So much of The Barn's coverage over the last several months has been centered around this coming weekend. But I suppose it's worth mentioning that the first huge Chicago concert announcement that we covered for July 19th wasn't Phish at all - but was surrounded with a similar mania. Pearl Jam will play a Friday night show at Wrigley Field, one of only two shows this summer, and like the Phish dates, the response from fans both here and across the country has been phenomenal.
In a big enough city, it's not unusal to see multiple gigantic and even "important" musical events, sometimes within a stone's throw of each other, transpire simulanteously. What I find remarkable, is the fact that Chicago will host two towering rock bands of the nineties, who each decidedly helped shape the decade's lasting impact on the industry.
Both bands were able to amass huge followings during that decade, and while Pearl Jam certainly had the media pushing them along in the early days, they seemed to actively shun the trappings of commercial success as their career progressed. And you could say that each band benefitted from this approach: Phish and Pearl Jam had an undeniable focus on live shows and stayed true to a vision that gave them leeway to pursue their art in a matter that was compelling to both them and their audiences. They each have an emotional connection with their fans cultivated by a strong give and take and workmanlike attitude devoted to crafting unique experiences over "product".
What's interesting... for a band that covers influential, and even contemporary, artists at the drop of a hat, Phish has never attempted to cover Pearl Jam. Only time I've ever found them even come close are the "Alive" teases in this 1993 version of "Walk Away". Perhaps it's just that nobody in the band wants to attempt the growling Vedder baritone. It is certainly way out of range for the four members of Phish.
That said, Pearl Jam is a one night only deal -- breezing through town for Friday with no additional commitments that I know of. Eddie Vedder's got Chicago ties. There's precedence for him hanging out in town even with PJ is not touring -- he casually popped in to Springsteen this fall and found his way on stage for two consecutive nights. Phish has been pretty stingy about giving stage time to special guests these days, but could a Vedder sit-in be enough to break the Pearl Jam cherry? Certainly there is some big cross-over in the fan bases, but given the quick sell-out for PJ, while Phish rumors were already swirling, its unlikely too many folks will be opting to attend both shows.
Is Phish on his radar? Who knows? But there is this from the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Induction in 2012...
Looks interested, huh? Seems like a no brainer. Also Mike McCready has been known to wear a Bathtub Gin shirt (and looks like Eddie's got a Bulls jersey).
And as long as we're this far down the wormhole, why not have some fun with it. What would an ideal sit-in setlist look like. I'm thinking a first set closing trio that features a little bit from both bands and a cover from a common influence. Something like:
Daughter > Brother > Mother (Pink Floyd)
What do you think?