A Happy Halloween

After nailing their costume ofย  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. neemor Says:

    Miami should be sweet.
    The quote of mine that you took offense to was taken out of context of the larger picture that I want you to enjoy what we’re all engaging in-the positive vibe that’s being discussed throughout.
    I never mean to put anyone’s opinion down *ever* because dissenting opinions are what makes the discussions here so thought provoking.
    To encapsulate my earlier post that was somewhat designed to lean over the edge of our typically extremely kind tone on pt, I just want to make sure that you don’t lose sight of the forest through the trees.
    I deeply respect your take on Phish’s music and admire your dedication to the band and it’s true essence. I think I was trying (poorly) to brighten up your day by clearing the over-analyzation of the rougher moments of Festival 8 and get you to focus instead on the sublime moments, the ones we live for musically speaking.
    You and I have spoken before about you sometimes being the ‘glass is half empty’ Phish fan (which you’ve admitted to in the past) and I was sort of playing on that theme again.
    I apologize for ruffling feathers and humbly offer the back of my neck to you, as a samurai warrior would to his deepest rival *and* friends alike.
    As I think about it in retrospect, your analysis’ of The Phish are some of the most useful to me because they very often juxtapose my thoughts most directly.
    I beg your pardon.
    That sounds weird to say, but I believe is most fitting.

  2. neemor Says:

    Off Topic:
    I love the movie ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’
    “When life gives you lemons, just say ‘Fuck the lemons’ and bail.”

  3. randomreader Says:

    what is this llfa

    i have tried to look up a meaning on the interwebs but to no avail; all the top google hits are for some sort of industrial strength adhesive

  4. neemor Says:

    It’s a reference to Sparkle’s lyrics, sort of like LOL.
    Laugh and laughing, fall apart. LLFA

  5. randomreader Says:


    love it

  6. Lycanthropist Says:

    hell neemor after a post like that you make me wish I was AW . llfa. very eloquent. perfect example of why i love this board.

  7. neemor Says:

    Well, even if aw doesn’t read my post, I put it out there. I, for one, feel better!

  8. neemor Says:

    Really, Lycan? I was starting to think it was a bit over the top….
    Thanks for that, though. I respect your take on things quite a bit, also. You have a remarkable amount of knowledge for someone who hails from a corner of the country that doesn’t have a big phish following at all. That impresses me quite a bit.
    I have mentioned before that I had virtually no guidance musically while growing up and how it was not easy to find this band (no older siblings, etc). Being from the North East, it’s not nearly as difficult here as I’m sure it is deep down south.

  9. randomreader Says:

    man it got quiet on this board all of a sudden. if anyone’s still here, i’ll toss out a topic, see if anyone wants to bite. i said yesterday i wanted to go back through early summer and see what i’d missed and/or forgotten about. and, well, DAMN is all i got. There is some ridiculous music back there!

    One of the things i struggle with with this band, and I’m sure I’m not alone here, is that over any given stretch of time they make so much incredible music that it’s impossible to keep it all straight in my head. Even from early to late summer. RR and the Gorge dropped so much magic on us, after a couple of shows (alpine) that were sort of lackluster compared not only to what came after but to what came before, that everything else became obscured.

    I went back and re-read Miner’s reviews for all the shows from early summer. It’s some good reading, especially those for Camden, Ashville, Knoxville, and the motherlode of early summer, Deer Creek. His mind was clearly being blown on a nightly basis, pretty much every night until the Fox. Read it for yourself.

    And then listen back to those shows. Listen to Camden and Deer Creek, and tell me if, as entire shows, they are not every bit the equal of anything post-Gorge, if not in fact being superior shows. By this I mean the complete package – killer playing and enthusiasm throughout, adventurous risk-taking in both sets, flawless or near-flawless compositions, manic jamming, and sick dance grooves.

    My only point here is to say, I want to stand up and defend the best of early summer as not merely a stepping stone to RR and beyond, but as a stretch chock full of gems that will stand the test of time. I’ve spend most of the last two nights sifting through those shows, reading Miner’s reviews, compiling a playlist, trying to cut it down to 4-5 hrs. It’s nearly impossible. i’m stuck at 10 hours, and every time I toss something off, I add something else back on from a later show. If I can get it down to something manageable I’ll post it.

  10. Chuck Says:

    Need some advice…going to Cinci in a few weeks and have good seats for both shows…I have a oppurtunity to get floor seats for both…been there last 2 times Phish has played and sounded great (wasn’t on the floor)…rumor has it floor at the Crown sucks…what do I do?

  11. johnny the boy Says:

    wife and kid passed out. i am down here spinning the various versions of lushington on phishows.com. now THAT would be the biggest bust out imaginable.

  12. joe Says:


    I think what’s happened all year is that the initial reaction to all the shows is “this was the best yet in an ever-improving year” so that the last run of shows gets quickly disregarded, even though at the time those shows were highly regarded. It would be interesting to do a “blind taste test” of songs from early summer to fest 8.

