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. snigglebeach Says:

    I saw someone mentioned the t.v. show Fringe earlier. Love that show.

    U watch that Miner?? Done by one of Lost guys, and i know u love that show. after that show, someone was trying to kill a goat with brain waves on the Colbert Report. (no luck P.E.T.A.) that was pretty strange and far out too.

  2. Lycanthropist Says:

    I wanted to get into Fringe, being a LOST fan myself. I heard it got canceled prematurely though. It looked good. I just can’t take another show ending before it should.

    After Firefly, Arrested Development, Mr. Show and the biggest kicker of them all, Carnivale, I am jaded when it comes to TV. I was scared that LOST wasn’t going to make it to its end, but it did and I couldn’t be happier.

  3. Lycanthropist Says:

    Am dying for LOST Season 6 by the way.

    Ready to be done with it actually. Been a long, mind melting 6 years with that show.

  4. BrandonKayda Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_jZPMFBFRY&feature=related

    That Tubeage is CRAZY. Breakfast fans shoulf definitely check it out.

    I think I’m coming down with the cold/flu that’s going around. I’m gonna go to bed early tonight

  5. voopa Says:

    I miss Arrested Development! Isn’t there a movie in the works?

    @ Miner- email me your pic, I think I can help.

  6. Lycanthropist Says:

    Arrested Development is one of my all time favorite shows.

    Surprised I’m not getting any hits on the Carnivale front. If you guys haven’t seen this show, I urge you to check it out. It is one of the most intelligent, deep, beautiful, terrifying, perplexing works of film I have ever seen.

    Taking the classic battle of good and evil and enriching it with myth and lore inspired by many religious history, this show reaches depths that are usually only attainable in the best of literature.

    I strongly recommend this show, but I suggest it with a warning:

    You will be left at the end of the show with NO answers or resolution. The show was unjustly terminated for being “too smart” for TV. It was originally a 5 season story arc that was cut off at season 2.

    Despite the inevitable heartbreak of a cliffhanger that will never be resolved, it is very much worth checking out this incredible series.

  7. snigglebeach Says:

    Carnivale, was a major letdown. That series opener was one of the best shows i ever saw. Instant hook. Second season was the dumbest thing i ever saw.

    I hope Fringe does not get cancelled, besides Sons of Anarchy, it is best new show since Lost.

  8. MoOnShAkE Says:

    Lycanthropist:

    Carnivale was a very good show… but like Deadwood, didn’t get the respect it deserved by HBO, I am still upset that they cancelled Deadwood before the final fourth season.

    The hottest and funniest show I’ve seen in years is the IT Crowd (thanks again, Channel 4) too bad it hasn’t been aired in the US yet, though you can find it on the Internet

    Mr. Show w/ Bob and David was great, too. I especially love Titannica and Flat Top Tony and the Purple Canoes.

    Finally, my all-time favourite, which has probably been long forgotten, is the Larry Sanders Show. Hey Now!

  9. voopa Says:

    Hey now!

  10. beepaphone Says:

    @ mitch
    careful my girlfriend is from the region. 😉
    Lot of boilers on this site i’ve come to find

  11. Lycanthropist Says:

    @sniggle –

    curious as to what you found so terrible about the second season?
    I thought it had a lot of great moments…
    May have suffered from classic sophomore struggles.
    I find that most epics struggle in there second part to find a voice, or that they are overly burdened with plot development…
    But I felt like Carnivale Season 2 was building up great steam…

  12. dyda Says:

    rudy will await your foundation. the altered state of drugachusetts. if you’re going to write a comedy scene you’re going to have some rat feces in there. the velveteen touch of a dandy fop. etc…

    paul f tompkins, brian ennis, jay johnston, tom kenny (before spongebob), (jack black and sarah silverman too) were all great supporting cast among all the others. most recently a cople of them have turned up on tim & eric

    i’m going to see david cross in a couple weeks

    tour dates? still waiting….

  13. Lycanthropist Says:

    3×1-1 is gonna make it all right…

    its like i’m sayin…

  14. dyda Says:

    bob odenkirk says ‘what the fuck!?’ like nobody else. he plays angry so well. great stuff.

    how ’bout them Bs, huh? seems to be the only other iced cane team being represented

    hope the pens don’t lose to the leafs tonight. down 4-3 with 7 left in the 3rd. no crosby in the lineup. preseason so no real importance though.

