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. neemor Says:

    All I know is that from the 2001 to the Boiwe, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard Trey play so spritely.
    He’s plicking and plucking like a madman and I recall it all asounding so beautiful.
    Well done, Red.

  2. neemor Says:

    The dance moves rehearsal idea, but I have to say…
    I know of only one way to dance to Light.
    And it’s fun as hell.

  3. neemor Says:

    I didn’t type a complete thought there.
    Bed time.

  4. Gavinsdad Says:

    It’s having that little bit of extra space that’s loud @Ro…but you knew that. Visited some peeps up on the carpet in the 300s on Sun and they were dancin it up but when I got back to the floor the volume/energy shift was enormous and I had to dig deep to keep up. All that dancing just felt nice and free…people were really being touched. That outbreak of screaming and hollering during the Guelah break was just so nutty.

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah 2 different questions, was the jam complete, a real subjective one there, I am going to listen back through the tour and see what other examples I can come up with of places where I feel that trey was maybe roundin’ up them dogies a little ahead of necessity, we can discuss that ad nauseam in the weeks ahead with the caveat that I’m completely down with the resulting music esp. when you take the broader view…

    second question, assuming these jams had run their course, were some of the actual segues rushed? I think some of them definitely were. Sand > Carini and Wolfmans > Undermind are two immediate examples. So a separate issue, and has to be considered in the context of the many mindbendingly successful segues strewn throughout the tour, and also to be recognized as the nitpick that it is.

    both those segues I mentioned were very doable, I think…anyway, I don’t want to be too critical, as I share the general mood of celebration when it comes to the tour in general, the AC shows specifically, and the halloween set in particular…

    I mean if quibbling over the length of open jams and noticing the one out of every 3 transitions that doesn’t work are our big critiques, we’re really in great shape here.

  6. GhostPhunk Says:

    I’m off to bed. I expect neemor, that you’ll throw a pot of coffee on and figure this out by morning.

  7. GhostPhunk Says:

    All truth there mr. C. We’re in a good spot for sure

  8. Jtran Says:

    Listened back to that Bowie finally. Good to know I wasn’t completely crazy.

  9. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    What’s up night crew? Haven’t been around much lately.

    Halloween was cool and all, but I’m pumped for Cactus next week. 🙂

  10. Robear Says:

    that’s it, right there g’dad. still full and loud, but so much extra room. the phunky bitches hang in that zone, too.

  11. BrandonKayda Says:


    The “25” is a lyric in Dazed and Confused. Look up any live Zeppelin Dazed and Confused and you’ll hear it

  12. Robear Says:

    let’s bitch about the Amherst shows some more 😛

  13. yematt Says:

    incredible moments in recent Splits. pure beauty>stretching into dissonance>peak>theme in the brim3 version. Noticeable trend with Stash’s and Bowie’s too. awesome stuff.

  14. KWL Says:

    the tweezer part of night 2 was the lowest part of the show for me

    hot, hot set I after guelah starting with the chalkdust & brilliant (if the joke had ended there) ha ha ha

    nasty tube to open II, out of place possum (as i believe miner noted in his review), and then tweezer starts and i thought we were headed for the stratosphere

    7 led zep songs later most of the room was blown away but i was still waiting for some chunky tweezer grooves

    2001>bowie brought us to the promised land

  15. GhostPhunk Says:

    Sweet, thanks bk. neemor thanks you too.

  16. She Divides Says:

    @ whb – I know what you are saying about dems having the white house and both chambers of congress for the last two years, but I think a super majority is usually used to describe having a veto proof 2/3rds majority, which dems did not have.

    But I should be relistening to the Halloween run instead of watching CNN…

  17. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Yeah, Amherst blew. I was listening to a stream that kept cutting out on my laptop speakers while I was washing the dishes and vacuuming, and it was terrible.

  18. KWL Says:

    pretty sure AC2 has been the only show in 3.0 of about 30 that i’ve liked set I better than II

    granted, II was still better than the majority of set IIs i’ve seen in that span

  19. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Mrs Tzara’s is glued to CNN, so no Phish listening tonight. Consoling ourselves with some good wine though.

  20. BrandonKayda Says:

    The Taste from Amherst was great – I know there is a section where Fishman changes the beat for a few measures and nobody follows so he goes back to standard Taste meter. Much like the section from 7:40-8:02 in the Providence Sanity that seemingly nobody but Robear and I noticed. Mike goes off.

  21. She Divides Says:

    This was my first three night run (not counting Indio) and we sat in different spots each night and enjoyed the different vantage points. 10/29 we were just above fish which gave us a great view of his mastery, 10/30 we were on the floor just in front of ck5 which was awesome with all the energy, lights and sound, 10/31 we rocked it in the back row of one of the far corners with a good group and very happy to be in the building!

    Worst thing for me about seats is that I end up with horrible bruises on my legs where I bump into the seats in front of me while dancing

  22. KWL Says:

    i saw chatter about who won the costume contest before, but for my money, the dude with the ghostbusters outfit that had TTE in a circle w/a line through it (instead of the typical ghost picture) should have taken home that prize…

  23. She Divides Says:

    On the floor on sat I’m pretty sure a girl in front of me did a fake puke move to clear the space around her. Pretty genius actually – she had tons of room for several songs

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    “Listened back to that Bowie finally. Good to know I wasn’t completely crazy.”

    correlation does not imply causation. dont jump to conclusions. you’re out well ahead of the experimental evidence there

  25. neemor Says:

    “I had to dig deep to keep up.”

    The idea of gdad doing the above puts a huge smile on my face.
    Can’t wait til December.

    Mr. C, my take is that these segues for the most part are coming along as they should be…there were times this run where I was absolutely floored by a “->” (Mike’s->FYF Augusta, Sanity->Weekapaug Prov., 1/2Way->Boogie On Amherst, Makisupa->Night Nurse Manchester)
    These were the shows I saw. Besides Augusta.
    Average one a night.
    And I know I’m skipping the Utica Melt.

    One fatty segue and one fatty jam per night is okay for right now, their ages, etc.

    It may or may not ever be a four song set space again, but I’m okay with that.
    These shows, every single one of them, reminded me why I do this and gave me as much enjoyment as I can ever recall in the walls of Phish.

    And that’s good enough to keep me coming and it’s all I need.

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