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. Robear Says:

    yeah, what plord said!

    p.s., I have a friend that’s at the Kobalt Tool level of seeing shows. Over 250. She really dug AM 2, more so than AM 1 even.

    (but thought AC 1 and 2 dusted both)

  2. halcyon Says:

    looks like prop 19 is going down…..though its early in the reporting…

  3. Robear Says:

    The ultimate irony of the weekend:

    Our own AW, hating on Zepellin, and calling for a big ‘Tweezer’ on Saturday night. He gets both, and loves every minute of it. Band in top form.

  4. plord Says:

    No argument from me that AC-anything dusts MA-all. AC2 actually takes out both Amherst shows if you match them up highlight for highlight.

    I’m still really, really, really high on Manchester. Def over AC1. Maybe over AC2. Maybe over Guyutica but it’s close. Little Phish smokes it and Bogart’s its joint, though.

  5. Mr.Miner Says:

    Utica and Manchester are the Heat…Prov set II as well…

  6. Robear Says:

    plord, I love the playful sound of Manchester, esp. set I. You can hear the band mates relishing the fresh song choices. Also, Trey really steps back and lets Mike and Page grab the reins. See Mike during ‘Alumni, Mellow Mood and Access Me’ or Page during ‘Llama’, or the earnest backing vocals by everyone on ‘All of These Dreams’.

    The whole band goes off on ‘Mule’ and the ‘Ocean Sing and WOTC’ don’t see any rust.

    My take following Amherst was, that’s Trey’s way of saying ‘See you in Manchester….or not 🙄 ‘ At the time, Manch was not sold out, and Amherst had sold out in minutes. I think it was a little prankster mind phuck on the whole crowd / scene.

    Didn’t you decide to head up to Manchester, after not getting your fill in Amherst? That would be +1 for Phish

  7. plord Says:

    I did head up to Manchester but I had it planned that way all along. Good thinking on my part. I was going to add a show on one side of the MA weekend, I think (for my tastes) I picked the right one.

  8. Robear Says:

    Miner, agree 2000%. So many ‘wow’ moments when I listen to Utica and Manchester. Spun most of Providence II today, up to ‘Paug’. Just an awesome stretch of music. Will hit rest at volume tomorrow.

    Honestly, the way you stay so in the moment and keep things fresh after seeing a whole tour speaks volumes in itself. The haters can’t even scratch your surface, my man.

  9. Robear Says:

    r u in SF???? plord

  10. joe Says:

    don’t forget Augusta as well when combing for good tracks from tour. just because there wasn’t a full review didn’t mean that it wasn’t hot 🙂 I loved the flow of set 1. It really “felt” like the phish I used to know. end of set 2 kind of faded out (although hood was nice and I always like Day in the Life).

    anyway. good stuff today on here.

  11. plord Says:

    Robear, yeah, doing a little bit of real work this evening then two days locked in a conference room with an angry customer and a red eye home Thursday night :/ No time to grab a car and visit this time but I will definitely be back and try to cram in an extra day for socializin’.

  12. plord Says:

    I hit up Willowed’s Youtube of the Mike bomb in Tweezer, and my unassisted laptop doesn’t do the job. I need to get back home and plug that video into the main stereo. The house can take it. I think.

  13. Robear Says:

    joe, i forgot to add Augusta. they really blew up the ‘skip’ shows this time around.

    word, p maybe we could meet half way next time…

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    Cherers @ robear 🙂

    forgot to say Augusta II is on that level as well.

  15. joe Says:

    those were the only ones I got this time around. Think I’m now spoiled on smaller venues and general admission dance floors. can we just do inside for summer as well…

    anyone see the knicks game was cancelled due to asbestos falling from the ceiling at msg. hope they get it fortified by new year’s or mike’s bombs may take the whole thing off.

  16. Robear Says:

    MSG New Year’s – Hard Hat Zone

  17. Trails Says:

    Just had a second great listen to Utica last night.

    I have it and 10/31 as my two recordings in my iTunes from Fall tour. What in your opinion should be the next show I should get ahold of?

    My way of Phish listening is to usually only have three or four top offerings from a tour and get to know those well.

    Thanks for any ideas on another night to pick up!

    ….It sounds like Manchester is getting some strong support

  18. Aquaman Says:

    To the BB,

    OK, after a few meetings here today I have gathered some thought that I had time to wade through.

    1) I am sick of talking about other people’s opinion of WFC. It was the coolest thing Phish has ever done. End of story. I mean can one set be cooler than an entire festival weekend? For me it may be. I think I am holding this a bigger for me than Clifford Ball.

    I may go back on that statement as my post show glow wanes.

    2) What I really want to know is…..have y’all had time to listen back to the Tweezer from Sat?

    I have to reiterate my position that Tweezer > Ramble On was a botch job. The LZ quotes that followed were the equivalent of Trey’s card trick “Hey kids, I messed up, now you see me, now you don’t.”

    The most compelling part of Ramble On is the outro-guitar solo. It is THE section I want to hear Trey play the most. He then drops mad Thank You and Stairway quotes simply as a song and dance that did not work. I went back and listened to the Alpine 1998 Ramble On to cleanse my palate. Then he looks dejected on stage and has no idea what to play….flow grinding to a halt….what’s this? HALLEY’S. Thank you Mike for coming to the rescue!

    Throughout this version I really liked the punch it had. I can’t stand swinging Halley’s they need to be fast a furious. This one was and more….Mike slaying it, great vocals…..until…….what’s this……why is Trey going over to Mike………WHY IS HALLEY’S STOPPING!! Really Trey left turn into ASZ?

    Thank you for the mouth full of German-Chocolate “flow”erless cake.

    Set flow at an “All Time Love”. In addition to this, Trey now has placed ASZ in the role of the “judas-goat” song. (look that term up – it pertains to ranching and cattle) Thus ruining the space for this tune. Of all the sacrificial lamb songs….you pick ASZ.

    Then the true sign that Trey’s cake hole stuffing took all creativity out of the set. David Bowie. Now there is nothing wrong with this tune, nor this version. It simply felt like……”Geez, they really are getting restless out there…..let’s give them some ear candy, just because”. Slightly insulting as I don’t want to hear what they think I want to hear, I want to hear what will move them to play better or feel good.

    Then we get to the song that fit’s in the “I’m really sorry about this flow guys” song…..The Show of Life. Good song, wrong time. It all had the same feeling as Toyota Park 2009, all messed around.

    The eventually energy returns to the set, why?

    Mikes playing! MVP of Saturday night = Mike Gordon.

    Now, bash away guys………again this is why we come here. To nickel and dime the reasons why a certain set of Phish can be considered A+ instead A-/B+.

    Yes after all that critical thinking I am still giving this set a B+. This has to do with intent over execution. C+ for execution A+ for intent = Avg. B+

    I’d love to hear thoughts.


  19. Aquaman Says:

    A Whole Lotta thoughts in there…..shit was flowing, sorry folks.

  20. Andy Dillard Says:

    I would love to see them do it again, LOVED it!

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