This will be Phish’s fourth straight year doing a three-night run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park over Labor Day weekend, and per usual the community’s anticipation always seems to be at an all-time high in the week leading up to the shows. And this year, with good reason — the band had zero shows in June and only three at the beginning of August, much different from 2009-2013 when their summer tours ran early June through August, usually in two separate legs. They won’t even see the west side of the country until mid-October, a pretty big change-up from their usual routing out East, and they’ve had 26 days off dating back to August 3rd — the longest break show-wise before Dick’s in the band’s short history with the venue. I’m sure some conspiracy theorists are already mentally noting this in the unlikely case the band doesn’t bring the jam to Commerce City this time around.
Here’s a helpful guide on what to expect, including suggestions on late nights, lot merch, brunch, breweries and some outdoor activities (Chihuly exhibition!) that aren’t exactly Phish related.
I said it in the days following the 2012 show but my Dick’s expectations will always be grounded after witnessing the “F*ck Your Face” show. It’ll always be a Top 10 Phish experience for me and my opinions now are relatively the same as they were then. With that said, part of the fun Phish has created for Dicks is guessing what they’ll do Friday with their setlist shenanigans. Last year didn’t live up to past shows, but that’s only because it was short on improv. The band had to cram in 23 songs/letters to spell backwards MOST SHOWS SPELL SOMETHING. A far cry from the 12 letters used in 2012 for F*CK YOUR FACE. Everyone has a prediction on what setlist games Phish will play on Friday — if anything they’ll flip the script like they did on Halloween and play a regular show, saving the gimmick for Sunday. You’ve really got to wonder how long they’ll keep this going. “No more promises” IS the new mantra.
I’ll keep my wishes and predictions to just individual songs like “Soul Shakedown Party” and “Harpua”, instead of full on show themes. Heck, if they pull out a 25-minute “Bathtub Gin” on the first night they’ll have carte blanche for the rest of the weekend. The real thing to take note of is if Phish continues their Summer of Less Covers and keeps focusing on original material. I really hope they haven’t shelved “Energy” because after debuting and playing The Apples in Stereo cover a bunch in 2013, it hasn’t seen action in over a year.
The Lot Scene (aka Shakedown):
The large Dicks’ parking lot is one of the better locations for Phish’s community — providing ample room to tailgate. There are usually 4-5 rows of booths featuring t-shirts, pins, posters, awesome food, and of course party favors, which @CoventryMusic will surely have ‘prices’ on once he arrives. The venue has what’s been dubbed a ‘grassy knoll’ for meet-ups and of course the tall bushes atop the hill for those who don’t like standing in long porto-jawn lines.
There are a few fan-made items that caught our eye like AJ Masthay’s latest Phish print referencing the band’s “worm banter” from the 1997 European tour.
We love this bison inspired 2014 Dicks Pin from Party Time Pins which will only be available on Shakedown. Artist Isadora Bullock has a new print she’s been blogging about on her website. It’s available online and she’ll be present in Colorado as well.Surrender to the Flow. It’s one of the most consistent collector’s items dating back to 1998. You can usually find the latest issue being passed out for free on Shakedown but if not just send $5 and it’ll be mailed to you.
Brunch (Hangover) Options:
WaterCourse Foods – Great option for vegetarians AND meat eaters. Breakfast all day long.
837 E 17th Ave, Denver, CO 80203
Sassafras American Eatery – Fried egg with smoked buffalo hash. Enough said.
2637 W 26th Ave. Denver, CO 80211
Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen – Serving fried pig ears with buffalo sauce and poutine.
1317 14th St, Denver, CO 80202
Pre-shows & Late-Nights
Everyone Orchestra (John Kadlecik, Eddie Roberts, David Murphy, Jans Ingber, Jason Hann, Steve Molitz, Jennifer Hartswick & Natalie Cressman) play Friday late-night 8/29 (11:30p-2a) at Cervantes.
2637 Welton St, Denver, CO 80205
Brewery & Bar Suggestions
Great Divide Brewing Company – The most recommended brewery in Denver.
2201 Arapahoe St, Denver, CO 80205 (Open at 12pm)
Black Shirt Brewing Company – If you like red ales this is the place for you.
3719 Walnut St. Denver, CO 80205 (Opens at 2pm)
Copper Kettle Brewing Company – A little outside the city but worth it for their Mexican Chocolate Stout.
1338 S Valentia St Unit 100 Denver, CO 80247 (Weekend, opens at 12pm)
Pete’s Kitchen – 24-hour diner with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Greek style.
1962 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80206 (Open 24 hours)
Looks like 80’s all weekend long but cool at night (with a small chance of rain on Sunday) but always check the updated forecast because Colorado’s weather changes hourly. Bring a poncho AND sunscreen. See you on Shakedown!
Don’t worry. Everyone will get in.