It’s been ten years since Phish and their fans have entered the sinful confines of Las Vegas. The last time the band played there, MySpace was popular, Will Ferrell was Anchorman and Friends was still on the air. Unfortunately, ten years ago saw some of the worst performances in the band’s history, a set of three shows at the Thomas & Mack that most look to as the nail in the 2.0 coffin. Even worse, during their run there in 2000, they announced the first hiatus in the middle of “Col. Forbin’s Descent” and “Fly Famous Mockingbird.” But I digress. Let’s look to the positive, the fact that Phish has been back for five years now, touring, jamming and rebuilding that special connection we had. The band is certainly making the most of their return to the city by celebrating Halloween and will hopefully make us forget “Girls, Girls, Girls” ever happened. The scene has certainly changed since 2004 so we’ve taken the task of breaking it all down for you in a handy guide for late nights, non-gambling excursions, amazing eats, hidden gems, happy hours and of course predictions on Phish’s treat for Halloween!
The Lot Scene (aka Shakedown):
Well, there won’t be a real Shakedown because Vegas has this little thing called “The Strip” that will serve as a 4.2 mile lot all three nights. The scene before and after the shows should be electric with a smorgasbord of Halloween costumes in every direction. We expect to see a heavy dose of wingsuits and wombats this year.
If you’re staying at the MGM Grand like most of us, and like to get your swim on, you’ve hit the jackpot. There is a seven-acre complex that is rated the best in the city. Instead of a Lot scene, we could call it the “pool scene”. That’s where our crew will be posted up pre-show so come say hello, but please don’t judge our tans. And if you were hoping to make a return to the famous Lion Habitat at MGM, quit while you’re ahead. The lions were removed in 2012 during the MGM’s renovation. It’ll be interesting to see how this “scene” compares to the Thomas & Mack, the site of Phish’s last few appearances in Sin City.
Pre-Events & Late-Nights:
moe. @ Brooklyn Bowl, Big Lebowski Theme
October 31st from 12a-4a. This SOLD OUT show will feature guests Jenn Hartswick, Natalie Cressman and Little Feat’s Bill Payne. The Brooklyn Bowl will be the busiest venue in Vegas, bar none, with a show every single night. Come say hello to the LMB crew and buy us a White Russian as we get down to “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).” Just don’t play the Eagles, man.
Shaky Feelin’ @ Legends Bar – 5866 Boulder Highway, 89122 – FREE
November 1st, 12am until ? No Cover and No Curfew; about 15 minutes away from The Strip but well worth it. Shaky Feelin’ out of Ventura, CA have been lighting up the scene as of late and come highly recommended with originals (TRAIN STATION!) and covers they put their own spin on. Hell, you may finally hear a jammed out “Roses Are Free” this weekend. The band has personally promised an all-night rager and we’re going to hold em’ to it. Look out for special Phish-themed bar drinks like the “Scent Of A Moscow Mule.”
Greensky Bluegrass @ Brooklyn Bowl Vegas – 545 S Las Vegas Blvd
November 1st & 2nd. GSBG will play The Brooklyn Bowl twice this weekend. A late-night rager after Phish on Saturday night starting at 12am and a Sunday matinee show at 1pm. TIP: You can reserve a bowling lane here (albeit pricey) and enjoy the unobstructed sight lines while you bowl. These shows benefit The Waterwheel Foundation.
PhanArt Poster & Pin Exhibition @ Brooklyn Bowl Vegas
November 1st from 12-4pm / PhanART and Relix are putting on a Poster and Pin exhibition along with BRUNCH YOU IN THE EYE at The Brooklyn Bowl. Artists include: TRiPP, Ryan Kerrigan, Isadora Bullock, Michael Boyer, Pompeii Prints, StuPINdous Creations, Andrew Bryant, Jon Rose, Fred Sutter, Pin me Down, Terry Werner, Brian Bojo & Trey Erikson. We highly recommend checking this out.
The Werks @ Brooklyn Bowl Vegas – 545 S Las Vegas Blvd
November 2nd, 12a-4a. Close out the weekend with The Werks, once again at The Brooklyn Bowl Vegas. Some of us should just set up a sleeping bag in the corner. DJ Logic will provide the house music.
Food & Bar Options:
BLT Burger in the Mirage – 3400 S. Las Vegas Blvd, 89109
Amazing Burgers, great shakes and five kinds of fries (skinny, curly, waffle, Buffalo, sweet potato)
La Cave Wine and Food Hideaway @ Wynn – 3131 S. Las Vegas Blvd, 89109
One of the best wine selections in Las Vegas. Popular small plate items are the quail egg, ham and cheese flatbread, bacon wrapped dates and the mushroom grits w/ truffle oil. Recommend a table on the outside patio. Prices are reasonable especially for dining at The Wynn.
Secret Pizza – 3708 Las Vegas Blvd S, Cosmopolitan Hotel, 89109
First off…Shhh. It’s a secret for a reason and the place holds about 15 people. Part of the fun is finding the joint because it’s unmarked. We suggest going to the 3rd floor of the Cosmopolitan, following your nose and look for the hallway with old vinyl adorning the walls.
Stack at The Mirage, 3400 S Las Vegas Blvd, 89109
The locals eat here, so that should tell you something. They serve comfort foods like tater tots with brie and bacon, meatballs made with short rib, lamb gyros and lollipop buffalo wings. It’s also said to have a pretty decent bar scene.
Double Down Saloon – 4640 Paradise Rd, 89169
One block south of the Hard Rock Hotel right off The Strip and widely regarded as one of the best dive bars in the city. It’s home of the fabled Ass Juice and creator of the Bacon Martini. Yes, you heard that correctly. Their online description sounds like the perfect unwind after Phish: vivid chaotic and psychedelic murals cover the walls with live music, pool and pinball all night long. They call this the anti-Vegas.
