Phish Saves America: Bonnaroo, ticket woes, Pollock show and contest.

Personal highlights are David Byrne (who was exuberant when I saw perform at Tampa Theatre a few months ago), Erykah Badu (whose ’08 album is funktastic genius), The Mars Volta (because they are animals), TV on [image-1]the Radio (’08’s Dear Science was among my top three last year and deservedly on near or at the top of everyone else’s, too), Yeah Yeah Yeahs (‘cause Karen O, pictured, is just so goddamn hot and saucy), Andrew Bird (I want to be charmed in person), MGMT (because even though I hear they’re not so great live, they still make quality music and I’m curious), moe. (fun guys), Girl Talk (I hear it’s like a party and I’m missing his Florida appearance to hopefully see Phish in Hampton), Bon Iver (because goddamn he’s wonderful, For Emma Forever Ago another of my top three from last year), of Montreal (my favorites right now, I’m addicted, top three, etc.), Animal Collective, Gomez, Santogold, Grizzly Bear (sublime, marvelous, soul touching stuff), King Sunny Adé (love and sun-drenched Nigerian juju music), Okkervil River (for the sad part of the day), Yeasayer, and Portugal. The Man. And they haven’t even finished adding artists! This is virtually every musician I’ve been listening to for the past two years. Money aside, it makes it very hard for me to resist.


Other Phish news since my last post:


Nearly 200 Asheville phans who’d camped out for hours to get tickets got the shaft after a staff error left a mere 20. Yes, I said 20 tickets. Asheville Civic Center’s management acknowledged the mistake that put 400 tickets reserved for sale solely at the center into the hands of “outside buyers.” Translation: people I don't know and scalpers. But never fear, American public. This incident is exactly what Ticketbastard needed to move in for the kill. Live Nation will soon merge with Tickebastard (or it's trying to anyway), which means its monopoly on the ticketing market will only increase and continue to make it impossible for the littler guys to succeed. (See Live Nation.)


In other Phish ticket woes, the new online Live Nation ticketing system failed utterly when ticket sales for the summer tour began. Millions of people put in requests, all at once, and everything went FUBAR. Apparently, not even the ticket agents could access the system, though, as these things go, every show sold out within minutes, even those Live Nation venues dealing with crashing systems. Phish, being the stand-up guys they are, issued an apology. For the one or two of you who didn't see it:


We have heard from many fans regarding this past weekend's onsales, particularly the shows that went on sale via Live Nation's website. Many of you experienced extremely long wait times, error messages, and quite simply, an inability to get through and purchase tickets. Clearly, the system was unable to handle the extraordinary demand. We're very sensitive to making the process of getting Phish tickets as straightforward as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your continued support and patience.


[image-2]For those of you who purchased nonrefundable plane tickets to Florida to go to this year's now-canceled Langerado, and now have to figure out some other way to entertain yourselves, longtime Phish artist Jim Pollock, the man who created all those wonderfully vibrant prints, is featured in a solo show at 101/Exhibit, an art space in the heart of Miami's design district. Jim Pollock: A Phantasy Pheast is a retrospective of his entire body of work, spanning from 1989 to the present, many of them Phish-oriented works and apparently the largest public display of Pollock's artwork in one location. He will also create a new (cast iron bookbinding press) hand-pressed piece on site specifically for the show in the window of the gallery, a process that will also be filmed and streamed online at the gallery's website at an indefinite date in the future, probably while the works are on display March 6-April 4.


Pollock will be on-site March 5-8, printing, meeting collectors and fans, signing pieces and presenting surprise works never before seen or made available to the public. Various new editions will be released on a first-come, first-serve basis, and one-of-a-kind works combining stencil and various print media were created for and will be sold exclusively at the gallery. I won't be going the weekend of the Phish reunion shows (please please please let it all work out she prays to the fickle ticket gods), but I'll definitely be headed down once I get back.


In other Miami news, prog jammers Umphrey's McGee will play a free outdoor concert that weekend on Saturday, March 7, at the UC Patio on the campus of the University of Miami. Other shows that are still taking place despite the cancellation of Langerado: Tricky and Holy Fuck at Revolution on Friday, March 6, and Modest Mouse at Revolution on Sunday, March 8.


Now, on to my contest. I've decided to offer some music schwag to devoted phans who can accurately guess:


1. What Phish will open with the first night of Hampton (Friday, March 6).


2. What three songs will definitely be played at some point that first night back (in no particular order).


3. What will Phish encore with the last night of Hampton (Sunday, March 8).


Whoever gets all (or a combination of the most) right, wins music (CDs, a DVD or two, maybe even a few good music-related books) and some other special goodies I will reveal in the coming weeks. The winner will obviously be revealed post-shows, with the prizes to be sent via mail. Unless you live in the Tampa Bay area, in which case you can swing by the office and pick them up.


Now, for your viewing enjoyment, "Bathtub Gin" from the upcoming Clifford Ball DVD Set (out March 3). Place your order by Feb. 18 and try for your chance to win tickets to Hampton.


A weeklyish column about Vermont's jamband super group; art by Phil Bardi.

For the past eight years, I’ve avoided getting sucked into the musical glamour of Bonnaroo. The majority of my friends have attended at least once, some of them several times, and all extol its stupefying virtues like they’re the ones trying to sell me a ticket.

It’s not as if I haven’t done the big festival thing. I journeyed to the far Northeast for two separate Phish fests. I’ve done three Langerado’s (may that festival rest in peace), the last with four stages spread out over a huge piece of land in the Everglades (the same place where Phish held its renowned NYE concerts). I’ve flown up to Chicago and wandered across the Grant Park stretches at Lollapalooza. I’ve driven to New Orleans and traipsed up and down the festival grounds at the NOLA Jazz and Heritage Fest.

But I could never really muster up enough interest in Bonnaroo to offset my misgivings about it. From its inception, the ‘roo was an overgrown behemoth with too many obstacles standing in the way of me enjoying it: umpteen hours waiting in a line of traffic stretched out for miles due to more than 60,000 people traveling from all over the United States to the same landlocked town in the middle of Nowhere, Tennessee; more hours wasted waiting to get in and get to a site, to camp on a farm in the muggy summer heat and surrounded on all sides by bodies ripening to musky fruition; walking miles to and from the concert area to your campsite, then hoofing it from stage to stage, back and forth, here then there, all throughout the day for four days in a row; having to choose between seeing two acts you really, really love, a decision you have to make over and over again; the godawful mud magically appearing in the middle of a busy thoroughfare, rain or no rain, musky people splashing around in it, because they’re musky anyway, right?

But over the course of several months, Phish has made me re-think my never-gonna-go-to-the-‘roo stance. See, their upcoming Summer Tour includes a headlining slot at the fest and in addition to a regular show, Phish is playing one of the legendary late night slots. A 2 a.m.-set shrouded in mystery and held under the stars by four men who are renowned for coming up with excellent musical surprises, and playing who knows what for Buddha knows how long? I have to tell you, if anything is tempting me to go, it’s that paired with a stellar lineup of other acts I adore or have been dying to see.

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