  15. dyda Says:

    run ronnie run is pretty amusing even though b&d went alan smithee on it.

    golden age of megaphone crooning. counterfeit money machine…

  16. Lycanthropist Says:

    jeepers creepers! its the talking junkie sitting outside the movie theater that is playing Coupon: The Movie.

  17. dyda Says:

    the story of the story of the story of everest or the return of the curse of the creature’s ghost

    don’t stick your dick in these holes. these holes three are not for thee.

    the production value was just right for a sketch show too. odenkirk specifically mentioned how they were trying to pay homage to monty python in that regard; not trying to spend all kinds of money making the production all overblown like snl to distract from the fact that the writing is mediocre.

  18. Lycanthropist Says:

    we forgive you indians.

    its time for a tofutti break!

    yeah Mr. Show was definitely an incredible sketch comedy show, with little things that made it its own world.

    i.e – the music all being made in house
    the setting being in the coffeehouse they started in
    the segues of the sketches
    the running jokes and trademarks

    the supporting cast was so great too.

    I really wish that had lasted more than 4 seasons. They were totally on top of it in their 4th season too…

    Oh well chalk it up to another great gem of genius lost to the overruling class of stupidity.

  19. snigglebeach Says:

    @ Lycanthropist

    In the first season, the “supernatural” stuff, while pretty outlandish. was issolated to Nick Stahl’s character. somewhat believable.

    When the supernatural stuff started to be so widespread, it started to seem to unbelievable. Still well done. But it was very confusing. and for someone with little to no knowledge of things relating to the Bible, i got really lost. Religion is a good way to get me to lose interest.

    Again i guess i was disappointed with how muddled the show got. I remember getting goose bumps watching that first ever episode. When the little girl runs through the fields after he “heals” her. As she runs through the family crops, all the crops die. And his mom drowning the kitten. That was such an F’d up show. I thought that show lost momentum and that edge.

  20. Lycanthropist Says:

    @sniggle –

    i suppose i can see your point a little.
    but for me this expansion of the mythology of the show is what was so great about it.
    That first season you knew so little, just like the characters in the show. So as you discover the spiritual warfare that has been going on for generations and generations, you do it along with the characters. And it runs so much further down the bloodline than you could have ever imagined in those first few episodes.

    The supernatural elements didn’t really expand to the other characters as much as the priest and the boy were starting to realize their powers more in my opinion.

    The priest’s storyline got extremely intense and disturbing, and maybe
    they pushed that a little harder than necessary.

    I agree that the writers left a lot of the historical and biblical allusions very opaque and hard to grasp. I found myself doing tons of research after every episode just to keep up. Yet this is one of the things that made me so fond of the show. I love to be challenged and I rarely find that kind of mental stimulus outside a book, let alone a TV show.

  21. pabalive Says:

    I just read this and want to extend a huge thanks to Minor.

    This show was such an amazing moment in my time of seeing Phish. I completely forgot about the idea that we had no idea what to expect walking in, you are correct about the feelings during Harpua…assuming that this would be the obvious launching pad. It took me a couple songs(due to my state of mind) to realize that holy shit, they are going to play the whole White Album! Then, at 3:15 am you hear the opening notes to Antelope…I turned to my buddy and said, “these guys are fucking crazy!” What a great night, your write up did it justice. Its funny because everytime I miss a big Phish show(I’ll miss 8), I think to myself, “whatever, I saw the White Album played…it can’t possibly top that.”

  22. Pence Says:

    Word Pab^…..Trey looks like a fucking Muppet with that hair in those vids, love it.

  23. ThePigSong Says:

    wow that second video rages! oh how I wish I was around for that, yet I’m not so sure I could handle the modern era of Phish if I was.

  24. dyda Says:

    is that the pic from the encore of the first night of hampton during the balloon drop with trey saving page? like the smiles. kinda hard to tell with it being so small but yeah good pic.

    will there be phish gelt or was that just a 10.31.94 thing?

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    @sniggle – word – anytime it turns out the symbolism or mythology in a show is based on biblical stories I’m done instantly – total boycott – not interested

    Lost had me nervous that way for a bit but seems OK

    if I want fairy tales I’ll read the Brothers Grimm

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