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

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Ghost > Runaway Jim” 7.2.98 II

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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. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ def at the level….personally, I think Radio City takes the cake….

  2. larry bird flu Says:

    @mr. c, you are right, the quality on this grey hall ghost is incredible. my god why cant all aud’s sound this good?

  3. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Neat CK article.

    I am looking for one extra for the Festival for the missus.

    Is there no good ticketboard. I am looking to help someone no lose there shirt on one ticket.

    Looking forward to the RR4 video tonight.

    In 4 weeks time I will be enroute to the festival.

    Getting excited.

  4. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Mr. C

    Your opening a can of worms by giving AW props like that. It’ll go straight to his head. Trust me, I know. But on the other hand, to know AW is to love him. He’s one of a kind.

  5. joe Says:

    question for some of the experienced road warriors out there. How long would a drive from Boston, MA to Indio take if you were kind of in a rush, but planned on stopping to sleep every night?

  6. EL Duderino Says:

    @ larry bird flu

    ‘Cuz Phish doesn’t play that small of venues/theaters more like here in the states. Sheds/indoor stadium suck for acoustics.

  7. larry bird flu Says:

    joe id say you would probably need 4 or 5 days time

  8. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Joe
    3 days safely

  9. EL Duderino Says:

    Check that, larry bird flu is correct

  10. larry bird flu Says:

    ok i take back everything i said prior, that ghost RAGES! im going to go hang my head in shame for doubting you both, mr c and miner

  11. joe Says:

    wish I could leave now and just enjoy a nice trip across the country, but wouldn’t mind seeing some of the ‘flyover country’ if I can squeeze a few extra days to have a road trip. Still not 100% going, but the percentage is inversely proportional to the countdown clock on this site.

  12. KWL Says:

    @joe, fwiw it took me 2 full days to drive Buffalo NY to Denver CO last week, 25 hours of total driving time. Denver is still pretty damn far from Indio.

  13. joe Says:

    it’s definitely cheaper and easier to fly when it’s all said and done, but not as much of an experience. Bring a Camera, make a ‘road movie’ or something.

  14. EL Duderino Says:

    That far… You really should fly. The trick is ground transport once yer there.

  15. butter Says:

    tickets for fest 8 in hand….fuck yea!!!

  16. butter Says:

    Re: Kuroda, interesting that he has no assistants any more. He came down to the 2nd row and kicked it right behind us at Spac during some of the second set. it may have been during the Harpua segment can’t really remember exactly, but we were kickin it with him for a song, and i just assumed his assistances were doing lights.

  17. whole tour! Says:

    there are many many all time best versions of ghost…

    off the top of my head 7-23-97 will always reign supreme. It was a monster in the same sense that “crosseyed > antelope” is a monster…it is just a fucking MONSTER dino funk excursion.

    then the deer creek 98 ghost rages the fuck out!

    7-4-99 ghost > slave….def an all timer

    radio city…groove fest

    Asheville ghost was both different and sick at the same time.

  18. butter Says:

    “I think most of his “mistakes” are only visible to him (altho now that he’s copped to it I bet the haters come out of the woodwork claiming they saw it all along).”

    that is true and funny Mr. C

  19. BrandonKayda Says:

    Has anybody here seen the Darien Lake DVD’s? I recently got a copy of the second set from a friend, it is pretty good stuff. Aside from the drop in energy in the middle (Sparkle, Horse->Silent) it was a pretty hot set. Trey could’ve been a little tighter on some songs (Rift, Caspian, Sparkle) sure but overall good old school song selection. The Antelope-Suzy-Fluffhead to close it out was a rocking way to go out. The Drowned to kick it off is pretty nuts as well.

    Looking forward to Festival 8! Got my money on Ziggy Stardust/Exile/Ladyland as the Halloween Cover.

  20. PT Says:

    Wow, I [used to? ok, well. still, but some spaces in-between :o)] consider myself pretty well-schooled in “Phishtory” but 1) I did not know where the Grey Hall was located, and 2) I have never even heard of this noted Ghost – it’s effing great! Must have a blank space….

  21. butter Says:

    yea BK the Antelope, Suzy , Fluffhead , E: Joy , First Tube was smokin’…..cuz this is your Fluff Joy Tube

  22. BingosBrother Says:

    @Robear : “Feight” Love it. Great t-shirt possibilities.

  23. Kenny Powers Says:

    joe i think that would be an amazing trip (i live in Boston too) IF you kind of took your time, like at least week each way. if you book it the whole time and are driving you won’t really get to enjoy the scenery too much…or you might crash trying!

  24. joe Says:

    it’s a fun thing to daydream about while working at 9 oclock at night anyway Kenny. In my fantasy world, I’d drive out there and fly back. Where all this time and money to do these things comes from is the tough part. (although quitting this job tomorrow would at least solve one part)

  25. fat bastard Says:

    Just got home and found my ticket outside by my stairs in a puddle! no shit! The Fed Ex folder is soaked through and so is the ticket but I got it! if it were torn or unreadable I’d have gone postal on the postman.

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