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. guyforget Says:

    just got my 8 tix today. not using them. make me an offer.

  2. youenjoy09 Says:

    @ Mr. C

    the interview with Kuroda is somewhat depressing. He keeps talking about how running the lighting rig by himself these days is more enjoyable – for himself. However, as a result, the concert attendee has to “sacrifice.” (in regards to the light show not being as seamless and mellifluous as years past). “I make a lot more mistakes because I can’t call cues to other people. But I can live with the mistakes… It’s bringing the fun back for me.”

    How is this acceptable to phish? Tens of thousands of fans in attendance are presented with a light show that now contains more mistakes and less fluid changes, all so that the lone light operator more fully enjoys himself?!? How does this make sense? I’m not trying to be a downer here, I think he is amazing, but this seems odd….

  3. youenjoy09 Says:

    wouldn’t one assistant be reasonable?

  4. snowbank Says:

    Hmm, I feel like you left out the key sentence:
    ” But I can live with the mistakes for the overall picture. ”

    My impression was that CK felt he was able to create a better light show with the new technology. But maybe “overall picture” means that he is having a better time?

    IMHO, the lights look great. I have noticed some weird transitions, but chalked it up to early season form. Is there a sense that the quality of the show has declined?

  5. youenjoy09 Says:

    I think they look amazing as well….just pondering…

  6. Walfredo Says:

    guy- I would probably pay $300 for a pair. Do you have 1 or 2 extras?

    If you are ripping on CK5 you don’t get it… The lights were SICK this summer. Hampton still the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. Dude has not lost a step. “We want you to be happy!” Phish dedicated their last album to keeping him on board.

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    @El Dude – there are definitely some, maybe many, shows for which the Bertha remaster is the best currently circulating source. He is good at taking a flat or thin sbd recording and making it fuller, richer, and warmer. So Wall of Sound era stuff or the early 80s cassette-master recordings can really benefit. Some of these Bertha remasters take a C quality original and bring them up to B+/A- level, which is certainly worthy. I just think he over-processes sometimes.

    @youenjoy09, re: Kuroda – I thought that too. As I read on, though, I took it as referring more to the learning curve. I think he’s not simply accepting those mistakes as being part of the show forever, but acknowledging them in the present, as he gets used to the new system, and “accepting” that as part of the process.

    I only saw the 2 Gorge shows and probably was only watching the lights about a third of the time or less, but I thought he seemed pretty damn tight. More or less his usual stupendously impressive self. 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).

    Most interesting to me was the fact that he *didn’t* use preset sequences until now! No wonder he used assistants! With my very minimal lighting experience I was able to confirm that he was using preset cues while watching him for a few minutes, but I had started with that assumption. My mind is a little blown to learn it wasn’t always the case.

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    of all the people involved with Phish, band members included, I think CK has the clearest claim to being the best of all time in his field. He would deny it I bet, but no other LD works with an improvising band the way he does. His work is categorically different and superior. IMO.

  9. guyforget Says:

    walfredo, i have 2 plus a RV pass.

    i would take 300 for the pair.

  10. guyforget Says:

    the light at RR were off the meter…

  11. youenjoy09 Says:


  12. bearito Says:

    Afternoon folks! Just finished listening to those jotd and it was just what I needed after a long day. Definitely one of the best groove-nasty Ghosts I’ve heard to date.

    Lights = sic imo

    @ guy – tix + camping pass?

  13. guyforget Says:

    ^ I have two tix + RV pass. Paid $570 for them, but now i can’t go due to job relo to PDX. Would obviously like to get back as much dough as possible, but i know there isn’t a strong market for them

  14. bearito Says:

    I just need one. That’s all you Walfredo.

  15. albert walker Says:

    Great news with this new RR DVD
    pretty stoked

    because of everyone’s mixed feelings on the Billy sit in the beginning of the 2nd set gets overlooked

    Boogie on was nasty and the YEM could be best so far
    looking forward to the spin

  16. EL Duderino Says:

    Was it the light show? Or the fact that they’re high def lights, a whole new rig and light board? Technology has gone pretty fast since ’04 and I’m pretty sure it was the same rig as ’00. Something to think about. Are the lights really better with CK doing them all by himself?

  17. snowbank Says:

    I hear ya Mr C on CK being the only leader in his field. Of all of the amazing things that are Phish… I always feel like Trey must be controlling the lights with his mind or something. It is just freaky how CK integrates them with the music. It is something that I took for granted early on… they’re lights, what’s so tough? … with age I appreciate what a big role they play in the show. I talked to a guy that had never seen phish before the week after, all he could talk about were the lights and he had seen many, many concerts.

  18. EL Duderino Says:

    @ AW

    Are you watching the new DVD already?

    I’m only 48% done!

  19. guyforget Says:

    RR DVD??? Just got on and havnen’t read through, can someone tell me the deal or tell me which page to go to?

    I didn’t see any cameras anywhere for any nights, unless coming from the soundboard area, which was behind me all nights (sweet)!!

  20. albert walker Says:

    no dude, looking forward to
    on my cpu we’re talking tomorrow night, earliest
    We’re pimping wireless from upstairs need to get better service

  21. albert walker Says:

    team hood released DVD’s a week ago of the 3rd night 4th night are up today

    They are on Traders Den

  22. guyforget Says:

    oh,gotcha. thx.

  23. whole tour! Says:

    RE gd10.01.94….

    the source IMHO

  24. EL Duderino Says:

    page one under my name.

  25. EL Duderino Says:

    @ AW

    You gonna go see Stop Making Sense Movie tonight @ the Navy Pier I-Max Theater?
    gonna see if I can still get tix!

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