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:

    She Divides, I hate the mid-calf bruising.
    Hence the tenth-row-center honey spot.

  2. sumodie Says:

    I had commented after the show Miner that although I really enjoyed that night cuz it was just fun and dirty adding a little more actual grooved out tweezer to the tweezer zep mash up could have really put the set over the top

    Yup -had the same exact thought. The shift to Halley’s was probably the most disruptive & unsuccessful change all weekend, IMO

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

    Agreed -set I was red hot through & through

  3. neemor Says:

    Gorgeous, spacious Gin from Augusta, taboot.

  4. Jtran Says:

    With Feat in mind, that groove at the end of Sand (just listened for the first time) could’ve easily been a key change > Skin It Back (imo).

    But maybe that’d be too much.

  5. voopa 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”

    No shit, that’s a pro move there for sure! Hope that’s in fact what it was…

  6. neemor Says:

    Did Fish start singing the Destiny in Mike’s place in Charleston 1?

  7. voopa Says:

    Word neemor, I’ve been waiting for the return of the ->

    This tour brought it (I’d say “in Spades”, but that my sound racist).

  8. neemor Says:

    Also, I just realized earlier that Mike starts quoting Skin It Back during the Tower Soundcheck. Or is it the IT Soundcheck?
    I forget.
    But now I can place it.
    Call me Preposition Boy.

  9. neemor Says:

    It actually looks like a spade, now that you mention it.

  10. She Divides Says:

    10th row center sounds pretty nice!
    Yea between shin bruises, calf cramping, and sore neck and shoulders I definitely left it all in boardwalk hall this wknd!

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    amherst 2 was an inexplicable show in many ways, unless we venture into speculative territory concerning intentions that’s subject to projection and ultimately unknowable anyway…

    but as @bk notes, the Taste is a final-cut keeper on the shortest version of the best of tour playlist, as is the Roggae before it, due to the sublime outro jam obliterating some rough edges in the vocal arrangement.

    not saying that’s enough to elevate the show as a whole out of cellar-dweller status whole-tour-wise, but it’s worth remembering that even the worst teams in the league have a couple decent players on them, he says, completing a sudden leap into poorly thought out and pointless sports metaphor

  12. sumodie Says:

    what a game changing run

    Having done Augusta >> AC I’d say the entire tour (or at least what I witnessed) is a game changer

    AC doesn’t stand out as significantly different or better from the overall northeast run, except they played a Halloween cover

    If anything AC was a little more of a straightforward rockin run compared to the best of the northeast

    Fantastic venue though -what a find!!!!

  13. Jtran Says:


    It soundcheck. Pretty sure they sing it as well?

    Jam > Skin it Back, Jam

  14. neemor Says:

    But damn if these boys can’t catch a groove at will now, huh?
    That was the Fall 2010 “treatment” for me…
    The groove, the slick, slick groove.

  15. She Divides Says:

    @ voopa- yea it was convincing, but a song or two later I checked the floor and it was all clear so I moved back up, only then realizing her slightly disgusting brilliance!

  16. neemor Says:

    Oh, yes..Mike sings it….
    “Walking around with the shoes of a clown…., desperado…”

    Oh, and Mike’s placement with the footbell has become nothing short of genius.

    Also, 20YLater lyrics are haunting as shit.
    Make my skin stand at attention every time.

  17. neemor Says:

    When all air is water and water is land.

    ^ this

  18. ThePigSong Says:

    must be a lady thing @SheDivides – my SLF also woke up Monday with a line of bruises on the back of her legs.

  19. Mr.Miner Says:

    “10.29 Sand is chopped of at the knees while jogging its way to glory”

    ^ they were 14 mins in, had gone type II, and went into Carini. You complaining? I don’t see that as “cut off,” my man.

  20. Jtran Says:

    Annnnnnnnnnnnd I just realized I was talking about She Caught the Katy.

    My bad

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    and sure @neemor absolutely – in my little meander through the segue topic I tried to express that most of the segues have been at least good, and many of them have been, as the kids once said, cash fucking money, going back to CO2 Piper > Camel Walk…

    perhaps that overall success makes the sudden collisions a bit more jarring to my perception? certainly last year this time I would have accepted them as par for the course. now they seem out of place; perhaps that’s the most relevant point to be made from that topic tonight.

  22. KWL Says:

    ah yes, broomfield golden age>piper>camel walk, that did in fact happen, didn’t it

    a good run through this tour’s highlights is in order methinks 😮

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

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

    ^ @ kwl. me too…me too…

  24. DukeOfLizards Says:

    What’s good, night crew?

    “In New York, the state so nice they named in New York, projections show that Carl Paladino’s campaign to not be elected governor was successful…” – J. Stewart


  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    miner, in order to bury the topic for now in favor of a more celebratory and less critical mood, I’m going to table the whole ‘was trey either overlooking or intentionally halting some potential jams’ question until i’ve had a chance to relisten to several show segments in detail.

    for tonight i’d just like to say that from the perspective of today, knowing the halloween set and thus understanding the intention behind the entire tour somewhat better, I don’t have any problem with it even if it’s true. so when I do bring it back up it’s not as a nitpick or criticism but a topic for discussion to fill the time between now and NYE 😮

    the summary of my feeling right now is that he was doing it, but it was with great positive intention, as a means to an end I support, and moreover is almost certainly just one phase among many more to come for this band that never stops evolving…

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