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. Leo Weaver Says:

    @AW…thanks for the Eno-Byrne recommendation. I wrote it down last night (in my Waterwheel Foundation setlist book…it’s a great little thing for a small donation to help a good cause!) and look forward to giving it a listen.

    And on the topic of Byrne, he’s moved into sculpture. He won a bicycle rack design competition in NYC last year I think. Interesting stylized figures that will double as public art and bike racks…Mitch, you’ve probably seen one or two around the city.

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    @SOAM – west coast festy I think may be a case of them getting too much of what they wanted

    that one interview, Trey said the festival conversation literally started with “where can we have it that the traffic won’t be a nightmare” and Indio was the answer – because it’s very accessible, and presumably also because of the west coast location would keep things under control

    they just weren’t counting on:
    1) grown up fans aren’t as mobile in the fall as they are in summer
    2) lot of people spent all their money in summer
    3) economy in general makes it hard to blow big pile of cash


    I think the idea was good but it might be burning them a little now

  3. bhizzle Says:

    lol…..”(too many-this rounds on me-whhoohhooos!)”

  4. Little Buddy Says:

    SOAM – If it was up to my wife we’d be going on tour with our kid. I’m not saying I wouldn’t love to do it, but forgoing all I’ve done in the last ten years to build a career, family, and stable life isn’t something I can do. Not with the kid in the picture now. Maybe I should hook you guys up… JK.

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    Byrne does all kinds of sculptural stuff and other weird, very creative modern art. He took a building and turned it into a playable instrument and let anyone off the street play it. He did a tour where he presented Powerpoint shows as art. A true artist – I don’t love everything he does, but it’s all interesting.

    @albert I also have no interest in the Wall. I like “mid period” Pink Floyd a lot too – up through Animals and Wish You Were Here. I don’t listen to Dark Side anymore really but respect its place in history. I think both Animals and Wish hold up as very pointed and even profound bits of social criticism, dark psycholody and great music.

    And yes there is a big pile of music I just despise. Not naming names though.

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    the sole specific critique of this Genesis I’ll make is that while I’m listening to it I mostly think how I’d rather be listening to one of those Floyd albums I just mentioned, or Aja by Steely Dan.

  7. Stupendous Says:

    The Wall would drag BIG TIME! If its a floyd album let it be UMAGUMMA!

  8. Danny B Says:

    I know that I am in the minority, but I love every single Pink Floyd album, even The Final Cut and Division Bell. I love the stuff with Syd, just as much as the stuff without Waters. I even love On an Island, and all the other Gilmour solo albums. But most of that has to do with the fact that Gilmour is one of my favorite top 5 guitarists of all time.

  9. Pencilneck Says:

    Thriller plz.

  10. wvbrdr Says:

    I have been finding Floyd kind of…. boring lately. Just doesn’t have the same draw for me any more. The only Floyd I listen to anymore are a couple BBC sessions from ’70 and ’71. Good live Echoes and Atom Heart Mother. But even that tends to drag on…

  11. Mr.Miner Says:

    added 11.2 Crosseyed > Antelope to JoTD

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    the sole specific critique of this Genesis I’ll make is that while I’m listening to it I mostly think how I’d rather be listening to one of those Floyd albums

    ^ I think its on the level, with more grooves in it…..

  13. Dublin97 Says:


    I don’t post on here often, but do read you regularly. Today’s post was very, very well done. A good idea, well supported, and well written. Thanks, this is what keeps me coming back….

  14. wvbrdr Says:

    so, would a zappa album get the band thinking about writing interesting composed pieces like reba and divided sky again?

  15. whole tour! Says:

    ‘added crosseyed > antelope to JOTD’


  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    Today’s Jams of the Day are both top 10 all time Phish favorites of mine, very nice

    I didn’t listen to Floyd at all for about 10 years…was totally burnt on it all…so have been enjoying it again recently. The 71 BBC session (which is in my mediafire if anyone doesn’t have it) is my favorite Floyd thing these days…and even on that I added a track marker to Echoes about 2/3rds of the way through ’cause I rarely want to hear all of the loooooong spacy “underwater” interlude, so I can skip right to where the music picks back up

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    the version of “Fat Old Sun” on that ^^^ is just epic

  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    great question @wvrbdr – ’cause instead of bringing in a new element through an acoustic/song oriented album, they could go backwards down the number line towards their origins with the FZ, Crimson or other composed stuff

  19. whole tour! Says:

    love me some granchester meadows

    ‘rain in the country’ too

  20. SOAM Says:

    I love Floyd-maybe loved-have not listened to them for years-but loved em like no other for a while–christ-the wall is incredible to me-even the slow songs-I love every single one of ’em-I even love final cut-“Not now John”-easy on the burnouts in High School-I used to listen to the wall before every game-last song before warmups-“Run Like Hell”-and I was not burnt (at that point too badly)

  21. wvbrdr Says:

    Mr. C, have you heard the 70 BBC session? Just as epic. Atom Heart Mother with full choir. must have been crowded in that room.

  22. Robear Says:

    Thx, Mr. C, I’ll see if I have those on a hard drive. If they announce dates on October 16th, does that mean no mail order? Maybe they do have something new up their sleeves regarding tickets.

    In some ways, I think they could sell MORE tickets to Feight if they would announce the fall dates. It’s looking to be a limited (geographically, and number of shows) tour. People in ignored parts of the country might think, ‘I’d rather spend $1000 bucks for Indio than $1000 to travel to MSG for 3 nights.’ December in NYC = potentially freezing!

    My parents want my daughter to meet them in Florida between Christmas and New Year’s. (robear tries to contain laughter and joy when making plans with mom) I haven’t told them that Phish will be in Miami. Guess I’ll see you all there, at least a couple nights. Which ones to hit???….!!!

  23. Mitch Says:

    Back to what Kenny Powers said about converting files from flac or shn to mp3… if any of you missed it, I finished the scripts for mac users to make the process easier.


    Did anyone use it? Feedback??

  24. whole tour! Says:

    all of them 😉

  25. NRM Says:

    @MM – very good post today. I especially agree with RIL as a key turning point. But I might suggest that “the early East Coast fall run was nothing to write home about” is rather generous. The Lake Placid show is possibly the worst Phish show I’ve ever seen. I know, I know, they can’t be on all the time. Perhaps after The Clifford Ball there was bound to be a letdown, but really, not worthy. Yet they picked themselves back up, dusted off, and plowed right through to the next level with Halloween and West Palm Beach!

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