Phish lures thousands to Red Rocks gigs

Popular jam band’s four-night stand at Morrison site sells out in minutes

Some people may think packing a lunch, a fold-up chair and extra layers of clothing, driving from Gunnison to Grand Junction and waiting for seven hours at Mesa Mall for tickets to this summer’s Phish concerts in Colorado is crazy.

Of the roughly 10 diehard Phish “phans” at the mall’s F.Y.E. store, one of two Ticketmaster outlets on the Western Slope, Jenny Willis, 35, of Gunnison was the smartest person there.

She was first in line.

Other phans drove to Grand Junction from Aspen and Montrose with the hope of getting tickets.

Tickets for the popular jam band’s four-night run at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison went on sale through Ticketmaster at noon Thursday.

If the Web site crashed, a phan’s best bet for the coveted four-day pass was an outlet location. 

“I could not believe it,” Willis said about being first in line at 5 a.m. “I thought I was very lucky. Then Scott rounded the corner and said, ‘Ugh, you beat me.’ ”

Scott Schmidt, 24, of Grand Junction, was second in line at 6:30 a.m. He sat down next to Willis, and they became instant friends.

“Other people don’t understand,” Schmidt said.

“It’s not just a concert,” Willis said.

Tickets were a hot commodity for several reasons.

One, Phish broke up almost five years ago, and these tickets are for the band’s summer reunion tour. Two, Red Rocks is an acoustically and visually pleasing one-of-a-kind venue.

Three, Phish was unofficially banned from Red Rocks after a string of concerts in 1996 when ticketless fans rioted.

And four, well, it’s Phish. The band is renowned for epic live shows.

“I’ve never had problems getting tickets, except for this year,” said Willis, who estimated she’s been to 50 Phish concerts.

At 11:45 a.m. everyone sitting in line along a wall of discounted DVD box sets stood up.

They readied their credit cards and listened to an F.Y.E. employee tell them how he was going to streamline the ticket process. It was the most people he had seen stand in line at
the local store for concert tickets, he said.

The phans started chanting the employee’s name.

“My heart’s beating so fast,” Willis told Schmidt.

Willis, being first in line, got two tickets to all four concerts. Schmidt was successful getting tickets. Then the third person in line was denied tickets at 12:07 p.m. All four-day passes had sold out; a couple of single-day tickets remained.

At 10 minutes after noon, the local Ticketmaster outlet told people that all four nights at Red Rocks were sold out.

“I’m shaking,” Willis said, holding her printed-out tickets. “And I feel bad for the rest of these people.”

But the wait was absolutely worth it, she said, adding, “Oh my God, yes.”


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