Fall 2018 Phish tour started with two nights in Albany at the Knick… I mean Pepsi arena… oh… the Times Union Center. Yeah, it’s the Knick. Last time I was here was Phish in 1998. Much has happened in life since then. I’m now struck by how I can measure life by Phish tour. Has it really been 20 years? I mentioned at one point that my favorite of the new songs was Ocelot. That came out 10 years ago.
The tour started on a good note. Lately I’ve been missing fall tours and I was on the fence about this run but I was offered a miracle for the first night and a ride so I dove in. We left town in time to walk right into the show. The space has changed (i think). I spent most of the time behind the stage and/or dancing in the hallways. It was great but my body wasn’t quite warmed up for dancing. I’m almost glad they didn’t play something that I HAD to dance to. It was a good reminder that I’m out of shape. Not enough stretching, not enough water, the diet has been off lately (and the cookie dough cart here didn’t help with that at all).
We got back to the car and found a diner we thought was far enough away to have room for us. Part of getting to the show late included being on the third floor of a parking structure. Luckily, I found a way around the flow by driving against the grain out to the street in no time.
Fully stuffed and an hour more tired, we started looking for a hotel. One was next to the diner… full. There’s a Holiday Inn ten minutes away. We get there… full. No rooms a their partner locations either. The Knick holds 17,000 people so maybe we needed reservations. A few more calls then we went to the apps. Looks like we’re off to Saratoga.
30 minutes north of Albany, Saratoga is far nicer than is was 30 years ago and I have to change my context of that town. It’s a blast. We got a room at the Saratoga Casino and Hotel. Checkin took a while because the receptionist couldn’t believe the price we got. Apparently we saved over $100. That was gambled away in the morning. We browsed Saratoga and had a nice lunch with a local friend who gave us the insider tour. We passed the tour busses; the band was staying in town as well.
With plenty of time to browse shakedown and dodge the nitrous mafia (really, before the shows now too?) we were fed and ready for a killer second night. No luck finding a ticket in the lot so I bought one at the box and got in early to watch the scene fill up. This was the night the band would beat Billy Joel’s record for most shows and there was already a banner hanging from the ceiling.
Somehow I managed to share space in a box seat for the second night. Unlocked doors hold wonders beyond compare! Private bathrooms and sliding glass windows to adjust the volume. Lots of room to dance and make fools of ourselves. Albany is a good size venue but there is always room to move. Wider hallways than MSG, typically and older crowd, and some decent food options as well. While the shows weren’t epic as ’97 or ’98, they were a great start to the fall tour and my body is ready for Hampton!