Halloween ’96 – Changing the Game

pb1Never has one show affected the course of Phish’s musical direction as much as Halloween 1996. Deciding to cover Remain in Light, an album centered on percussive grooves, forced the band to acclimate to a different style of play. Phish approached its tracks from a rhythmic point of view; different from the arena rock psychedelia that captivated audiences throughout Fall ’95. As 1996 moved into its second half, Phish hovered in a holding pattern, ready for a fresh musical path, but not exactly sure what that would be. As a result, their initial east coast run of the Fall was nothing to write home about. But as they prepared to unveil The Talking Heads’ album for Halloween, Phish brought other musicians into the mix, and their extensive practice sessions pushed the band towards their destiny.

With the addition of Dave Grippo and Gary Gazaway on sax and trumpet, and more specifically, Santana’s percussionist, Karl Perazzo, the band worked on executing the collaborative patterns that were strewn throughout the record. Phish’s meticulous preparation for their third musical costume resulted in a masterfully interpretive set in which they killed the album from beginning to end.

During a 1998 interview with David Byrne for Sessions at West 54th, the band discussed each of their Halloween “costumes” and how they subsequently affected the band’s style. Page noted the profound influence of covering Remain In Light.

It may have had the biggest effect on us because we really learned the grooves and we really tried to get inside the grooves on the album…I took so much away from that. And the groove-oriented playing that we’ve done in the last few years – repetition, pulling things out, putting them back – all that sort of thing, a lot of it was from learning [Remain In Light].

The effects Page spoke of began to emerge at the very next show in West Palm Beach. To open the second set, Phish launched into an extended groove exploration of “Crosseyed > Antelope,” and the music sounded more like the rhythmic jamming that defined Remain In Light rather than the fast-paced, guitar-centric playing that peaked in ’95 and spilled into ’96.

10-31-96 The Omni (T.Wickersty)

10-31-96 The Omni (T.Wickersty)

“Crosseyed > Antelope” began a gradual evolution of the band’s sound throughout the rest of the fall. Starting to slow down and funk out, Phish started moving towards their groove-based playing of 1997 and beyond. When comparing the pre-Halloween shows with those after October, the changes leap out. Pieces that helped define this shift included the Auburn Hills “YEM” (11/9), the Grand Rapids “Tweezer” (11/11), the San Diego “Mike’s” (12/4), and the Vegas “2001”(12/6).

While ’96’s New Year’s Run didn’t necessarily capture this emerging style of jamming, the band was poised for a transformation come 1997. And during their winter tour of Europe in Markthalle, an intimate club in Hamburg, Germany, this evolution came together. The band references “Wolfman’s” from 3.1’s Markthalle show as the moment they realized the type of 3329098551_6cb1b984f6collaborative playing they had quested after. Everything simply clicked, bringing the community their first helping of “cow funk,” mastered and released on Slip Stitch, and Pass. And so it began – 1997’s rhythmic revolution was underway – but the process of transformation started late one Fall night in Atlanta – and Phish never looked back.

Winged music note=====

Jams of the Day:

Crosseyed > Antelope” 11.2.96 II



Ghost > Runaway Jim” 7.2.98 II


Capping a three-night stand at The Grey Hall, Phish threw down a four-song second set; this is the first half. Only the second version featuring the song’s new intro, this “Ghost” sits among the upper echelon of all-time renditions.



10.1.00 Desert Sky Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ < Torrent

10.1.00 Desert Sky Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ < Megaupload

Desert Sky Pavilion - Phoenix, AZ

Desert Sky Pavilion - Phoenix, AZ

The night after Vegas ended, Phish made their way into the desert for the last show before the final four.  Markedly better than the previous performance, “Piper > Guy Forget” (an old soundcheck song never performed live) held down the opening segment of the second set, while a thick “Camel Walk” and a solid “Bowie” closed it out.  After Phoenix started the fateful final four of 2000.

