Ten years after it performed for 60,000 people at the former Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, and three years after the band last performed in Maine, beloved jam band Phish is returning to the Pine Tree State with a Wednesday, July 3, performance at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor.
An online ticket request period for the tour is under way at http://tickets.phish.com/. Tickets will go on sale to the general public beginning March 30. On that date, tickets will be available for $60 each online at www.waterfrontconcerts.com, by phone at 800-745-3000, locally at Mark’s Music store at Penobscot Square in Brewer; or at all Ticketmaster outlets. For details, visit http://phish.com. Ticket prices for each specific date on the tour will include a free MP3 download of the evening’s entire show that can be redeemed at www.LivePhish.com shortly after the band finishes playing.
“If this isn’t the biggest concert we’ve ever had, it’s at least the second-biggest,” said Waterfront Concerts promoter Alex Gray. “It’s a very unique event.”
Bringing Phish to the Bangor Waterfront has been a goal for Gray since the beginning, considering the band’s long history of playing in Maine. The band has played three major festivals in the state, beginning with The Great Went in August 1997, the first held at Loring Air Force base and, with an attendance of 75,000 people, the top-grossing rock concert in the United States that summer. That was followed by Lemonwheel, again at Loring, in August 1998, and then finally the It Festival in August 2003. Phish also performed in 2009 at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland and the next year at the Augusta Civic Center.
Phish formed in Burlington, Vt., in the mid-1980s, and has remained in its current lineup — guitarist Trey Anastasio, bassist Mike Gordon, keyboardist Page McConnell, and drummer and part-time Lincolnville resident Jon Fishman — since 1986. Over the course of nearly three decades the band has released 14 studio albums and countless live recordings, including the iconic 1993 concept album “Rift,” 1996’s “Billy Breathes” which is the band’s highest-charting album, and most recently, 2009’s well-received “Joy.” Phish remains one of the world’s most popular live acts, routinely selling out shows all over North America and Europe.
In 1997, Ben & Jerry’s created an ice cream flavor, Phish Food, named for the band. In 2011, the band donated $1.2 million in proceeds from a September concert to benefit Hurricane Irene flood relief in Vermont.
Though Phish has in the past attracted its fair share of unruly concertgoers and an accompanying garbage disposal problem of items left behind when the show is over, Gray and the Waterfront Concerts staff are aware of what to expect and are working on a plan to deal with any problems that might arise. Unlike the festivals in northern Maine, there will be no camping at this concert, which is expected to cut down considerably on potential problems.
Despite the fact that the concert is general admission, capacity will remain about the same as seated concerts, at around 16,000.
“The average Phish fan is older now and much more well-behaved,” said Gray. “We’re planning to construct a Phish Village near the waterfront to have vendors and artists and for their more serious fans. We’ve already met with city fire and police, because this [concert] almost happened last year, so we already have plans. We are relatively prepared.”
Gray said that improvement of the stage and other infrastructure has meant that Waterfront Concerts is now able to attract top-tier talent from a more eclectic range of genres, and that Phish is just the beginning.
“We’ve grown as an organization to the point where we’re able to bring bands like Phish to Bangor. We’re able to get more eclectic shows now,” said Gray. “The opening of the Cross Center is only going to help that … the City Council has really helped us invest in our new home on the waterfront. It’s created a new environment that will make the world’s largest bands want to play in Bangor, Maine.”