Phish Fan Who Went Viral Bragging About Bong Hits at Sphere Banned From All MSG Venues ‘Indefinitely’

UPDATED: Sphere has rescinded the ban on the Phish fan who invited the venue’s attention with his viral video, attributing a letter the concertgoer received from a lawyer to “a breakdown in our process due to a change in personnel which resulted in the letter being sent inadvertently,” according to a spokesperson. “This customer is not banned from our properties,” read the statement issued Saturday, which added, “however, it is still against our policies, which are in accordance with local laws, to smoke, bring glassware into our venues, and disrupt other fans’ enjoyment of the event.”

Read more about the Phish fan being un-banned in wake of the story coming to light here.

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PREVIOUSLY: What happened in Vegas will have a certain Phish fan staying out of Las Vegas’ Sphere for a very long time to come. A social media user who wanted to show off his bong usage to the world has been banned from the venue, and any of Madison Square Garden Entertainment’s other properties, after posting bragging footage of himself taking hits and blowing smoke out over the audience during Phish’s opening night there in April.

“First ever bong rip in the Sphere,” wrote the user, posting video of himself standing in the aisle of the venue prior to Phish taking the stage, as he drew a very deep hit and then exhaled a thick plume over the crowd seated behind him. Some, albeit not all, of the onlookers are seen laughing or applauding at being hit with a chimney stack’s worth of second-hand smoke.

Sphere reps were not pleased at the advertisement that seemingly anything goes inside the spiffy new venue. This week, the user — whose real name is still publicly unknown — posted a letter he had received from MSG’s counsel, saying he would be ejected if he tried to come back to Sphere or any of the buildings the company owns in New York and Chicago.

Since MSG is open about using facial recognition technology to scan patrons — there is an electronic notice alerting concertgoers to this effect at entrances to Sphere — any ban isn’t just lip service.

Asked for comment, MSG reps referred back to the language in the letter sent to the user by MSG counsel Christopher Schimpf. “Sphere Entertainment Co. will not tolerate actions that threaten the safety and security of our guests and employees,” the letter read. “In light of your conduct, you are indefinitely banned from Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre, the Chicago Theatre, Sphere and any other MSG venue… If you enter” those venues or the gathering spots outside, the letter continued, “law enforcement will be contacted to ensure your expulsion and you will be subject to the penalties.”

As might be expected from someone with that much THC in his system, the user’s response to this legal threat seemed to be… mellow, and still proud. “The Sphere sent me a plaque to commemorate what is now officially the first bong hit ever taken in the Sphere,” he wrote, in captioning the letter from the lawyer.

With the latest engagements at Sphere being Phish and now Dead & Company (following the opening run last fall by U2), those groups’ fandoms have naturally shared notes on message boards on what is and isn’t allowed in Sphere, substance-wise. The general consensus has been that there is no sense of a police state inside the venue, but that anyone lighting up may be approached and asked to extinguish whatever they are smoking. Variety saw this in action during the opening weekend of the Dead & Company run, as ushers approached the occasional flagrant weed partaker and explained that, while marijuana is legal in the state of Nevada, openly smoking it in a concert venue is not.

In other words, a less flagrant approach will probably still allow jam-band fans to get high with a little help from their friends, but pride in bong smuggling — and in this case, impressive lung capacity and exhalation skills — cometh before the ban.

Issues of the law and etiquette may be foremost in making sure concertgoers don’t feel they have an open license to light up, but it’s easy to imagine other factors uniquely at play inside Sphere, since a 160,000-square-foot interior screen involves whole new layers of dusting.

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