Everyone knew that the Grateful Dead's "Fare Thee Well" concert series at Soldier Field in Chicago was going to be a historic event, but now the record books also confirm that the shows are the most attended event in the stadium's history. Obviously Deadheads (and live music fans in general) are looking forward to tonight's grand finale, but the totals were reported Saturday from the night before, revealing that 70,764 fans had shown up for the night. Considering that every night sold out, the attendance should be similar for the following two shows as well.
"That vibe amongst music fans has been missing since they quit ," said Jay Marciano, COO of AEG Live. "I've never seen a happier group of 70,000 people in all the years I've been dong this. We're all kind of feeling it. There were 70,000 smiles in that stadium, from the minute they went on until the minute they quit. Everybody loves music and expresses themselves in different ways, but those fans were united in that they were just extremely happy to be there and be part of this."
The previous record for attendance at Soldier Field belonged to U2, who packed nearly 68,000 fans into the stadium as part of its "U2 360" tour during 2009. Although the Chicago Bears routinely sell out its hometown venue, the stadium by itself seats just 61,500. Concerts at the venue can add additional capacity by allowing a general admission audience to stand on the field during performances.
Among the many present for Friday night's were celebrities Katy Perry, John Mayer and Woody Harrelson. The world's most renowned Deadhead, NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton (he's seen them more than 850 times), acquired tickets for all of the band's final shows in both Santa Clara and Chicago.
Reports indicated that police didn't have major issues with the huge crowds descending upon and often tailgating thanks to wide usage of public transportation. Here's hoping the last night goes just as swimmingly as the last two.