Really?

In an unprecedented move that was hard to wrap one’s head around at the time, Phish and / or authorities called off the opening night of Northerly Island one song deep in the second set. After a sluggish opening half, the band dropped a spirited “Down With Disease” that ended far too quickly for a “Prince Caspian” that never happened. Page got up from his piano—a move many thought was in reaction to the ripcorded—to inform Trey that the concert had been called off. Lightening in the distance was the reason provided, but the massive storm that was coming never materialized. In fact, across town Pearl Jam took a two-hour set break and played until two in the morning. This is the second bush league fiasco of tour that could have been avoided with any level of forethought.

7/19 Official (R. Kelly)

7/19 Official (R. Kelly)

Everyone knew the storm was coming from early afternoon, but why should be last night be any different from SPAC, Jones Beach, Merriweather or Alpharetta? Phish has played through storms far more severe than the one in Chicago last night all tour long. And let’s be serious—this was no lightening storm. The show should have continued. By the time everyone had found their way home, the rain had stopped and Pearl Jam was taking the stage. Granted they had a later curfew, but these are the situations for which rock stars have millions of dollars. I can name at least ten shows off the top of my head that took place in for worse conditions than last night. Everything that happened on Friday reeked of poor form, and here’s what could have happened.

Phish announces—via social media—that are starting promptly at 7pm due to impending storms. The band takes the stage for real, not with a worthless first set, and plays—without a break—through 9:30pm and sends everyone home dry and happy. Instead, they waste the only time we had with meaningless music, take a setbreak, and come back as if all is progressing as planned. Who makes these decisions?

I don’t feel bad for myself or the kids on tour, they’ll see the rest of the shows. But what about the people who flew to Chicago for three shows? What about the people who could only come to last night’s show? One would assume Phish will come out with their biggest show of tour tomorrow night. They almost have to. How bout playing two improve based sets instead of one? How bout playing three sets tomorrow? Something? Anything? Buller? Bueller?

I: Suzy Greenberg, Wolfman’s Brother, Backwards Down the Number Line, It’s Ice, The Moma Dance , My Soul, Scent of a Mule, 46 Days, Limb By Limb, Julius

II: Down with Disease > Prince Caspian*

*aborted at least 30 minutes before any rain hit

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707 Responses to “Really?”

  1. DolemiteGK Says:

    I doubt its ever the band that calls the shots here. Most likely the venue didn’t say anything to them until they pulled the ripcord.

    The venue is the entity that would have the most liability in a severe weather situation. Not Phish’s call

  2. voopa Says:

    Lightning
    Improv
    grumble grumble

  3. Vaughn Heylin Says:

    They made the right call. In hindsight it looks bad because the weather wasn’t bad. But if really severe weather materializes, you have 20,000+ people rushing to get out of the venue and off the island with very limited egress. It could have been a very scary scene. And the state fair incident looms large in making the decision as well.

  4. PigSong Says:

    Feel bad for those of you who traveled far. Almost unbelievable this could happen twice in two weeks, me thinks payoff will be huge.

    Stormy – I would have travelled for the Jones Beach one off.

    Which reminds me, and codes or orange mess for JB?? Mqt Adam at G

  5. WX_geek Says:

    Right around the time the event was cancelled there was a severe thunderstorm warning issued by the National Weather Service that extended from O’Hare to the Lake. The weather report from the airport recorded 60mph+ Gusts in Heavy Rain with Lightning Strikes… After seeing that chilling footage of the stage collapsing at the Indiana State Fair and the loss of life associated I understand why the plug was pulled… It’s unfortunate for all involved, especially for those only attending Friday’s performance. I too think a 3 set performance would be an awesome way to rebound tonight!

  6. Dorn76 Says:

    Cheers Miner.

    Hope you guys get a good one tonight.

    My last until Fall. Bitter fucking taste.

  7. redfish Says:

    I see a lot of people blaming the band for the decision, I don’t think that is the case. I assume this was the ‘authorities,’ being the venue, city of Chicago, office of emergency management, etc. NI is a temporary facility. It is on the water. Just for kicks, I checked weather channel when show cxld. National weather service was predicting 50 mph sustained wind, hail, and big lightning. With expected damage to homes, (siding and roofs), and personal injury from flying debris. So while it sucks, from a venue standpoint, there are a lot of people in an exposed area with a storm that could be close to tornado strength. I was at Jones Beach, that was nothing close to a midwest severe thunderstorm.

  8. CleverPhishLikeScreenName Says:

    I echo most of Miner’s thoughts. Planning seemed to be nonexistent. However once the decision was made to call it, I knew there was no chance of the show continuing. Being from Chicago, I knew there was not adequate shelter for almost literally a mile. And the parking lots are a half mile. Walking in, i said to my Mrs that if it storms, they’ll shut It down. Kept Seeing images of Indiana State Fair disaster in my mind. It’s simply the chance you take playing at a venue like this. And I’m one of the unfortunates who could only attend last night due to travel plans today. Very disappointing. However, I enjoyed what I got as I’m lucky to catch 1-2 shows live per year anymore. Weather looks immaculate for today and tomorrow. They’ll likely bring the fire tonight. See ya in the webcast.

  9. Foul_Domain Says:

    Interesting writing style @Colonel. Your shift key must get quite a workout.

