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. Completely Says:

    El Dude – according to article a completely different rig in ’09 – basically all new

  2. albert walker Says:

    no Dude, you know me, don’t leave the crib
    logistics for going to Navy Pier kind of whacked
    guess I could take a cab in and out

  3. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Mr. C

    That was my point. The lights may seem better ‘cuz of the new rig doesn’t mean that the l show is. I’m not saying that it’s bad or worse but that cat a couple of pages ago did make a couple of good points.

  4. EL Duderino Says:

    You can’t buy tickets on-line anyway so I guess I’m out, unless Mark calls and says I got you one.

  5. whole tour! Says:

    yeah….the new rig blows 2000’s rig away.
    hell, 03-04’s light rig was also new at the time.
    there were even EXTRA banks of lights over the crowd g-boro 03…

  6. albert walker Says:

    I felt at Hampton, which is the perfect canvas for CK, he blew it fuckin up
    did not notice as much outdoors, although red rocks had some real nice moments.

    I’m sure with any profession may take a tour or tour to get everything going, especially with the new rig

    I saw Creek with a lighting guy here in Chi and he was blown away
    impressed that CK got all the cool toys since they stopped touring
    could not believe how fat the new rig was

  7. whole tour! Says:

    compare 1996’s light rig to 09…..no comparison.

  8. whole tour! Says:

    both asheville and knox had amazing indoor lights
    in knox, ck5 was lighting up the crowd behind the stage terrance mckenna alien ship style. i’ve never in my life seen shit like that before.

  9. beepaphone Says:

    The JotD is my favorite Ghost. That shit is so hot.

  10. shpongleyez Says:

    Rig is better: no doubt. CK5 rocks the house: no doubt.

    But it is a little odd to hear, “I’m having more fun, so mistakes be damned”. Albeit, that this is part of a greater whole.

    Anyhow, Phish rules. Wooo

  11. snowbank Says:

    “”But it is a little odd to hear, “I’m having more fun, so mistakes be damned”. Albeit, that this is part of a greater whole.””

    I don’t think that is what he was saying. I thought he was saying that the technology makes the light show so much better, that it was worth the mistakes he was making as he learned it.

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    I see what you meant, El Dude.

    I agree with snowbank tho

    I also agree with beepaphone re: that Ghost

  13. larry bird flu Says:

    a better ghost than 11/17/97 or 7/6/98? surely you jest mr c

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    Miner, you have this one? Or anyone? Never heard it.

    Thursday, 04/04/1991 WOW Hall, Eugene, OR

    ^^got a SBD coming for DotD tomorrow!

  15. Mr.Miner Says:

    7/6/98 is not up therein best Ghosts IMO…Trey rips the jam a new one, but in terms of best Ghost, I can think of a LOT I’d put ahead…..7/6 was a sick experience though. Second song of the show i think??

  16. albert walker Says:

    The release of these 99 records and the discussions on this site has reinforced what I always thought

    I don’t like any of the same bands as Phish fans
    I like a lot of the same bands as Phish

    so far every album they’ve played is one of my favs
    most of the bands and albums loved on this site, not my cup of tea

  17. larry bird flu Says:

    thats a fair point miner. i think i got caught up in the fact that trey does just destroy that jam. how could i forget the IT ghost. my first show and easily the best version ive seen thus far

  18. Mr.Miner Says:

    WTF are they releasing all these RR DVDs and not 7.31?!?!?!

  19. Mr.Miner Says:

    aw…quite a headier than thou statement 😉

  20. Mr.Miner Says:

    there are a lot of great ghosts….radio city ring a bell?

  21. larry bird flu Says:

    yeah AW not for nothing but im pretty sure you werent the first, or last person to like the white album

  22. Mr.Miner Says:

    “I don’t like any of the same bands as Phish fans
    I like a lot of the same bands as Phish”

    ^which do you like / dislike? Just curious since I agree with most of what you usually say re: music

  23. larry bird flu Says:

    true miner. i dunno why i keep forgetting all of these excellent ghosts out there.

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    miner – either they’re working on it, or problems with the source material?

    thx for WOW Hall sbd, always wondered. Knew a lot of people in town who attended but none of them had coherent memories (exactly like by 90/91 shows – “uh it was great…I think they played…uh…that one really sick song? and there was a vacuum cleaner”)

    @larry – there are a stack of Ghosts that are all at about the same level objectively, same for most big jam tunes I guess

    which one is a particular favorite is subjective, that one is mine for a couple reasons

    first because it was the recording that finally got me all the way back into being a phish fan when I heard it later that year

    second because as I have repeated ad nauseum I think the FOB pull of that is the best audience recording I have heard to date – or at least I know of none better – and just the SOUND of it when the jam is peaking is unparalleled – certainly superior to the LP SBD of the Denver show.

    So “best ever,” I wouldn’t say. But definitely my favorite. And I think objectively it’s at that highest level.

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    FWIW I consider albert to be one of my musical gurus recently

    we disagree on a solid 5-10%: Marley, mid period floyd, and this genesis album are all I can think of

    anything he recommends I take note of, period

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