Friday 02/06/2015 by Lemuria

PHISH PICKS SEATTLE OVER NEW ENGLAND

Until last fall, every announced tour brought a common lament: "West Coast screwed again." But the data has a different refrain: While the West Coast gets plenty of love, it's the band's home turf that gets routinely shafted - and moreso across the band's history.

The mantra "follow the line going south" did not emerge in lyrics or tour patterns until 1987, following four years solely in New England. By 2014, Phish had abandoned Patriots territory - but they still played Seahawks city.

And last fall was hardly an anomaly. There have been more shows in Pacific states than New England ones in 12 of 23 periods - including 1997 and 2004, in particular. New England has even fallen behind non-US shows in six periods!

Other patterns are apparent, as well: The Midwest had its hey day (esp. 98-04), but has slipped away since the "breakup". Non-US shows were tops in 1996 and 1997, but have barely been seen since the hiatus. And if there's a region that's been roundly ignored throughout the band's history, it's not Western states but South Central.

Methods:

This stacked-column flowchart is expanded from a 4-year chart (by the fabulous FrankensTeam) to cover 23 periods and with narrower columns, faded connectors, and percents (rather than proportions in decimal form). It might also be called a Linked Stacked-Column Graph, Platform Shift Graph, or Shifting Stripe Graph.

Regions are based on Census Bureau divisions, though these may not be ideal. For example, the Atlantic region is a long swath heading south, although DC was played four years before Florida. (Indeed, subsquent comments have suggested using FEMA regions, though there are of course problems w/ any alternative.)

Note also that I've left Pacific separate from Mountain, a distinction that wouldn't be made by some (such as those who divide the country by the Mississippi River). If those two regions are combined, Western shows dominate even more often.

And, yes, you can hang a print of it over your bed.

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Comments

, comment by paulj
paulj I love the the stats feature, and look forward to a each new post. In today's analysis, though, the use of Census divisions skews the results. When we lived in the East South Central Census division, we were within easy drives (<8 hours) of shows in both the East North Central and South Atlantic divisions. During November 1998, we were actually able to string together six consecutive shows in three Census divisions and use only one vacation day.

Now we live in the Mountain division, and the closest shows are a minimum of 500 miles from home. (Yes, we knew this when we moved here and, for any given distance, the driving is much easier than east of the Mississippi, so I'm not complaining.) But to even flirt with the idea that Denver and San Francisco--which are 1300 miles apart--are in the same region is just silly. Remember, that's the same distance from NYC to Miami, a distance about which I seem to recall much wailing and gnashing of teeth just a few months ago...
, comment by pikepredator
pikepredator This is awesome. Love me a good chart.

One suggestion: if there is any way to change the font color for the name of each region it might be easier to follow each region's ups and downs.
, comment by spac_melt
spac_melt Dude, this stuff makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Keep em coming!
, comment by WillEd11
WillEd11 Texas would love some shows.
, comment by meanpete
meanpete How are NY, NJ and PA counted? Mid Atlantic?

If so, that biases the graphic breakdown toward mid-Atlantic. I can see calling the Camden/Philly area mid-Atlantic, but SPAC and Albany are both within 30 miles of New England.

Between MSG, Randall's, SPAC, CMAC, Darrien, Albany, Glens Falls, Rochester, Unica, Syracuse, Bethel, Watkins, Went and Oswego, you could give New York its own catergory. It would change the shape of the entire graph.
, comment by User_3390_
User_3390_ Nice enough but to compare "Pacific" to "New England" is not valid. You would have had to divide up the Pacific NW to equal NE and NorCal to equal Mid-Altantic and Southwest to equal to Southeast.

