After several weeks of speculation and a shape-shifting "Save the Date" map decorating its homepage, Phish has announced a three day festival this upcoming Halloween weekend at the Empire Polo Fields in Indio, California. The festival will take place October 30 - November 1 on the same site where the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals are held annually. Billing it as "Festival 8," the band is reviving two of their most storied traditions in grand fashion: blending the notion of its infamous weekend-long camp-outs with its once regular Halloween gigs.
Phish will perform eight sets, including the traditional Halloween cover album.
When Phish was set to retire in 2004, they closed out the first chapter of their career with a problem-plagued event in Vermont dubbed "Coventry." Prior to that, the band had thrown several successful festivals in remote places such as Limestone, Maine, Plattsburgh, New York and the Florida Everglades.
The band played a total of nine times on Halloween night: in 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1998. The gigs have have a special status for the fans, as traditionally the band "dresses" in a "musical costumes," covering an album from start to finish. The tradition was started in 1994 at the Glen Falls Civic Center in Glen Falls, New York, where Phish covered the Beatles "White Album." In subsequent years, they tackled the Who's "Quadrophenia," the Talking Heads' "Remain in Light," and the Velvet Underground's "Loaded." The band also covered Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" in it's entirely, days after the 1998 V.U. Halloween show.
Among Phish followers, "Save the Date" chatter has been constant. After rumors of the "Phishachella" gigs began circulating at the band's Bonnaroo appearance in June, hotel bookings for Halloween weekend in Indio and Palm Springs skyrocketed. In early July, the Desert Sun reported that it was the customers who were telling the hotel managers of the event, not city officials or the promoters.
Even so, the band kept fans guessing as the homepage featured a countdown with different states disappearing off the United States map each day. At one point, California was removed, but recently reappeared with all other states blackened out. The homepage has simply read "Save the Date," to which led many to think was a reference to Indio's annual Date festival, celebrating the fruit.
Phish is currently prepping the release of "Joy," the group's fourteenth studio album, now slated for a September 8 release on it's own JEMP Records. The group resumes the second leg of their summer tour next week with a four night run at Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheater on July 30.
Tickets for "Festival 8" will go on sale Monday, July 27 through the band's own ticketing service. Three day passes are $199 plus a $1 donation to WaterWheel, the band's charitable foundation, and additional service fees. All vehicles entering the car camping area must also purchase a $15 vehicle pass.