Phish at Wrigley
I’m standing in the whole between shortstop and 3rd, where Addison Russell might make a leaping throw back across the infield to get a tough out at first.
But I’m listening to Phish bash their way through The Rolling Stones’ “Loving Cup.”
What a surreal, perfect night. It’s as palpable a world collision as Hot Stove, Cool, Music, but maybe even more visceral. Leaning on a guard rail, staring at the pitcher’s mound and discussing the scientific improbability of being able to hit a baseball, all while my hippie sensibilities are simultaneously indulged.
The stands are filled with happy, swaying weirdos. They’re amazing to watch, and I spend a lot of the night with my back towards the stage. The press box level is fully desolate, including the broadcast booth above the 670 logo. This night isn’t about the usual crowd you find up there. Like me.
Tonight I’m down here, among thousands filling the general admission space atop a metal plated outfield. In deep center a stage is adorned with two giant video screens, though as of 2016 they’re dwarfed by the ballpark’s own. My eyes keep drifting to the old hand-controlled one atop the bleachers, as if someone was keeping score.
Everybody’s winning. Darkness reveals a solid light show. More blue! Oooh, purple, fade it into red, ads some green, hint at yellow, but back to blue! Soothing. The lighting cues fit the jams.
This band I saw for the first time at The Campus Club in Providence, Rhode Island in May of 1991 has held up remarkably well. That’s the thing; they’re older, balding, graying, but still going. Like most of us. The bond intensifies as our numbers dwindle. I’m glad these guys have gotten past some well publicized issues with pills and booze. I’m happy for their ability to function, thrive, and survive. Call it a low bar, but we all know people who’ve succumbed by now.
Chalk Dust Torture is song #2. A moment of pure musical glee. Ahhhhhhhhh. Look to the sky, drink in the moment, feel the gratitude of being in this spot at that hour. All my vasoconstrictors they come slowly undone.
I go get a drink, moving 15 feet to the right. I’m now very close to the left field line, still “on” the dirt; at Javy Baez’ spot in a no-doubles formation. I could make a cat-quick dive to my right to smother a shot headed towards the corner. Of course, it’d take me about 30 seconds to collect myself and get up, but hey…no double. Probably.
It’s my first show ever at Wrigley. I hope the outfield grass is not damaged by our trampling stank. Would love to be here when the grass is set free on Sunday.
Otherwise, the place is holding up phenomenally well. The GA entrance at Sheffield and Waveland was an absolute breeze. There’s plenty of space around the perimeter to walk, gape, dance, stumble, and socialize. I’ve never been so happy to pay 11 bucks for a beer, since the assortment is solid and the vendors plentiful.
It was a rare, magic night. A night when the atmosphere provided what I used to think I needed hallucinogens to receive. Connection. To the music, to the crowd, between my past and present, between my passions and vocations. It’s all too beautiful.
I’m not even that mad they didn’t play Llama, or Squirming Coil, or You Enjoy Myself, or Stash, or Cavern, or Golgi Apparatus, or….