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:

    I think, Mr. C, that it might simply be impossible for me to notice take anything away from PH3.0(1) but good things.
    Not sure if that’s good or bad.
    The ol’ glass half full thing.
    I get what you’re saying, but I think what I’m seeing is simply the band “leader” trying to take those leaps we wanted him to take….
    Or rather….
    The band taking those leaps we wanted them to in early 2009.
    And I’m pleased at least once a night so much that it’s all I focus on and recall post-show.

  2. She Divides Says:

    @ pig song- I’m glad to know I’m not the only one! I never notice it during the show because I’m having too much fun in the moment. But The rings of bruises got some very funny looks after merriweather this summer.

  3. butter Says:

    razor sharp – dirty funk – blues improv rock, is the style the boys seem to want to play right now

    thier ambient, space scape game is there if they choose to play it, a la AC Cities or 2001>Bowie

  4. neemor Says:

    I love Phish.
    My boss still
    hates Phish.
    I’ll keep coming, thank you.
    Good stuff, night crew.
    Off to la la land.
    With the Providence Carini lulling me to sleep.

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah KWL I put together my tour highlights playlist as the tour rolled on. I have to add the AC stuff to it but it’s otherwise complete. I actually do 2 versions, one pretty long, one much shorter with stricter rules – only one version of each song, etc…going to be diving back into that soon

    and yeah if I had been there I would have loved the Tweezer to Heaven I think, but….hey wait is Miner arguing that Trey chopped that Tweezer jam?!?! 😮

  6. butter Says:

    and as Mr. C says, Phish is constantly evolving, so nobody plan on having your finger on their style for very long………

  7. Mr.Miner Says:

    Augusta Reba….

  8. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ C lol…no, he didn’t ever start the Tweezer jam 😉

  9. William H. Bonney Says:

    “but I think a super majority is usually used to describe having a veto proof 2/3rds majority, which dems did not have.” If you control all three branches why would they need to over ride a “theoretical ” veto… but yes you our right, I stand corrected, although I would call that a veto proof majority…..Anyway just hearing people saying things about the gird lock of last two years that only existed because Dem’s did not support all of the agenda.. Republican’s could not defeat any leg. and until the Scott Brown election could not even filibuster, so just not a accurate statement that is made all too often.. I see that you get that but others do not, for some reason. Anyway that is over now and gird lock can now be accurately used….Still some tight races come down to the wire…Here is hoping for a Prop 19 victory, California I’m counting on you!

  10. KWL Says:

    mr c, how did you choose between bowies? 😯

  11. butter Says:

    Blossom # Line

  12. ThePigSong Says:

    +1 to razor sharp-dirty funk-blues rock improv

  13. BrandonKayda Says:


    Funny you mention the bruises from bumping into chairs while dancing. While I didn’t get any bruises at MPP2 I definitely remember a few times during the second night I had to watch myself because I thought I was going to fall over (leaning into the seat in front of me).

    Lawn was packed first night MPP though – had a good group of people around my area.

  14. ThePigSong Says:

    not looking so hot for that prop 19 is it?

  15. plord Says:

    @garretc reading way back to page 25, nice call on Drift’s “Infusion”. God I love that track. You know it’s a cut up of a much longer freeform jam, right?

  16. KWL Says:

    i’m far from educated on prop 19

    but the more i learned about it the less i liked it

    would have took the time to look into it a lot more fully if i was a voter in cali, but seemed like prop 19 would/will open the door to major corporatization of weed, along with some other undesirable by products that i don’t fully understand

    guess my point is, prop 19 would/will be a mixed blessing

    (then again, in the good old u.s. of a., if marijuana is legalized, there’s no chance it won’t be anything but corporate)

  17. Aquaman Says:


    I gave you some props on the board from work earlier. Thanks again for the meet up. I look forward to hanging next time around.


  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    I totally get that @neemor and let me say again as I have before, or at least I think and hope I have before, that I love your perspective and the energy you bring to that view. You have a relentless positivity that’s not naive but is, or at least seems, to be kind of intentional, though utterly sincere…post-show nights here when you have time to swing by are always better than nights without, much like our friend willowed. Keeping your focus on the heights is an admirable thing.

    I hope it’s clear to you, and to everyone, and I feel like sometimes it isn’t, that when I dig into these details and the analytical aspects of critique, that it’s coming from a place of love for the music – not just the scene or the people or the energy or whatever but the music – and at this point, the thing I notice the most is how few aspects of the music there are left with significant flaws to notice.

    There are plenty of spaces you can project flaws onto, if that’s your mindset, based on your expectations or preferences as to what kind of band you think Phish should be…

    for the record, I think they can still get better, possibly a lot better, and they could stay that way for a pretty long time. So while I have nothing but positive feelings about the state of the band and music, it’s in my nature to try to see how that might happen, which implies looking for the places where they’re still not hitting their full potential…

  19. KWL Says:

    also in my (limited) understanding, if prop 19 doesn’t pass (i have no idea what the current #s are), it won’t be b/c the voters are ‘against’ legalization

    but more b/c those in favor of legalization in general didn’t agree with the specific ways in which prop 19 would do things

    that is, the stoners were split

  20. ThePigSong Says:

    I’ve been searching around for good articles on opposition to 19 from my political perspective.

    Until 15 minutes ago I was 90% un-informed.

    I originally just figured that it was a step in the right direction, now I’m not so sure.

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    @KWL – Bowie, Sand, Carini are the spoilers for sure!!! I had been going with CO Bowie over Utica because it was a “normal” non-shenaniganed Bowie, but a great one. Now I’ll have to pick between it and AC and I’m leaning AC-ward right now…but that’s prob just because it’s fresher in my mind, and it has that gnarly 2001 paired with it

    Making those kinds of calls is a fun process, typically involving a fairly large number of bong hits. Speaking of which….

  22. ThePigSong Says:

    it’s at 55/45 in opposition with around ten percent reporting @ KWL

  23. She Divides Says:

    Whb- sorry to be picky about the terms but i guess once a poli sci major, always one…and yes there will definitely be real, massive grid lock for the next two years.

    Bk- too bad we didn’t get to meet up at mpp2 – what a great show! Any hope for the medeski Martin and wood show at 9:30 club? Tix are still avail.

    Aqua- nice to meet you on Sunday! Wish I could have hung out more!

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    I tend towards more “prototypical” versions of songs that wacky ones for those playlists. It’s not like I throw away the whole shows. But it’s never simple. For instance I love both the fall Splits and if I pick Utica then I don’t have a “normal” one on there…but any best of tour playlist without the Split Mercy Sandwich in it is bunked out from the jump so my hands are tied on that one

    most of the CA guys I know aren’t down with 19. I have no opinion. This concludes my participation in the political thread.

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    understood @ C…

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