A Set of Sorcery

10/31/14 II. Las Vegas, NV (Eric Battuello)

10/31/14 II, Las Vegas, NV (Eric Battuello)

Well, they did IT again. Using Halloween as a platform for one of their most profound on stage achievements yet, Phish reinvented their own holiday tradition while playing a set of music pulled from our wildest dreams. Choosing to “cover” a Walt Disney album comprised only of sound effects and narration, the band wrote ten instrumental jams to accompany the record’s eerie vignettes in a complete blowout of the imagination. Morphing fantasy and psychedelia on a night scripted for such a mash-up, Phish played an absolutely masterful Halloween set, while pleasing every fan in attendance for—quite possibly—the first time in their 31-year career.

PBcoverNobody knew what to expect when handed a Phishbill that read “Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House.” A quick Wiki search informed that the album was a collection of sound effects from the vaults of Walt Disney. It had narration on one side but it contained no music?! It quickly became apparent that Phish would follow their own lead of 2013, and use Old Hallow’s Eve to debut a set of original music! But what form this music would take was anyone’s guess. And few could have imagined what would soon transpire.

As the lights came after the Halloween set, the most common thought heard muttered was, “What just happened?” Phish had dropped ten top-notch instrumental jams on the that were used to musically describe scenes set up by the Disney narration, and everyone was desperately trying to wrap their head around the pinnacle Phish experience that just went down. Via live sampling, Page incorporated the album’s sound effects and much of its narration into the set’s increasingly dancy jams, creating a hour-long mindfuck for the audience. Though most fans were mesmerized in a state that fused disorientation and disbelief, there was one thing that everyone knew in real time—“This was most definitely the shit!” The dark instrumentals grew funkier throughout the set, concluding in the non-stop dance party of “Chinese Water Torture,” “The Birds” and “Martian Monster.” Complete with dancing zombies for the first and last track and set in a faux graveyard, this was the band’s quintessential Halloween performance. Though their cover albums showcased a different kind of mastery, this year, Phish distilled the mystic and macabre nature of Halloween into a set of music like never before.

10/31/II (Eric Battuello)

10/31 II (Eric Battuello)

And it didn’t take long after the show was over to realize what was possible with these composed jams. These “songs” were the polar opposite of Fuego’s largely jamless material—they were already jams—composed themes for the band to expound on in the live setting! Now, if the guys wanted to keep the music moving with no stops, instead of necessarily jamming towards another song they could now simply jam into another jam—and keep jamming! Phish proved on be on board with such thinking, for the next night they seamlessly moved from “Light” into “Dogs” from the Halloween set, and then improvised upon its theme for a stretch before dripping into “Lengthwise.” As illustrated by this immediate example, these Halloween jams represent motifs that the band can weave into their improvisational storytelling. They may have just changed the game—once again—right in front of our eyes.

Phish in Las Vegas has always brought something memorable, but “Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House” was on a whole ‘nother level. Combining their career-long penchant for spectacle with their unparalleled musicianship and sense of the moment, Phish executed one of their finest sets of music in a career loaded with staggering performances. Furthermore, this set typified the artistic ethos of the entire Phish project over the course of 31 years.  Never content with their laurels of yesteryear, the band has continuously infused innovative styles of music and performance into their live show throughout their career, leaving a legendary wake in the history of rock and roll.

10/31/14II (Eric Battuello)

10/31 II (Eric Battuello)


10/31 II (Eric Battuello)

10/31 II (Eric Battuello)


10/31/14 II (Eric Battuello)

10/31 II (Eric Battuello)

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2,187 Responses to “A Set of Sorcery”

  1. Stoney Case Says:

    On the flip side for this fan, it looks like I may get all three of my favorite teams on actual TV in a row! No Reddit pirate streams from Istanbul!

    49ers v Giants should be morning game on Fox
    Lions v Cardinals should be afternoon game, as it’s the only west coast NFC action
    Pats v Colts on the night game. Even with Chris Collinsworthless, I’ll take it!

  2. gavinsdad Says:

    Heh crossing streams. Agreed w you here too. Disturbing it what is is. Ethically really low on the espn empire money grab front. They make more than enuff sans RL.

  3. plord Says:

    Fucking phone ate my first post so you get the short version.

    MiA you don’t say home theater or audio, and you don’t mention a budget, so flailing in the dark but: for HT the Gallo reference 5.1 systems sound good, have style, and are small therefore more easily wife-approved. I have heard the 5.1 Micro SE line, that or the A’Diva set that is $100 more might get the job done for you. roundsound dot com. If those prices don’t make your eyes bug out, and again assuming home theater, the Ref Strada 2 center channel will blow you away. FWIW, the Ref 3 floorstanding speakers that are sadly out of production were one of the best speakers I have ever heard. I wish I could have afforded them a decade ago; they destroyed B&W and Dunlavy speakers costing 5x as much, so I’ve watched what Gallo has been putting out ever since. Dude knows his shit.

