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. snowbank Says:

    loved the slave and the reba from set 8… super good. just not that extra level.

  2. Leo Weaver Says:

    yeah it stacks up really well Miner…I’m really digging light and what they’re getting out of it, regardless of how cheesy anyone thinks the lyrics are (I think they’re great on many levels). think it was Mr. C who said lots of peeps would be “seeing the light” in future tours or something to that effect…I’ll gladly volunteer 🙂

  3. albert walker Says:

    exactly there was no RR tweezer or Gorge Gin or Sally

    for me the YEM was probably the highlight
    I dug the Ghost also

  4. jay Says:

    I agree Mr Miner. Last Set just gels. They are all in the pocket and really listening to each other and seem really relaxed and patient. They really feel like they had a great time and really enjoying themselves this last set.

  5. albert walker Says:

    anyway I dig all you cats
    I’m speaking my thoughts, not bashing

    i’d love them to rip up fall so hard I’m running back on tour

  6. Leo Weaver Says:

    I’m with you @aw and snow re: RR and gorge jams (singularly, not talking shows or sets here) not being matched, at least not to my ears yet. but as a whole (and it’s a big and encompassing whole), I think F8 is pretty damn amazing

  7. Leo Weaver Says:

    and then they rip up that jiboo…damn…candy to my ears

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    we feel the love AW actually or at least I do, doesn’t seem like bashing to me

    IMO you set the model for the right way to criticize the band’s performance

    done out of high standards but with affection and positive hopes

    FWIW I am bad at judging the tightness of composed stuff, I basically either feel the energy or I don’t and go with that

    I did not think any of the open jams at 8 hit that really fluid, constantly morphing high octane groove that the best of the Gorge and RR had

    however a) I still really loved a lot of it and b) the post Light ambient space is a whole different style that I had also been waiting for

    I love that jam very very much, highlight of the weekend for me listening wise, yes including the acoustic and exile sets. at one point Page hits that rising synth VWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO and I was just absolutely soaring

    it’s not the same thing as those incredible melodic ensemble improvisations, just a different beast. ideally I’d like to see the two together.

  9. Leo Weaver Says:

    “at one point Page hits that rising synth VWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO and I was just absolutely soaring”

    ^yes…this is the absolute tits…jaw dropping, smile inducing goodness. and well said on the rest there C, esp on the ambient space…glad to hear it again!

  10. albert walker Says:

    thanks Mr C

    first shows back
    a little rust to be expected
    by the end of fall tour I want to eat my words.
    I will come crawling back

    just giving first spins tonight. so I’m sure I will find some amazing moments in it all

  11. Leo Weaver Says:

    loving this reba jam too. especially like the few measures of trey, page, and mike interplay with a bunch of short staccato notes, then transition back to the long flowing notes

  12. sumodie Says:

    I think my expectations got unexpectedly checked at the entrance to F8 (or the airport) precisely because it was a festival. I know my usual (and not always healthy) expectations will return once I hit Syracuse. And I’m already prepping my mindset accordingly 8)

    As for F8 missing a RR Tweezer or Gorge Sally, well, I guess I see things differently. Imho, both the Exile and acoustic sets, the entire SETS, count as something extra special at F8. I would also argue that the venue design, with palm trees, burble, flaming towers, etc., all combined to make the Sat&Sun evening sets, in particular, extremely one of a kind.

    To phish’s credit, all these extras, plus the super KIND crowd, put F8 on a wholly different class than any other show this year. That’s something I value a whole lot more than the RR Tweezer or Gorge Sally (both of which also blew my mind, I might add).

    I’ve long held the view that it’s the complete sensory experience makes the show, the ‘best ever’ song, etc (even when the musical notes alone account for 99% of the performance). So with phish tour ‘normalcy’ returning this fall, sure, there will be a brighter spotlight on the naked music and jams, no doubt about it. And I will certainly be waiting for that extra special jam, maybe even an entire set or show, to come bursting out of the gates in all its naked glory with nary a palm tree or burble in sight.

    At least that’s how I view things. I know some folks prefer to keep the analysis purely on the notes, music, etc -that’s not my style.

    To each their own I say. Our ongoing discussions here have caused me to deepen and clarify my own phish thoughts, something which keeps drawing me back. Ahh..it’s Friday night!

