Paradigm agent Phil Egenthal was first introduced to live music when his parents carted him along to see some of the biggest names in rock and roll. Egenthal’s parents were friends with industry veteran Shelley Lazar who ran ticketing for The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, the Who and dozens of other A-list acts.
“I would go with my parents throughout the years to see Elton John and Bruce Springsteen and the classic rock of their generation,” Egenthal tells Amplify.
As he got older, Egenthal didn’t let the concert bug die and continued to look to Lazar for help.
“I discovered the Grateful Dead and Phish and I was hitting up Aunt Shelley for whatever tickets I could get my hands on or afford as often as I could. It was like a drug, a concert addiction,” Egenthal says.
He adds: “It was a really eye-opening experience to see some of the biggest stars in the music industry. I wouldn’t get free tickets all the time. I would just be able to purchase them through various means and that would just open up the door to go and see all these cool things. And brag a little to the other kids.”
In addition to seeing huge artists, Lazar was able to introduce Egenthal to what happened behind the scenes of concerts, something he immediately gravitated to.
“There was so much going on behind the scenes to make these moments happen on stage,” says Egenthal. “I opened my eyes up to the people who did the box office and the people who did the security and the people who did the backstage and the people who were the runners. It was figuring it all out like a puzzle and peeling back the layers of the onion. It fascinated me.”
After booking bands for his fraternity at Maryland State University, College Park, Egenthal landed a job at as the assistant to the president VH1 John Sykes.
“I was fortunate to be thrust into the highest level,” says Egenthal. “Celebrities and high-level people would call his office to talk to him and I would answer the phone. I got a pretty good introduction into it. I transitioned out of answering the phones and into working on some of the shows like Storytellers and Unplugged on MTV.”
While the job was a great lesson for Egenthal, he realized pretty quickly that the television aspect of the position wasn’t for him and reached back out to Lazar who helped him secure a position at the newly created Evolution Talent Agency.
“I was at the Phish Millennium concert in Florida in the Everglades partying and thinking I have to start my brand new job on Jan. 2 and get back from being dirty in this field to working in New York City in the next 24 hours,” says of the days before joining Evolution.
Coming more of a jam band background, Egenthal learned a lot from his boss and mentor Sam Kirby who was working with mainly EDM acts. Egenthal created his own agency five years later after Evolution disbanded. The Philosophy Agency was built with artists who were lost in the shuffle of Evolution’s demise. Egenthal eventually realized the disadvantages of running an agency from Boca Raton, Florida and closed shop.
Years later, working in Chicago for Paradigm, Egenthal is still endearingly referred to as Boca Phil. We caught up with Boca Phil to learn about five of the most influential shows in his life.
Eric Clapton at Irving Plaza in New York
Nov. 28, 1994
I was 17 years old at the time of this show. Since Eric was obvious legend, and the show was seated for a very special blues performance, only 500+ people could attend. I had to go. I grabbed my two high school buddies and went to Irving Plaza at 8am. We stood there all day harassing security, production people, band members and ANYONE I could find to try and help get us into the show. Finally, two min before doors, the GM of the venue grabs us and says, “step up to the window, pay for your tickets and don’t make me regret this.” So three young kids (below the age to attend the show) witnessed a master whirl his instrument like we had never seen. It was a truly magical performance that fueled my desire to see as many live shows as I could.
Pink Floyd at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey
July 17, 1994
This was the first ever stadium show I attended (without parental oversight) and Pink Floyd’s last tour with all the band members together. My crew took LIRR train from Long Island to Penn Station. This was followed by a Cheech and Chong bus ride from Port Authority to the stadium. Every single person on the bus was blazing and boozing like we had already arrived. The driver had the roof vents, windows and bus door open to ventilate. Pink Floyd had the most amazing production. We were captivated by every song, act, explosion and all of the grand imagery. I will never forget this experience.
Tibetan Freedom Concert at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
June 13-14, 1998
This was my senior year of college and I had seen hundreds of shows in the Northeast during my years at University of Maryland. The lineup was the culmination of my college experience featuring a dozen acts I loved. Beastie Boys, Radiohead, Sean Lennon, A Tribe Called Quest, Dave Matthews Band, Sonic Youth, Wyclef Jean, Herbie Hancock, R.E.M., KRS-One, The Wallflowers, Blues Traveler, Live, Pearl Jam, Luscious Jackson, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pulp, Kraftwerk and Beck. This show was sadly darkened by an unfortunate lighting strike that took the life of girl who attended the show. We returned Sunday to see sets cancelled after lightning strikes. Sonic Youth, Radiohead and surprise show-closers the Chili Peppers were triumphant.
Phish at Big Cypress National Reserve in Southern Florida
Dec. 31, 1999
At the end of the century, Phish hosted their own festival at Big Cypress in South Florida. This was the longest road trip I ever took for a show. The traffic was like nothing we ever experienced, but the festivities and sets were a tremendous culmination of all my best Phish experiences over previous years. I had to fly back instead of driving, since I started my new gig at Evolution Talent Agency on Jan. 2, 2000.
Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee
June 21-23, 2002
This is the festival that changed the landscape. The communal energy of many amazing performances, forged this peak of the jam band scene. Artists and fans came together to make this a special memory for me and anyone else who attended. This was the first time I hung out with many of the folks that I now work with on daily basis.