Halloween ’94: The Beginning

phishpumpkin

Phish & Halloween

A beloved tradition started fifteen years ago in Glens Falls, NY. Phish hadn’t played a Halloween show since 1991, having been in the studio the previous two autumns recording Rift (1992) and Hoist (1993). But in 1994, the band upped the ante. Via Doniac Schvice, their newsletter, Phish announced that the show would contain three sets, but that wasn’t all. Along with an audience costume contest, Phish would don a “musical costume” of their own, covering an entire album of another band. And there was yet another twist- they were leaving to the fans to vote on the album, and they would play the most popular choice. Many have since debated whether or not Phish went with the actual winner or selected between the most popular, but nonetheless, it brought the entire community into the process.

During the weeks leading up to the show, fans drooled with anticipation, constantly hypothesizing on which album would be selected. The leading contenders were thought to be Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Frank Zappa’s Joe’s Garage, and The Beatles’ self-titled record known as “The White Album.” The other mystery hovering around the 8,000 person show was that no one knew when the album would be played; there was no precedent and nothing had been announced. So when Phish took the stage at 10:15 for their first set, everyone was on the edge of their seats.

1994-10-31gnRipping into the holiday-appropriate “Frankenstein,” the game began.  An extended “Simple” and a poignant “Divided Sky” anchored the beginning of the set, when unsuspectingly, the band dropped into “Harpua!”  With the opening “Oom Pah Pahs” many thought that the forthcoming narration would bring out the cover album. As the Halloween story progressed, encompassing the “Vibration of Life” and the “Vibration of Death,” Jimmy stepped to his record player. Seemingly on the brink of history, the story took a left turn as Jimmy put on a Barney album- but accidentally had placed the record on backwards.  And as the record spun in reverse, Phish played what Jimmy heard- twenty second of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” A classic moment in its own right, the cover would have to wait.  But before ending the set, Phish carved out room for one of the thickest, most emotional “Rebas” ever played.  In 1994, the year that “Reba” shone the brightest, this version is one of my favorites.

beatles-white-album-1During setbreak, the obvious conversation piece was the album.  Would it come in the second or third set?  Which one would it be?!  The answer came soon enough.  At midnight, the band took the stage, and through the PA the audience heard the opening heartbeats of Dark Side of the Moon, drawing howls and cheers from much of the crowd. But suddenly the heartbeat stopped, and the voice of Ed Sullivan came from nowhere introducing The Beatles.  Over the recorded squeals and screams of teeny boppers thirty years ago, Phish broke into “Back in the U.S.S.R.” It took a minute to hit everyone that they were about to cover the entire double-album, but one song at a time, over the next 90 minutes, that is exactly what they did.

Glens Falls Civic Center

Glens Falls Civic Center

While the band played most of “The White Album’s” songs  earnestly and accurately, they wouldn’t have been Phish if they didn’t add a little of their own flavor. By modifying the end of “Helter Skelter” with a barbershop quartet ending, changing the “fool on the hill” in “Glass Onion” to “Guyute the pig,” and adding some Electrolux to “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?,” Phish dappled the album with spots of Phishiness. Other interpretive moments included Mike’s bluegrass take of “Don’t Pass Me By” and a now-classic rendition of “Revolution 9”, when upon the concluding line, “You become naked,” Fishman lifted his frock over his head and pranced around nude while Page, Mike, and Trey blew bubbles and chanted behind him. This bizarre moment was forever immortalized in the booklet of liner notes for “A Live One”- page 11.

But aside from these moments, Phish’s performance was incredibly reverent, playing each song true to form. The only onstage flirtation Phish had with The White Alum was an “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” jam- not even the whole song- hence the band learned each and every one of the albums 30 songs. Several appeared sporadically throughout the years, but “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”- the song that stood out at Glens Falls- was adopted into the band ever-expanding catalog of covers.  The band stepped offstage at 1:30 am, to the recorded version of “Good Night.” But the night was hardly over.

ph941031_01About a half -hour later, Phish reemerged to a venue of mind-blown fans, some who had dozed off during the break. The band could have come out and played a five minute encore and the show would still be talked about in the annals of Phish history. But instead, they opened set three with an extended journey through a menacing “David Bowie”- this was Halloween after all! And after a “Bouncin” interlude, the band resolved the immense darkness of “Bowie” with a magnificent mid-set “Slave.” Bordering on absurdity, especially with the timing of everything, Phish raged on. The band closed the set with a smoking “Antelope” only to start the audience costume contest during the encore!  After a “Mound” Bar won the competition, the band chose “Squirming Coil” to end one of the most epic nights of their career. There would be many more, but this one was special.

And there started the Halloween tradition that we will rekindle so soon in Indio. Following up the White Album with The Who’s Quadrophenia in 1995 (another double album),Talking Head’s Remain In Light in 1996, and Velvet Underground’s Loaded in 1998- Phish firmly established the musical costume as one of their most loved annual rites. Halloween became a big as New Years Eve on the Phish calender, though the band never found their way back to October 31st after ’98’s Vegas escapade. But in2009, the year everything is coming back together- Halloween returns!

***

“Reba” jam 10.31.94 I

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” 10.31.94 II

Winged music note=====

Jam of the Day:

Bathtub Gin” 9.12.99 I

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/1-04-Track-04.mp3]

A perfect piece to take us into the weekend, this gorgeous jam came in a forgotten first set at Portland Meadows in ’99. An ideal tempo, the open-air sound, and some heart-tugging playing by Trey will have you grooving at your desk, cubicle, or wherever you may be. Some feel good Phish took for a Friday, this one will make you smile.

