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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Wilson, We Have A Problem: Ruminations on the Rumble at Dick’s – It’s Only a Symptom

by Russell S. Glowatz

Last night Phish made their long-awaited return to Dick’s Sporting Goods park for their 7th annual showcase in the storied Rocky Mountain venue, and while the scene was generally vibrant, some bad juju was simmering just below the surface. During set break, and in clear view of all those watching the LivePhish webcast, a fairly ferocious fight broke out at the front of the floor. While the details are hairy, one thing is abundantly clear; this type of behavior has no place at a Phish show and simply serves to threaten the good-natured, good-vibed,  general goodness that our scene regularly manifests.

Speculation is rampant on the interweb, yet no one but those directly involved, and in the immediate periphery, truly knows what went down. Did a dude hit too hard on someone else’s girl? Was an accidental spill of a beer on someone’s heady threads the impetus for this knock down? The consensus says no, and that this tussle had everything to do with someone getting in another’s claimed space. 

Straight up, at a general admission show, no one has claimed space. That’s simply the nature of general admission. Sure, you can lock down a spot, perhaps hold it down with a small towel or blanket, for a friend or two, while waiting for the festivities to begin. Happily, Phish management has quashed the tarping fiasco prevalent at the outset of summer tour by banning tarps altogether (Tarps are banned at Dick’s, right?!). Yet still, up front at these shows, a general essence of anxiety and entitlement remains when it comes to space.

The words “entitlement” and “Phish” should never be used in the same sentence. Ever. But here we are. There is a growing sense of privilege in placement in general admission environments, and the smell of douchebaggery is wafting widely over the whole scene. If you enter early into a show to lock down one of those coveted upfront spots, all the power to ya! Yet if you walk away for a piss break, a beer run, or whatever else, there’s no guarantee that spot will be waiting upon return. Usually in such circumstances, folks in the area (maybe your friends!) will remember you, and make way to welcome you back into the fold. Yet if that’s not possible, use your words, not your fists to rectify the problem. And the option always exists to find another spot too; sometimes a change in view, mid-show, is just what the doctor ordered.

If you were on hippie time prior to your arrival on the floor, and the front is already packed to the rafters, you are not entitled to smash your way through the crowd. Getting up in phans faces in order to find a better vantage point is the epitome of disrespect, a disrespect for the time those folks kept their asses planted for sometimes upwards of an hour before show time. There’s so many freewheeling, dance friendly, sound solid, spots towards the back and the wings; find one of those and be grateful you’re on the floor for the greatest show on earth. Since no one is entitled in general admission, you might even find an opportunity to better position yourself for set two.

A message to the rail riders: I watched you closely during The Bakers Dozen, and you kids throw down like Chinatown on Mao Tse Tung’s birthday. I’m super impressed with your exuberance and vigor, yet I’m a little unsure of how that whole process works. Is there some type of bracelet system where you wait online all night to get dibs on first entry? You folks obviously commit a massive amount of time and energy to lock down those golden spots. I respect the dedication. Do you wear diapers to get through that epic wait? Not since Moses hurriedly led the Exodus out of Egypt have folks committed to such a tumultuous trial for a face melting payoff! Is the rail truly the land of milk and honey?! I’ve never had the pleasure myself, and odds are it’ll never happen as the number line keeps ticking forward, but it’d be phantastic to have that opportunity, just once.

However, I digress…Lately, there’s a sourness spreading around about your sub-scene as well. Stories are abound that folks pay squatters to wait in the rail line all day, while the ultimate rail rider goes about other pre-show business. That sounds a bit Machiavellian to me, and the preferred philosopher of mobsters (truth!) really has no place at a Phish show. If your aim is early entry, you damn well sit in the trenches with your fellow Phans, and that way the juice will be that much tastier as you personally took the time to squeeze. The ends should never justify the means at a Phish show. How you go about achieving your goals is as karmically as important as whether Trey is in spitting distance once the show begins.

As a fan base, it seems high time we have a scene wide discussion about general admission etiquette going forward. While the tarper memes and joke cracking is hilarious, I’m beginning to think it’s exacerbating the situation at hand. By and large, Phans do it right. We use our words, tact, common sense, and apply a mutual respect towards each other that usually leaves the scene as harmonious as ever. Yet with Phish playing less shows than they used to, and the fan base simultaneously expanding, a recipe for disaster is formulating, and it might just manifest a gumbo of catastrophe on the horizon. Stoking a respectful and mindful conversation about these issues might very well lead to some steam being released from the pressure valve. And I know the band is peripherally aware of Phan discussions on the net as well, so perhaps they’ll come up with some mindful solutions too.

Generally, it comes down to common sense, a mutual respect with our fellow Phans, communication with words, not just body language, and the golden rule. Do unto others, as you wish them to do unto you…or something like that. You get the gist. That Jesus cat dropped some timeless bombs of wisdom.

So, this frenetic fight caught on LivePhish last night was merely a symptom of a larger problem. A dilemma we can easily deal with as a conscientious community of committed Phans. The question we should all be asking ourselves is, do we want to be like Bassnectar fans? Do we want the reputation of resorting to sheer disrespect and violence to lock down our spot next to the band? Do we want the Phish scene to devolve into the chaos of the latter days of the Grateful Dead? Me thinks not. The Phan community is of equal importance in this guy’s eyes to the band itself. You are who makes this scene so serene, magnificent, and marvelous, while Phish provides the celestial soundtrack. It’s “so stupendous, living in this tube!”

 

© Stand For Jam, 2017.
 
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🤔 fighting at Phish!? I don’t like this.. #phish #phishdicks

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