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. EL Duderino Says:

    Miss him every day I do!!!

  2. albert walker Says:

    come on dude TNK and baba were played as encores together in the end
    lame shit

  3. SOAM Says:

    Excuse me senor alberto-but shit-the first time I heard Baba>TNK -I got off–in fact Baba and All Too Much were vinnies best tunes-imo.

    The fuckin drums in TNK were fat-always wanted a Otherone>TNK>Otherone

  4. EL Duderino Says:

    What ever They never were encores or tunes I wanted to see anyway

  5. SOAM Says:

    Kicking up rocks in the hot sun…..

  6. albert walker Says:

    astral project playing at Green Mill tonight

    Johhny vidacovic on drums with some other great New Orleans players
    Caught them a few times in the past year
    Pretty heady jazz fused with some rock, funk, world kind of thing
    Real tight band with a great sound

  7. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Let’s get back on the train…..

    sadly last night I lost two huge arms of my cactus, not “the Cactus”, that would be even worse.

    Non-sequitur over.

    It will only be 95 here today in the desert, my pool is barely above 80, Imay need a wetsuit tis PM when I play with the kiddos whiel tele-commuting and salvaging the cactus arms.

  8. VTsnowboarder802 Says:

    seriously berzerker? wetsuit?
    we’re going to get frost in VT tonight. how’s that for shrinkage?

  9. Jay Says:

    All this talk of Jerry has made my eyes water a little. Miss him. I’m with those who question the validity of Vince in the band. I could never figure it out.

    It’s a long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, waaaaay, way to scratch that chalkboard.

  10. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I’ve been loving the cooler fall-like weather we’ve had all week here in MA. I can’t imagine 95 right now. I’m psyched for the low 60s and sunny tomorrow. It’ll be a good day to get outside and climb some rock!

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    Astral Project is a great little band. Johnny V. is one of the hippest drummers around, a guy with heavy top level jazz skills and that effortlessly funky N’awlins backbeat. Truly high caliber music, great energy…hadn’t heard them mentioned in awhile. Highly recommended.

    @wv, yes I was there – my last trip to shoreline for the Dead, came back for Phish in ’99, a nice full circle

    bruce also re-invigorated Phil and sparked some remarkable trio interplay

    but now the rest of the band guys treat bruce like an outsider, very sad

  12. KWL Says:

    have a great weekend all, I am now officially abd, so its paaaaarrrrtyyy tiiiiiiiiiiiiime!!

  13. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i don’t recognize anyone anymore with all these crazy pictures

  14. KWL Says:

    also, thanks for the head’s up on the 8/16/91 Scarlet>Victim>Fire. Sick!

  15. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    completely is supposed to be pink. what is going oooon

  16. EL Duderino Says:

    Aw and myself had seen the HeadHunters together at the WickerPark Festival three years ago w/Johnny V.

  17. Jay Says:

    Saw Johnny V. with Robert Walters (just them 2) at a real small bar upstairs from a restaurant. About 150 people there. Real cool. Talked to Robert W. at set break and he was like “what a cool place! We can play anything we want!”

  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    @KWL, yeah, glad you like that

    There’s some great stuff in ’91, that’s right up there

    @fo0l, the pink was getting me down, that’s actually what sparked all of this…I finally decided I had to figure out how to change that thing

    @dude – wow

    headhunters with johnny v?

    that’s pretty dope

  19. pence Says:

    @El Dude…I love jerry too, and I dont mean to be rude, and with all due respect, and so on…you couldnt find a more attractive jerry pic than that one? Idk if it has some meaning to you but he looks like a blind hippie Dr. Emmett Brown from Back to the future part 3. imo.

  20. pence Says:

    http://moldychum.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341bf93e53ef010536f01178970c-800wi

  21. Chuck D Says:

    I thought it was The Dude…

    http://a0.vox.com/6a00c2251d2769549d0109810ca2e0000c-320pi

  22. Billy Breathes Says:

    Love that Clifford Ball DVD. Wow. Just amazing.

    The Phish.

    Fall Tour?!

  23. albert walker Says:

    Yeah I’ve seen Johnny V play with a bunch of different cats

    noticed about a few years ago his band Astral Project plays pretty regularly at the Green Mill and have caught it a handful of times impressed to say the least

    he is New Orleans drumming

  24. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    I keed. I’ll get into water as low as 52, after 4 fingers of scotch neat and a nug. Sad part is that some summers the pool can approach 94 and that is hardly refreshing.

    Right now it is just refreshing.

    I woul like to remind everyone that today is the 10 year anniversary of quite possibly one of the most significant Boogie On’s in phishstory. In my book the top, though I was there.

  25. albert walker Says:

    all this Jerry and Hornsby talk

    had to throw on the old 6/17/91 Giants Stadium
    nothing like first puff of the day and a fatty Eyes opener
    gotta love it

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