Little Phish

10.31.10 II - Boardwalk Hall (Graham Lucas)

Phish redefined the Halloween experience on Sunday night in Atlantic City, ending their holiday mystery by playing Little Feat’s Waiting For Columbus, the first live album they have ever donned as a musical costume. Transforming Boardwalk Hall into a legitimate Seventies dance party, Phish recreated the concert experience of another band, taking their Halloween stunt to another level. Joined by a horn section and conga virtuoso, Giovanni Hidalgo, on percussion, the band slayed a double-album that reflected the ensemble jamming featured so prominently throughout fall tour. Dipping into several musical textures, much like Phish themselves, Waiting For Columbus proved to be the ideal choice for the band right now. Elevating their game throughout the tour, Phish capped the winding road of fall with a defining Halloween performance that will certainly leap into any debate over the best ever.

Excerpting David Fricke’s eloquent article in this year’s Phishbill:

Phish are not just playing another classic album, back to front…[they] are covering a legendary Seventies concert experience – what is was like to be like in the room when Little Feat ruled a stage, fusing salty blues, New Orleans second-line funk, zippy jazz-rock mischief and country-diner romance in drop-dead songwriting, with snapping-treble guitar action and stunning improvised crosstalk.

Little Feat - Waiting For Columbus

And they achieved their task to perfection, recreating this experience to a tee and executing the album with unmatched musicianship. Far more complex than covering a recorded set of songs, Phish masterfully learned a series of songs and live jams recorded over seven nights in London and Washington, DC, during August of 1977. Playing the double-disc with passion and precision, the set never dragged for a moment, stealing the show – and the weekend – in Atlantic City. From beat one, the groove grabbed the audience and never let go, providing the genuine feeling that we had been transported to a different place and time.

Beginning with the infectious opener “Fat Man In the Bathtub,” the collaborative rhythmic focus of the album became wholly apparent right away, signifying a far more participatory experience than in past years. To quote Fricke, “…you will be expected to dance. Anastasio can’t help raving about the mad wicked action in these songs.” With varying time signatures, a dirty, blues-based sensibility, and collaborative improvisation throughout, Waiting For Columbus proved to be the aural treat after Phish’s Led Zeppelin “trick” on the 30th. The album not only showcased the band’s impeccable current chops, but also contained slower funk realms that sounded natural and addictive in Phish’s musical medium.

In terms of familiarity, everyone knew “Time Loves A Hero,” an Phish cover that has popped up in setlists from time to time, and the signature piece “Dixie Chicken” – both which provided earnest high points as Page took center stage on the latter. But familiarity hardly mattered with music this engaging; music that spoke to your body and loudly as your mind. Fusing blues, funk, jazz, and rock influences – much like Phish themselves – Little Feat’s culminating work fit provided the ideal soundtrack for a Halloween party.

10.31.10 II (Graham Lucas)

While the Waiting For Columbus set was drenched in songwriting and soul, carrying a notable energy and momentum from beginning to end, most would agree that the percussive-based “Spanish Moon” brought the most indelible group memory. Comprised of gooey, funk textures with dripping bass lines and nasty rhythm guitar licks, this ode to “whisky and bad cocaine” combusted the dance floor, providing the early favorite to stick in rotation. And when this piece ended, the retro-trip was only halfway over.

10.31.10 (G.Lucas)

Interestingly, Fishman wrote a piece in the Phishbill explaining that there has been no greater influence on his drumming that Little Feat’s late Richie Hayward. And throughout last night’s performance, the similarities became obvious as Fish covered Hayward’s melodic beats and lyrical phrasing. In classic Fishman fashion, he wrote,”I’ve already ripped this guy off so much that covering this album is my chance to finish the job once and for all!” He and Hidalgo worked in awesome unison, churning out dance patterns all night long that anchored the album in a dynamic rhythmic foundation.

Interpreting the legendary guitar work of Lowell George, Trey added his own accents and spice to the already-swaggering leads. A choice that seemed hand-picked for Trey, Waiting For Columbus provided him the chance to magnify his current style while encouraging more percussive offerings than we’ve seen from The Ocedoc this fall. One of Trey’s finest Halloween performances, his gutsy guitar tone fit the album perfectly and he navigated the diverse live tracks with staggering proficiency. Phish had clearly practiced this complex album with diligence, as the entire band came together in a magical Halloween transformation; an unforgettable set of music for the annals of Phish history.

10.31.10 II (G.Lucas)

By putting a barbershop quartet spin on the humorous and vocally-based, “Don’t Bogart That Joint,” and bringing Fishman front and center for the beautiful ballad “Willin’,” the band still managed to fit a few Phishy twists into an incredibly authentic performance. “Sailing Shoes” and “Feats Don’t Fail Me Know,” the final two songs of the liquid-flowing set, brought two more quintessential stops in the bass-led percussive pastures that underlined the entire album. And as Trey dug into his final solos of the second frame, they felt completely natural – as if he was swimming amidst his own music rather than playing that of another. Wearing a tightly-fitting musical costume, the lines between Little Feat and Phish became completely blurred last night in a Halloween set for the ages. The band pushed their holiday tradition to the next level this year, throwing an outright dance party like no other this fall, while simultaneously providing a genuine glimpse into the musical tradition that birthed Phish itself.