=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

9.12.99 Portland Meadows, Portland, OR < Torrent

9.12.99 Portland Meadows, Portland, OR < Megaupload

Portland Meadows - Portland, OR

Portland Meadows - Portland, OR

This show has always lived in the shadow of The Gorge’s two-night stand that came directly before.  But with the “Gin” posted above and a monster second set, this show has plenty to offer. One of the most psychedelic “Ghosts” of the year kicked off this five song second set to the tune of 20 plus minutes. After this night we walked away with more than a few memories too go along with our black boogers.

I: First Tube, Poor Heart, Mozambique, Bathtub Gin, Get Back on the Train, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own, Frankie Says, Birds of a Feather, Lawn Boy, Possum

II: Ghost > Runaway Jim , Roggae, Also Sprach Zarathustra > You Enjoy Myself

E: Theme from the Bottom

Source: Unknown

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358 Responses to “Halloween ’94: The Beginning”

  1. beepaphone Says:

    Hell yeah wt! less than a week for me!

  2. whole tour! Says:

    🙂
    ABOUT TO GET MY BASS ON! LOL

  3. albert walker Says:

    like someone else said its 8 sets of Phish I think we can deal with some bullshit
    They do not have time to search cars for beers.
    That’s why I went with the offsite house rental (actually reasons are endless)
    I’ll have a homebase 1 mile away stocked to the gills.
    I’m not working the shows
    It’s cali so my puffin will be chill no matter what
    all other favors will not be done in public anyway
    I guess I’m getting old and lame cuz I really don’t see issues
    also Vegas, Atlanta, Chicago all 3 had strict curfews
    Is it not the total length that matters anyway not how late it goes?

    If your only worries in life are trying to figure out how to get around the 1 case a day beer limit while seeing 8 sets of Phish life is pretty good

  4. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    As I read it, it wasn’t one case a day (but I’m staying onsite) it was one case apiece. But, maybe I am wrong. I think me and my 3 buddies went through 12 cases at Bonnaroo this year, but then again, maybe we have a drinking problem 🙂

  5. albert walker Says:

    Wow rockin the Cardinals logo
    You live in that shitty town
    can’t help myself it’s in my blood
    I hate that fuckin city and that shitty team
    only team and town I really feel that way about
    now I got it out of my system
    thanks

  6. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    well albert, I am not a resident of St. Louis, but I am a big fan of the Cardinals, and I believe they will be reminding the Cubs that all hope is lost starting this evening.

  7. beepaphone Says:

    lol tell us how you really feel, aw

  8. albert walker Says:

    believe me wrote them off for dead first week
    you guys can wait until first round of playoff

    Holiday was a great pickup you guys won more than I thought
    just don’t think there is enough there to do anything post season

    They one a world series with a pretty average team last time so who knows

  9. Mr.Miner Says:

    “the FAQ section on the official page says “no vending” and how there will be Indio Police and a professional security team all weekend….do you think that’s overblown?”

    ^^”no vending” at every festival

  10. albert walker Says:

    since you are a Cardinal’s fan I’m sure you understand nothing personal
    that’s just how it goes with the Chi – St. Louis thing

  11. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    Well, in my lifetime as a fan (since around 1980) they have 2 titles and 5 trips. Unless you’re over 60, you haven’t seen the Cubs even get to the series. As far as getting through the playoffs, Carpenter and Waino give them as good a shot as anybody. Pujols, Holiday, and Ludwick make for a pretty solid middle of the order. I like their chances and look forward to watching ball in October. Look for me in my baseball outfit on Halloween.

  12. albert walker Says:

    Thank god I don’t have to pimp beers all weekend to make a few extra twenties

    sounds terrible if you ask me

    who wants to work when you are on vacation

  13. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @albert – no offense at all, I love talking trash about sports. As a Purdue grad, you should see me around my IU grad brother.

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    Pujols is the greatest hitter of our generation

  15. beepaphone Says:

    GP, me too on Purdue…when did you graduate?

  16. albert walker Says:

    def a better team
    unfortunately like I said most fans call St. Louis home
    I think I’ll take the shittiest world series history in baseball over calling that shit box of a town home

    that’s why its a sea of red when you guys come to town
    great excuse to visit a real city

    not to many of us making the trip down to hillbilly land to catch a series that’s for sure

  17. albert walker Says:

    can’t wait for Pujols to test positive
    greatest day of my life

  18. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @beepa – 1996.
    @Miner – Pujols is probably the best player since Mays, maybe even since Mantle. Not just best hitter (though I think Ichiro is a better pure hitter), but also an all around player, Gold glover, and really a great leader on the team too. Its been a great decade to be a Cardinals fan, thats for sure.

  19. albert walker Says:

    actually there is no test for HGH right now
    so he’ll probably be ok for a while

  20. Matthew Schwarz Says:

    @smegma: I’m guessing you are a Red Dwarf fan?

  21. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @albert – there were plenty of Cubs fans at the last tilt I went to at Busch last September. Of course, the Cubs lost on a squeeze play in the bottom of the 9th. Actually saw a fight between a Cubs fan and Cardinals fan after the game. As much as I hate the Cubs though, Wrigley is a great place to see a game, it just sucks when you have to piss or get something in the concourse.

  22. albert walker Says:

    anway that was fun, I’m done

    Blackhawks drop the puck preseason tomorrow
    that’s my other love besides the Cubs
    they hold more promise for sure

  23. Chuck D Says:

    How could I forget about Jameson!? Been my shot of choice lately too… behind Van Gogh Double Esspresso (I know it’s wussy, but its SOOO smooth)

  24. whole tour! Says:

    SHIITAKE HAPPENS!

  25. Chuck D Says:

    Instead of saying “shit” all the time, I started substituting “shitake mushrooms”… always get a stare and a smile.

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