When it comes to memorable Vegas concerts, Phish has racked up a few. The veteran rock band immortalized its September 30, 2000 gig in a concert film and a memorable 1996 Aladdin show with an official live album. And, of course, there’s the Halloween 1998 “costume” show (see inset). So why hasn’t the improv-rock Vermont quartet returned since 2004? No one from Phish’s camp replied to the Weekly’s queries, so we’re left with “phan” scuttlebutt, most of which can be debunked.
The question most frequently posited by fans is: Would Phish revisit Vegas after those 2004 gigs, widely criticized by diehards as among Phish’s worst, and seen as not only the beginning of the band’s demise—it regrouped in 2009—but also a particularly druggy episode that was rumored to involve an overdose?
Frontman Trey Anastasio even singled out Vegas during a pre-breakup 2004 interview with Charlie Rose when explaining that Phish tour stops had become a reason for fans to party. (He would return to Vegas solo in 2005 and 2006, the latter appearance just weeks before his drug-related arrest in New York, which lead to his sobriety.)
Both Thomas & Mack Executive Director Mike Newcomb and its former director Pat Christenson tell the Weekly that they regularly speak with the band’s agent, and insist that Phish isn’t avoiding Vegas and will one day return, once scheduling can be worked out. Christenson, now the president of Las Vegas Events, is even willing to get creative to do so. “I want to find a spot for a jam band festival,” he says, lamenting the 2007 end of Vegoose. “And to have Phish headline it, well, there ya go.”