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”

  1. Lycanthropist Says:

    you are probably right Jdub…

  2. Marshall Says:

    “Happy Happy Joy Joy”

  3. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    I think the happy vibe from Halloween had a lot to do with the venue and the vibe in the crowd. First of all, it was outdoors. Pretty much all of the midwest and east coast crowd were escaping the cold weather to a much warmer climate (even though it was chilly at night), talk about a spur to happiness! Further, I have found that there is a concentration of energy in an indoor show that can’t be replicated outdoors (woohoo arena Phish in 2 weeks here I come!). That concentration lends itself to the “evil” sounds better than outdoor experiences (not to say that things can’t get weird outdoors, they just don’t do so to the extent that I have found indoors).

    I know that speaking for myself, and those around me, there were constant smiles all weekend long. The place was just so excellent, that I can see where they wouldn’t get many negative or scary vibes.

    The only other Halloween I have been to (Chicago ’95) was cold, and in an urban jungle.

  4. Lycanthropist Says:

    ^ hilarious as that was the first text i got from my boss this morning at 5:55

  5. msbjivein Says:

    Fish is in The Pocket big time on this MOMA…..I’m Diggin IT!!

  6. Birddog Says:

    @ type 3 – come on, you know one of these days they are bound to drop a sick face-melting Sparkle – prolley what that guy was calling for lol

  7. msbjivein Says:

    Listening to My 8 highlights today! STOKED!

  8. Mdawg Says:

    lol @ face melting sparkle

  9. Lycanthropist Says:

    it should totally be:

    LLFA @ face melting sparkle

  10. msbjivein Says:

    My highlights are Minus the Costume(That’s a hole new bag in itself) also Minus The Acoustic Set (For same reason)…..34 Songs though……

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Birddog, you’re right… with the Happy Joy feelings going on right now, it’s not too much of a stretch to think we’ll see the first set long Sparkle-fest coming to an arena near you soon!


  12. Birddog Says:

    That said – I’ll be giving hugs out at MSG to all the kids who get too spun and lose it on the face melting Sparkle

  13. Birddog Says:

    Lycan – whats the LLFA ref?

  14. Marshall Says:

    laughing laughing fall apart

  15. voopa Says:

    axillalot and BTB summed it up well: It’s all about Joy and Light now, folks.

    About that Reba…it was startling to me to hear Mike jump into the jam early, after they were so tight with the composed section. I looked at my bud and said something like “Whoa!” like people around me did, but I think we shook it off quicker than the band did. And of course, they made up for it in the jam…they always do.

  16. msbjivein Says:


  17. Birddog Says:

    I fail at thinking this time of the am – thats a great alternative to the slightly embarrassing “LOL”

  18. johnny the boy Says:

    @ harryhood – i don’t normally use this hackneyed abreviation, but i actually did LOL at “hyena rock.”

    @ guitarpicker420 – you may be right that indoor shows may lend themselves better to freaky jams, revisit the IT 46 days for 40 minutes of scary-ass outdoor improv. the finest jam of the oxy era, IMHO i just relistened to it yesterday.

  19. Marshall Says:

    Darker jams are also more likely when cameras aren’t rolling in front of the bands faces. That’s got to be a little distracting.

  20. msbjivein Says:

    Chi Town CARINI maybe the Darkest jam yet ’09……….???

  21. jay Says:

    That Suzy should have been a “Jam of the Day” Mr Miner 🙂

  22. johnny the boy Says:

    and i can’t believe all of the attention the reba flub is getting. for christ’s sake the boys played the approximate equivalent of 4 improvised concerts over 3 days, including (almost) a double album’s worth of cuts they never played before and only their third or fourth acoustic set…and they completely blew one change…ONE. name another band that could swing that!

    i said it before and i’ll say it again: the only thing (some) phishheads like more than listening to phish is complaining about phish.

  23. axillalot Says:

    laugh and laughing fall apart

  24. msbjivein Says:

    Phish Sucks!!!! LLFA!!!

  25. Birddog Says:

    Friday is in the air

    say anyone know of a good copy of the Bunny archive broadcasts anywhere?

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