A Happy Halloween

After nailing their costume of  Exile On Main Street, Phish emerged for their third set of Halloween. Usually reserved for uber-exploratory, dark jamming, the final sets of Halloweens past have featured ’94’s demonic “David Bowie,” ’95’s colossal “You Enjoy Myself,” ’96’s combo of “Maze” and a dark-horse “Simple,” and ’98’s terrorizing masterpiece of “Wolfman’s Brother.” So when the band came out for their final frame, it wasn’t a leap of faith to think that we were in for some heavy psychedelia, ’09 style. But when the dust settled after the triumphant five-song set, many were left wondering where the ghosts and goblins had gone?

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

Instead of delving into their hallowed haunted experiments, Phish laid down their most upbeat and cheerful Halloween set ever. Many waited for the spooks to arrive, but even when the band launched into a third set “Ghost,” no harrowing darkness emerged. Slightly thrown, waiting to hear a larger and more sinister piece of music, expectations poked at my third set experience.

10.30.09 (W.Rogell)

10.30.09 (W.Rogell)

Opening the set with “Backwards Down the Number Line” seemed like an odd Halloween choice, but remembering the burgeoning versions of late-summer, it seemed Phish would use their favorite new-school vehicle to take us into the abyss. The last times we heard the song, it blossomed into uncharted psychedelia at SPAC and Chicago. But on this night in Indio, the jam barely broke form, and when it did, it spilled right into “Fluffhead.” Featuring the once-elusive opus in almost every big set this year, Phish played a particularly strong version of their revived composition. And when “The Arrival” hit, the tree-sized tiki-torches that surrounded the concert field shot blasts of fire for the first time of the weekend. A triumphant guitar solo had the crowd in the palm of Trey’s hand, and upon the ending of the song, Phish dropped into the “Ghost” we had been waiting for.

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

“The Indio Ghost” – it sounded nasty before it even started. As Phish darted into the jam, they carried a distinct rock and roll texture with them. Some short clav patterns and rhythm chops would be as funky as this version got, as the band veered away from deep groove or dark psychedelia in favor of a straight forward rock grooves. Minutes into this section, Page initiated a piano pattern that spurned a gradual, band-wide peak into the fields of bliss. Trey decided he would take this one as far from the dark side as possible, doubling as a geyser of spiritual melodies in one of the most energetic peaks of the weekend. A relatively concise jam ended on very high note before winding back down into the song’s ending. A solid version no doubt, but certainly nothing eerie or supernatural.

10.31.09 (G.Lucas)

10.31.09 (G.Lucas)

At this point, it became clear Phish chose a different path for this Halloween set, or perhaps their emotions just brought them there. Having just finished the Exile set, and no doubt hanging with all of their guests during setbreak, the obviously fun energy of their evening may have led them to choose feel-good music to finish off the night. And in the Phish universe there is nary a feel-good song like “You Enjoy Myself.” The ensuing version that followed a “Circus” interlude transformed into an instant show highlight with a series of grooves and continual peaks that showcased the band’s precision and passion on this special night. Phish slaughtered their classic in one of the strongest renditions of the year. An extended bass vamp led into a vocal jam in which Kuroda improvised with the fire of the tiki-torches rather than the stage lights – creating the most entertaining ending segment in memory.

Following the vibe of the show, the encore brought back the horns and singers for a blistering gospel-rock version of “Suzy Greenberg, complete with a “Suzy Reprise” jam once the song ended. It may have been Halloween, but Phish had just thrown down a definitively rejoiceful set with smiles all around. As the band transformed “Suzy” into a climactic show-closer with their entire ensemble, the positive energy oozed off the stage. A celebratory Halloween, this night will be remembered for its grab bag of musical treats rather than any wicked trickery.


Jams of the Day: 10.31 III



You Enjoy Myself




phish-festival8-ticket10.30.09 Festival 8, Indio, CA < Torrent

10.30.09 Festival 8, Indio, CA < Megaupload

I: Party Time, Chalk Dust Torture, The Moma Dance, NICU, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Stash, I Didn’t Know, Poor Heart, Cavern, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Ocelot, Time Turns Elastic

II: Punch You in the Eye, Down With Disease > Prince Caspian > Wolfman’s Brother > Piper > Joy, David Bowie, Harry Hood, Golgi Apparatus

E: Character Zero

Source: Schoeps CCM4V’S (din) > Lunatec V2 > Benchmark AD2K > Sound Devices 722 (24/48) (Taper: Z-Man)

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842 Responses to “A Happy Halloween”

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  1. butterflyeffect Says:

    In my mind there is little question that the Indio YEM was the best of 2009. Borderline perfection. SPAC and Star Lake put up a decent fight, but there is just nothing wrong with the Indio YEM. Perfect composition, nailed, interesting solos by Leo, Red, and Cactus, and a gangsta vocal jam.

    Not to mention they just sound better as a whole, listening better, playing with more precision and “soul.” Nothing happens in the other YEMs of 2009 like it does from about 11:30 to 13:30 in the Indio YEM. And those two little rifts Mike does just before 17 minutes are a really nice touch. Epic win YEM.

  2. butterflyeffect Says:

    Also from 14:30 on to Mike’s solo – Trey-dominated, but the band is killing it.

  3. butterflyeffect Says:

    LLFA – that would be “riffs.”

  4. Baxter Says:

    wish i could of been there. maybe next year! thanx 4 the downloads.