More to come on Halloween’s other two sets tomorrow!

I: Frankenstein, Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Ghost > Spooky, The Divided Sky, Roses Are Free, Funky Bitch, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Stash, Character Zero

II: Fat Man in the Bathtub, All That You Dream, Oh Atlanta, Old Folks’ Boogie, Time Loves a Hero > Day or Night, Mercenary Territory, Spanish Moon, Dixie Chicken > Tripe Face Boogie, Rocket in My Pocket, Willin’, Don’t Bogart That Joint, A Apolitical Blues, Sailin’ Shoes, Feats Don’t Fail Me Now

III: Down with Disease > Back on the Train, Gotta Jibboo, Camel Walk, Suzy Greenberg, Wilson > Harry Hood, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, You Enjoy Myself

E: Julius

10.31.10 II Graham Lucas)

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870 Responses to “Little Phish”

  1. Frankie Says:

    I really thought they would go into the full Manteca jam in Wolfmans ’cause of the banner… Really dug that first set on 10.30… You could tell they were ON from the first note and I just love when they close sets with The Squirming Coil…

  2. Mr.Miner Says:

    In re: to Saturday:
    Sat’s Tweezer gimmick was kind of a blueball for the tours last tweezer. Fun, and in the spirit of the season, but no jam in the tour’s last Tweezer was hard to swallow for a few. I thought the first set was better with Wolfmans > Undermind, Bathtub, etc…

    2001 > Bowie is the real gem from that show.

  3. RamblinOnMyMind Says:

    must be the best case of the blueballs ever

  4. butter Says:

    Jibboo is as good as i thought it was

    Mike laying down a haunting bass line

    with precision tone control and breath taking work from Trey

  5. Mr.Palmer Says:

    no way the Zep thing holds up on tape. It was fun as hell, a little cringe worthy at times though.. I got no complaints. That Bowie is the real deal. Straight up nasty Phish.

  6. butter Says:

    ^full band interplay from Page and Fish too

  7. butter Says:

    I’ve heard gooey Tweezer’s , i was super into the Zep

  8. Frankie Says:

    I agree they keep putting new blocks to the 3.0 foundation every time they play! I thought it was a good idea to end the tour with the Halloween run… big win!

    November is gonna be hard with this new Phish addiction I got…

  9. butter Says:

    agreed 2001>Bowie is double dope tho

  10. voopa Says:

    GOP won the House? 2 more years of deadlock…

  11. Mr.Palmer Says:

    I can’t stop spinning the Sand>Carini either. Gonna get my Feat on in a little bit though. I’ve yet to hear the set after Spanish Moon.. I know, I know.

  12. voopa Says:

    Sorry, I keep getting distracted by things like elections and the world series…

    How ’bout them Phish?

  13. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Best stash of 3.0? I vote yes.

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ wolfmans….i think that’s an easy yes.

  15. P.S.H.S Says:

    So…. What do we do now? Twiddle our thumbs? Argue about sc2-prov’s place in greatness. Btw, I like the use of the word annals

  16. BlackEyedKaty Says:

    made it back to asheville a couple of hours ago. that drive seemed much longer on the ride back than on the ride there for sure. really cool meeting those of you at firewater in AC on Saturday night! what a great run!! off to bed soon! can’t wait to hear night 2 again in its entirety. the energy in the back of the floor was unreal that night. wow!! what a great time. guelah (with the 1:20 silent moment), foam, undermind, coil, tweezer, 2001, bowie, and good times are among my favorites. really the whole show! goodnight all!

  17. BlackEyedKaty Says:

    re: stash…..agreed!

  18. Jtran Says:

    Ghostphunk: “Silly, any progress on your plan to be become a legendary Phish fan?”

    Lol. I think I should’ve been in bed by that point. I remember trying to discuss how the number line was outside the box on Saturday night.

    Nope. Thanks Lucy 🙂

  19. thedayman Says:

    that stash is incredible! so much packed into such little time!

  20. William H. Bonney Says:

    “GOP won the House? 2 more years of deadlock…”

    huh? Seems like Dem have had a super majority for the last two years. Now we can have two years of gridlock, not to bring the facts up or anything….

  21. William H. Bonney Says:

    Wolfman’s seem liked it was headed to manteca to these ears also, but alas not to be…..

  22. GhostPhunk Says:

    jtran, we were all passed are point of sense, straight humor ensued.

  23. vegas wolfmans Says:

    I heart ALAC. Sounds absolutely gorgeous. I am intimately familiar with this record and hold it in VERY high regard- been in the rotation since high school for me. It is mind-numbingly awesome to hear them hit this one out of the park. A+++ for where I’m sitting. Wish I coulda been in the house for this one. Shocking to hear that the universal reaction wasn’t high fives and ass slaps all around. If you think they didn’t crush it, you’re plain wrong. If you attended and sat through the WFC set, it’s time to find a new favorite band.

    ::steps off soap box::

    Great post @Manatee a few pages ago. He’s got it right.

  24. jdub Says:

    The Stash we have been waiting for!

  25. voopa Says:

    Good point WHB, but the Party of No has done a lot of obstruction recently.

    *I’ll stop now*

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