I: First Tube, Wolfman’s Brother, Back on the Train, Beauty of My Dreams, Vultures, The Inlaw Josie Wales, Billy Breathes, Llama, Lawn Boy, Runaway Jim

II: Roses Are Free, Piper > Guy Forget* > When the Circus Comes, Camel Walk, Driver, David Bowie

E: Waste


Source: B&K 4011’s > Lunatec V2 > Apogee AD-500 > Tascam DA-P1

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275 Responses to “Halloween ’96 – Changing the Game”

  1. joe Says:

    question about New Year’s 96 run. Was one of these shows 12/30 at the (former) Fleet Center and the sound completly blew but they kept playing? To this day, I don’t know if that actually happened or if my and my buddy imagined it or if Phish was just really messing with us.

  2. whole tour! Says:

    yeah…sound in the fleet center blows chunks.

  3. Jon Says:

    You talked about Fall 2000 yesterday. You should have highlighted 10/1/99 Ames. Best Antelope ever. Recognize.

  4. whole tour! Says:

    it only sounds good in the fleet center if your DFC and up close. Everywhere else in there the sound just goes flat.

  5. joe Says:

    we were dead center up front about 15 rows back for that one. The sound actually went out in the entire building (or so I think, could have been the great shrooms we bought outside of the old haymarket t stop)

  6. gus Says:

    about the sound going out…there’s a video on youtube, it’s during funky bitch I believe? I’m not sure, but it does look like it’s a genuine error, and phish just keeps on playing like nothing’s wrong.

  7. Kenny Powers Says:

    Yes Joe, it happened during Trey’s Funky B solo. I was on boomers and nearly lost it. The boys realized after a couple minutes that the sound was only coming out of their on-stage amps and went into a silent jam. Once they got the OK from Languedoc they came back into the jam in unison. Pretty cool moment.

  8. joe Says:

    and that was the nye run of 96 mentioned in the blog?

  9. Kenny Powers Says:

    it was 12.30.96, the same show where Steven Wright came out and “played” the triangle during Scent. Two trippy moments in one show. Totally underrated Reba IMO.

  10. joe Says:

    was looking for the vid of the sound going out, didn’t find it but here’s one that I’m sure everyone has seen. Phish from 12/30/94 on Letterman….


    and some that maybe the deadheads out there haven’t seen. Jerry and Bob from Letterman (part 1 or 4, all 4 are worth watching)


  11. jdub Says:

    How about Fishman wearing a longsleave under the dress on Letterman. I guess it was to much skin for public television

  12. Mitch Says:

    Mr C,
    were you saying you didn’t think the qual was going to be one of the best ever because of who did it? I had always heard that the bertha mixes were supposed to be awesome. Fill me in.

    mooching wifi and torrenting?? dude, your bandwidth must blow. theres no way you can pull a decent connection from someone upstairs and still keep a decent rate going… (end soap box, start social engineering talk) what you wanna do is go spend 100 bucks on a repeater. Apple makes an airport express base station for like 129 and it takes your neighbors signal and boosts it for you. (works on mac and pc both) then mod the software so that you are taking their signal and turning your port on the express into an ethernet source instead of uplink and you can plug directly in and get a helluva lot faster connection.
    I did that to my neighbors upstairs in college so I could play xbox live and not pay for wifi. I threw them 20 bucks at first saying I was chipping in so they would let me have the router password and give me access to the router so I could get all the ip info I needed. If its public you can skip all those steps.
    Spend 129 now and save yourself the cable costs. p.s. to make it even better; rename your airport so it broadcasts its own signal and put a password on it so leeches dont kill your bandwidth too, since after all you are sending the signal farther and people hate paying for internet.