  5. Marshall Says:

    The Suzy closer rocked for sure. I remember thinking at the time, though, that the horns and soul singers screamed for a full-blown Julius closer. But hey, Trey Knows Best.

  6. Marshall Says:

    Another thing that was different about the vocal jam was the floods stayed on all four band members and the cameras showed close-ups. This is different from most vocal jams where the band members “disappear” in a haze of fog, blue light, and spookinees (this was probably due to the AEG’s filming of the show and the constant showing of close-ups on the screens I guess – a directorial decision that Kuroda had to oblige?)

  7. Marshall Says:

    … not one song from Round Room played all weekend. Interesting.

  8. axillalot Says:

    while listening to the show from home (thanks phish and sirius) friends and i were also waiting for some “dark” halloween phish. and when it didn’t come i realized something. this is phish’s new style. they have always been about moving forward, they have never stood still. and now that they are back they are continuing that trend. just b/c it was halloween, they didn’t feel the need to get dark, or spooky and scary. they played what they are feeling these days, and that is ok. they aren’t looking back to 94, 95, or 96 – that’s for the fans to do. they are living in the now, happy to be a band again, happy to have their friends and family around them, and their playing shows it. i don’t know how to actually categorize their new style, it’s not really as easy as the space funk of 97, or the ambience of ’98, etc, but there is definitely a theme being born, as we have now seen a good chunk of music from them this year. hampton, 2 legs of summer tour, and now the festival. we’re seeing tight, concise playing, not too much type II jamming, and lots of fun. will they eventually get nasty and dark in some set in some show? definitely. but it doesn’t seem to be the predominating style of play these days. i for one cannot wait to see what direction they cotinue in.

  9. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    nice comments, axillalot. definitely “New School” Phish going on these days.

    Returning briefly to something that came up yesterday, just before they start BDT#L, you can hear some clown shouting “Sparkle” on the SBD mix. Sparkle? Really? That’s the song you want them to open the third set of Halloween with?

  10. bhizzle Says:

    @Marshall….nice observation on the Round Room call…It seems to me that any song from that album is receiving little attenion in the 3.0 era.

    re:the Suzy…the vocal jam reminds me of Vegas 96 where the Elvi are in on the vocals and then one starts up the Suzy Q lines…I almost thought it was going to go there again.

    re: Indio’s jibboo….after another re-listen, it’s nasty good

    re: Indio’s In/Famous Reba….I finally got to playit loud last night. The composed part was nailed! However to call it a “flub” is an understatment. That was a fuckin trainwreck…I will not criticize it tho. They did come back…sort of.. I wish I had got to see their faces because I think it would have made it easier to accept if I seen them all smiling at each other.

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    bhizzle, smiling doesn’t cover it. they were full-on laughing. it also definitely did not affect the vibe around me at all.

  12. McG Says:

    Minor, re-read your article on Exile from yesterday, and then think about why set III didn’t go into the darkness. The answer is very clear.

    Set II = The Old Church of Rock n’ Roll Past
    Set III = The New Church of The Phish


    I am still waiting for the first long, nasty and dark version of Stealing Time From A Faulty Plan. Coming soon???? And I’m on your bandwagon for when are they ever going to reinvent or fully unload an old school Mike’s Groove??? Can we start a website for this?

  13. Worthless Swampy Fool Says:

    axillalot – well said, kinda what I was thinking too.

    That shows in how they reacted to the Reba flub, they are just so happy to be back that they can just laugh it off. You can really see the character of a person/band/company in how they handle the screwups. When things are tough the true nature comes to the forefront. I personally find it very exciting to see them in such a great place.

  14. BTB Says:

    @Axillot – what do we call this new music is a great thought and topic for discussion? I think it will take a little bit more time, but yes, it is not as easily defined as previous ‘eras’ of funk, space etc. I refer to 89-92 as the composition era (probably the only one who does), but one thing struck me during listening to the 8 stream. I think it all surrounds the theme of ‘Joy’. They are playing a lot of happy, upbeat, crystal clear music, if that makes any sense to ya’ll.

    We’ll start to get a clearer picture this fall/NYE. Whatever it is, IT’s back. And I’m really glad they took those 5 years off and came back like this. Otherwise, I’d be gone

  15. tela'smuff Says:

    Suzy was other worldly! I would call it a top 3 version of the song.

  16. Marshall Says:

    Fishman gives the Reba restart at least 2 or 3 tries. He was clearly first to notice Mike had been beamed off-planet.

    Maybe Mike was having a one-person FlashForward (for any ABC fans)

  17. Marshall Says:

    Now I’m asking myself “what did Mike see?”

  18. punkmug Says:

    @Marshall. That’s funny.

  19. jdub Says:

    BTB- that’s an accurate and fitting description of the style these days, Maceo Parker calls it Happy Music, because you smile a lot and start moving and grooving automatically.

  20. HarryHood Says:

    Instead of Cow Funk, we can call it Hyena Rock since they are laughing their asses of most of the time.

  21. Lycanthropist Says:

    Phish 2009: The Return of the Bundle of Joy

  22. Lycanthropist Says:

    we could call it the Bundle Boogie era

  23. Marshall Says:


  24. Lycanthropist Says:

    for those who missed it last night

    new CF show available:

  25. jdub Says:

    Perhaps this joyful style is why we haven’t seen a blown out Bowie. That song is best when it’s really dark and agressive,clearly the boys are not feeling dark and aggressive these days.

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