2009/12/29 American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL

by Holger 30. December 2009

Yesterday we went to Key Biscayne during the day. There's a state park with an old light house where you can walk along the water and the marina. After that we enjoyed a sunny but quite chilly afternoon at the beach park on Key Biscayne - it is one of the best beaches around with hundreds of palm trees right on the beautiful white sand beach. The light around 4-5pm was amazing. It was actually so good that some company had a photo shooting with five bikini girls doing a cushion fight going on - can't give you any more details right now ;) Unfortunately it was too cold to swim but we will return on NYE during the day.

After a blitz dinner with "shrimp and angel hair pasta" (that's ultra thin spaghetti) at Shuckers Bar + Grill we headed towards the arena for the second time. We got there by 7.15pm which was still too early as they didn't start until 8.10pm again. You wouldn't dream of what to come...

First set started with "Golgi" which is definitely a classic Phish tune and a perfect opener and already more uptempo and danceable like "Sample in a jar" and most of the rest yesterday. It should pave the way for the whole night. "Maze" got it going before "Driver" and "The Connection" brought some of the more relaxed first set tunes. I am not sure if many people do but I like "The Connection" a lot. The next 3 songs were j ust awesome: "Wolfman’s Brother", then "Ocelot" (especially for my wife Natalie who loves this tune), an unbelievable "Reba" with beautiful lights by CK5. "Access Me" was maybe the only low point (you can hardly name it this way but if you need to pick one this was it). "The Divided Sky" was from another planet taking it really long. The melody is just lovely. Personally I thought that's the closer for set 1 but man was I wrong! A really nasty "Cavern" left everybody hungry for more. This was pretty solid compared to night one - a 7.5 out of 10 I would say. Setbreak.

Set 2 started with a really rocky version of "Kill Devil Falls" followed by one of the best "Tweezer" jams I've ever heard. They had ultra groove last night! Page was incredible, Mike was slapping it like hell all night long making the songs mega-funky, Trey did his high signature tunes after taking it higher and higher and Fish was working the drums like a dervish. The "Tweezer" was probably around 20min as far as I remember (please forgive me as I did not listen to the show yet and write this completely out of my memory from my Blackberry standing in front of a Hollister store in Aventura Mall while my wife is shopping - one of the reasons why she came to Miami. 8am to 8pm belongs to her - 8pm - 12pm belongs to me) . Unlike first night there was no stopping anytime. "Prince Caspian" made me sing until I almost lost my voice. After "Divided Sky" and "Tweezer" the next couple of songs, jams were the highlight of the night. It was unreal. I couldn't believe what I was witnessing. I text messaged Justin who was in another section to ask him if we were dreaming. "Gotta Jibboo > Wilson > Gotta Jibboo > Heavy Things" left everybody with mouth wide open. It was either from another galaxy, wonderland or hell or all together. And still no signs of slowing down. An energetic "2001" let everybody freak out. In brightest possible light all arms were up and bodies were shaking. And then they played "Slave to the Traffic Light". I almost had tears in my eyes. What do they want to play the next 2 days? Are they trying to create the ultimate set, a "best of / greatest hits" live album? I was full of happiness, couldn't stop smiling, pumped with adrenaline and thanking god for being able to be here.

The Encore brought "Sleeping Monkey" (for Justin) and the obvious "Tweezer Reprise" following the "Tweezer" of the second set. What else do I need to say? After the show we all met at the same corner like last night and drove back to our hotels. I needed to stop at a gas station to buy a sixpack of beer because I knew that without drinking a couple of cans I would not be able to sleep. I was so right: 3 beers later I fall asleep around 2.30am - totally satisfied. I wonder what phishthoughts.com and everybody else writes about the show - set 2 was a 9.5 out 10!!! Can't wait for tonight...

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


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.

Planes again

by Yome NetSan 18. September 2009

Still planning over rumors...

I found that if I start from Geneva, I can fly to Duesseldorf for only 117,09€ with British Airways.
There is still a 1h stop-over in London (?!) but it's cheap and rather quick (4h in total).

After the Munich show, I'd have to go to Bern, Switzerland.
The cheapest flight would cost 300€+ so it's much too expensive. I think train would be the answer but it's more difficult to find time tables and price for train in Germany...


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