Phish at Coachella, Night One: An Expansive Introduction
For me, watching a Phish festival on the same field that hosts Coachella each year's like introducing your college friends to your high school friends for the first time: you love them both equally, but there's always something kind of...off about that first introduction. Though they seem similar on the surface, any music fan'll tell you the two events are very different monsters; however, unlike most people, both types of fests have been major parts of my music-obsessive life.
I've been to two of Phish's past multi-day extravaganzas (2004's "last show ever" Coventry in Vermont, and 1998's Lemonwheel, in Maine) and, between Coachella and Stagecoach extravaganzas in the last decade, I have probably spent a good two weeks of my life at the Empire Polo Club, running from stage to stage in hopes of catching the next big thing.
That's where the differences begin: instead of five stages spread over the monstrous expanse, at a Phish festival there's only one attraction. For evening number one of the three night engagement, the band opted to use the slightly smaller "Outdoor Theater" space as their home base, leaving the rest of the field open to interactive art. A brightly-lit ferris wheel stands at the main entrance, where campers (far more than Coachella, and, using a completely unscientific sample, many more travelers) can get a view of their expansive tent city.