Covering Phish at Wrigley Field was something to which I had been looking forward. This was partially because of Wrigley’s history, but also because these shows were my first opportunity to see Phish live. I arrived early to Wrigleyville to soak in the atmosphere. The neighborhood absolutely teemed with Phish Heads.
The vibe around Wrigley was purely positive. I felt like I was in the middle of a massive family reunion. Of all the shows that I have seen as well as covered over the past 5 years, this past weekend’s involved the biggest sense of love for fellow fans. It was the first time I didn’t witness any negativity or drunken hatred towards another fan at a show in a very long time. It was most definitely refreshing.
Phish Night One
When I finally headed in to Wrigley, I decided to get in right when the gates opened. Walking around the venue, it still felt like I was getting ready to see a Cubs game with the number of people heading into the stadium. Once I finally made it in, I quickly got a feel for the layout of the show. The General Admission Floor was massive and the perfect set up for a party. I went exploring on my way to my spot before the start of the show and met a lot of genuinely friendly people. I immediately felt like I was a part of every group that I met, which doesn’t happen at a lot of shows. I was already having a great time and the first night’s set hadn’t even begun.
When the show finally did get underway, it was a few minutes past 7:30. Phish arrived to an almost packed house and began the night with “Sample In a Jar” off their album Hoist. I realized this was going to be an all out party immediately. The first set alone reminded me of seeing the Grateful Dead at Soldier Field last year. The majority of the fans were completely focused on the entire show, singing along and letting all of their cares wash away. Then there was the small number of fans on each side of the field that were on a different plane, dancing mindlessly to every note played. Even when Trey tried out a brand new song, “Miss You,” fans still ate it up.
The second set began with another song from Hoist, the radio friendly “Down With Disease.” Song after song, Phish played a flawless set. Anastasio is one of the better guitarists that I have seen over the years. He melds so many genres in his style that every song played combines several. The second set concluded with “Loving Cup.” But, after a short break, Phish came back out for a two song encore. The biggest moment of night one was when Trey, Mike, Page, and John did an a cappella rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” The crowd lost their minds when Anastasio sang the first few words. Since this was the first time Phish had performed that cover, I witnessed a truly genuine treat. They then closed out night one with the fan favorite “Run Like An Antelope.”
The first night show caught me off guard and impressed the hell out of me. I honestly didn’t know what to expect for the following night after seeing such a fantastic performance.
Phish Night Two
For the second night I got back over to Wrigley early again. I decided to check out the bars to get a feel for the fans’ excitement level after Friday’s show. The people I spoke to wildly guessed as to what Phish might play for the second night. Nobody was sure what to expect after witnessing such a fun first night. I got the feeling that Phish plays a wide variety of songs from show to show. As I saw night one, they have way more diverse sets than most jam bands. Since I am not a Phish aficionado, I could not give much of an opinion as to what the band was going to play. It was refreshing to be someone just getting a completely outside perspective.
I got a good spot at Wrigley and set up to photograph the show. Phish came out at roughly the same time as they had the previous evening, but the roar from the crowd seemed much louder than it was the first night. Trey and Company began the night with the funky, “The Moma Dance” but soon transitioned into a rousing “AC/DC Bag.” The first set was fun and upbeat, finishing with a great rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times.”
The second and final set was the best of all four Phish played at Wrigley. It was filled with fantastic jams. The true standouts were “Tweezer,” “Fluffhead,” and “Tweezer Reprise.” At this point I was dancing my ass off and enjoying every moment. Knowing that the two night run was coming close to the end, the fans went crazy. Just like I had expected when I arrived the night before, the field was an all out dance party. The crowd was blown away by what they had witnessed. We, however, were still in for one more before the end. The final song of the night was an awesome jam filled cover of the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus.”
This was one of the best 2 night runs that I have seen. I always had respected Phish and what they brought to music, but never rightfully gave them a chance by seeing them live. I now know I’ll be seeing them again. Phish concerts offer everything. The fans are friendly and genuine. The music is solid and the musicians extremely talented. The set lists vary to the point that you can be surprised time and time again. Finally, the overall experience is a blast.