Billboard Music Awards

Phish Fans Brave Mud At 'It'

An estimated 70,000 Phish fans sloshed through mud that in some places was more than ankle deep at ...

An estimated 70,000 Phish fans sloshed through mud that in some places was more than ankle deep at It, held over the weekend at the Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Me. Organizers delayed opening the gates to the concert area by more than two hours yesterday (Aug. 3) while laying hay, gravel and bark mulch to contain the damage. The venue received heavy rain in the days preceding the "It" festival.

Lt. Darrell Ouellette of the Maine State Police reported six arrests for assault, none involving weapons, and about 20 drug-related arrests by Sunday afternoon. But authorities were pleased overall with how the jam band's fans conducted themselves in a confined area.

At around 2 a.m. yesterday, the band performed its fourth set of the night on top of Loring's air traffic control tower. Phish offered up extensive jams and partial song teases, as lights illuminated three aerial gymnasts wearing rappelling gear who bounced off the tower's sides.

Many fans who stayed up the entire previous night while stuck in traffic fell asleep before the unannounced performance. Brian O'Neal, 28, of Nashua, N.H., missed the early-morning show but didn't seem to mind, as he praised the festival's creative vibes. "You always have this carnival-like atmosphere," O'Neal said. "It's like a city in here ... a city for Phish fans to live in their own little world."

That makeshift city, the largest in Maine this weekend, included miles of cars, trucks and RVs parked along Loring's runway. Fans sold everything from cigarettes and absinthe to vegan-friendly french fries from the back of their vehicles.

The event even had its own 100,000-watt radio station. Phish bought air time from 3 a.m. Friday to 2 a.m. this morning on WQHR -- Presque Isle (96.1 FM). The station, which can be heard for 100 miles in every direction, was renamed the Bunny. It aired Phish's concert sets live and filled the rest of the day with others bands' music and roving reports from the concert grounds.

It brings Phish's summer tour to a conclusion. The group is expected to return to the road in the fall but no dates have yet been announced.

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