Garth Jacob was in the third row at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, waiting for Joe Russo’s Almost Dead’s second set to begin on August 16. The jam-band fan turned around, and a man he had never seen before sucker-punched him in the face, he says.
“I took the punch square in the mouth. It immediately knocked out one of my front teeth and fractured another,” Jacob says. The punch also broke his palate and his alveolar process.
After the punch, the man darted away as Jacob collapsed.
“It wasn’t a young guy, and it wasn’t a full-on wook," Jacob says. "It was not the person you would expect to do it, and it’s pretty baffling, honestly.”
Security escorted Jacob to the medical tent, and he was then taken to the hospital, where he received stitches.
“That second tooth was removed the following day," Jacob says.
A Denver Police Department spokesperson says two assaults were reported at the venue that night. Neither led to an arrest. DPD, which has an on-the-ground presence at Red Rocks shows, hands over felony cases at the venue to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. Because Jacob's injuries meet the criteria for "serious bodily injury," the case was passed on.
“It’s under investigation,” says the sheriff's department's spokesperson, Jenny Fulton. “We have an investigator assigned to it. They are currently trying to acquire video from that night so that they can see the assault."
Police reports taken by DPD at the scene note the perpetrator was “six feet tall, with dark hair. His hair was shaved. He was wearing a grey or dark color Grateful Dead T-shirt. He’s a white male."
"Our hope is that we will be able to see him on video,” says Fulton.
Jacob has been a jam-band enthusiast since he attended his first Widespread Panic concert when he was a freshman in high school. Now 27, he has spent years frequenting String Cheese Incident, Phish and Widespread Panic shows.
“There are so many kind-loving types of people that go to these shows,” says Jacob. “That’s a huge reason we do it together. It’s the family. It’s the kind people you want to be around. It’s the music you want to see. It’s so rare you find somebody with bad intentions, and more rare that someone is out there with bad intentions and actively trying to hurt people.”
Brian Kitts with Denver Arts & Venues, the city department that runs Red Rocks, notes that an incident report about an assault was filed with the venue. “It sounds like the guy who was involved left the venue. We don’t know who it was," Kitts says. "We’ve got an incident report, but that’s about it."
Kitts notes assaults like this are far from common at Red Rocks. “You’ve got 9,000 people there 150 nights a year. I would say that sort of incident is rare. People are generally at a show to have a good time and don’t really interact with other fans in a violent way like that.”
Jacob, who describes himself as “a peace-loving, easygoing dude,” hopes the police find the perpetrator.
“There should be justice served. I’m not one for revenge. I’m not one for hate,” Jacob says. “I don’t want to actively pursue negative feelings for anybody. But karmically, it’s already coming to the guy, and lawfully, he should be [held] responsible.”
While violence may be rare at music events, it does happen. A fight erupted outside Luke Bryan's concert at Mile High Stadium on August 4, and three people were sent to the hospital. In July, two men, one from Colorado, were attacked at a Phish concert in Washington state's Gorge Amphitheatre.
“We don’t go to these shows to be in fear,” Jacob says. “We go to these shows to love each other and have a good time. And that’s what I’m going to keep doing. For damn sure.”
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