The Rest of Halloween

10.31.10 (Graham Lucas)

While Phish’s take on Little Feat’s “Waiting For Columbus” was the clear centerpiece of an amazing evening, Phish played two other sets as well. The first frame, filled with Halloween-themed selections featured one of the jams of the tour in “Stash,” and a dancy early sequence of “Ghost > Spooky.” During the third set – practically an afterthought following such a masterful Halloween cover – Phish marched out a sequence of high-energy anthems to close the show, weekend, and tour. Without getting into any serious jams other than a smoking “Jibboo,” Phish used a fun finale to celebrate the achievements of the season. And after a transformative few weeks, that felt just fine.

"Frankenstein" (G.Lucas)

Phish crafted a Halloween-laced opening set with the heavier rock of “Frankenstein” and “Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars,” before catching everyone off guard with an early “Ghost.” Playing with a collective direction and relaxing feel, the entire band toyed within the song structure while building closely off each others’ offerings. Trey stepped out front with an enthusiastic solo while Fishman kept a cymbal heavy beat. Continuing the holiday theme, Page seamlessly came in with piano chords that smoothly transformed the jam into the late-’60s cover, “Spooky.” One couldn’t tell where “Ghost” ended and “Spooky” began in a particularly seamless segue. Though Trey has often teased the guitar lick from this piece (a la 12/31/95’s “Weekapaug”), the song hadn’t been performed since April ’93, making it the largest bust-out in Atlantic City.

Phish passionately nailed “Divided Sky” as a mid-set interlude and continued the holiday cheer with “Roses Are Free,” but the improvisational peak of the Phish-only section of the show came in a staggering “Stash.” The band dove headfirst into this top-notch highlight; a jam that illustrates the band’s current no-nonsense style as well as any. Within a minute of exiting the lyrics, Phish fully locked into a synched pattern that began to build away from the song. As Mike and Page joined Trey in a major key, the band transformed the usually evil opus into a blissful magic-carpet ride into the sunset of Fall Tour. Fishman remained loosely-anchored in “Stash’s” rhythms, while the other three band members took off into an alternate reality. Forging a pristine path through this musical wormhole, the band subconsciously slid right back into the key of “Stash,” picking up the snarling journey at the end of the sonic rainbow. A crunchy “Character Zero” punctuated a highly-engaging opening frame, bringing the evening to into its first setbreak.

10.31.10 Graham Lucas)

After playing, arguably, their most impressive Halloween set to date, Phish came out for a third set with all sorts of possibilities. Some darker selections that seemed like a given – “Mike’s Groove” and “Light”- never showed up, and the band favored an upbeat, high-energy affair to close out their tour. A scalding “Disease” ripped the frame wide open, roaring out of the composed rock into a snapping section of percussive grooves. Locked and loaded, the band seemed to be on the brink of something significant as Trey wove guitar effects into the increasingly abstract piece. Slowing into a series of collective hits, the band landed in a murky psychedelia; Phish was set for liftoff. But in an inexplicable move, Trey called for an abrupt change into “Back On the Train” as “Disease” reached its deepest point. This move signified the type of set that would roll out – a fun, song-based third frame rather than a Vegas ’98er.

10/31 Official Poster (Duval)

The centerpiece of this high-octane conclusion came in a fiercely-active “Jibboo.” Trey’s non-stop solo formed the scintillating icing on a musical cake which showcased more full-band interplay than usual. Trey even drew the band into his melodic template towards the end of the excursion. But when the dust settles, “Jibboo” is a vehicle for mind-numbing guitar work, and that is exactly what underlined is what this third-set standout. Building to a white-hot peak, Phish settled the audience with the slowed-funk of “Camel Walk,” a clear nod to Little Feat’s musical influence.

The set got a bit choppy in the middle, as “Suzy” and “Wilson” seemed completely out of place; but the band decided to jam out of “Wilson” for one few times in their career. Beginning with a guitar lick that sounded like the precursor to another Led Zeppelin tease, the band stayed on their own turf this time, crafting a thrashing heavy metal-turned-ambient passage that showcased far more creativity than they have infused into the song in eons. As Phish drew out the cosmic sludge into a drone landscape, Trey subtly teased the original lick that got this shindig started before he dropped out for the opening drum roll of “Harry Hood.” A delicate and mellow version of the usually high-spirited jam reached the ending chorus with no real build up to it, leaving the last “Hood” of fall a bit short of spectacular. But this entire set was gravy after such a stunning and satisfying Halloween performance.

