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)

Tags: , ,

2,187 Responses to “A Set of Sorcery”

  1. tela's_muff Says:

    Summer ’13 was amazing. BG1 was as bad as Coventry. Fall ’14 was weak. Noobness corrected.

    Next conversation?

  2. dorn76 Says:

    where’s DIF to lighten the mood?

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    anyhow, tried to explain myself. apologies for the pre-caffeine reactivity on twitter.

  4. tela's_muff Says:

    Miner – none of my ’12 vs ’13 has anything to do with guitar tone. I just find the jams more interesting and the shows I highlighted I find not only have great jams,’but better sets altogether. This includes first sets, which I know doesn’t mean much to you. I personally like when they throw down good first sets. I like interesting song selections. I just like the highlight jams from ’12. I don’t think ’13 was some kind of drop off as far as ability or anything. The ideas/art wasn’t quite as enjoyable to my ears as ’12. That’s all.

    Palmer will recall I was not one of the whale haters that tour.

  5. Mr.Miner Says:

    cool. i respect that.

    I see 2009 > Randalls as a CLEAR progression with very few backsteps stylistically. I feel the jams got tighter, more creative and deeper from Hampton through Randalls.

    I find the only dramatic dropoff to be after randalls. I’m not asking you to agree with me or not, but to me, the curve is clear.

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    if we are talking first sets, Fall 2014 may just tale the cake imo. great set 1s in many shows. very solid energetic playing. unfortunately I go for the jams.

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    pretty good work with the modulated tone here conversationally I think

  8. tela's_muff Says:

    Totally agree on first sets from Fall ’14. Big improvement from ’13.

    First and foremost, I go for jams, but when I also get additional goodness in flow, song selection, first sets, the package comes together a bit more. That seems obvious. ’12 had that in spades.

  9. bobby weird Says:

    the last two pages are hysterical.

  10. dorn76 Says:

    What’s “The Whale”?

    No marine biologist here.

  11. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Still puzzled as to know the how & why of the ‘drop off’ post Randalls. Think there’s been some clear consensus that something was amiss…

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    Stoney. You know I love you, man. That’s why I can be honest. Hope you know that nothing about Phish effects how I feel about you as a person. Because everyone knows you rule.

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    Impatient douchy Miner strikes again

  14. Jerome Garcia Says:

    I mean aside from mammalian foot pedals relapse/using again marital problems Phish is Trey’s side project etc. Wait…think I just answered my own question.

  15. tela's_muff Says:

    There certainly is some level of deeper jamming happening in jams during summer ’13 like Spac Light and some others. Agree there. And you’re right. We don’t have to agree but it’s fun to discuss, without going full Hulk. 😉

  16. BingosBrother Says:

    I thought 2012 had the best 1st sets and song selection. Pretty tight rotation in 13 and 14. Could be totally wrong, but felt that way. Halloween was awesome for surprise and execution, but felt even more so due to mostly predictable show format.

  17. Mr.Miner Says:

    Yup. I get way too defensive of my opinion. Sorry

  18. dorn76 Says:

    Miner! Are we growing?

    Nice to see conversations last long enough here to reflect the depth of human relationships behind the board.

    Kumbayah, bro hugs.

    Can we get to the top 10 already? You know I think you look so much better above the fold.


  19. Mr.Miner Says:

    My point last night was, Be grateful for 11-Randalls. It was pretty great

  20. bobby weird Says:

    Diplomatic Dorn. tip of the cap to you, sir, as well.

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    Fwiw, Trey doesn’t play enough lead to discuss tones these days #rhythmdevil

  22. Mr.Miner Says:

    I apologize to all for my tone. I’ve got to chill out. Much respect. I really couldn’t care less ego likes the bg ghost.

    Happy Sunday to all.

  23. cal Says:

    HAHAHA! Aw man, thanks for the pickmeup, BB. Good to know that being able to discern proper pitch still makes ya a noob around these parts. Proud to be a clueless troll.

  24. voopa Says:

    Hi gang! Saw about 80 bands in 15 hours yesterday, walked about 10 miles, and am almost done sorting and uploading about 750 judge’s speeches. Then it’s off to the theater to assist with tech day, and there goes Sunday. Football! Phish!

  25. Chris Says:

    I prefer a type one jam of 10.22 steam to a type one version of SometHing comparable from 2012. Most of 2012 is boring too is exaggerated I’m saying m. By and large it’s only the jams that are interesting in any year. 2012 had great jams. So did 2013 and sueprisingly, summer 14 has more jam highlights on my music player than ’13 although the best of ’13 jams are a bit better I’d say. Fall tours are obviously a different story. Fall ’13 is legit in every aspect

Leave a Reply