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. whole tour! Says:


  2. Brendan Says:

    To me, one of the most obvious influences Remain In Light had on Phish is with their song, Birds Of A Feather. This original phish tune, which was presumably written after Halloween ’96, has a rhythmically oriented feel to it, much like many of the Talking Head’s songs from that album.

  3. Leo Weaver Says:

    @cwc…am considering going to Sunday’s show, but will be out of town on Saturday…otherwise would probably take you up on the offer. I’ll see if any of my peeps need ’em. Your Tigers-WarEagles-Plainsmen are looking pretty good this year! Didn’t quite expect it…Chizik up for SEC CoY?

    OK…back to Phish talk.

  4. ryan Says:

    Alas, its absent from the sea of awesomeness that is phishows.com. Im on that site more than I’m on gmail

  5. kenny powers Says:

    @ wt and ryan –

    looks like phishows.com is missing that 10.31.96 show. it may be more work, but you could try to grab a torrent of the show over at bt.etree.org, then just decode the FLAC/SHN files to WAV and convert those to mp3. That is, if there are any seeders. you’d have to think there would be, what with Halloween coming up…

  6. Leo Weaver Says:

    ^have you tried the spreadsheet? lots of shows there, but he usually leaves out any livephish releases.

  7. sumodie Says:

    byb-bye Pavement….

  8. EL Duderino Says:

    @ CWC

    I need two pavilion tickets for the ABB/Panic show @ Walnut Creek in Raleigh on Sun 10/11/09.

  9. Mr.Miner Says:

    “I was one of those who missed The Born Under the Punches tease in Mikes.”

    ^^ you mean Houses In Motion – full jam in the Mikes from Talahassee

  10. JerryTimber Says:

    I know a lot of people hate on Rush, but Phish is named after the drummer and Yyz from Moving Pictures would be insane. All 4 could show off all night on just this track.

  11. Ocelot42 Says:

    I don’t hate on Rush; I love that band. I like the whole package, from its drawn-out, complex progginess to its overtly objectivist lyrics. The only thing that kept me from being a fan for a long, long time was Geddy Lee’s voice. Once I learned to accept that, I was hooked. (But, could Phish pull off any of his vocals? I know we’ve talked about that with other bands on the list, but seriously: Geddy Lee. Generous kicks to the crotch to all band members before the set to get their pitch right.)

    I don’t think Rush makes music that lets you lose yourself in the sound; It’s music that forces your brain to think while listening to it. But, that’s fine with me.

  12. cwc Says:

    @leo, never would have thought we would be 4-0. October is going to be a tough month starting this weekend at Tenn

    @dude, funds and wife only allowing me to go to Charlotte. Sorry, no Raleigh tics

  13. Chuck D Says:

    Blk Jks was a nice surpise Mr. C. I dont know what I was expecting, but it wasnt this. Thank you.

  14. Chuck D Says:

    Blk Jks was a nice suprise Mr. C. I dont know what I was expecting, but it wasnt this. Thank you.

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Kenny and El Dude, thanks for heads up on the new Team Hood

    @Robear, if you’re not familiar with either or both of the Eno albums I suggest those. Another Green World is more ambient/spacey and IMO is the direct template for Siket Disc era phish ambient improvisation – keep in mind that Eno’s albums are, well, not exactly improvised technically speaking since they are produced in a nonlinear way, but they have a high level of intentional spontaneity and even randomness in the creative process…very interesting stuff…my favorite Eno factoid was his idea to bring together musicians he specifically thought would NOT mesh well – whose styles were incompatible – to see what would come out of the competition and creative conflict.

    Eno’s a fascinating guy. Google or Wikipedia “Oblique Strategies” for another gem.

    Anyway Before and After Science is maybe a little less out there, at least for the first half of it.

    I’ll assume you know Hot Rats – if not, definitely should be at the top of the listening list.

    One thing about double vs. single albums – due to length I think with a double album they might be more constrained to stay within song structures, which would be OK on a prog album like the Genesis. But while Meddle is a short album, in live performance it could be much longer. One Of These Days could extend a lot…I could deal with a jammed out version of Fearless…and as far as I’m concerned they could play variations on Echoes for at least an hour without running out of musical space

    Hot Rats is probably already about as jammed out as it could get…

  16. SOAM Says:

    Phish is named after Neil Peart???

  17. Leo Weaver Says:

    @dude…when is your big move? coming up pretty soon isn’t it? I’m gonna have to swing by to meet you next time I’m in Raleigh…maybe you’d be so kind as to hook me up with some of your music/vids?

    @cwc…lots of shaking out about to start in the SEC, gonna be real interesting…I’m heading down to Athens for the Ga-LSU game. And not real exicited anymore about the November game with your Aubbies…

    So back to Phish for real this time…I’ve been saying for several months now that 2009 Phish has been a showcase of the best tricks and tools that they learned in their previous years (and Robear concurs)…the evolution in summer tour was a “capsule” of the band’s evolution – end of tour was showing off great aspects of all eras. What’s the next progression? If Remain in Light was the ’96 springboard for perhaps their biggest single stylistic growth, how might the upcoming album have the same effect? What new ideals and styles might spring from some of the top contenders? Just curious…I haven’t heard many of the albums and am not sure if any of the front-runners would actually foster such growth, but it’s interesting to think about. And I’ve got a lot of listening to do…will begin this weekend with Exile (in the right frame of mind or close to it).

  18. SOAM Says:

    Eno=Eh, no


  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    note – the Genesis album in live performance was apparently just as costume and theater driven as Ziggy Stardust if not more so. From what I read, at one point Gabriel would be onstage in a costume that was basically a giant inflatable dong. Or something like that. I couldn’t read the article all the way through; I sprained my eyes rolling them too hard.

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    I don’t think Phish will do an Eno album

    I just think they’re cool

  21. elbowleg Says:

    page could bust out the keytar during Tom Sawyer….

    i’ll be very pissed if I miss this

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Leo, if you are right about a new direction, which is plausible, I think the acoustic or song-oriented albums rise in probability. They’ve done prog rock, they’re done dance grooves, they’ve done ambient trance, they’ve done hard rock….

    The question is, does any of that stuff suit the Halloween party vibe? And, are they even thinking that “new directions” way, or do they just want to play something awesome?

    No one knows but them and for all we know they’re still changing their minds

  23. SOAM Says:

    How is phish named after Neil Peart?

  24. SOAM Says:

    No one has mentioned Lynard Skynard-mike plays Swamp Music-phish did freebird…

    I would dig that although it is very questionable if I’m gonna evebn be there-which is traumatic…I could get over it if I had some confirmed fall dates..are thay going to continue to make us wait..WTMFF

  25. Leo Weaver Says:

    Good follow-up Mr. C…personally I think they’re gonna go for the “something awesome” which really bums me out ’cause I won’t be there. But if any of these challenging or “different” choices are the one, what kind of new direction might it set? And based on their new tunes, I think we should all get used to more of the song-oriented tunes…but as they’ve shown with BDt#L, they can even stretch those into great pieces of improv. And for the record, my money’s on David Bowie>Ziggy>Bowie for the costume set…I think it was BK that posted it yesterday, been thinking it for some time. And I wouldn’t at all be surprised to have an extended Neil Young sit-in for the coffee and donuts set. Man I wish I were gonna be there…

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