"YEM" - 10.31.10 (B.Lovelace)

As soon as Trey started “The Horse,” everyone in the venue knew where we were headed – “Horse > Silent,” YEM.” And so it was. A largely guitar-based “YEM” jam put the final stamp on an unforgettable evening of music on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. Finalizing things with a set of joyful Phish songs, everyone drifted into November 1st with the energy and inspiration that only Phish can provide. Bringing all their guests back for a “Julius” encore, the show ended with the band of the hour – Little Phish – on stage for one last time. Closing tour with a special encore, the band took a bow to a notably enthusiastic ovation. Putting down their instruments for the last time of tour, Phish had arrived. Sometime during the magical fall of 2010, their comeback came to a close, and Phish took the first bold step into in the next golden era of their career.

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: Little Feat – Waiting For Columbus

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*

* with Giovanni Hidalgo and horn section

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981 Responses to “The Rest of Halloween”

  1. Chuck D Says:

    was there a point where the cup/mug was not being used? perhaps RR 09, when they were doing the hand signals for Tube and such? or just a stupid game of charades?

  2. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    trey: “um, page? cool it on the hot pockets, mm’kay? you have red sauce on your chin. oh, and we’re going to do number line next. go super team phish!”

  3. angryjoggerz Says:

    I heard the mug is connected to Robear, who is on call to bring the energy levels up each time and to make sure everyone is irie.

  4. Al Says:

    ^^^ At the very end his old axe was only able to howl and whale like a dying monster. How I hated that whaling!! Almost the cmplete summer tour leg I won’t ever find its way on my iPod. Except Merriweather and Camden maybe,…some of it at least.

    His new axe sounds a bit sharper to my ears. Would love to hear more of his front coils to have a rounder and fuller sound with more sustain.
    I actually LOVED his guitar sound on the Little Feat covers. Check out “All that you dream” – so cool.

  5. Jtran Says:

    that’s funny about the mug.

    I distinctly remember telling the SLF during first set of Manchester “Trey is drinking so much tonight, must have a dry throat from all the energy”

    I also fail at Phish 101

  6. c0wfunk Says:

    “the thing with the mug is that it is/was used for cues before/after a song. How often did Trey go take a sip out of his mug while knee deep in a jam?”

    Listening to that clip, it’s very interesting .. that’s exactly the type of thing we frown upon and try to discourage at the jam. If you have those ideas, play them, and if everyone gets it, we’ll go with it…

    FWIW, though those were not typical changes he’s calling out, and over a pretty drawn out period, so trying to get the band hip to all that in the moment would inevitably cause a bit of a muddy transition, which is clearly what dude’s going for.

    So to summarize – I would never do what that guy’s doing over the monitor and I’m pretty sure no one in phish would either. But if that’s how UM wants to do it, and it makes their jams better, as I said before, whatever gets you through the night..

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    “which is clearly what dude’s going for.”

    ^which is clearly NOT what dude’s going for.

  8. cal Says:

    PigSong–the point we’re making is that there are tons of different musical and non-musical cues that transpire between the band members to make the onstage communication SEEM magical. Bottom line is that good bands integrate all kinds of tricks to create the illusion of spontaneity. If UM’s direct verbal cues turn you off, that’s understandable, it’s a matter of taste. I just don’t think the argument that it undermines the creativity is valid, no matter who you’re comparing them to.

  9. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    that’s the problem these days. kids think they can move on to the grad level phish courses without even doing the pre-reqs. they end up all wook down at the wrong time and roaming the hallways during epic halloween sets. there’s a progression for a reason, people!!

    I need someone to confirm something for me. please listen to the last choral round in the Amherst Numberline. Trey is not saying “all my friends…” I can’t figure out what word he replaces “friends” with, but it sure ain’t friends to my ears.

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    treys tone on the new axe, which as a contrarian I think I will refer to as the “Languelot,” is utterly redonkulous to my ear. I’m not a player or a true guitar nerd but it just sounds incredible to me in a lot of ways.

    The fact that Trey mimicked Lowell’s tone and phrasing without using a slide is one of the most mindblowing things I’ve ever heard, musically speaking…and on top of that he was really switching between that sound and the Barrere parts…so….fucking WOW, mad props for that

  11. voopa Says:

    Plus it’s a bit tricky to get 6 guys on the same page when you’re doing rock improv.

