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


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You Enjoy Myself

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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. Mr. Completely Says:

    @neemor, well played sir. respect.

    One thing that maybe needs to be dragged out again here is the difference between experiencing something live and hearing it remotely, whether in space (streaming) or time (listening back to recordings), and how listening back is different for people who were present at the show because they have memories and associations that are evoked by the recordings.

    When I speak of the distinction between styles or levels of improvisation between this show and that one, I’m speaking narrowly of the music, or as narrowly as I can given that I was at the Gorge.

    Albert, I think, is uncommonly good at making this distinction. He had nothing but a great time at the fest and in fact basically raved about it from top to bottom. Now he’s relistening and finding some musical holes.

    The thing about it is that if you keep the distinction clear, there’s no connection between saying this song was sloppy, or that jam didn’t quite go as far as another, and denigrating the experience that everyone had in the moment. The moment ends, but the memory of the experience is yours forever. Looking at the music later with a more analytical lens doesn’t change that.

    For me the experience is the prize, and the music, as incredible and worthy on its own terms as it is, is a means towards that end.

  2. brother Says:

    been zipping thru the comments here (1st 10 or so pages) and am suprised at how little love that Phish.02 gets. I love how the band has continued to change over the years. Each year adding something new and fresh to their musical landscapes. I especially love the rich sound and textures that this 09 version has developed, seemingly from scratch. To do what they have done after re-inventing their personal lifestyles, as well as their musical direction after a 4-5yr layoff is, incredible. I’m happy to be on this ride, for sure. But, I’ve been following this band since 94 and I think the 2003-04 years contained some of the most mind-boggling, adventurous jamming ever produced. Don’t mean to kill the past when there’s so much good about the present but just thought I’d chime in about the lack of Round Room talk and such.

    Mr C. Portland v Spurs coming up!!! I love me some Brandon Roy….

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    Bonnaroo KDF = WTF epic out of nowhere hose-ation

    interesting neemor and I were typing about experience vs. later listening at the same time

  4. flarrdogg Says:

    Mr. C.- Without the music, there would be no experience to speak of. Isn’t that what gets this ball rolling?

  5. joe Says:

    Mr. C,

    off topic, but can you point me in the right direction for some good Jerry Band sources from early 90’s east coast runs? November reminds me of some great jgb shows.

  6. flarrdogg Says:


  7. johnny the boy Says:

    i love a lot of 03-04, what some folks (myself included) call the oxy years (even though that moniker tends to rub some other folks the wrong way).

    whatever you call it, although there were a lot of woofers, there were also some deep, dark, dank, LONG jams. i will always rank the 39 min 46 days at IT as one of my personal high points in 16+ years of show attendance.

  8. posternutbags Says:

    I didn’t take any pics, thank you so much for posting such wonderful pic.. this whole website really helps for the peeps who can’t be there, or see ever set..

  9. joe Says:

    same rooms that phish would later destroy in November as well. Providence, Worcester, Hartford, etc.

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    @brother – Blazers need to get off their ass and play some real ball or they’re gonna get embarassed tonight. If they bring that weak sauce to the Spurs they’re gonna get punk’d. Hope tonight is the night they snap out of it.

    As for 2.0 Phish, that has gotten a fair amount of love here in the past, though it’s not a current topic much. As you say, it’s certainly the wide open jamming era. My experience was of seeing 6 shows in ’03 and catching what I felt was about 3 really solid Phish shows’ worth of material wrapped about a handful of pretty mindblowing open jams. A lot of times when I’m in the mood for something really wild, ’03 is what I reach for, though now that I’m finally getting the hang of ’95 that’s filling the same niche a lot.

    As for 04, SPAC is the bomb, otherwise I have not found a huge amount to return to.

  11. beepaphone Says:

    1 part water and 1 part Phish is still my favorite band.

    Not saying I can’t be critical, but DAMN.
    Listened to 4/4/98 today…so good. Those days might be past us, but these guys are in their 40’s and playing with so much spunk and happiness. The mere fact that they are playing right now – and at a level higher than most of us would have expected after 5 years apart…especially after the quasi-meltdown at Coventry…it certainly skews my perceptions. However, things aren’t as they are, they are as they are perceived.

    Basically I’m going to attempt to have my cake and eat it to…get my nostalgic Phish from all the old 90’s shows, and catch as many shows as I possibly can and get hosed over and over with an ear-to ear smile while LLFA’ing all over the place. So far this summer it has been working. Criticism serves well, and I hope and expect the boys to improve their hunt for the pocket, but the worst Phish show is still an experience.

  12. neemor Says:

    Boy, that 4/29/87 show is just the coolest setlist ever and what a way to delve into early Phish. Stellar!

  13. beepaphone Says:

    @ C were you at ‘Roo this year?

  14. brother Says:

    50 seconds in Popo calls timeout to give Jefferson an asschewin……welcome to the spurs…….

    Listening to 6/19 now…Ocean>Piper>Giboo!!!! My god!!

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    @flarr – btw eggs came before chickens. just sayin’. dinosaurs, yo.

    @joe – man, they just circulated a fuckload of 80s/90s JGB on etree over the last little while. I didn’t grab much of it b/c I am still digging out from under the end of the GD 1974 Project *and* the 1978 JGB project. If you like Jerry Band hopefully you are already on the Workingman’s Tracker?

    I do have some of Hampton, the show with Bruce, and some of those other shows from the era as part of this mix:
    …but that’s probly not what you’re looking for. Sorry I can’t do better off the top of my head right now.

    Any fan of JG that hasn’t heard this Hey Bo Diddley > Hideaway should check it out, I posted it for @Ramblin yesterday – check out the Jerry tone after 2nd verse about 3 minutes in – the absolute sickness

  16. beepaphone Says:

    ‘roo late set=underrated
    KDF, Free, Wading, Highway to Hell>2001>yem>wilson>yem

    That night’s DWD and Stash stood out too

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    @beep nah but I remembered that KDF just in the last day or 2 and spun it again. Killer.

  18. flarrdogg Says:

    Mr C- Tried to dload that mediafire Jerry link yesterday and it was a weird text file?? Am I doing something wrong?

  19. beepaphone Says:

    I swore off ‘roo after ’04. Phish lured me back. Worth the heat and hassle for sure.

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    @flarrdog, more seriously that’s what I meant by music as the means towards an end – the aim being the experience – the music is the vehicle that carries us to where we’re going

    some people are just in it purely for the sounds and I dig that too, nothing wrong with that, this is just how it is for me

    mass unity in the moment, that’s my thing, riding that wave

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    it’s an AAC file (.m4a). maybe I should convert it…do PCs not play those? stupid. let me flip it.

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    ok this should work, it’s in this folder, an MP3


  23. neemor Says:

    4/29/87 Lushington (with the Fluff portions pre and post) is awesome.
    Required listening, IMO. I was ten.

  24. beepaphone Says:

    My favorite riding wave moment:
    Antelope DC ’04

    The jam is heating up and CK5 is on the threshold of total apeshitedness. The lights shine on the crowd just as fishman drops the beat for a brief, psychedelic, time signature change. I see the crowd thrown into a frenzy as they drop down into the momentarily changed rhythm. Gagagagoosebumps.

  25. randomreader Says:

    yikes! ‘roo’s Wilson has to be in the running for best trey-shred-fest of ’09. they sound like they turned the clock back like, 15 years or more on that version.

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