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. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    Man did I ever butcher Tony Gwynn’s last name. I knew it didn’t look right and I was too lazy to google.

  2. fat bastard Says:

    i hope guitar picker knows his music better then his baseball.

  3. albert walker Says:

    I love the piling on
    just when I’m finished in come the reinforcements

  4. Mr.Miner Says:

    Boggs – ewww. what a worthless singles hitter 😉

    Gwynn I’ll give you.

    I’d say Brett and Molitor over Murphy by a mile…Donnie would have ben up there had he not hurt his back- we all know this…

  5. Mitch Says:

    Albert,
    we shouldn’t be surprised if guitarpicker moved to st Louis. You think st l is bad? Try west Lafayette for 4 years. Those region douches leech off Chicago and all rep it like they live there even tho they are 4 hours away in all directions. FYI “regioners”, you don’t live in Chicago. i digress.

  6. Mitch Says:

    Miner,
    the avatar ratio sucks. Has to make a perfect square. I tried 3 before I went with the mango cause I can crop it decently.

    By the way, nobody answered earlier, can you make out my avatar?

  7. fat bastard Says:

    Miner I went to Yankee stadium one time in my life with my brother and my dad. Mattingly hit a homer in his 6th straight game. I was 11.

  8. joe Says:

    Boggs is a traitorous sex fiend anyway. One of my all-time least favorite images is of him celebrating a yankees world series win on horseback…ok, rant over. How bout that band we all like?

  9. fat bastard Says:

    and when boggs jumped on the cops horse after the winning the world series? worst celebration I”ve ever seen

  10. fat bastard Says:

    you beat me to the punch

  11. joe Says:

    he was the subject of a great local bumpersticker though….”Don’t Trade Wade for Getting Laid”. My buddy had one on his red firebird (yes, I’m an old bastard stuck at a second job on a Friday Night)

  12. Robear Says:

    Just catching up. You cats are funny!

    All festivals say “no vending”, so, trick or treat down shakedown should be in effect!

    About to open mouth and insert foot again, but I’m guessing they dealt with the ‘curfew’ issue @ Indio in some way.

    I was hoping someone had posted fall tour dates and I missed them………

  13. halcyon Says:

    Mitch….its your mango….

    Robear….how was your day at school

    Re: Donnie Baseball….I went to the Poster Art show before Red Rocks, and one artist had used baseball cards as his business card. The one I picked was none other than donnie baseball himself.

    Have a good weekend everybody!

  14. BingosBrother Says:

    Mark Grace = most hits and doubles in the 90’s.
    Also never wore batting gloves and smoked between innings.
    Just had to rep my favorite player.
    Hate the Yanks but loved Donnie.
    Also loved Reggie, cool story about Reggies Rock Club FB.

  15. Robear Says:

    It went pretty well. I live in a small town, so I new several of the kids. It was a good first day back. thx 4 askin’.

    And still no official announcement.

  16. Mr.Miner Says:

    “Miner I went to Yankee stadium one time in my life with my brother and my dad. Mattingly hit a homer in his 6th straight game. I was 11.”

    ^^ Remember the streak distinctly! He tied the record at 8 held by Dale Long. Ken Griffey Jr. later tied them both.

    Loved the old Stadium.

    Haven’t been to the new one yet, though I hear its awesome…

  17. halcyon Says:

    If anyone is bored this weekend, and haven’t checked it out….peopleofwalmart.com will brighten your day, or make you sigh.

  18. halcyon Says:

    Hey Miner…do you remember the pine tar incident? I was 6 rows back of the Yankee Dugout….you could hear George Brett drop f-bomb after f-bomb.

  19. snigglebeach Says:

    Man we need some fall tour dates. you people are talking about baseball.

    We will be talking about trips to Home Depot in no time.

  20. joe Says:

    speaking of Boggs:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXqUhqU7hgM

  21. snigglebeach Says:

    At least talk about football

  22. fat bastard Says:

    betting on football last weekend has me broke for this one. Old STyle’s and frozen pizza tonite 🙁

  23. EL Duderino Says:

    I heard that snigglebeach

  24. Highway Bill Says:

    …..the new Yankee stadium is really nice. I went there a month ago to see a game. Joba started and he got rocked as usual, but the Yanks came back and won in the end, as usual.

  25. Lycanthropist Says:

    that gin was a nice treat… especially after being exhausted from last night and having to work all day in preparation for tomorrow’s football game..

    thanks Miner.

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