It Ain’t Love & Light All The Time: Making GA Better At Phish

by Russell S. Glowatz

Some people don’t think there is a problem. Other people believe it’s a small problem. Then there’s the folks that are sure the whole thing is blown out of proportion. Then there are the cats that just don’t care. GA issues, Phamily. This writer believes they are real, and has heard enough firsthand accounts from people on Facebook, in personal discussion, and has seen enough to know something’s awry. Maybe things have been the way they are for a long time, or throughout the entire history of Phish shows with general admission sections. Yet lately, as the chatter increases to such immense levels, it might get to the point where those in charge have no choice but to change it up.

Recently I wrote an article, Wilson, We Have A Problem: Ruminations on the Rumble at Dicks – It’s Only a Symptom, about entitlement and privilege in GA. I feel like I made a lot of good points, some people say bad points, yet needless to say through publishing that piece I’ve come to learn how provocative the subject remains with passion abound on all sides. One thing I failed to do in that previous piece was to provide any solutions. Now I got one. Before I dive in, I don’t pertain to be any expert on the workings of crowd control at concerts. I’m just a Phan like you that has an idea that could alleviate some (some being the opportune word) of the issues surrounding privilege and congestion in GA.

Firstly, rail riders will be pissed at my idea, and maybe me too, merely for presenting my opinion. Secondly, I cannot please everyone with what I say and I know that going in (still gonna say it though). Lastly, many have mentioned that the only true solution to the woes in GA is to go fully back to assigned seating on the floor. I believe there’s another solution that could mitigate many issues while saving our precious GA space to boot. Whether or not this is a viable solution, my hope is to stir constructive discussion on the topic. Maybe one of you has a major answer sitting on the tip of your tongue. Maybe by voicing it in a positive and nuanced way, someone that can do something about it will hear you.

So my idea is simple: Create a separate “pit” section at the front of GA (say roughly 10 rows-ish back). When all GA ticket holders enter the show, some will be randomly awarded special bracelets for the pit. One bracelet type will be for the first set, and another for the second. The pit will be cleared at set break to allow set two bracelet holders a chance to get up front. Adding to that, the tarp and blanket ban should stay in effect.

I wholeheartedly see this as a way to diffuse much of the craziness happening towards the front of GA, and also completely disband this kind of privileged group at the front of the stage. To the rail riders, I understand you put in the time and wait long hours, and under the current regime, you deserve your spaces. You work for them! Yet it just seems so stale when the people upfront contend to more or less know everyone that’s usually up there. It seems, even self admittedly, that the crowd more or less stays similar through entire tours (or entire legs of tours). Then there’s the other crowd of people who think it’s okay to push all the way up to the front when that area is already occupied. This Pit concept would alleviate the issues and pressure coming from both sides of the coin.

I think it’s high time to try something new! Too many negative reports coming from the front of GA. With the aforementioned idea (or one similar to it) we also will not lose GA to assigned seating, yet might just ameliorate the issue. #My2Cents

UPDATE: I’ve been alerted to a similar idea that’s already in play at Bruce Springsteen shows…and it’s been working!

You can find a link to the Boss’ Pit/GA policy here.

Thanks to Jason Goldstein & Paul Copoulos for pointing this out!

© Stand For Jam, 2017.


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7 thoughts on “It Ain’t Love & Light All The Time: Making GA Better At Phish”

  1. Simple solution: Just don’t let people line up. don’t give out bracelets. Don’t encourage the crazy people who can’t seem to enjoy the music from anything but the front rows. There used to be only one crazy person – antelope greg. Now they have spawned into disturbing packs of people with mental disorders who aren’t there to take a quick pic or enjoy a song or two only in a space that used to be very very very crowded. Now these crazy people claim ALL the space in what was traditionally the most crowded and have more room then anyone in the room – with the worst sound and worst lights… buy hey… Trey can see them! Nobody should be nice or encourage this behavior. The people who wait to be in the front for every show have a mental disorder. We shouldn’t be encouraging it. Just end the whole thing and don’t let people line up until doors open. Open a different door every show.. never the same one twice. Keep the crazy people guessing. They are obviously unbalanced and can be violent and territorial. The band should seriously think twice about wanting people that insane so close to them. People who wait all night or even just for hours repeatedly, especially the people who leave a show early to get on line for the next day, become aggressive defending “a spot” in a GA arena .. they are mentally unstable. The band should take this bizarre, aggressive and mentally ill behavior seriously and ban the repeat offenders from any show. It’s not like they haven’t have scary stalkers in the past. They really should know better. It’s not normal. End of story. Stop the madness. It won’t end well.