  13. flarrdogg Says:

    RR-Star Lake thru Alpine are all pretty solid if you ask me. Deer Creek II being the clear standout set of leg 1 and one of the highlights of the entire summer. I think it was around this point that they were finally getting comfortable up there and starting to push the envelope a little more. I hate that “playing it safe” expression, but that’s what it kind of sounded like to me. The second set of Deer Creek is absolutely off the hook and has remained in regular rotation when I want to listen to new (3.0) Phish. I’m with you in your approval of the semi-early summer shows, just not the REALLY early stuff- Camden the exception

  14. randomreader Says:

    indeed, joe. i would highly recommend this to all, if only for the joy of rediscovery.

    for instance, i found that i greatly preferred the jones beach reba to the one from f8. now we all look for different things in phish’s music, which is a huge part of what makes this community, and this board in particular, so gratifying. for me, it’s all about the spontaneous moments, the unexpected chances and right turns. yes, the composed section is tighter & more confidently played in the f8 version – no doubts there. and the f8 reba jam rocks a bit harder and soars somewhat higher (or maybe that’s just the flat sound of the early sbds…). but what kills me about the jones beach reba is the dynamic quality of their playing. pretty soon after the drop they start taking the jam apart bit by bit, down almost to silence, then slowly build it back up like some classic slave jam. it’s really quite moving imo, and shows a tremendous amount of patience and confidence.

  15. neemor Says:

    I saw three shows this summer. Burgettstown, Deer Creek and Hartford. I was very lucky. Burgettstown should not be overlooked if only for the encore! Good times. Deer Creek was funny because in years past, the weather can effect my mood at a show and end up screwing things up for me in the end, but I absolutely loved that show. Recently, people have been talking about the perfect Fluffhead at Festy 8. It had already happened at Deer Creek. What a treat. Set II was bliss.
    And Hartford still remains one of my favorite shows of all time, all around. To me, it had everything that I have come to love about the band and will remain one of my go to sets for the future.
    Like you said, Reader, the Gorge and Red Rocks shows, in large part due to the fact that I wasn’t at them, got completely overlooked by this fan.. I definitely listened to them once or twice each, liked them a lot and spent time going back to check out the suggested gems.
    I guess it speaks volumes to me how important the actual show experience is in making the show a memorable and disc I would re-visit in the future.
    I guess that’s why we try so hard to get to as many shows as possible and what sets this band apart from any other besides maybe the Grateful Dead in that respect.
    This entire year has been such a treat on borrowed time and I’m grateful for every moment.
    Good topic, RR.

  16. johnny the boy Says:

    best performance of lushington is probably 2/21/87, nice long guitar solo tacked on the end and mike is rather frisky throughout. unfortunately the recording is marred by a very chatty crowd.

    10/15/86 deserves an honorable mention for the fluff’s travels part and some very noodely trey, but it is SUCH primordial phish it is a little jarring. still nice.

    for those of you looking for an introduction to the wonder that is lushington i recommend 4/29/87. probably the best marriage of sound quality and performance.

    the other extant versions were essentially unlistenable due to poor audio quality. they sound like they were recorded on one of those decks where you had to push that little orange button inside the play button to get it to record.

    am i the only person who thinks that lushington is a perfect vehicle for 3.0’s hyena rock?

    perhaps i should go lie down.

  17. flarrdogg Says:

    Just to pull it full circle:

    FaceMelting Sparkle+Lushington=hyena rock.

  18. flarrdogg Says:

    @Neemor- totally agree on that Deer Creek Fluff. The fuel.

  19. beepaphone Says:

    I’d love a good MF,MF…indoors……..

  20. joe Says:


    I think you hit it on the head as far as the experience of the show goes. Under this criteria, Phish is probably at about a 98% approval rating for 2009. Pretty sure that the overwhelming majority of fans (old and new) who just left a show had a blast and were jonsing for more. Still too new and fresh in 09 for people to be down on them in the immediate aftermath of a show except for the most jaded among us.

  21. johnny the boy Says:

    Face Melting Sparkle >I Just Wanna See His Face > Lushington

    i don’t care if it was in the first set, i’d go home. no way they’d top that ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. randomreader Says:

    my only shows were shoreline and merriweather. i feel really lucky to have caught shoreline. i’m an east coaster but my gf is from la, we were flying out to visit her folks on the day of shoreline so we bit the bullet, flew in, borrowed a car from her folks, drove from la to mountain view, RAGED, then drove to my sister’s place north of SF to crash. drove back the next afternoon, when we finally woke up. best decision of the summer for me. big act of love on her part, she’s not even a fan (yet – i’m working on it). actually the whole thing was her idea – i made some offhand comment about a month beforehand about how i’d “do absolutely anything” to see phish again. at the time i didn’t think i could, so i didn’t think anything of it. then she goes and finds us tickets.

    merriweather’s a different story. after shoreline i got the bug, and i just HAD to go again. i thought merriweather was the only show i could make, so i took a bus from NY to Philly, borrowed a car from MY parents, drove to MD in time for the show, then all the way back to philly afterwards. had a pretty lousy time, made worse by my realization during the first set that i COULD have made it to hartford instead, if i’d rented a car in NYC for the night. still kicking myself on that one, and forever will be.

    fortunately i’ve got two nights at MSG to keep me warm at night, and i just realized i could make night one of philly as well and i’m SO tempted.

  23. randomreader Says:

    that was on the heels of neemor, it just took too long to write ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. joe Says:

    ok, make that 97% approval rating.

  25. randomreader Says:

    also – did i read earlier today people raving about the KDF at f8? because i’m listening to the one from Bonnaroo right now and i believe my mind has left my body. just saying.

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