognized a blinking "Oil Change Required" sign. I will either exchange cars tomorrow after breakfast or ignore it for the rest of the week. We are not touring whole Florida this time and within Miami it should last for a couple of miles - maybe hundreds of miles. Its not my car and they better should give people proper vehicles.

Anyway, right now I am too tired to complain about anything and hey, we are in Miami after all. From tomorrow on everythings gonna be alright. The weather will be nice, the beaches and palms lovely, the shopping malls are waiting only for us, Phish will play a 4-night run beyond imagination, my Deer Creek / Alpine phriend arrives soon, etc....


More pictures on http://www.flickr.com/photos/treyanastasio/sets/72157623084195140/



Phish NYE Miami Tour - Day 1 Part 3

by Holger 27. December 2009

Puh, that new security rules are really boring. I mean, come on - 1h you are not allowed to read a book, a magazine or a news paper. Hey Mr., put away the evil "financial times", stop reading this dangerous "rolling stone" magazine. You are not allowed to have your pillow on your lap or listen to your iPod. For what reason? I don't get it but what I know for sure is that you don't argue with US flight attendance or sky marshalls or police officers or customs agents under any circumstances - you get the point ;) after landing it took almost 2h to get off the plane, get queued at immigration, get the bags, go through customs, re-check in the bags, go through security check for departure, go to the gate, board.
This is the second time this month (besides getting my Joy Box set out of customs in Berlin) where I get the feeling that one need to be a very big fan to do this.

Next off to Miami from Charlotte. Phish, we are coming... ;)

Phish NYE Miami Tour - Day 1 Part 2

by Holger 26. December 2009

Landed in Frankfurt, stucked in Frankfurt.

Getting from Terminal 1A to 1C by airport train was easy but don't you hate it if they take you throught passport, boarding card and security checks over and over again? Our LH boarding pass wasn't sufficient to get on board so we had to exchange it. As a result we ended up in a huge waiting line. Only American travellers seemed to have the right boarding pass in hand. Coincidence?

The airline crew did not only double-check passports but also took us through an intense security questionaire. Felt like an interview with the homeland security department. Now we are sitting in the plane on the ground for over an hour because they need to clean up a "substance" which was found in the cargo of the plane. There are also brand new security rules on the plane due to the incident on the Delta flight. Passangers have to stay in their seats for the last hour of the flight. Hand lagguage and all personal belongings need to be stored, nothing may be placed on the lap during the last hour of the flight.

What else? I am expecting more surprises.

End of day 1, part 2 as I am going back to flight mode for the next 10h.

Phish NYE Miami Tour - Day 1 Part 1

by Holger 26. December 2009

Well, today's the day I have been waiting for since months (besides marry my girl after 10 years of course which already makes me the happiest man on the planet). We got up early in the morning after just returning from christmas with the parents last night.

Packing for Miami was easy: Lots of Phish t-shirts (12 to be exactely so 2 per day). I've been a little nervous about the flight schedule during the last week as there was heavy snow and ice on most German and European airports which led to the close down of Berlin and Frankfurt 2 days before christmas for example. Temperatures are up again and everything seems to be back to normal. Taxi came quick and the streets in Berlin were almost empty as all shops and offices are closed. Check-in at the airport was also quick and we got some decent seats for the long distance flight. Its my first time with US Airways. Hopefully the Americans don't freak out completely because there was a (thank god failed) terrorist attack on a Delta plane to day where some Nigerian tried to set some explosives on fire but was tackled by crew members and passangers.

Ok, end of Day 1, Part 1 as I need to switch to flight mode.

PHISH "Jox Box" finally arrived in Germany

by Holger 12. December 2009

Wednesday Dec 10th I finally got a letter that I can come to the German customs office in Berlin Schoeneberg to pay tax and release my delivery. So I drove to the department first thing in the morning on Thursday Dec 11th. From my previous experience I expected nothing less than 2 hours of driving and waiting. I was so damn right.

When you get there your have to show them the letter and you have to draw a waiting number - mine was #35. Next step after waiting is to go in, open the package by yourself, take out all contents and show them to the officer. Then he calculates the tax on basis of the value of the goods + delivery. It's 19% in Germany so on top of my 130,- USD value of goods + 50,- USD shipping I had to pay 23,- EUR tax. But you have to wait again before you are allowed to pay. With the receipt of your payment you can go back and finally release your order. What a hassle! But hey, fuck it - it's Phish :-) I would drive to Alaska.

