SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Vermont-bred jamband stars Phish went “all-in” for flood recovery this past weekend, performing two benefit concerts that brought thousands of people to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and generated millions of dollars in relief funds.
The band raised $3.5 million over its weekend of music, all of which will support victims recovering from July’s floods that devastated parts of Vermont and upstate New York.
“We are so grateful to everyone who donated their time and resources to make these benefits possible, and those that attended the shows or watched online,” said Page McConnell, Phish keyboardist, in a statement. “The joy in the room at these concerts was undeniable. But for the people affected by the flooding, it is an ongoing struggle. That’s why we are continuing to accept donations, raise awareness and distribute the funds.”
Some 38,000 tickets were sold for the two-day benefit. Tens of thousands also watched and donated online.
The Friday and Saturday concerts featured special pre-show acoustic sets with McConnell and lead singer/guitarist Trey Anastasio on a tiny stage inside the SPAC grounds. Guitarist Derek Trucks (Tedeschi-Trucks Band, Allman Brothers Band) joined Phish on the main stage as a surprise special guest for the final four songs of Saturday’s set, which included a cover of TV on the Radio’s “Golden Age,” Phish originals “Everything’s Right,” “A Life Beyond The Dream,” “First Tube” and the encore of “Possum.”
For fans unable to get tickets, the concerts were streamed online for free, allowing fans around the world to donate to The WaterWheel Foundation, the organization created to oversee the band’s philanthropic endeavors in 1997. All net proceeds from merchandise, ticket sales and donations are going directly to flood recovery efforts.
The Friday night show also coincided with the 84th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz” being released in the United States, and Anastasio teased “We Welcome You to Munchkinland” several times in “Sand,” as well as at the end of “Chalk Dust Torture.” Drummer Jon Fishman wore his hair with a single pigtail sticking out of the front of his head like a munchkin for the second set of Friday’s show.
Benefit merchandise is now available for purchase online at the Phish Dry Goods store, and The WaterWheel Foundation is still accepting donations.
Phish was in the midst of an extensive summer tour when the major flooding occurred in early July, and these special shows were put together in a matter of weeks. The band, whose members Anastasio, McConnell, Fishman and Mike Gordon met at the University of Vermont in 1983, will celebrate its 40th anniversary this fall.