If you are heading to Phish at Saratoga Performing Arts Center This July 2 and 3, here are some veteran tips for making the most out of the two-day run, especially for out-of-town phans.
First things first — follow NYS Music on Twitter and Facebook for helpful hints throughout the weekend. We’ll be on location sharing traffic info, park updates and keeping fans aware of anything that they should know. In past years, Saratoga officials have announced a crackdown on alcohol and intoxicated people in the state park known as SPA, which includes SPAC. In the past, there has always been a lot of chatter preceding the summer concert season at SPAC regarding the increased police presence and no-alcohol policy (with ticket enforcement and arrest potential). The past few times have not been as eventful, and as long as you pre-game smart, you should be fine. Our advice is to not treat SPAC as a free-for-all — this is a New York State Park and state troopers roam the grounds, not local just police.
You’ll need this – it is a map of Saratoga Spa State Park. It is easy to get lost in this expansive park, and you can easily wind up walking around for an hour looking for the lot your car is in, or altogether become disoriented. Download the SPAC Map, just in case.
In the interest of making sure everyone knows what has been the norm in the past, whether you have been here before or not, keep these few things in mind:
State Troopers. Keep all alcohol in a cup and don’t test the troopers. Phish fans are typically well behaved, but this is a state park, just like Jones Beach, something that shouldn’t be ignored while pre-gaming in the lots.
Hotels. Some establishments have been known to call-in suspected drug use. Be smart when pre-gaming at the hotel or getting back, and try to enjoy the post-show scene before getting some needed sleep.
Leaving SPAC. Expect checkpoints for drunk driving and K-9 units for the obvious. Don’t leave the park without a sober driver and when you do, drive the speed limit. Whether you’re driving down Route 9, Route 50, I-87 or the small towns north and south of Saratoga, take your time.
Putnam Place will host shows after Phish each night, starting with the ChillFam All-Stars: Prince Bowie on July 2, featuring members of Trey Anastasio Band, Giant Country Horns, The Nth Power, Kung Fu, Conehead Buddha and the Machine that will keep the party going well into the night!
On July 3, Dead Sessions will perform post-Phish, celebrating the music of The Grateful Dead as they have for the past 19 years. Dead Sessions has grown and merged to become one of the favorite Grateful Dead experiences in the Northeast. Known for their authentic but unique renditions of Grateful Dead classics thick with heartfelt jams, they can make the most jaded DeadHead rejoice. Both shows start at 11:45pm.
If you are headed south out of SPAC, or looking for music and eats, stop off in Malta for two nights of post shows at Nanola. Where is Malta? Just 10 minutes south of SPAC, off Exit 12 right on Route 9. The menu is fantastic — great Cajun-inspired food and American dishes, as well as one of the best draft and bottle selections in the Capital District. Nanola is even running a Shuttle Bus to and from the venue – get back for the post-shows with ease.
There is an amazing amount of music lined up after each day of this year’s Phish SPAC run. That’s the beauty of seeing Phish at a venue like SPAC — the town opens up its doors to Phish with many options for music, art and daytime and nighttime activities. Putnam Place brings together members of bands from across the jam scene for two nights, and Nanola has two great rising artists from the Capital District that are musts to check out, especially if you don’t get a chance to see the next wave of bands from the region.
We will see you all at SPAC!