It's been more than four years since Phish left the stage in Vermont in what was supposed to be their last show ever.
But the band is reuniting to the glee of its "phans," planning a 25-show summer tour in 18 venues nationwide. The tour includes two shows at the Gorge Amphitheatre. Tickets for those Gorge shows went on sale last Friday at noon. But many eager phans were angry to learn tickets sold out in less than five minutes, only to re-appear immediately on Ticketmaster-owned web sites at prices inflated by scalpers.
Alan Shoaff says he waited patiently at his computer the morning the tickets went on sale. At noon he put in his order through Ticketmaster.com and waited. Within a few minutes the result came back; the show was completely sold out and he was directed to another website owned by Ticketmaster.
There, users are buying and selling tickets at prices that have skyrocketed from $49.95 to between $100 and $600.
"It is ridiculous because this is a form of scalping," Shoaff says. "This is supposed to be a celebration this summer. We've waited for years, but instead we are all getting shut out."
Even at Ticketmaster locations there are no guarantees. According to an online discussion on Craigslist, one Ticketmaster location only served eight people before the tickets were gone. Dozens more who had waited in line got nothing.
Phish, which has a notorious anti-scalper attitude, responded to earlier complaints when its tickets were released for a show in Colorado. "The high demand for the tickets on Phish's return has overwhelmed the prevailing ticketing systems and revealed their flaws. We are putting pressure on the ticketing providers to improve their systems," they stated via their website last week.
In the meantime, for those phans who were hoping to be swimming in tickets, it seems like the Phish pond has run dry.