The good thing about showing all contents of the box to the officer was to see them by myself for the first time in real. I got a huge smile on my face and the officer seemed to be kind of impressed as well. After driving to work I proudly showed the box to my colleagues. At home after work I made a couple of pictures.

The box itself is massive. Made out of heavy cardbox. Originally I thought its made out of plastic or wood. The cardbox seems not so stabile on the edges and corners. My box had a little scratch. Inside you find a hardcover book with lyrics, pictures and 2 CDs and 1 DVD. You also find 10 signed posters by different artists.

It's definately worth 75,- USD and you get a special price (11 USD each) for 2 Joy T-shirts.

Let me introduce myself

by Holger 10. December 2009

Yome was so kind to let me blog on his site.

Let me introduce myself shortly before I start to post stories about my Phish travels and experiences. My name is Holger and I am a German Phish phan who lives in Berlin since 2003.

My sister was hosting a kid from Massechusetts as part of a youth exchange back in the mid 90s. He had some Phish records in his CD collection incl. “Hoist” and “A Live One” as far as I remember. I was interested but not blown away immediately to admit. 1-2 years later I was reading the German music magazine “Musicexpress” and my attention was caught by the record of the month article – “Billy Breathes”. I almost forgot about Phish since I first heard them but I gave them a second chance. The album was gorgeous.

Only a couple of month later I saw that they play a show in Munich which was about 150 miles away from my parent’s house. I decided to drive down with a friend. The show changed my life. In the same summer they played only 60 miles away from my parents home in Nuremberg. I bought tickets for me and my friends.Later my sister and me also won 2 tickets in a competition by our local news paper because we were the only people who took part. So we brought two more friends. The show was amazing. Only one year later another Europe tour was announced. This time Germany was left out but Prague was only 130 miles away. This was my best show so far. Unfortunately we did not stay overnight – big mistake because it was the last time they came to Europe since then. Who could foresee this?

In 1999 I was very close to book a trip to Big Cypress after I got mailing with the announcement but in December ’99 I felt in love with my girlfriend so I didn’t want to leave her alone over our first NYE. Years went by and as a student I had absolutely no money to follow Phish in the US while Europe was constantly left out of their touring plans (maybe due to the increasing drug issues of Trey which could easily cause trouble if you travel accross different countries). In 2002 I got my first real job and in 2003 my girlfriend and me were flying to the gigs in East Rutherford (with special guest B.B.King) and Worcester and also to Miami for 2 out of 4 shows of the NYE run. In 2004 we attended 2 of the Las Vegas shows. We never did this for Phish alone but always planned a road trip around it with classic sight-seeing stuff. I had some of the best times of my life on these travels.

When Phish broke up I was shocked and very sad. Once the first reunion rumors came up my fanatism was back on track. I tried hard to get tickets for Hampton through the lottery and on Livenation but failed. I retried for the summer tour and had tickets in the basket but the site crashed several times. Don’t ask me how but as I wanted to see Phish again so badly I somehow manged to get tickets for Deer Creek / Noblesville and both Alpine Valley shows. The trip was only 4 days – fly in, fly out (Berlin-Amsterdam-Detroit-Chicaco + drive to Indianapolis). I was all alone and came just to see Phish. Crazy? Life saving! The shows and people I met on the trip ("Hi" to Matt & Justin!) were worth every Euro and Dollar. People around me thought this could heal my hunger but the complete opposite was the case. A total relapse: I am more addicted than ever. “Joy” is a great album and tomorrow morning I will drive to customs to finally get my box set.

In a little more then 2 weeks my girlfriend (still the same after 10 years of tolerating my passion) and me will fly to Miami to see all 4 shows of the NYE run 2009. We got lower section tickets on ticketmaster (I might tell you the whole drama of buying them in a different post) so I have no doubt that the shows will be mind blowing. I plan to blog about the trip to keep you updated. We will see what 2010 and the future brings for us Phish phans - hopefully some Europe shows after then 12 years of abstinence…




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