Craftsteak – 3799 Las Vegas Monorail, 89109
This is one of Tom Colicchio’s restaurants, so it comes highly recommended albeit pricey. Well reviewed items include Prosciutto San Daniele, A5 New York Strip, Italian Buffalo Mozzarella and the Lobster Bisque. We’ll be there around 5pm on Saturday so come say hello.
Emeril’s Fish House @ MGM Grand – 3799 S. Las Vegas Blvd, 89109
This is one of the better happy hours in MGM and it’s from 2-6pm so it’s ideal for those heading to Phish. Check out the New Orleans inspired menu here. Fall River Clam Chower, Oysters, Frog legs, BBQ Shrimp and some NOLA cocktails like Pimm’s Cup and the BAM drop. All under $10.
Market Street Café, California Hotel & Casino – 12 East Ogden Ave, 89101
Located off The Strip in Old Downtown, this is one of the better values in Vegas especially if you like Hawaiian comfort food. Menu items include Kalua pig with cabbage, island-style short ribs, island curry stew pot and saimin noodle soup. Reviews are great and the prices are low. Their famous oxtail soup is served from 11:00pm – 9:00am.
Neon Museum – 770 N Las Vegas Blvd 89101
Here you can check out some of the historic neon signs that have lit up Vegas throughout the years. The cost is $18 during the day and $25 at night. The photo opportunities are endless.
Trifecta Gallery – 107 East Charleston Boulevard, 702.366.7001
Located just a block from the Strip, the Trifecta gallery hosts original paintings and mixed modern media. It’s a surefire way to get a taste of the Vegas art scene, which is surely underrated and becoming better each year.
Bellagio Botanical Gardens – 3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 702.693.7871
FREE. This is a must for anyone visiting Las Vegas and please make sure to visit the outside fountains at least once. To be honest, us phans dropped the ball by not petitioning the Bellagio to add “Tweezer” to their song rotation. Shame on us. Go through the main lobby first and look up at the Bellagio’s beautiful Chandelier (Fiori di Como) by Dale Chihuly then make your way into the Botanical Gardens for their Fall Harvest setup. Open 10am-Midnight. Unfortunately their Gallery of Fine Art is closed until mid-November.
The High Roller Ferris Wheel – 3545 South Las Vegas Blvd 89109, 702.322.0560
This is now the World’s Largest Ferris Wheel and just opened to the public in March 2014 so it’s a relatively new experience for Vegas goers. It’s located directly across from Caesar’s Palace. Tickets for a single 30-minute ride cost $24.95 (day) and $34.95 (night). According to Wikipedia, it features 28 spherical passenger cabins which can accommodate up to 40 passengers each, and is illuminated with dynamic multicolored LED lights.
Wildflife Habitat at The Flamingo Casino – 3555 South Las Vegas Boulevard 89109
Free. Here you’ll see flamingos, swans, ducks, koi, goldfish, and turtles surrounded by waterfalls and beautiful foliage. The perfect escape if you want to get away from the casino life for awhile.
Pinball Hall of Fame – 1610 E Tropicana Ave 89119
This is the largest pinball collection in the United States and completely non-profit. It holds over 200 games from the 1950’s all the way to the 1990’s.
Zombie Apocalypse Store – 420 Spring Mountain Rd 89102 – 702.320.0703
If you’re into zombies or The Walking Dead this is a no-brainer. Filled with every type of zombie merch you can think of. It even includes a Zombie Elvis.
When you think Vegas, you think hot desert — but don’t be fooled. Although Friday looks like it’ll top out at 85 degrees, the rest of the weekend is hovering around 75 with lows in the 40’s at night. Come prepared but please don’t change those scantily clad costume ideas. Isn’t that what Halloween and Vegas are all about? Keep updated with Weather Underground.
Predictions on which album or what type of Halloween gag the band will deliver for their second set on 10/31 are at an all-time LOW. This is partly because of their Wingsuit performance last year and partly because Trey has come out and said they won’t do a traditional cover again. It could be a complete misdirection by the quartet from Vermont, but no one knows, and that’s a good thing. We’ve heard through the grapevine that a Phish Playbill is certainly in the works so SOMETHING is going to happen.
Will the band ask for some assistance from another Vegas sideshow (anyone know if the Blue Man Group is busy that night?), or maybe perhaps debut a mixed bag of covers? Dress as themselves (again) but play an old Phish show like 11.17.97? It’s fun to speculate, but I think this time the band has been tight lipped for a reason. We aren’t going to get a real glimpse until we head into the MGM Grand Arena and are handed that yellow pamphlet.
We’re hoping they just give out a bunch of different ones so every fan is tricked and teased in a different direction; keep us guessing until the lights go down.
Whatever it is, the stakes are certainly high, and the odds on Phish in Vegas being a fun time are in our favor no matter how you slice it. With ten years separating their return and a West Coast Fall Tour that has certainly been a rollercoaster of improvisation, we really aren’t sure how the band will add to their legacy in Vegas. Phish goes to Vegas in 2000 — announces their first hiatus — Phish goes to Vegas in 2003 — busts out “Life On Mars” and gives “David Bowie” the full show treatment — Phish goes to Vegas in 2004 — announces break up months later. Not a lot of good history for Phish in that town since Elvis yodeled, so hopefully the bad taste in most fans mouths will be washed away come Halloween.
See you on The Strip and be careful not to get cited by the Fun Police! You’ve been warned!