    If this is audio first and HT as a bonus, my default speaker rec is whatever Dynaudio you can afford. Even at the low end that’ll set you back double the Gallos just for the 5 surrounds, you’ll still need a sub. But the Dyn silk dome tweet sounds so good it convinced my wife to double our speaker budget.

    If all that is too pricey, I got nothin. I assume you know to avoid Bose.

  4. MiA Says:

    Gdad got the reference!

  5. gavinsdad Says:

    My older son just said his fave qb now is Brady and Montana is best of all time.

    His top 3: Montana Marino and Brady. Love this kid and his innocent yet passionate sports interest. You all remember being 11???

  6. Stoney Case Says:

    G’dad, I don’t need to go back that far. I really don’t. If I ever compared Trey today to Trey 1.0 or 2.0, it had to be tongue in cheek or a moment of weakness.

    He is not even in the same ballpark as the guy from 2012 or west coast 2013. At this point, it no longer matters what the reason. It’s not compelling any way you slice it.

    JEMP and Halloween. Much of the rest has been like watching and hearing a caricature of an amazing musician. Obviously some brilliant moments. Every average Phish show has moments of brilliance worth hearing. Every single one. So let’s not re-hash that.

    The SBB Chalkdust nearly bored me to sleep. Sorry MiA, I’m positive it was a great time. Trey playing a couple repetitive Hammer-On techniques does not a compelling jam make.

  7. dorn76 Says:

    Isn’t cockblocking a bad thing? What you did was admirable.

    Not the part where you leered at your friends all night.

  8. gavinsdad Says:

    I still wanna get early 2015 Randalls weekend wife clearance regardless.

    Loves Stoney’s pinpoint accuracy (tries to ignore bethel 11 comment)

    Poor Ren. Don’t think we will get back to bethel!!

  9. dorn76 Says:

    Stoney is flatlining!

    Fire up the Hyperbolic Chamber!

    Spin Bill Graham 2 Set 2. Send tinfoil and doritos.

  10. Stoney Case Says:


    I’m afraid to. I really dug that set when I first spun it. My problem with the last few tours:

    The more I spin the highlights, the less they stick. I can get lost in the band the first couple times through. Then they lose luster once the guitar is lost in the mix.

  11. Herzog Says:

    i don’t hate BGCA ghost. is there something wrong with me?

  12. Herzog Says:

    gdad, randall’s isn’t something you need clearance for anymore.

  13. gavinsdad Says:

    Well DF i hear you but my wife somehow became the clearance police for fall and NYE outta nowhere.

  14. dorn76 Says:

    Stay in your grumpy place then, don’t want to meet @DespairCase.

    LilUm! Wake up and tell us what to spin, no Phish.

  15. GWKush Says:

    Vape, might be a little late but check out The Distillery. Great craft bar in Savannah decent food too

  16. little umbrellas Says:

    high tolerance levels from over saturation? listen to rap for a month, come back with fresh ears.

    Dee Ef’s listening has become wide open.

    Im gonna go see Tame at the Fox tonight. …never miss a Sunday show?

  17. Herzog Says:

    gdad, she knew fall would suck

  18. little umbrellas Says:

    ‘LilUm! Wake up and tell us what to spin, no Phish.’

    ha!! hadnt read that yet before my last post.

  19. Stoney Case Says:


    more of a ::shrugs:: than grumpy or despair. We’ve come to this place before with Phish.

    “you can’t expect me to want to go around the country and play a solo in YEM every night”


  20. Stoney Case Says:

    lil umb, that’s the thing. I put the Phish away leading up to this tour. Wanted to freshen the ears.

    I did dig into some Wu and GZA after yesterday’s convo. Those guys would sooner fall on their own sword than play with a digitech whammy.

  21. little umbrellas Says:

    follow JG’s lead, The House That Train Built is the goods. Been on disc 3 a lot lately.

  22. dorn76 Says:


    I hear ya. As always, plenty of anticipation for what guitar guy will do when he steps on stage in Mia-meh.

    Oh right he has TAB dates first.

    What, me worry?

  23. little umbrellas Says:

    to be followed after a healthy dose of Liquid Swords
    Trane Built:

  24. Stoney Case Says:

    No love for my Charlie Rose reference?

    Tough crowd this morning.

  25. little umbrellas Says:

    so i here there’s this thing that people really get into and they call it… Sports!

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