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. wvbrdr Says:

    Mr. C, Im at work right now, won’t get home till late. email me at wvbrdr at yahoo dot com and I’ll try to get it to you tomorrow.

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Mitch I have been borderline sick for a couple days and not doing anything music related at home in the evening – I am DEFINITELY going to try that in the next few days

    @wvbrdr – no – would love to hear that – some of my finest tripping memories are Atom Heart Mother related. hook me up with a link? or I can send you login info for my mediafire, you could drop it there if its handy

  3. Leo Weaver Says:

    @wvbrdr…that’s kinda what I was getting at with my initial thoughts…do any of these choices have the potential to really encourage another evolution, whether forward or backwards. And great response (as usual) from Mr. C.

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    really not sure what kind of evolution or lasting change Ziggy Stardust would bring about – Trey keeps the stilettos and makeup? – but it’d still be great 😮

  5. Leo Weaver Says:

    I knew Byrne was all over the place artistically, just never really paid that much attention outside of his music…until I saw his bike racks, which gets into my professional world. Just wish I could get a few of those here in Charlotte. And yes, it’s all definitley “interesting”

  6. wvbrdr Says:

    I think London Calling has the potential for a stellar direction with the band.

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    this thing just amazes me


    so creative – to me this is what great art is all about

    best part was, he didn’t play it first. he let the people play it. he figured if he demo’d it, people would think there was a “right way” to do it. so he just stayed out of the way.

  8. Ocelot42 Says:

    Mr. C, I was stoked to see Genesis on the list because I’m a big fan, but I was disappointed to see it was LLDOB. Maybe it was overhyping, but I don’t even rate it as a top three Genesis album. For my money, the ones immediately preceding it blow it out of the water. Selling England By The Pound, Tresspass, Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot all rank above it in my opinion. LLDOB just seemed too vocally driven and less creative from a full-band standpoint for a lot of the tracks. In your spare time when you have no music to listen to (HA!), pop in Selling England by the Pound or Tresspass. Those are much more “interesting” if you ask me.

    Still holding out for The Yes Album, personally. Starship Troopers through Perpetual Change. Hell yes.

  9. AintNoTele Says:

    Mr C,

    Can you leave the BBC sessions up for the evening? I can’t get to my home computer until 8ish

  10. Little Buddy Says:

    Mr. C – I went to the D. Byrne Playing the building exhibit with my wife and son (who was 6 months old at the time). It was so unbelievably cool. People would wander around the building while others took turns playing it. It was honestly one of the coolest things we’ve ever done. My 6 month old some was able to “play the building” just as well as anyone else by simply banging on the keys and playing with the knobs on the organ. Really, really cool!

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    from the reading I did online last night I actually thought those earlier albums sounded like they might be more my thing. I will check them out.

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    @LB – wow you actually got to do it! That’s great! I’m very jealous. Maybe it will come to the west coast at some point.

    @Tele – the ’71 session is up at mediafire.com/mrcompletely and I have no intention of taking it down soon…or ever really. If/when I get the other one, I will leave it up as well.

  13. Leo Weaver Says:

    Wow…that’s amazingly impressive and very artistic on many levels…thanks for the links! A day inside that guy’s head could be pretty interestingly intenst.

  14. Leo Weaver Says:

    intersetingly intense…

  15. Leo Weaver Says:

    excuse me again…interestingly intense…damn fingers…

  16. wvbrdr Says:

    Miner, these seem to be posting out of order again today.

  17. Robear Says:

    wvbrder, I thought it was just me. I’m subbing today and posting from school. My posts seem to appear, then disappear. It might just be the school ISP or filter’s or something. Maybe it’s Miner’s site?

    So anyway, the parents want to meet my daughter and I in Florida for Christmas / New Year’s. (grinning ear to ear at the suggestion). It looks like I’ll see some of you in Miami for a couple of the shows. Now, which nights to attend, and how to let my parents know gently.

  18. bhizzle Says:


    Joy Box unveiling from Phish Update

  19. Ocelot42 Says:

    Aha. I thought it was some weird glitch on my end yesterday when I posted a comment only to see it appear in front of the comment I had just read. I guess I can stop looking to see who installed a time machine card in my computer.

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    time turns elastic

    definitely happening

    @wv will email thx

  21. butter Says:

    99 albums = homework given to us by Phish (required listening for 1st semester midterm exam*8*)

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    Robear yr previous post did appear fwiw

  23. Jay Says:

    Will we need to tattoo the comments to our chest like in Memento to keep track of the conversations here?

  24. Robear Says:

    ‘TTE’ acoustic.

  25. KWL Says:

    ^exactly what I was thinking, Robear. TTE will anchor the acoustic set.

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