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. KWL Says:

    @axillalot from pg1. My thoughts exactly. If you are waiting for ‘deep groove or dark psychedelia’ (in Miner’s words), you might be waiting for a while. This is a new band indeed, re-invented once again. Possibly the most impressive part of phish through the years is the constant re-invention.

    For the most part, it seems most of us (on this board at least) have embraced the change, rather than dwelling on the past or projecting a ‘this will never be as good as the ____ years’ attitude. Nice to see.

    Would I love some 97 groove funk? Sure. Am I waiting for it to re-emerge this fall? Nope–just going to enjoy the ride & dance my ass off.

  2. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    KWL, nice avatar pic. aaahhhh… palm trees…

  3. axillalot Says:

    Would I love some 97 groove funk? Sure. Am I waiting for it to re-emerge this fall? Nope–just going to enjoy the ride & dance my ass off.

    well said kwl. my thoughts exactly. yes we love those eras of phish, that’s why we are fans today. but we have to realize that the new era of phish is upon us, and it’s pretty damn good so far.

  4. Leo Weaver Says:

    ^thanks axilla…was about to post that re: LLFA. and you’re right on re: the shift…I certainly would like some of the mid-late ’90s stuff, but all this concise playing is bringing back the XLII memories I “grew up” on and I’m loving it!

  5. KWL Says:

    @GP, good point about indoor/outdoor

    @johhny the boy, 4 improvised shows over 3 days (w/the ‘special’ sets) puts it in perspective well

  6. axillalot Says:

    aahhhh xlIIs. man i loved me some tape trading. like christmas every time you went to the mailbox. 😉

  7. msbjivein Says:

    I still rock my tapes!! I love the Hissssssssssss.

  8. Leo Weaver Says:

    Yep…the good ol’ days. I gotta dig my multiple tape boxes out of the attic soon. And I very much agree re: vibes at indoor vs. outdoor shows. I’ve always been very partial to the indoor madness myself. But if I could only see phish at one venue for the rest of my life, it’d be the gorge I think (man that’s tough to type considering my love for indoor phish). And indoors is where stealing time’s gonna blow the f up…it’s gonna be fall tour’s answer to light. IMO.

  9. HarryHood Says:

    Personally, I’m enjoying the new happy vibe. It’s definitely refreshing compared to the hum-drum of life nowadays. People at work are miserable, people out and about are miserable, everyone’s bitchin about the economy. I’m not implying that EVERYONE is miserable, I’m just saying that’s the general vibe. Phish is just rockin away and laughin up every minute of it. They do still get dark and dirty, it’s just not as often, which IMO makes it even better when they go there. The BDNL from SPAC was straight up nasty dirty. Just before they dripped into 20YL, people were picking each others jaws up off of the floor.

  10. Birddog Says:

    In my experience we see two kinds of dark space – one in songs like Stash where there is a deliberate tension/release theme going on. The second is when they start off dark (many Mike’s), or go into from the middle of somthing else.

    From what I’ve heard in 09 there is pretty much none of the pre 97 tension/release going on in their music. That said I would be shocked if we didnt see a good amount of the dark jams once we get indoors in the NE. Seriously – the drive from Detroit east in early winter would make anyone want to find their inner Kafka with the cold grey skies and burnt out industrial landscape and such. Toss in a few burnout lot kids swinging pharmies and we’ll be all set.

  11. msbjivein Says:

    “Have you Done Phish….INDOORS???”

  12. Marshall Says:

    I threw my tapes away this spring when I found better digital copies of every show I had. I don’t even listen to live phish on CD anymore because I can’t deal with chopped sets. Hard or flash driven media is the way of the phuture. Complete Sets … the only way to roll.

    I do miss “filler” though.

  13. KWL Says:

    really is great to see so many people embracing this reincarnation of phish. So easy to wish they would be what they once were, I’ve fallen into that trap before.

    No one is excited for fall tour, are they? Nahhh…

  14. msbjivein Says:

    OOPS…”Have you EVER done Phish….INDOORS??”

  15. SJC Says:

    Re:XLII’s – I was talking to an old friend a couple weeks back about still listening to shows on XLII’s. We both still have stock tape decks in our cars and pop em in every now and then!

  16. Litteringand Says:

    I can’t be the only one who thinks the boys could have dropped maybe the biggest Julius ever for an encore on Halloween. I’m not a nit-picky type of guy but dude they could have really blown doors off with that lineup

  17. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @birddog – clearly what is missing from the scene is more burnout lot kids. How did I not see that before?

  18. Marshall Says:

    I’m a Phish user.

  19. msbjivein Says:

    PHALL tour will SUCK!!

  20. Birddog Says:

    I think the plan is to scare all the burnout lot kids away with the face melting Sparkle

  21. Marshall Says:

    Anyone see a final ticket count for Indio yet? There was plenty of space and I was never too far back from stage. 40,000 maybe?

  22. KWL Says:

    and thanks Type III 🙂

    one of my few good pics of the weekend, sunset behind the palm trees, taken from the Oasis

  23. SJC Says:

    I DON’T miss luggin all the tapes around though. The Case Logic racks used to take up so much space in the car.

  24. Marshall Says:

    Was great meeting and hanging out with you KWL at F8.

  25. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    dude, the FMS (Face Melting Sparkle) is going to be the “Touch” of Phish 3.0

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