Calling WA, OR and CA the same then dividing up the east coast is totally lost on me and is totally bias for this discussion.
, comment by Lemuria
Lemuria @paulj said:
...to even flirt with the idea that Denver and San Francisco--which are 1300 miles apart--are in the same region is just silly.
Agreed. That's why Mountain and Pacific are separate regions.
, comment by Lemuria
Lemuria @meanpete said:
How are NY, NJ and PA counted? Mid Atlantic? If so, that biases the graphic breakdown toward mid-Atlantic.
Only because Phish's shows are biased in that direction. It wouldn't make sense to define Census regions by where Phish plays. If you "unbiased" the regions to make them have comparable numbers of shows, you'd be ignoring the actualities of both geography *and* Phish's performance history instead of looking at their interconnection. The empirical reality is that Phish's tours *are* biased - towards the Mid-Atlantic (and Pacific) and away from their home turf of New England.
, comment by Lemuria
Lemuria @GVOldTimer said:
Nice enough but to compare "Pacific" to "New England" is not valid. You would have had to divide up the Pacific NW to equal NE and NorCal to equal Mid-Altantic and Southwest to equal to Southeast.
What do you mean by "to equal to" (and what do you think you mean by "valid" ;) ? The divisions you suggest would create flaccid equivalencies, would ignore Census conventions, and would further exaggerate the band's move from New England to Mid-Atlantic.

People don't complain that "Phish ignored SoCal"; the manta is "West coast screwed again" - and it's factually inaccurate.
, comment by User_3390_
User_3390_ @Lemuria said:
@GVOldTimer said:
Nice enough but to compare "Pacific" to "New England" is not valid. You would have had to divide up the Pacific NW to equal NE and NorCal to equal Mid-Altantic and Southwest to equal to Southeast.
What do you mean by "to equal to" (and what do you think you mean by "valid" ;) ? The divisions you suggest would create flaccid equivalencies, would ignore Census conventions, and would further exaggerate the band's move from New England to Mid-Atlantic.

People don't complain that "Phish ignored SoCal"; the manta is "West coast screwed again" - and it's factually inaccurate.
Why should they continue to play in New England? Outside of Boston it's sparsely populated.
, comment by Lemuria
Lemuria @GVOldTimer said:
Why should they continue to play in New England? Outside of Boston it's sparsely populated.
I'm not saying they should, just that they don't. I'm being empirical, not normative. I'm not passing judgment on the tour patterns, nor even what people say about them, but rather putting both in the light of actual data.

But it's not as sparse as other areas. For example, New England is twice as dense as Washington state (with 14 million vs 6 million, each in 71K square miles) - and Boston proper has fewer than 650K.
, comment by Fleezer
Fleezer Why should they continue to play in New England? Outside of Boston it's sparsely
populated.[/quote]

Fall 2010 was a great tour with all kinds of shows in "sparsely" populated area's. Augusta, Amherst, Providence and Manchester especially would be great fits for return visits
, comment by User_3390_
User_3390_ @Lemuria said:
@GVOldTimer said:
Why should they continue to play in New England? Outside of Boston it's sparsely populated.
I'm not saying they should, just that they don't. I'm being empirical, not normative. I'm not passing judgment on the tour patterns, nor even what people say about them, but rather putting both in the light of actual data.

But it's not as sparse as other areas. For example, New England is twice as dense as Washington state (with 14 million vs 6 million, each in 71K square miles) - and Boston proper has fewer than 650K.
I disagree that you're being empirical...nothing about the census divisions are empirical outside of that you didn't create them. It's not a one-to-one comparison. The divisions are random based off the history of the region.

I get it that you're trying to prove that New England doesn't get enough shows for the people living there. But census divisions I wouldn't consider an unbias "stratification" based on X or Y or Z. You could have subbed in population or square miles...but that wouldn't have proved your point.
, comment by jaredprox
jaredprox Cool chart. I know why you said it--to support storyline--but I'd hardly say NE "has been shafted." Someone living in geographic center of NE has had much easier travel-access to shows than someone living in geographic center of Pacific region (e.g. only 2.5-hour trip to NYC metro vs. 6-hour trip from SF to LA).