  2. Interesting, I just posted a similar idea/solution yesterday on fb: “I was thinking about this idea to curb the rail riders crazy behavior: What if the band/venue kept the front space clear (like 2 rows worth) and had a random lottery using ticket barcodes and some sort of app or text informing lucky “rail” winners about 20 min before showtime that they could be up front for the show (with a plus 1 of course). Can you imagine the happiness of those people? ? And those who still want to wait all day for 3rd row still can…”

  3. May I just mention I drove from Oregon last minute to Dicks this year with no tickets and no worries, for I have been going to see this band for 20 years this year. Except for a handful of the between 135-140 shows I have had the privilege to attend over this 20 year stretch I have always either had a ticket in advance (probably right about half)[In advance as in before the tour begins) or have gotten a ticket somewhere between the hotel and the venue, most of these were found somewhere on the lot and the vast majority were either face value or were no more than 1/4 more than face value, maybe 1/3 more. My point is I knew Fri was out as we didn’t leave Bend til Fri morning, and I figured Sat could be real tough as I have been shut out of Dicks Sat night once before. I did not however in a million years think that me and my work friend, who I was taking to his first show(s), would not only get shut out Sat night after working for 3 hours solid and being willing to pay as much as $300 for a pair anywhere, but that we would in fact work close to 6 hours looking for tickets Sun night and never even get close to a ticket except the one scalper I offered $350 for two but refused to pay the $400 he was asking. Some may say, should have grabbed those it was only $50 but some of you likely understand that on this instance my refusal was not purely a decision based on principal although I like to think of it as if it was, in fact I was worried about gas money and $400 was just too much for me to pay for Sun night Dickson which was gonna be probably a good show but worth $400 for the two of us, I suspected I’d be bumming I spent so much walking out of the show later and in hindsight ….
    I was right. Scalpers are a bigger problem than people being dicks in GA but a MUCH bigger problem in my eyes is the breakdown of the culture and attitude Phish lot (not Dead lot mind you I am 38, saw Phish first time 7/22/1997, I never got to see Jerry he died when I was in 10th grade so I fell in love with Phis and Phish lot and then… heroin but that’s a different story but I have never been chuckled at, frowned at, ignored, made fun of, or made to feel like a total jerk for asking people not just if they had any extras. It got so bad I started just saying hi to people cheerfully but not crazily, creepily, or like I was all rolled, no…. I was sober, somewhat clean, smiling, breath mint under my toungue, and I was treated like I was a panhandler or drunken obnoxious street person by people that everyone of them would call themselves a devoted fan if you asked them. Part of the beauty of Phish for me was the family vibe, the feeling that you knew and were acquainted with everyone on the lot not employed there. I have done tours where I have known by name and vice versa more people than most but I have also gone to Phish shows alone but I never felt alone. Dicks this year was the first opportunity I’ve had to see my beloved band since I missed Sat night at lock-in cause some hillbilly cop was busy searching and arresting me for multiple felonies WITHOUT CAUSE OR CONSENT. My home state and they want me back for some god knows why reason. I got back from beating the worst of those charges at my 3rd appearance and 4th trip across the US and my trip home after the appearance took 3 days. Yep I was so fed up there was no way I was gonna fly anywhere so I decided I would take the 20 hour drive to see Phish likely twice, and worst case only once, but instead I saw no Phish and had it not been for my good friends that live in Denver being such great hosts and if it were not for getting to spend some time with friends I do not get to see enough as it is, I’d regret taking that trip more than any other road trip in the last 20 years. I drove from school in Nashville for one of the two Providence Island tour shows in ’98. Have never regretted any part of that except not skipping school and pawning shit to see all 4… I think my point here is obvious. We need to have a new wave of scalper prevention which in turn will weed out many of the unworthy douche bags that are ending up with a lot of the tickets. Douchey people end up w so many tickets and the crowd at shows in the future will be as lame and lacking of energy as the crowd at Dicks ’17. Didn’t sound sold out to me!!!!

    1. Sorry you had such a shitty experience at Dicks…did you at least hang out and hear the show from the lot? I’ve heard it’s one of the better venues to get shut out of because the sound is pretty decent outside. Anyways, that’s brutal driving so long and not getting into one, let alone two nights! I actually riffed on the subject you are speaking of a couple years back ( I hope you meet your next Phish show with much better luck and kindness from those you encounter!

  4. there are pit sections at shows. you’re argument has been done before.

    it’s up to the other people up front to end it, honestly. there are no “good people” up there. everyone keeps saying “not everyone up front is a bad person” but here’s the thing, if you see this mean and violent behavior, you know about it, and don’t stop it, you’re a shitty fucking piece of shit person. everyone knows the best spot at a show is soundboard anyway. those people up front are total noobs.

  5. It’s not as bad up there as the internet is making it out to be. Pretty much every time I’ve had GA I either got my wristband after waiting an hour in the AM (Miami, Vegas) or lined up around 3pm or even as late as 5:30pm (MSG,Glens Falls) and got 2nd row.
    The idea to randomly select folks could split up couples or friends seeing a show together.
    As far as I’m concerned it’s fine how it is. The problem isn’t the rail crew it’s the n00bs tryna push up there at showtime.

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