“Why is Phish Playing So Many Indoor Shows This Summer?”

I suppose, in part, I’m writing to the millennials here, or the newer generation which seems to hold this staunchly utilitarian attitude to everything, being apparently completely oblivious to all right-brain satisfaction in life. This type would likely opine that it doesn’t matter whether you see a concert indoors or outdoors — the experience is the exact same. Granted, this sort of stance might be borne from some cautiousness of being too pleasure-seeking: maybe there’s an element of “taking what you get,” or ready contentedness, in their views. 

Well, in my view, if you can’t appreciate a summer’s breeze, orange-looking clouds in a night sky and a lush countryside flanking a concert venue, you’ll likewise be inept in truly enjoying music. There is, after all, no actual quantifiable advantage to listening to music. It’s something we do because it behooves our outlook in life and possibly even our disposition and mental health. If there are people out there who have no need for this sort of thing, that’s fine, as long as I don’t have to do a group project with them or give them the items I’m returning at Wal-Mart. 

I was trying to think of the best Phish song and for some reason my mind raced to “Loving Cup,” a Rolling Stones song that Phish handles in some live cover versions. This would be a foolish selection, obviously (although Phish is pretty adept at covers, like Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie on Reggae Woman” and Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed and Painless”), despite a certain spirit and singalong potential which does accompany their takes on it, so I drifted then to “The Squirming Coil.” This song is absolutely nothing short of incredible and I must add that seeing it indoors would definitely not transmit the same vibe as being out in our natural world, with scents and breezes complementing the soundtrack in style. 

Typically, for every summer tour, Phish will play the venue in Noblesville, Indiana, which is currently termed the Ruoff Music Center. They are forgoing it this year, in addition to Alpine Valley and Red Rocks, two other iconic outdoor locales, also being conspicuously absent from the schedule. In order too are an unprecedented seven nights at Madison Square Garden, which, according to various bits of online lore, entails a very smoky, cramped environment, in stark contrast to the natural freedom and feng shui afforded by an out-of-doors setting. Also, the Ruoff holds more people than even the United Center, which is bigger in capacity than MSG by about 4,000 seats. And according to a Reddit thread, “Phans” preferred outdoor to indoor by a count of 1,000 to 734, which is indeed closer than I’d thought it would have been, but still not conducive to explaining all of this ostensible self-imprisonment indoors on these beautiful nights. I sure hope the strange demand for indoor concerts has nothing to do with the darker, more crowded setting facilitating roaming eyes and hands. That situation would call for Hong Kong Phooey, you’ve gotta admit. 


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