Thanks for dorking out on Phish!
, comment by Lemuria
Lemuria @GVOldTimer said:
I disagree that you're being empirical...
The you're empirically wrong. :) I wasn't arguing that anything should or shouldn't happen - other than that claims about reality, be based on facts. There's no other normative idea implied or suggested the post.

nothing about the census divisions are empirical outside of that you didn't create them. It's not a one-to-one comparison. The divisions are random based off the history of the region.
That's a misuse of many words, including "random" (instead of, for example, "arbitrary".) Yes, the Census regions are based on "historical accident". That doesn't make the data or analysis a normative exercise about what ought to be.

I get it that you're trying to prove that New England doesn't get enough shows for the people living there...
That's not true at all. I wasn't trying to "prove" anything. (I'd never use that word for anything I'd argue.) And I never suggested that New England should have more shows, either as a function of its population or for any other reason.

24% of 2014 shows (and about 1/8 of shows almost every year) were played in a region that people complain gets ignored. That's the story. :)
, comment by FunkyCFunkyDo
FunkyCFunkyDo @GVOldTimer said:
Nice enough but to compare "Pacific" to "New England" is not valid. You would have had to divide up the Pacific NW to equal NE and NorCal to equal Mid-Altantic and Southwest to equal to Southeast.

Calling WA, OR and CA the same then dividing up the east coast is totally lost on me and is totally bias for this discussion.
Exactly. The word "proximity" comes to mind for me and it doesn't seem to be addressed much in your write-up. Classifying shows into geographic regions makes some sense, but not how this is presented. It is so much easier to travel (in terms of mileage and time), especially by car, to the "normal" tour stops on the East coast/NE/mid-Atlantic than on the West Coast. West Coast shows are extremely spread out and require many more financial, vacation/time-off-work, and overall planning to attend. A Gorge, Tahoe/Shoreline, BGCA/Greek, LA stretch (which is really all we get these days... IF we're lucky) most definitely does not equal a SPAC/Nikon, DCU/Phili, Merriweather, Camden stretch (which, in any sort of combination, happens quite frequently).

In any case, I appreciate the effort you put into this and they are interesting statistics, even if slightly out of context.
, comment by nickulus
nickulus Is the narrowest band representing zero shows (as would seem to be the case with the single shows being labeled with a "1" ;) ?
, comment by nickulus
nickulus @nickulus said: [quote]Is the narrowest band representing zero shows (as would seem to be the case with the single shows being labeled with a "1" ) ?
, comment by nickulus
nickulus Apologies on the multiple comments and unintended emoticons.
, comment by thelot
thelot The show numbers are way off in New England...
They played 18 shows in NE in '92, not 16
10 shows in '93, not 9
11 shows in '94, not 9
12 shows in '95, not 15
3 shows in '96, not 4
7 shows in '97, not 9
6 shows in '98, not 12
6 shows in '99 (not including Carreystock or Kuroda's wedding), not 9
4 shows in '00, not 8
4 show in '03, not 9
4 shows in '04, not 22?!?
4 shows in '09, not 8
10 shows in '10, not 21?!?
2 shows in '11, not 5
2 shows in '12, not 5
4 shows in '13, not 10
1 show in '14 - You got one right!!! :)

I'm not gonna check Pre '91, but I'd assume the numbers are probably off for New England as well.
, comment by thelot
thelot @thelot said:
The show numbers are way off in New England...
They played 18 shows in NE in '92, not 16
10 shows in '93, not 9
11 shows in '94, not 9
12 shows in '95, not 15
3 shows in '96, not 4
7 shows in '97, not 9
6 shows in '98, not 12
6 shows in '99 (not including Carreystock or Kuroda's wedding), not 9
4 shows in '00, not 8
4 show in '03, not 9
4 shows in '04, not 22?!? (they only played 18 shows that year if you include their rooftop performance in NYC)
4 shows in '09, not 8
10 shows in '10, not 21?!?
2 shows in '11, not 5
2 shows in '12, not 5
4 shows in '13, not 10
1 show in '14 - You got one right!!! :)

