While speculation is running rampant about Fenway and the upcoming leg of Summer tour, believe it or not, rumors have been floating around about Halloween for quite a while. Without knowing what type of fall slate Phish will create after such an extensive summer schedule, it seems like they will be returning to their tradition of donning a musical costume for All Hallows’ Eve. This is quite the exciting proposition, as Halloween shows were one of the greatest nights of the Phish calendar.
Rumors originally had Phish playing The Knickerbocker (now the Times-Union Center) in downtown Albany. Then I heard the band would move down I-87 and play a fifteen year anniversary show at Glens Falls, commemorating their first Halloween costume of The Beatles’ White Album. The most recent mumblings involve a return to Vegas for Halloween weekend, a proposition that seems counter-intuitive with Phish’s new family vibe, but who knows with these guys? The bottom line is that it looks like Phish will be taking us somewhere come the end of October.
As soon as we start talking Halloween, there is immediate conjecture about what album Phish may or should play for set II. Having already touched on several diverse classics- The White Album, The Who’s Quadrophenia, Talking Head’s Remain In Light, and Velvet Underground’s Loaded– Phish seems to choose their costume wisely, making sure it bears some significance in rock ‘n roll history. (We must remember the post-Halloween Dark Side show as well.) While positing what record Phish might play come October 31st is fun, most guesses will wind up empty, as Phish seems to select albums that don’t immediately rush to mind. Nonetheless, it is a fun activity, and (assuming they won’t cover the same artist twice) below are five albums that I think would make great choices for Phish to cover come Halloween- wherever it is.
Graceland – Paul Simon
I have been advocating for this album ever since 1996. Why? Because Phish would crush it. With intricate polyrhythms and percussive arrangements, Graceland would require additional musicians, much like Remain In Light. Bring on the horns! Bring on the percussionists! This one would make for an incredibly improvised time in which Phish could really explore the rhythms, textures, and melodies that define Paul Simon’s masterpiece. Songs like “Diamonds On the Soles of Her Shoes,” “Under African Skies,” and “The Myth of Fingerprints,” would be perfect springboards for Phish to take in their own direction. And with some singles that everybody in the arena would know (“Boy In the Bubble” and “You Can Call Me Al”) this seems like a perfect choice.
Appetite For Destruction – Guns N’ Roses
If we are talking definitive albums of rock history, Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction has to enter the conversation. Stripping down the ’80’s glam-rock of Hollywood, Axl and crew redefined what it meant to be a metal band in the early 1990s. With superb songwriting, catchy hooks, and enough energy to blow up the west coast, Appetite took the nation by storm in 1989. Can you imagine Trey taking the “Paradise City” or “Sweet Child of Mine” solos? Or Mike and Fish grooving on “Rocket Queen?” It would be to-die-for. Even people who never got into this genre of music respect what Guns N’ Roses created with their debut album. A game changing record in every sense of the term, Phish would certainly do it justice if they wanted to. Starting off set two with “Welcome to the Jungle?”- forget about it- the room would absolutely blow apart.
Loveless – My Bloody Valentine
This critically acclaimed album by the early ’90s British alternative outfit has often been cited as a possibility for Phish to cover due to Trey’s avowed proclivity for it. Recorded over two years and nineteen recording studios, My Bloody Valentine came close to declaring bankruptcy during the process. But what resulted was a hallmark album of the UK’s “shoegazing” scene of the early ’90s, a sub-genre of British alternative music. Defined by dense, dissonant guitar effects, sheets of sound, and tonal experimentation, band leader Kevin Shields used a tremolo (or whammy) bar to “strum” his guitar, creating the album’s signature sound. Combined with drum loops and obscured, effect-laden vocals, this record became My Bloody Valentine’s seminal work, as they never recorded another full album. Phish could transform this already-psychedelic epic into something completely out of hand- it would be awesome.
Thriller – Michael Jackson
The world’s best selling album of all-time was toyed with in Louisville, KY the night before Halloween ’95, as the band worked “Beat It” teases into “Possum.” At the Rosemont Horizon, the teases continued as “Harpua’s” story featured Jimmy listening to “the Halloween album” as the band teased “Beat It” once again. As Phish took the stage for the second set, they continued the joke by hinting “Thriller” before dropping into the less-widely known Quadrophenia. If the band were to reconsider this idea, Thriller would make as fun of a Halloween set as any album out there. Taking Phish funk into the disco realm, this album could lend itself to extended dance improv on most tracks. “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” could be monster jams, while the slower R & B songs could be a hilarious venue for Mike and Page to step up to the vocal task. Though it is unlikely that “Thriller” will materialize at this point, it would be a blast to experience.
Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Often hailed as the Boss’ most powerful album, Phish has already covered the title track in jest with Tom Marshall at PNC in 1999. But if the band took this epic record more seriously, they could expound masterfully on its dramatic compositions. Imagine Phish interpreting “Jungleland,” or “Thunder Road?” The emotional quality behind those songs, combined with Phish’s golden touch, could make this an incredibly powerful experience. With time to improvise in a more upbeat fashion on “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” and “Backstreets,” this album, if chosen, would certainly surprise the younger fans out there with its poignancy.
Other Albums That Would Be Great: London Calling (The Clash), Exile On Main Street (Rolling Stones), Astral Weeks (Van Morrison), The Joshua Tree (U2), Gish (Smashing Pumpkins), Houses of the Holy (Led Zeppelin), Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie), Songs In the Key of Life (Stevie Wonder)
What album do you think Phish should cover and why?
LISTEN to a funny a funny interview from Germany in February ’97 talking about Halloween. (4 minutes) –^^ (Roll over link, click play or right click, save as)
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
10.31.90 Armstrong Hall @ Colorado College SBD < TORRENT LINK
This is the first Halloween gig that Phish played in the ’90s, and while they didn’t don a musical costume, they filled their set with every big Phish song they had at the time. This show was actually webcast follwing Halloween in 1999 when the band skipped their traditional holiday gig. Enjoy this nugget of Phish history as we render guesses about Halloween ’09! (Note: This is not the LivePhish source.)
I: Buried Alive > Possum, The Squirming Coil, Lizards, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, You Enjoy Myself, The Asse Festival, My Sweet One, Cavern, Run Like an Antelope
II: The Landlady, Reba, Runaway Jim, Foam, Tweezer, Fee, Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg, HYHU > Love You > HYHU, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove
E: Uncle Pen, Big Black Furry Creature From Mars
Set 2 preceded by costume contest.