As Phish continued to grow throughout the 1990s, one venue they consistently hit on summer tours was Colorado’s famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The year 1996 was no exception, as the band kicked off a run that would ultimately mark their last shows at the venue for the next 13 years. Though there was no official “Phish ban,” as many have speculated, an altercation between the fan base and local police essentially marred the goodwill built up between Phish and the Morrison, CO venue.
The year 1996 was a dark time in Phish fandom. The death of the Grateful Dead‘s Jerry Garcia in the summer of ’95 had sent shockwaves through the community—and prompted many followers of the Dead to hop on Phish tour. Coupled with the lopsided fan-to-ticket ratio at Red Rocks—a venue the band had seemingly outgrown—this became a recipe for disaster. According to a local news report, Phish fans were camped out on the streets of Morrison, CO. Tensions erupted when police tried clearing the streets, and one phan retaliated by throwing a beer bottle at an officer. As you can imagine, things escalated quickly.
Watch the local news report on the show’s incidents below:
[Video: Mr Foot]
While the band would eventually return to Red Rocks for four nights in 2009, they’ve since established their Colorado home at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, where they have performed over Labor Day weekend every year since 2011.
Going back to 1996, the August 4th opening night show was a solid show in itself, featuring renditions of several fan favorites like “Guyute”, “Fee”, “Split Open and Melt”, “The Mango Song”, “Maze”, “Reba”, “David Bowie”, and “Slave to the Traffic Light”, as well as an encore-opening performance of the theme song from Star Trek played on the theremin by Page McConnell.
Listen to 8/4/96 show in its entirety below, courtesy of fromtheaquarium.
Phish – Red Rocks Amphitheatre – 8/4/96 [Full Show Audio]
Setlist: Phish | Red Rocks Amphitheatre | Morrison, CO | 8/4/96
Set 1: Chalk Dust Torture, Funky Bitch, Guyute, Fee > Split Open and Melt, The Mango Song, The Sloth, Maze, Loving Cup
Set 2: AC/DC Bag > Reba, Scent of a Mule, Sample in a Jar > David Bowie, Sweet Adeline, Slave to the Traffic Light
Encore: Theme from Star Trek, Rocky Top
 Trey sang verses through megaphone.
 No whistling.
 Phish debut; performed solo by Page on theremin.
Notes: Trey sang the verses of Fee through a megaphone. Reba did not have the whistling ending. The Theme from Star Trek made its Phish debut at this show and was performed by Page solo on the theremin
[Originally published on 8/4/2018]