  13. Robear Says:

    Just watched the first set of the ‘Team Hood’ video from 8/1. HOmerun. I’m now officially spoiled, way to go. (my bandwidth res. means I had to wait for a friend to download and burn me a DVD). What an awesome ‘Antelope’, in and out of the peaks and riddiculus distortion jams. Snappy tight set.

    and the ‘Feight’ tix look sweet! Even here on the edge, FedEX showed up today. ^bingosbrother, If I were a bit more enterprising…..the t-shirt crossed my mind.

    FB, what a horeshit story. They should be fined.

  14. Mdawg Says:

    I freakin’ love PHISH!!!!!!!

  15. Mitch Says:

    fat bastard,
    that blows dude. postal employees at my post office are my least favorite people to deal with. i avoid my own post office they suck so bad.

  16. Mitch Says:

    “FB, what a horeshit story. They should be fined.”


  17. whole tour! Says:

    i was just at the post office yesterday, and i was reminded why i hate it so much. They take FOREVER. There was only like 5 people in line and it took like 45 minutes.

    The ups store up the street, i’m usually in and out in 3 minutes.

  18. whole tour! Says:

    i hit up the hamburg 96 show in the car today. The ‘llama’ had a cool trey only intro like the spac llama from this summer….instead of the usual fishman drum intro. 96 truly is the most darkhorse year. Total expansion from 95, looser, yet more intricate, not quite the phunk, but not quite like any other year musically.

  19. Mitch Says:

    I really liked that interview with CK5. I was thinking what great questions the interviewer was asking and at the end I find out its the lighting guy from UM, who is also a really good light guy. Made sense after that. I really liked this part:

    JW: Have you ever had a fan come up to you during the show and ask you to turn the bass up and in the process you completely miss what you were counting and your concentration is blown?
    CK: Yes, last night as a matter of fact. Absolutely. It happens all the time. Someone messed me up trying to bum a cigarette from me last night, yelling from out there in the seats, ‘Hey you! Sir!’ [laughs]. Wow.

  20. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ Joe: http://mrminer.wordpress.com/2008/07/12/is-this-the-real-life-is-this-just-fantasy/

  21. butter Says:

    @fat bastard – don’t worry bro , my tic a spac was pocket lint from the pre rain storm, it all worked out….that sucks tho

  22. KRIVRAQ Says:

    Good read, Miner. I actually have my original VHS recording of Sessions @ West 54th where the boys and David were actually chatting about Remain In Light. Perhaps it was Mike or Trey, from memory since I haven’t seen that in a good 8+ years, that told David how they tried and tried to really get into Talking Heads heads while learning the album, trying to feel what they felt while recording it themselves. They joked and told David, “we were in your head, man!”

    Gonna HAVE to pull that one out and figure out a way to post that baby. I’ve got a whole VHS tape devoted to late 90s Phish TV sitings…Trey on a 15 second segment of NHL Cool Shots while playing a celebrity hockey game between the Flyers and Rangers at MSG.

    Gotta go to bed now, but someone please reply to this on how to put those clips up online for the community (I’m totally illiterate when it comes to uploading tunes and vids for the moment). I’ll check for any replies tomorrow/weekend. Thanks all in advance! B)

    PS– And I’d love to be able to upload my DAT collection of shows from my “vault” to the community as well. A quite lengthy undertaking I know, and time is what I don’t seem to have any of anymore. It WILL happen, I know how much we all yearn for those AUDs!!!

  23. Kenny Powers Says:

    @ KRIVRAQ,

    you can grab a torrent of that whole unedited Sessions on W. 54th DVD at


    It fits on two single-layer DVDs.

  24. Kenny Powers Says:

    ^oh, and as far as getting all those DATs online, you could shoot Jason Sobel an email over at bt.etree.org. I don’t know his actual email address but he’s pretty much the man in terms of helping peeps like you get their DATs transformed into files for the etree database. Spread the love and thanks!

  25. forbinn Says:

    notice that bruce is holding a languadoc, not a telecaster, on phish.com festival 8 albums death page? hmmmmm……bonnaroo just a teaser? personally, i’m hoping for pearl jam, genesis, or rush.

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