Phish Ticket Buying Guide

Nov 17, 2013


Angela Bunt

For the last 30 years, the members of Phish have been unintentionally tormenting their fans. Between the summer tours, winter jaunts and those coveted New Year’s Eve runs, this band has had fans chasing the proverbial white rabbit for many years. Of course, it wasn’t always so hard to get tickets to see these dudes live. (Like, back in the ’80s when they were playing tiny shows at Nectars in Burlington, VT.)

But now, between their massive following and the exploding secondary market for Phish shows, scoring tickets to see the band have proven more and more difficult over the last few years. Luckily, enough fans have gone to enough shows to know the best methods to retrieve these Willy Wonka-esque golden tickets. Read on, Charlie. Read on.

Phish Lottery

Directly after Phish announces a tour, and generally 2-3 weeks before tickets go on-sale to the general public, the band will hold a lottery on tickets.phish.com. Fans enter a drawing for whatever shows they want tickets for (limit of four per show), and winners are selected at random. If you’re a winner (aka you “hit the lottery”) your credit card will be charged and your tickets will be sent to you in the mail. Hitting the lottery is ideal for many fans, as they can avoid the hassle of trying to score tickets in the myriad of ways outlined below. Also, you get the official band ticket which always has cool artwork on it and will be a nice compliment to your stub board. There is a limit of one ticket request per credit card.


Website: What should be the easiest platform in which to get tickets to see a band has become one of the hardest. With scalping, bots, and whatever internet sorcery is going on that allows a show to literally sell out within 10 seconds of it going on sale, it’s sometimes impossible to score tickets to concerts using their site. Especially Phish tickets. Granted, the season in which the tour falls will often dictate how hard it is to get tickets. If you’re trying to get tickets for the NYE run at MSG and your only method is logging on to Ticketmaster (and you’re not using this clock), then you’re probably not going to have much luck.

Calling: Wait – a telephone? To order concert tickets? Believe it or not, this old school method has proven successful in many instances. Try calling Ticketmaster a few minutes before the on-sale time as you’ll likely get a busy signal at your first few attempts. Once you get through you will either be hit with an automated recording system or an actual person.  If it’s automated, browse the ticket selections for other events until the on-sale time begins. If it’s a person, try to chat them up and ask them about upcoming events (warning: they might see through your games). Once it hits the on-sale time, tell them you want to buy Phish tickets.

App: For many fans hoping to score New Year’s Eve tickets in 2012, the Ticketmaster app was a success. This is probably due to the fact that it was a new method of purchasing tickets, and unlike all the other tips in this article hadn’t been exposed to the masses yet. Whether it will be as successful a method in the future now that folks know about it is yet-to-be-determined. On the personal anecdote tip, last year my friend was able to score four New Year’s Eve tickets using the app when they went on sale to the general public.

Kiosk: Ticketmaster also has several kiosk locations throughout the country where one can purchase tickets. According to phan testimonials, many people go to the kiosks with varying degrees of success. Some Ticketmaster stands will allow a line to form at said kiosk, others will wait until just before on-sale and do a lottery to determine people’s spot in line. There have been stories of varying success depending on the person working at the station, and how well the machine functions.

Lining up at the Box Office: Some venues open up their box office the same time that the on-sale begins, so the key is lining up super early that day. For cases like the New Year’s Eve show, Madison Square Garden does not do this. For any chance of getting tickets for the New Year’s run, you must line up early (like, really early) the day of the show and wait in the re-release line for any cancellations.

Secondary Market

SeatGeek: Clearly if you’re reading this article then you are aware that SeatGeek exists. While many Phish tickets will go up on Stubhub, Ebay, Ticketsnow, etc., SeatGeek will aggregate all of the available online tickets and put them into one place. Not only that, but using our Deal Score we’ll show you what the best and worst deals are, and the prices you see have all shipping and fees baked in.

Phish New Year’s Eve Tickets

Cash or Trade: “Embrace the face!” Cash or Trade is a website devoted to creating a fair trade marketplace where fans can buy, sell and trade tickets at face value. Members have “report cards” so you don’t run the risk of purchasing fraud tickets.

Phish Forums: Phish.net and Phantasy Tour are the two most prominent Phish fan websites, with an extremely robust online community. Ticket trades or folks looking for extras are commonplace on these websites.


Often times after a show has initially sold out on the primary market, Phish will announce re-releases, which means you have another chance to score tickets. There’s no rhyme or reason for the re-releases, except they generally happen on Tuesdays. Unless you want to sit on a Phish forum or (depending on what your Facebook friends are into) your news feed, the best way to find out about these re-releases while they are happening is Twitter. Sign up for Phish and Phish: From the Road Twitter accounts, and put your settings to “alert” when they Tweet. Re-release announcements are always Tweeted about as soon as they happen, so this will give you the most up-to-date info possible.


A risky but rewarding way to score Phish tickets occurs the night of the show in the parking lot (or outside area). Arrive to the venue about 1-2 hours early – while people won’t be desperate to get rid of tickets until right before show time, the more time you have to walk around scouting for extras the better. The universal symbol for scouting for a Phish ticket is to walk around with one finger in the air which indicates that you’re looking for an extra. Using this method, you can often score tickets for even cheaper than face value depending on how popular the show is.

Many people who use the ol’ finger-in-the-air method are hoping for a “miracle,” aka a free ticket. If you are willing to shell out cash, it always helps while doing laps around the lot to say – in your most cheerful voice of course – “cash for your extra!” Remember, hippies love a good trade, so if you have something besides cash – a pin, drugs, alcohol – those are often good bartering tools. If you find yourself on a lot overcrowded filled with desperate fingers and seemingly no extras in sight, the best thing you can do is stay positive and keep a smile on your face.

Sure, all of the above methods are tried and true ways of scoring Phish tickets. But throughout my years of Phish concert attending, perhaps the one cardinal rule that trumps all others is to stay positive. If you think you will get a ticket, you WILL get a ticket. Enjoy the show!