Phish Fans Camp at Madison Square Garden

By | January 1, 2003 at 12:00 AM

Hundreds of Phish fans camped out at Madison Square Garden Tuesday in the hope of landing seats to the jam band’s New Year’s Eve concert – its first concert in more than two years.

“We’re dying for tickets!” said Matt Lamberg, a 21-year-old college student from Binghamton, N.Y., who’d been waiting for six hours. “Their energy is totally different. It’s beautiful. It’s what life’s about.”

Phish has long attracted a devoted following that’s willing to travel thousands of miles to hear them play.

Tuesday’s event was a huge draw. Phish is known for its New Year’s Eve shows, and the Vermont-based rock quartet hasn’t performed in concert since October 2000.

Tickets sold out almost immediately at $49.50. Those waiting outside Madison Square Garden were hoping to buy one from scalpers or Phish fans with extras.

Lamberg was visiting with his friend Hollie Dilley, 22, a snowboard teacher who traveled from Lake Tahoe, Nev. Dilley wore a placard around her neck: “Who Has My Golden Ticket?”

Sean Mazza, a 20-year-old college student from Irvine, Calif., paid a scalper $500. He considered himself lucky to buy it, 12 hours after positioning himself outside the Garden.

Chris Lynch, a 42-year-old patent attorney from Spokane, Wash., who already had a ticket, explained the band’s allure.

“They’re theatrical. They’re exciting. They’re total quality. Other rock shows are muddled garbage compared to this,” he said.

Michael Allen Howard, a 40-something who traveled from Los Angeles, said he was willing to pay $300.

Phish is “the best band on the planet,” Howard said. “It grabs your soul. And sometimes, it spins you so you’re disoriented. It’s like drugs without drugs.”

Justin Wier, a 20-year-old from Detroit, spent $140 on three tickets. But there was a twist: “They were fake tickets. I lost all my money. It’s OK, I have friends here. They’ll help me.”

Phil Supino had no more than $100 to spend, but was willing to barter.

“I will risk bodily harm, even jail – for a ticket,” the 22-year-old said.

He also offered a bed at his midtown apartment, “plus food, and my dog. He’s very friendly. And I’ll do pretty much anything you ask.”