  10. worldfamous Says:

    We flew in from Texas and while of course I would have loved to have seen the full show, I thought the first set was great. The sound on the lawn was fantastic and the people were friendly. Turned out to be a weird night, but no regrets. … Fortunately there are two more nights.

  11. Jesse Says:

    What Miner doesn’t realize is that going over curfew isn’t simply just paying a few extra bucks. You also get into a situation where workers start making overtime (especially union workers), and is more of a logistical headache than just paying a fine for playing over. There’s a lot more to it than that. They made the right call canceling the show. Peoples safety was at risk and that is priority number one. PJ may have had a completely different situation at Wrigley so comparing the two is somewhat short sighted. Maybe he should try working on a tour before writing off canceling a show as an easy decision.

  12. Stoney Case Says:

    Met Dorn, silver lining. Plus Chicago is a great city to visit. At least it wasn’t Toronto.

    The other silver lining. I’ve opined for years that there’s far more choice and conscious intent that goes into dropping a spectacular show.

    All the comments re: the next two nights have to go big support what I’ve been saying. You cats didn’t realize that did you? It’s a choice far more than ‘its written in the stars’

  13. Monger_Vent Says:

    Kinda fucked up that i’m seeing no “official” explanation of what exactly went down last night on Phish.com. It’s like yep, sorry folks yer S.O.L. better luck next time.

    Who made the call? Did they ask for the chance for a later curfew? Did they feel like shit when they realized the storm was a dud and they cancelled the show for nothing?

    When shit like that goes down, you gotta SAY SOMETHING. HELLO!>?

  14. WML Says:

    Uh the storm did materialize and it was a fucking beast.

    Lightning (not lightening), was hitting the venue itself.

  15. Katie Says:

    I understand the disappointment but you have to look at it from their/managements perspective. They are on an island in the lake with a huge temporary stage set up, full of expensive metal and electronic shit, with tens of thousands of people with little place to hide in the event of an emergency. With the state fair stage collapse, all of the crazy tornadoes, floods etc this summer, not to mention lightning approaching, they HAVE to err on the side of caution and evacuate everyone. That probably created a logistical nightmare thinking about getting everyone (including the band and their equipment) to safety….then by the time they could announce and get everyone back inside the venue it would be basically curfew anyway. I’ve seen worse storms too- but remember those were in places like deer creek where there is a solid stage and shed for ppl to seek shelter/stage that won’t blow away in 60 mph winds (which is what was reported w the storm last night), and the majority of people had cars to go back to. I highly doubt phish took the decision last night lightly, and they and the authorities probably made the best decision they could at the time to benefit everyone’s immediate safety. The radar showed a very strong storm cell moving directly for northerly island. If something horrible had happened everyone wouldn’t be bitching about a lost second set- people could have been seriously injured and then people would be wondering why they saw a huge storm coming and didn’t cancel the show.

  16. ColonelJoy Says:

    @FoulDomaon…..Key Settings Are Broke:( Or I’m A Cap Whore….You Decide.

  17. BingosBrother Says:

    Didn’t leave for a long time, but did get scared by storm at a point. Love how positive and polite we all were. Epic jam session for a sax man in tunnel, his dream come true. I’ll give phish a pass due to how dope they made the venue and our intent is their delight. Most bands play one set anyway. We are spoiled and lucky. Sorry for stoney and others. Sucks.

  18. Dorn76 Says:

    Happy to share some rail space with ya Stoney, those elbows are sharp though.

    Looked out my window this AM to a sunny Grant Park and the concert grounds beyond. Excited for you all catching tonight.

    Eggs, bacon and the Open Championship before a few meetings and a flight home.

    #undaunted

  19. BingosBrother Says:

    1st set did suck donkey balls. Bad vibe. People suck too. Need more Sid. My bro said Trey thought he was at a blues bar.

  20. MiA Says:

    Even if phish could have alerted their fans with social media, the idea that the worked there, from attendents to security etc would/could show up an hour early is unlikely.

    I suspect the storm moved a lot within 10 mins of the stage manager telling them to go on. And like swing any storm change quick direction they took a safety first approach.

    Today is a new day

  21. PigSong Says:

    Local Bluegrass festi continues today, rain or shine 😉
    Charlie Parr only bigger name I know on the list.

    Stoney has a point, I think tonight will melt faces with intent.

  22. MiA Says:

    That doesn’t read well. Ugh.

  23. Stoney Case Says:

    Lol Bingos! That’s what me and AW said. Treys playing a blues set.

    I’m not sad for me, thanks for the kind words. I actually feel a little bad for leaving my parents house for half a show. Had a great time still ate at Green Zebra. Highly recommended. Went to Shedd Aquarium. Saw a bunch of my fave people

    Telas
    Silly
    MiA
    AW
    Punkmug
    AJ
    Leo
    Tzara
    Lumpy
    Punkmug
    Mdawg
    Df
    Mrs MiA
    Dorn
    And some of my old Mitten cohorts.

    Sorry if I missed anyone.

  24. Luther T. Justice Says:

    I’m still at the venue. So there not coming back out?

  25. SillyWilly Says:

    i really dont know, but I dont think phish had much to do with the decision to stop the show

    page was genuinely pissed. trey obviously had no idea the show was being stopped.

    i dont think the band really had much say in the whole thing.

    the storm didnt seem like it was going to be bad – then it wasnt. if this is what Phish thought, too, why would they behave any different.

    verdict? not guilty.

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