Phish reuniting for 2009 shows

March dates will be band's first in four years

After splitting in 2004, Phish is regrouping next March for a three-night run at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Va. The March 6-8 shows will be the famed jam band's first since its blowout farewell gigs in Coventry, Vt., more than four years ago.

According to the band's Web site, there will be additional touring activity from guitarist/vocalist Trey Anastasio, bassist Mike Gordon, keyboardist Page McConnell and drummer Jon Fishman throughout 2009.

A small supply of tickets will be available directly through the band's ticketing system, with the request period ending Oct. 8. Tickets go on sale to the general public Oct. 18.

Although its music rarely intersected with the mainstream, Phish is one of the top touring acts of the past three decades. Since 1989, the act racked up a total of $175,541,923 in concert grosses, with 5,842,798 tickets sold to 475 shows reported to Billboard Boxscore.

Hampton Coliseum was a sentimental choice for the reunion shows, as it has previously played host to notable Phish moments. The band's November 1998 run there was later released as the boxed set "Hampton Comes Alive," and Phish headed to the venue for three shows following its Dec. 31, 2002, hiatus-breaking gig at New York's Madison Square Garden.

"We're very, very happy about this. It's something very special," Hampton Coliseum GM Joe Tsao said. Asked how the shows came together, Tsao said: "It's very simple: I got a call from the band saying we want to come back and I said 'come on!' "

Tsao said Phish agent Chip Hooper at Paradigm called about two weeks ago "and I had to call him back because I was breathing so hard."

Anastasio manager Coran Capshaw at Red Light Management is handling management duties for the Phish shows, and Ken MacDonald, whose independent promotion company Integrated Management Group operates out of Norfolk, Va., is the promoter of record.

Speculation about Phish reuniting reached critical mass this summer, with band members admitting they'd begun discussing working together again, even going so far as to engage onetime producer Steve Lillywhite.

Three of the four members collaborated on stage at the Rothbury festival in Michigan over Fourth of July weekend, and the full band reunited for a short set earlier this month during the wedding of former road manager Brad Sands. Phish also received a Lifetime Achievement award from the Jammy Awards this spring.

Since the breakup, Phish fans have found solace in frequent archival releases via the band's own JEMP label and Next up is the Nov. 18 release of "At the Roxy," an eight-disc boxed set drawn from a Feb. 1993 run at the Atlanta venue.

Jonathan Cohen reported from New York; Ray Waddell reported from Nashville.