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”

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  1. Snow Says:

    A post of sorcery to match.
    I haven’t been in the room for enough halloweens for my opinion. To count for much but it seemed that everyone was indeed pleased.

  2. Pure Guava Says:

    Mr. Miner back from the dead!

    Appropriate for a Halloween review

    I never made this connection until reading yr’ article just now: Phish’s 31st year = they play their first Halloween-themed album. 31 years—10/31…spooktacular!!!

  3. Nightman Says:

    Solid post Miner.

  4. Jerome Garcia Says:

    New post! Kudos Miner. As always dig your phishthoughts.

  5. Legs diamond Says:

    New post, yes! Nice write-up. Thanks for dropping a new one on us.

  6. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Very cool take on this Miner. What a cool spectacle to behold! Congrats to all that made it to this super original throwdown. Cool to hear these jamlets and melodies pop up both before and after the Halloween set. Kudos to the band for the secrecy needed to pull it off as well!

  7. jdub Says:

    Glad to see you felt like writing again Miner, the masses were getting restless. Just when everyone thought Miner and Phish were Dead, they totally prove us wrong ;). Nice thoughts on an amazing night.

    Also, I can’t let the rumor Palmer dropped pass by. Late Winter/early spring NE tour sounds about right. Worcester, Hartford, Providence, Nassau, Portland, Albany, Philly… Any of these sound great.

  8. RicksFork Says:

    Thanks Miner. Really enjoyed this one.

    I’m with you jdub. Not sure if Palmer was just throwing out a random idea, but the idea of a short tour late winter/spring gave this snowcome hope heading into the winter months.

  9. Al Says:

    Thanks Miner. I’d love to read your Fall Tour review next. Actually started at BGCA this fall. Maybe they realized that they need to play more to not disappoint. Then the Winter Tour rumour would make sense.

  10. dorn76 Says:

    So confused!!

    Repost cuz the last post is not the page.

    dorn76 Says:
    November 10th, 2014 at 5:29 am
    Palmer dropped gunpowder on the Phish hot stove!!
    Hockey Sheds and Wookie Dreads
    They Attack (New England)
    (Because of the incredibly close distance from my house to the shows) My Trip is Short

    We’ve got a Band/BB.

  11. tela's_muff Says:

    Nice piece Miner! Fingers crossed for some Sipwreck jams.

  12. Snigglebeach Says:

    I hope they come back to Portland. Can combine a trip to my new favorite dispensary with a Phish show. Let’s hear more talk of spring tour. Now how about going back to sugarloaf or some other mountain so I can combo phish and skiing.

  13. RicksFork Says:

    We can dream Sniggle, but I don’t see it happening.

  14. Random Poster...Nutbag Says:

    “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.”

    Goddam right! Well said sir. The macro view of Phish is truly amazing to me.

  15. sumodie Says:

    Miner, razzle dazzle new post, thanks!

  16. st8 of mind Says:

    Good to hear from you again Miner.

  17. sumodie Says:

    2 shows

    http://www.jambands.com/news/2014/11/10/the-meter-men-featuring-page-mcconnell-to-play-new-orleans-during-jazzfest/

  18. voopa Says:

    Df- I said American xmas because I didn’t want to confuse people with that weird moose boxing ritual you guys have.

  19. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    #sitenotgonetoshit

    Nice write-up! Seems fitting.

    I wasn’t thinking, “what just happened.”

    I was saying out loud, “Yes, that just happened! What a gift!”

    Mrs. B and I immediately launched the screen rip on Youtube the next morning and got our groove on.

    #bonedancing

  20. little umbrellas Says:

    Look at everything
    You had to have
    Bring it forward
    Or leave it behind

  21. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    thanks for this recap, miner.

    I find myself continually going back to this set. this one really rekindled something for me with the band, a spark I haven’t felt in quite some time. my wife and I both felt it and it was really great to have been able to share that together. a truly unique night that I am so glad to have been able to have experienced in person.

    here’s hoping it leads to further wonderful things for the band. like that rumor palmer floated 😉

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I really need a shirt of this like yesterday

  23. jtran Says:

    Nice post Miner! Thanks for getting that up.

    CDT>Piper yo!

  24. little umbrellas Says:

    @t3! Love that!

  25. MiA Says:

    Really enjoyed the read Miner. Well written and poignant.

    My Orange still has Verno’s non-narrative version of the set.

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