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Phish Fans Camp at Madison Square Garden

Hundreds of Phish fans camped out at Madison Square Garden Tuesday in the hope of landing seats to the jam band’s New Year’s Eve concert – its first concert in more than two years.

“We’re dying for tickets!” said Matt Lamberg, a 21-year-old college student from Binghamton, N.Y., who’d been waiting for six hours. “Their energy is totally different. It’s beautiful. It’s what life’s about.”

Phish has long attracted a devoted following that’s willing to travel thousands of miles to hear them play.

Tuesday’s event was a huge draw. Phish is known for its New Year’s Eve shows, and the Vermont-based rock quartet hasn’t performed in concert since October 2000.

Tickets sold out almost immediately at $49.50. Those waiting outside Madison Square Garden were hoping to buy one from scalpers or Phish fans with extras.

Lamberg was visiting with his friend Hollie Dilley, 22, a snowboard teacher who traveled from Lake Tahoe, Nev. Dilley wore a placard around her neck: “Who Has My Golden Ticket?”

Sean Mazza, a 20-year-old college student from Irvine, Calif., paid a scalper $500. He considered himself lucky to buy it, 12 hours after positioning himself outside the Garden.

Chris Lynch, a 42-year-old patent attorney from Spokane, Wash., who already had a ticket, explained the band’s allure.

“They’re theatrical. They’re exciting. They’re total quality. Other rock shows are muddled garbage compared to this,” he said.

Michael Allen Howard, a 40-something who traveled from Los Angeles, said he was willing to pay $300.

Phish is “the best band on the planet,” Howard said. “It grabs your soul. And sometimes, it spins you so you’re disoriented. It’s like drugs without drugs.”

Justin Wier, a 20-year-old from Detroit, spent $140 on three tickets. But there was a twist: “They were fake tickets. I lost all my money. It’s OK, I have friends here. They’ll help me.”

Phil Supino had no more than $100 to spend, but was willing to barter.

“I will risk bodily harm, even jail – for a ticket,” the 22-year-old said.

He also offered a bed at his midtown apartment, “plus food, and my dog. He’s very friendly. And I’ll do pretty much anything you ask.”