  13. Lycanthropist Says:

    i must say that between the openly positive views of Mr. Miner, to the wisdom of Mr. C, to the critical mind of AW, to the hilarity of SOAM, and to the creativity of several other posters here, we create quite the full picture of Phish and the music and community that surrounds it.

    It is such a pleasure to be able to read opposing opinions and not see an ounce of flaming. I know this has been said often, but thank you so much to Mr. Miner and ALL of you for making this a pleasant part of my days and for providing all the Phish talk plus life thoughts that stimulate such great discussion.

    Thank you

  14. Lycanthropist Says:

    and to those that I didnt name drop, there is just as much love for you too.. 🙂

  15. snowbank Says:

    First of all, I am the one who is right. I don’t know what this “to each his own” business is. 😉

    thinking about it more, I was wondering if F8 was anything less than A+ from want of a gorge gin/sally. I just can’t remember it as anything less than an A+, even though as I reflect on it, I can’t help but notice the lack of that cherry on top… of the other cherries, blueberries and razmatazberries.

    Ironically, I haven’t even let myself think about it before today because I was so stoked after every set. There was no lack of hose… even if they did not put on that exact nozzle.

    Also – I remember being disappointed when Maze started. I have never seen a good maze and thought they had set up a transcendental launch pad with the groove. But I told myself to shut up and be in the moment. That was the biggest save of the weekend! I totally got into it and loved it.

  16. Summer98 Says:

    I say Flaaaaaaaaaame!!

    Kidding. Quite the discussion here today folks. Too busy at work to read it all but I did check in a few times and things seemed to plugging along well.

    From the last two pages, I have to agree with both AW and Sumodie:

    No truly mind bending Type II’s at 8 but the fest as a whole was so special no one can really complain.

    Now we just need some indoor in Pacific NW…..spring time??

  17. voopa Says:


  18. sumodie Says:

    I was wondering if F8 was anything less than A+ from want of a gorge gin/sally. I just can’t remember it as anything less than an A+, even though as I reflect on it, I can’t help but notice the lack of that cherry on top… of the other cherries, blueberries and razmatazberries.

    Duuuude, F8 was about the coconuts and dates (organic too!). If you wanted blueberries (or mangoes), you had to go to the Gorge. And every knows that Red Rocks got all the cherries……

  19. snowbank Says:

    @sumodie- LLFA – behind the ball again! I’ll figure it out one of these days.

  20. flarrdogg Says:

    ‘Our serenity is inversely proportional to our expectations.’ Sounds simple. Hard to live it.
    Exile was absolutely exceptional in every way- I really can’t put into words how good it was. That said- I’m with Mr. C. and AW here- The rest of the weekend (in my opinion) did not measure up musically to what I saw at the Gorge this summer and from what I’ve heard from summer Red Rocks-specifically nights 2 and 4. They’d been chillin’ for the last what?-3 months before 8. Of course there’s gonna be a little rust. One thing I’m certain of is that they WILL shake that rust off and continue to evolve in a positive way- whatever that may look/sound like. They’re too good not to.
    Personally, I’m just happy they’re back and we’re talking about ’em.

  21. albert walker Says:

    I’ve got to say, I hope that you do find the pleasure in listening to that third set 11/1 as much as we all did. (99% of us.) I’m concerned that you’re being way too jaded for the band right now. We’ve all been spending a lot of time discussing how the new band sound is condensed, efficient and enjoyable and it sounds to me like you’re just not getting that feeling whatsoever at any point (except perhaps the Gorge at points-if memory serves).

    I’m not going to ruin the positive vibe of this site by responding to this quote by Neemor
    just imagine what I have to say in return
    you were being kind

  22. Mr.Miner Says:

    8 Tweezer = RR Tweezer

    Completely different jamming. Virtually incomparable.

    the Wolfmans>Piper is sick, very psychedelic

    The Disease > Caspian is also a great segment.

    Last set is great all the way through…LOVE the light jam.

  23. albert walker Says:

    Exile= amazing
    first listen even better than I remembered

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    the daytime halloween set is a throwaway.

    (Though a superb D Sky of all things!)

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    @aw thats what I though re: Exile.
    then it just keeps getting better with every listen!

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