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Phish Fans Flock to New York for 13-Concert Marathon

They are among the thousands of Phish fans who will descend upon New York for the band’s so-called Baker’s Dozen, a 13-show residency at Madison Square Garden that starts Friday and ends Aug. 6. They will go with the wide-eyed hope that the band performs a silly stunt, covers an unexpected song or jams for 30 minutes on a tune it hasn’t played in decades.

To catch these moments, to be part of the Phish experience for four hours, is why fans have followed the band since 1983. I would know. For the past 20 years, I’ve driven, flown and bused to the corners of the country to catch a piece of Phish magic. I’ve snaked along a single-lane road for seven hours in the Florida Everglades for Phish’s millennium concert. I’ve been rerouted to and then stranded in the Salt Lake City airport after seeing the band in Las Vegas. I’ve stood up to my ankles in mud on a country field in Maine during a rainy Phish festival, long before “festival style” became a hashtag.

Now, Phans can create memories in New York — a city that upon first glance seems contrarian to the free-spirited jam-band culture. The city will be awash in Phish-themed workouts, hazy after-parties, children’s concerts, daytime boat cruises, art shows, flea markets and even tailgate-style gatherings. After all, fans will need something to do the other 20 hours of the day when Phish isn’t playing.

“We’re going to see several hundred thousand people come in over this run,” said Peter Shapiro, who promoted the Grateful Dead’s Fare Thee Well shows in Chicago two years ago, and is the publisher of the live-music magazine Relix. “You’ll feel it at museums. You’ll see it in restaurants. There’s going to be way more tie-dye.”

Mr. Shapiro is also the owner of Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, N.Y. He’s turning the Phish marathon into a family-friendly affair at both spaces with a children’s concert series featuring the music of Phish. “Many Phish fans have young children,” Mr. Shapiro said, “so we figured this is a good way to keep the vibe rolling into the next afternoon.”

Among the many rituals beloved by Phish fans, the hardest to transplant to New York is the tailgate party, given the lack of outdoor parking attached to Madison Square Garden. The closest thing might be the day-and-night party at American Beauty, a two-story beer bar and performance hall about a block away. The party, called the “Jerry Lounge,” will feature Phish-related art, music and knickknacks for sale, along with alcohol and Phan-approved grilled cheese sandwiches.

“The lot is a huge part of Phish culture, and it’s nonexistent in New York, so we’re trying to recreate it here,” said Jen Giuliano, the talent buyer at American Beauty.

There is at least one unexpected benefit of having Phish perform in New York. “I saw Phish play in Atlantic City, and the locals were so hostile toward the crowd,” Ms. Giuliano added. “Here, if you see a Phish weirdo on the street, he’s not too far off from a crazy person standing around Midtown. In New York, no one’s even looking at you. They’re just like, ‘Oh, whatever.’”

Photo

Phish fans, or “Phans,” at the 2012 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn.

Credit
Chad Batka for The New York Times

Phish Circus

To celebrate Phish’s 13 shows at Madison Square Garden, Phish-themed events will be held throughout the city. Here are some highlights.

For Phish tailgaters American Beauty, a two-story beer bar and performance hall near Madison Square Garden, is hosting an all-day, all-night “Jerry Lounge,” featuring live music, vendors selling tapestries and other knickknacks, food and lots of opportunities to hang with other Phans. Admission is free.

American Beauty, 251 West 30th Street; 3 p.m. to 4 a.m. on concert days.

For Phish-head parents Children can sing along with “Kids Gone Phishing: Baker’s Trio Phamily Concerts With Uncle Ebenezer” at the Rock and Roll Playhouse, a family-friendly concert series at Brooklyn Bowl and the Capitol Theater. Tickets start at $10.

Brooklyn Bowl, 61 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn; Sunday and Aug. 6 at 12:30 p.m.

The Capitol Theater, 149 Westchester Avenue, Port Chester, N.Y.; Saturday at 3 p.m.

For Phish detox Phish-themed spinning classes, with glow sticks and jammy tunes, will be held at the J.C.C. Manhattan (led by Shira Kaiserman Verteramo, a J.C.C. marketing executive whose Instagram alter ego is @ThingsYouSeeatPhish) and SyncStudio (led by Ira Lindenberg). Classes start at $25.

J.C.C. Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Avenue; Thursday and Aug. 3 at 6:30 p.m.

SyncStudio, 133 South Second Street, Brooklyn; Thursday and Aug. 3 at 7:45 p.m.

For Phish art lovers PhanArt, a fan-driven project, showcases Phish-inspired art wherever the band performs. For the Baker’s Dozen concerts, the art fair will feature more than 40 artists selling their original works. Admission is free.

Hotel Pennsylvania, 401 Seventh Avenue; Saturday and Aug. 5, noon to 6 p.m.

American Beauty, 251 West 30th Street; July 29, 3 to 7 p.m.

For Phish covers The Phish tribute bands DeadPhish Orchestra, Jazz Is PHSH and Pink Talking Fish will perform aboard daytime cruises around Manhattan. Tickets start at $25.

Rocks Off Concert Cruise (departing from Skyport Marina); Saturday, July 29 and Aug. 6; boat departs at 2 p.m.

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