Stormy Night for Live Music: Phish, Furthur & Bjork Cut Short, Pearl Jam Delayed, Holy F*ck Tree Falls

There’s a certain risk when you buy tickets to your favorite artist playing a concert outdoors in the heart of the Midwest in the middle of July, and everyone that buys a ticket knows what they could be getting themselves into. But last night, it certainly felt like fans in Chicago were getting especially jagged out of their good times. With Phish, Pearl Jam and Pitchfork all happening (yay alliteration) in the confines of the city proper, fans of great live music were torn between what would be their best bet for entertainment last night. Ultimately fans of Pearl Jam fared the best thanks to the venue — Wrigley Field has certainly seen its share of rain delays — but Phish fans and Bjork fans didn’t really get what they paid/bargained for.

At least fans at Second City got a nice surprise…

Phish came on stage to start their second set last night and blasted through a great version of “Down with Disease” with the full intention of ignoring what was on the radar coming straight their way. Ultimately while the band was not even halfway through their first jam, people were discussing backstage and decided to make the call to evacuate the venue. Page announces it with a stunned disbelief that was definitely the reaction for most of the fans in attendance.

Phish Stop Short @ Northerly Island

“Oh to be Prince Caspian, people…. Oh to be Prince Caspian…”

My Twtter feed is ablaze with discussion this morning surrounding the awful timing of the storm last night and how it caused a cancellation of basically 50% of a full Phish show, at least 90 minutes worth of music just disappears from the setlist archives of the future. Will the band make up for it somehow by playing two more rager shows this weekened? Or will it be forgotten about as soon as it happened to focus on the fact that this was Mother Nature’s fault and not the bands? Should the band make this up for the fans that only got a ticket for last night?

As an aside, looks like Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman made up for the performance gone cancelled by making a stop at Second City with the Justin Bieber guitarist that every Phish fan likes to love/hate, Dan Kanter. Mike Gordon made a stop there on Thursday night to get into some improv on his own, but last night Cactus, Fish and Kanter made up a little power trio of music that still has my jaw on the floor. Second City, for those that don’t know, is the birth place of most of the major comedians that are from Chicago and the spot where so many people cut their chops and learn how to improvise (mostly comedy) in the real world. To see Mike and Fish getting down with Justin Bieber’s guitarist on a comedy improv theatre in Chicago is something we’ll probably never see recreated ever. I wonder if Chris Kuroda was on lights…

dan kanter jon fishman and mike gordon at second city

Bjork puts away her disco ball helmet to do a DJ set…

Along with Phish playing in the exposed field known as Northerly Island, the Pitchfork Music Festival is always held in the exposed field known as Union Park right outside of the Bucktown/Near West neighborhood. Everyone was pretty psyched to see headliner Bjork take a run through her latest album wearing the finest of Bjork-weird-chic outfits. And she was only able to get through a few of her songs before the festival promoters made the same decision that was handed down at Northerly Island: time to cut it short and send everyone home. Fans got to see the setlist that included “Hyperballad” and ultimately didn’t get to hear it, but a few lucky fans probably got to sneak over to Lincoln Hall to catch her impromptu DJ set.

Pearl Jam wins by waiting out the storm…

Pearl Jam was playing at Wrigley Field for a sure-to-be rager of a show, but their show got delayed about six songs into the set with the plan to return as soon as the storm passed. And unlike the situation across town at Northerly Island, Wrigley Field has a significant infrastructure that can support 40,000 people in the event of a major storm. It’s actually a pretty safe place compared to what fans were asked to do down at the Phish show, and Pearl Jam kept the fans in the loop as their timing progressed. Multiple tweets came out explaining that they were indeed planning on delivering a full show as their curfew had been extended. And sure enough, the band eventually got back out on stage after a nearly three-hour delay. I bet some people were pretty damn drunk by this point.

When it was all said and done the band was on stage until 2am and left many fans and themselves quite pleased with the performance.

“If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will”

If you notice the radar graphic at the top of this post, you’ll probably see what caused the problem at the Furthur show over in New York state. The band was doing a show in Canandaigua, NY which was also affected by the storms, so they only made it about four songs into their second set before the show had to stop. Here’s what the band posted right after they had to cut it short:

Hey, gang;

Sorry we had to cut the show short tonight- there was an issue with the ongoing lightning strikes around the venue. As always, the first concern of the band, the promoters, and the venue is to protect the safety of the public; so when we were asked to stop the show and to ask you all to go to your cars and go home for your own safety, we agreed.

Thank you all for your understanding and patience, and may the four winds blow you safely home.

– the Furthur team

Holy F*** that’s an old tree!

Finally, even LMB faves and friends from the north Holy F*** were having an issue; turns out their recording session in Toronto was almost caught short by a certain historical tree meeting its end prematurely.

The tree was the inspiration for the old Canadian anthem, “The Maple Leaf Forever” – a sad irony for a tree that is most certainly not forever anymore.

Our thoughts go out to the fans that got jagged last night; ultimately it’s a smarter move to get everyone home safe in the event that a storm like that rips through a major metro. Having been from Chicago and having spent 26 years of my life there, the storms are not to be questioned and it’s the bad luck of the venue choice that caused some shows to be outright evacuated versus being postponed until it’s safer to return on stage without electrocuting the artists. Seeing that line of storms of the radar isn’t something any musicians want to handle right before delivering a show, so it was a bummer from Mother Nature for both artist and fan alike last night.