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Phish Fan Banned From Sphere for Taking Bong Rip: ‘No Regrets’

“I was actually supposed to go to Dead & Company tonight,” reveals man now “indefinitely” barred from Madison Square Garden Entertainment venues

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Phish fan’s bid for stoner glory at a 4/20 concert has earned him a burn notice that extends to some of the biggest arenas in the country, but he’ll always be able to claim he was the first — and perhaps last — to take a bong rip in the Sphere.

Weeks ago, Instagram user @acid_farts, who declined to share his real name with Rolling Stone, uploaded a video of himself blowing a plume of pot smoke inside the $2 billion Las Vegas venue ahead of a set from the jam band on what many consider a cannabis holiday (not that your typical Phish head limits their consumption to one day a year).

It was his third and final night seeing them play that week, he says, and he didn’t want to try to bring the bong — which he’d bought in town — on his flight home to the West Coast. So he lit up one more time to cheers and applause from his audience section and later dispensed with the glassware. “I didn’t want to walk around Vegas with it all night, so I threw it out on the way out,” he explains.

Of course, by the time @acid_farts emerged from the psychedelic show, his clip was already viral in the online Phish community. He’d also tagged the official Sphere account to notify them of his stunt. “That was maybe, maybe a little oops,” he says. Having lost his Wi-Fi signal shortly after posting on Instagram, he hadn’t realized just how widely the footage was circulating until it was too late to do anything about it. The veteran of 187 Phish concerts, who has caught the Vermont band live consistently from age 13 up through his late thirties, recalls thinking: “Well, I guess I’m gonna have to live with this decision.”

Despite the Sphere’s “strictly enforced” prohibition of smoking, including electronic cigarettes, anywhere on the premises, @acid_farts did not face immediate consequences for his actions. In fact, as he made plans to see Dead & Co. play the Sphere on June 6 to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday, the pair agreed that he seemed to be in the clear.

However, @acid_farts believes it was his purchase of the Dead & Co. ticket this past weekend that triggered a June 3 legal notice that was delivered by FedEx to his home as he was preparing to head to the airport.

“I opened it up, and there was this letter saying you’re banned from going to the Sphere,” he says. “I was like, I’m literally leaving for the Sphere right now.” The letter from venue operator Madison Square Garden Entertainment, which Rolling Stone has independently confirmed as genuine, also bars @acid_farts from New York venues Madison Square Garden (a perennial stop for Phish, known for playing New Year’s Eve there), Radio City Music Hall, and the Beacon Theatre, as well as the Chicago Theatre. Yet @acid_farts says there are other places to see Phish, and he has “no regrets” — well, apart from one: “I’ll never see the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall,” he jokes. (Representatives for the entertainment company directed Rolling Stone to the ban notice and declined to comment further.)

Still, @acid_farts feels his misadventure raises the issue of privacy in live entertainment spaces. Venues, promoters, ticket sellers, and even artists have ramped up data-collection efforts in recent years, to the point that the average concertgoer may not always realize how their behavior is being tracked. Madison Square Garden Entertainment in particular has faced criticism for using facial-recognition technology to identify attorneys whose firms are engaged in litigation against the company and having security eject them from shows — including, yes, the Rockettes.

To be sure, alerting a venue that you’re breaking their rules makes for a different case entirely, though @acid_farts nonetheless likens it to “lions going after flies,” and sees it as a “bad business model,” what with other attendees at Sphere shows openly posting themselves taking hits from vapes and dab rigs. He also says he got a “weird vibe” the last time he saw Phish at MSG in 2017, after which he decided “I don’t think I want to go back. I’m on the West Coast. It’s an East Coast show. It’s like, ‘Oh, I can’t go to MSG in the winter anymore.’ I’m OK with it.” He’s open to appealing the ban if that’s an option, though if not, he’ll settle for the members of Phish autographing the ban letter.

“I’m really wearing it as a badge of honor,” he explains, and he already has an idea for how to make the most of the incident: sell a T-shirt, maybe reading “Free @acid_farts,” with proceeds going to the Divided Sky Foundation, a new addiction recovery center founded by Phish frontman Trey Anastasio. In any case, he notes, his story “is in the pantheon of Phish now,” and fans are free to run with it.

And for those wondering just what strain @acid_farts was packing at the Sphere, he reveals that he’s “a sour diesel man for life.” What he won’t share is exactly how he smuggled that sizable bong into the arena in the first place. “That’s a no comment,” he says with a laugh. “That’s a trade secret.”



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