It wasn't until Memorial day of 2011 that I first encountered Bethel Woods. Built on the historic original site of Woodstock, I was introduced to this venue as the opening run of Phish Shows 2011. One week before the shows I scored a room at a bed and breakfast, the Lazy Pond, in nearby Liberty NY. This review begins with the back roads winding entrance to the back side of the venue, veering through the roads of Upstate New York that fell in love with during college many years ago.
      As this was a three show run, and allowed us to really settle into our temporary home, we revelled in the beauty of the campus the bed and breakfast was built upon. Strolling around the multi layered facility, we interacted with other fans, fraught with anticipation of Phish's opening run for the summer 2011.
      Arriving at the back entrance of the venue, we were forced to traverse the back roads for a while until the lots began to open. We decided, on day two to get there early because of the advice from some friends we had made the night before: Upgrade your tickets!!!!
      Somehow at the venue, if you have tickets (non-mail order) for the lawn, or even rear pavillion, you can (based upon availability) upgrade your tickets to tickets that are re-released. I waited at the box office/will call for about two hours, walking back and forth from the venues gates, to the window, to find out if they re-released tickets. After two hours of no luck, I ended up purchasing two lawn seats that released for a friend who was hauling it up (or down rather) from Albany and was ticketless.
      After meeting him in the parking lot, we wandered for a while then made our way to Venue entrance, greeted every so cheerily by all the members of the staff at Bethel Woods. Everyone who worked there, and the police who helped to facilitate all patrons through the myriad of paths that led to the venue proper.
      We made our way to the venue entrance and, in a last ditch effort, walked to the window where the gentleman, the one we bugged for two hours about upgrades, was sitting. He nodded that he remembered us, we handed him four tickets, and he took them back, charged us $40 US Dollars and we were in luck: Section 5 Row J, end row seats!
      This venue is created for the fan to enjoy both the musicianship of the band and the stunning beauty of the rolling hills of upstate NY. What makes this area perfect for the venue is that the amphitheater proper is but one dimple in a myriad of dimples that speck the landscape. When you enter, the venue is clean, and the path way, much like the paths running as veins through a golf course, veer up, over and down, until all at once you stumble upon the grassy lawn and amphitheater.
      Upgrades abound at this venue, and you don't need to upgrade outside the venue, you can enter in and upgrade at mysterious kiosks that are sprinkled in random sections of the venue. To the left and right of the stage, veering out, there are eatery sections, which, coupled with the hill top eateries, makes for most autonomous units of snacking at any venue ever.
      To the right of the stage, facing the stage, there is a tent with multiple micro brews, and seldom any lines. Drinks and bathrooms, food and seating area, there is so much in terms of amenities, this venue makes it peaceful to relax and enjoy.
      During the show, the venue security is very relaxed, though getting inside the pavilion is like trying to enter into fort knox. You need a stub! This is where security should be har nosed. The wings off the covered amphitheater, on both sides, allow for dancers to regal in the excitement of the show, much like the walkway ring underneath the theater covering.
      There is no poor view from this venue. You can be far off in the lawn, or back row of the reserved; doesn't make much difference. The first night I had the front row of the back section of the venue and it was masterful. I snuck under the railing, with no hassles and had a very open forum for interpretational dance.
      My final point of this review, and I urge everyone to attempt a show here, is wandering back to the top of the pathway that leads outward into the evening air. First off, the evening in upstate New York, after a blistering hot day, is glazed with dew. If you can time it right, Phish will be playing Loving Cup, while you twirl through an open field, embraced by moon light, and knowing that the world, at least for the moment you are in, is made better, by the place that was created for your amusement.


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