  12. c0wfunk Says:

    ‘Plus it’s a bit tricky to get 6 guys on the same page when you’re doing rock improv.’

    good point .. page and trey share part of a brain, so no problem there, and mike’s only got one note to worry about and he chases from behind anyway so it all works out.

  13. garretc Says:

    I’m pretty sure Bobby hides his mic in the moustache, actually

  14. Matso Says:

    If you listen carefully to Manchester set 1, you can hear Trey say “my bad” after Access Me, just before he rips into Llama – not sure what he did wrong (he seems to have sung all the verses in Access Me, which I’m not sure is usual – always sounds like Trey loves to play that song though).

    A little bit later in the set, you can hear Trey say “sorry” just after he counts off ASIHTOS and then strums a chord or two to start before Fish launches the song properly. We all get it wrong sometimes. I think this is a very nice version, btw. In the box, but has a really slinky feel to it at points.

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    well for the record re: communication

    the best improvising psychedelic band in world history IMO is Miles Davis’ group from 69-75 and especially the 70-73 lineups. To me nothing else comes close enough to even be worth discussing. And Miles ruled that shit with an iron fist. He used hand signals all the time, walked around telling people in their ear exactly what to do next, threw in musical cues, etc – and if you were in his band you’d better be able to read that sharp glare when he turned it on you – did it mean ‘yes, do that more’ or ‘shut the fuck up’ – and for all I know he was beaming commands directly into the frontal lobes of his players.

    So while I am all for freeform jamming, leaderless jamming, spontaneous creativity and all that goes with it, it’s worth keeping in mind that you can create incredibly free music within that very different kind of context too – as long as your iron-fisted musical dictator is a once-a-century genius like Miles, I guess.

    Also, note that the Knitting Factory jazz and post-jazz crowd, and the related groups around the world, have been exploring the nuances of group improvisation for decades, trying to define which aspects are mysterious art and which are subject to technique and science. If you look at the career of John Zorn, for example, you can break his many projects down by “how improvisational are they” – from the structured, song based, contained group jamming of Masada to the playful COBRA improv games to the fullblown noise-jazz skronking sessions….

  16. garretc Says:

    Also, say UM a couple weeks ago in Seattle, and while I still had a good time, it wasn’t really for me. The composed-ness of the jams was a but off-putting, and it seemed like most of the changes that were cued went something like this:

    Them all looking around talking to each other to cue up the change, them looking out at the crowd like they’re about to do something earth-shattering, then boom! The lights change colors and… they’re playing the same groove a little louder… And the sketch baller crowd eats it up.

    That makes it sound worse than I actually thought it was, and I didn’t even pay for my ticket, so I definitely still enjoyed things, but yeah, I, like Silly, won’t be on UM tour anytime soon

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    I like that ASITHOS too @matso. Actually the highlight of that excellent set for me, even though it was contained.

    my perception was that Trey was really quite off the mark with his vocals on Access Me but I only listened to it once

  18. Lycanthropist Says:

    Chance Fisher comminucated with smoke signals

  19. ThePigSong Says:

    @cal – pardon me for being slightly miffed to find out that the jams weren’t straight musical interaction.

    Kudos for UM being your thing – they are still my thing too. Learning this new tidbit doesn’t turn me off from seeing shows – I just now have a different perspective on the jams; and it will take more to completely floor me.

    FTR I’ll dig the music along the way just as I always have.

  20. c0wfunk Says:

    “as long as your iron-fisted musical dictator is a once-a-century genius like Miles”

    I’ve been looking for that guy. Let me know if you see him and send him to Asheville, please


  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    sure @c0w, just be sure to hide all the women and the cocaine

  22. c0wfunk Says:

    I thought trey was pretty rough on access me too ; clearly didn’t know the words and was way up in the mix which made it worse. Mike sounded a bit annoyed at times, but he’s really hard to read.

  23. c0wfunk Says:

    lol@c no shortage of either, here, for better or worse.

  24. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    iron-fisted musical dictator

    not sure if this would be a better band name, album title, or character in a rock opera. any way you slice it though, it is a golden term.

  25. cal Says:

    Didn’t mean to single you out, PigSong; I think I’ve belabored my point enough. Carry on.

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