On this date in 2010 in a small city in Central New York something incredible took place. Phish, a Jam Band, originally from Burlington, Vermont played a sold-out show at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Phish "phans" and Jam Band followers, which mainly consist of hippies and wooks, congregated to the city of Utica for what would become one of the most memorable and outstanding shows Phish performed during their 2010 tour.
Phish is an American rock band noted for its musical improvisation, extended jams, and exploration of music across genres. Formed at the University of Vermont in 1983 the band's four members – Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon, Jon Fishman and Page McConnell – have performed together for nearly 30 years. Even though the band took a hiatus and broke up in 2004, they reunited in 2009 and have been playing to sell-out crowds and venues all over the country. Although the band has received little radio play or mainstream exposure, Phish, much like the band it is most often compared to, the Grateful Dead, has developed a large and dedicated following by word of mouth, the exchange of live recordings by trading tapes with other fans and selling over 8 million albums and DVDs in the United States
Utica, New York which is located less than an hour away from Syracuse is centrally located on the Erie Canal with a population of just over 62,000 at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. Even though Utica has lost some of its glam over the years from the prominent city it once was in the 1900's, Utica is still well known to this day for such venues and tourist attractions like the Stanley Theatre, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, and the FX Matt Brewery Company. The Utica Memorial Auditorium, which is a 4,000 seat arena, is centrally located in the heart of downtown Utica.
When Phish began the Fall leg of their 2010 tour they announced they would be playing in Utica. This left many followers of the band wondering why the band had picked such a small venue when in years past they had performed in larger cities and venues in New York State, such as Syracuse and Albany. However the case, fans came from miles around in early September when General On Sale tickets became available through the Utica Memorial Auditorium's Box Office hoping to get a ticket to the show. Many fans left disappointed as the concert sold out in just 18 minutes. Although true and devoted followers of Phish know there is always a way to get a ticket, even if the Box Office says the show is sold out.
Such was the case for my friends and I who eagerly wanted to attend the show. We were unable to obtain tickets during the General On Sale but decided to take our chances at the infamous "Lot" which takes place before every Phish show in hopes we would be able to find someone selling tickets. Unlike your typical tailgating scene you normally see at most concerts, hippies have a different way of doing things. Many hippies travel from coast to coast selling their goods, whether it be food or drinks, novelty items, or gems and diamonds as a way to make a living, and in the end, see a concert. They set up their small tents and booths in a designated parking lot or field, hence the name, and sell their goods in hopes to make enough money to travel to their next destination. The "Lot" is also where you will find people scalping concert tickets, or in some cases, handing free tickets out to the few lucky people who are able to snatch them up. This act of kindness on the "Lot" has over the years earned the name of "Miracle" because as we all know, it's a miracle to ever get a free ticket to a concert.
On that crisp Autumn day in October my friends and I ventured to Utica, New York. Being all of us are local and only live 20 miles away from Utica in Little Falls, it was only fitting we see Phish. After all, it's not every day a band, such as Phish, comes so close to home. For myself, this would be my first time seeing the band perform live. I was a fan and follower of their music, but had never gotten the opportunity to see a live performance of Phish. My friends, who had all seen the band perform numerous times in the past, along with other Jam Bands, prepared me for what, as they referred, a completely different world and scene at this concert. I can still remember both the rush of excitement, fear, and adrenaline which rushed over me as I entered the "Lot" for the first time. I had never seen such a gathering of hippies and wooks in my entire life. For a moment it felt like I had stepped out of time and had entered a world much like I would have imagined had been the scene at Woodstock so many years before. I was told before making my way onto the "Lot" to place my pointer finger in the air and keep it there. This is a way people without tickets notify the scalpers you are in need of a ticket. After a brief stroll through the "Lot", my friends and I came upon a person who handed us our golden tickets to success. Unfortunately we were not so lucky to get a "Miracle" but we came prepared to pay and once those tickets were in our hands, there was no turning back.
Once inside the Utica Memorial Auditorium we made our way down onto the floor of the arena. Being the show was General Admission, we had our pick of the best seats and view in the house. Fans who decided to venture onto the floor of the arena would be standing throughout the duration of the concert, but then again, that's half the fun of seeing any show. It wasn't long after we found a spot, alongside many other excited and eager fans, the lights in the arena dimmed, the band took their places, and the stage lights came up and the show began. From the moment the band took the stage and the first chord of Trey Anastasio's guitar was played right up to the Encore, the energy inside the Utica Memorial Auditorium was electrifying. The band opened the show with the song "My Soul", which set the mood for the rest of the show and followed it up with such songs as "Vultures", "Guyute", "Wilson", and ending the first set with "Run Like An Antelope". During Set Break my friends and I looked at each other thinking, 'Can it get any better then this?' The answer, it can, and it did with the second set opening with "Drowned" and including such songs as "Axilla", "Birds Of A Feather", "Split Open And Melt", and ending with "Slave To The Traffic Light".
After the show ended, everyone inside ventured out to the streets and their vehicles. Some heading off to the next show, where they would reunite with other fans who attended the show in Utica. Others ventured back to their homes, but we all left that night knowing we had just experienced an amazing concert, and even though it was a small venue, Phish did not disappoint a single person who came to see them play.
Since the concert in Utica, New York Phish has continued playing to sell-out crowds night after night. In May 2011 the band released a DVD/CD combo pack from the show in Utica and can be purchased at www.phish.com under the Dry Goods section. This is definitely a great Collector's item for any true "phan" and follower of Phish, even if you were unable to attend the show in person. Below I have included photo's from the concert as well as the complete Set List from the unforgettable show in Utica, or should I say Guyutica.
Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan
McGrupp And The Watchful Horsemasters
Saw It Again
Run Like An Antelope
Theme From The Bottom
Birds Of A Feather
Split Open And Melt
Split Open And Melt
Slave To The Traffic Light
Good Times Bad Times
Just your typical wook you will see on any "Lot"
Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon
The Utica Memorial Auditorium
Official DVD/CD combo pack from the show in Utica, New York 10/20/2010
Official Show Poster released from the show in Utica, New York
Guyutica will live on forever!