Friday, February 21, 2003

Phish fans warned to skip drugs

By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer

For the second time this week, Cincinnati police officers are planning to be out in force for a concert.

But for the sold-out Phish shows tonight and Saturday at U.S. Bank Arena, police won't be sporting the heavy riot gear they wore to Tuesday's club concert by gangsta rapper 50 Cent.

"In the past, there's been a lot of drug arrests (at Phish concerts), but I don't really foresee any violence," said Cincinnati Police Lt. Gary Brown, commander of the Event Planning Unit.

The difference is the audience. 50 Cent is an ex-drug dealer who raps about shootings (he survived being shot nine times in 2000). His fans are gang members and wannabes, resulting in dozens of fistfights at Tuesday's concert. Phish audiences are mellow, saving their energy for dancing.

But "this is a concert with a history of drug violations," Brown said of the Phish tour.

Some fans, called Phish Heads, prefer mind-altering drugs - hallucinogens, marijuana and nitrous oxide.

Nitrous oxide, a legal substance in many cities, once known as "laughing gas," is illegal here.

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