I'm not gonna check Pre '91, but I'd assume the numbers are probably off for New England as well.
, comment by TheEmu
TheEmu @thelot said:
The show numbers are way off in New England...
I made the same mistake when I first looked at the chart. The numbers are percentages, not show totals.
, comment by martianfur
martianfur Mid-Atlantic is misleading. Feels to me like NY (state) is as much home turf for Phish as New England (aggregate). I'd like to see two things:
- What happens to this data when NY is put into it's own category?
- What happens to this data when NY and NE are combined into North East?
, comment by NickSalv
NickSalv Mid-Atlantic LEGOOOO .. sounds crazy but I wouldn't mind a skipped summer tour, if there was a Northeast Fall tour w/ the boys coming back and doing a show at the Wells Fargo, show Philly some Fall love! I may cry on the side tho, those Mann shows last summer were hella fun.

I liked Camden too, what happened to that?? My first shows were there in 2010, holds a special place. (RIP MJ!)
, comment by Lemuria
Lemuria @thelot said:
The show numbers are way off in New England...
They played 18 shows in NE in '92, not 16....
They didn't play 100 shows in 1997, either. ;)

Those aren't counts, which wouldn't be relative by year, but percentages. (First column shows 100% in NE; second has 95 ad 5; etc...)
, comment by mikesgroove2390
mikesgroove2390 How did you define the south, specifically NC,SC, GA region? Southeast?
, comment by Lemuria
Lemuria @martianfur said:
What happens to this data when NY is put into it's own category?
It pretty much is. Mid-Atlantic is only three states: NY, NJ, PA.

- What happens to this data when NY and NE are combined into North East?
You can sum the Mid-Atlantic and New England percents on the chart, to conceal that the band plays now plays NYC rather than VT/NH/MA/CT/RI... but that's kinda the story.
, comment by Lemuria
Lemuria @mikesgroove2390 said:
How did you define the south, specifically NC,SC, GA region? Southeast?
The Census defined it, not me: FL, GA, SC, NC, VA, DC, WV, MD, DE.

Someone else has suggested that I should have used FEMA regions, which I'll try for a later date... But the story will be essentially the same: Born in region I, they've shifted south to region II, and don't ignore regions IX or X nearly as much as folks complain.
, comment by careful_w_that_axe_Miller
careful_w_that_axe_Miller That's pretty cool "looking" hanging a blown up picture of that behind the couch may be a good idea. Neat stuff; thanks for sharing
, comment by TheDude31
TheDude31 I believe New York should be counted with New England as North East... Especially upstate NY, cuz it's waaaay more like New England then say Jersey or Philly.... Let's face it, probably 40% of the people at MSG shows are from New England... Plus I would put New Jersey Pennsylvania Maryland/ DC in mid Atlantic... Plus the guys live around here (New England area anyway)... They probably like playing away from home... Just my 2 cents&#127866;&#127866;&#127866;&#127866;&#127866;&#127866;&#127866;&#127928;&#127928;&#127928;&#127928;&#127928;&#127928;
, comment by stillwaitin
stillwaitin Thanks for elevating our geekery!
, comment by GHOSTLY
GHOSTLY All in all, pretty fascinating chart, regardless of what your regional interpretation is. Kudos
, comment by Lemuria
Lemuria @careful_w_that_axe_Miller said:
That's pretty cool "looking" hanging a blown up picture of that behind the couch may be a good idea. Neat stuff; thanks for sharing
There's a framed version available from CafePress (see image above, near bottom of OP) - but for full glory, you should rasturbate it.
, comment by seattlegal
seattlegal Well that title is very misleading, they didn't pick seattle "over" ne, ever since they made it big they play more ny than ne, but when you think what a small area ne is, an average of 10% a year for ne is pretty good. Especially when the largest %, ny, is a couple hours away.

How anyone can begrudge the NW shows is beyond me.
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