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. little umbrellas Says:

    Just posting this here cause the comments are out of hand:
    http://www.jambands.com/news/2014/11/08/bob-weir-talks-carrying-jerry-garcia-s-dope-on-tour-dealing-with-painkillers-and-more-in-revealing-interview

  2. vapebraham Says:

    Nice one, Miner. You nailed it.

  3. vapebraham Says:

    Nice one, Miner. You nailed it.

  4. jtran Says:

    I think we need @c’s thoughts on those comments

  5. little umbrellas Says:

    Enjoyed the piece Miner. Thanks! Stillll basking.

    Spit out the seeds
    Gnaw on the pulp
    Suck on the juice
    And simmer the rinds

  6. Kaveh Says:

    Morning BBers.

    Anyone looking for 4-packs to Miami. Got two killer one up for sale on COT. Shoot me an email if you are interested.

    kjrahimi at yahoo dot com

    31st: Sec 311, Row 15
    1st: Sec 112, Row 19
    2nd: Sec 117, Row 22
    3rd: Sec 109, Row 12

  7. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    spot on review. everyone in the house most definitely knew that they witnessed something so amazing and so special. everyone was present in the moment. i was 100% engaged (as was everyone else). i don’t think i have ever heard such resounding applause after a performance (maybe after that first unbroken chain at the spectrum st. patty’s run in ’95).

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Interesting interview with Weir.. not surprised about any of it really though.. From the band’s perspective, the late 80’s were , I’m pretty certain, their most lucrative phase as a band.. Money was flowing, band ( Jerry) was clean, it was a time Weir looks back on fondly, I’m sure.. Plus he got to wear short shorts and play a pink guitar.

    Didn’t know Bobby used to get smacked up with Jer, but nothing surprises me at this point.

  9. little umbrellas Says:

    Thrilling Chilling has been in my record collection for as long as I’ve had one (thought it was a collector’s staple). So after seeing the Phishbill and then realizing it wasn’t a gag bill.. I thought the band would do a eerie ‘storage’ set. Like ‘hey, they’ll get an album and we don’t have to practice!’

    I think everyone was so surprised. Completely epic that they put that whole thing together. Was so very satisfying to watch, even from the couch! I can only imagine what the vibe was like in house.

  10. little umbrellas Says:

    At this point, I find the center of the ‘album’ (Dogs through Water Torture) the most musically promising in terms of future inclusion of the material. Always ready to be proved wrong by the band, but the first song and the last two songs I find the most stagnant of the set.

  11. sumodie Says:

    Read the full illuminating Weir interview at Common Ground, not jambands’ crappy summary with moronic comments

    Full article link posted by jambands at least

  12. acleo Says:

    So good to have a show and a review that fits the bill.
    Truly a moment in time that will last a life time.
    Thanks Miner for putting all the right words to an experience
    that left me speechless.

  13. Justinofhudson Says:

    Yes, Nice Review Minor! I ve been bummed trying to find reviews that give this magical night it’s rightful due, until now. The funniest is a guy from aspen who compares phish and wsp over the run and said although guyute and heavy things were great WSP clearly won Halloween night! Hahaaaaaaa. Anyhoo, this was kind of like the Clifford Ball in 96 for me. It won’t be considered a great phish year but it gave us an All Time Allstar show and has some great runs ( SPAC, Randell’s, ) and good runs (Dicks, BG & Vegas).
    I feel really lucky to have a favorite band that can/does still have the ability to surprise and excite us this way, even after 30+ years, by doing exactly what they want to do. Halloween was, as I told anyone who would listen all weekend, “one of my favorite things ever” . Happy and still excited for what is to come, justinofhudson

  14. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    the halloween set is embedded in my memory. it is one of those phish memories that will never go away. the first and third sets from that night have already fallen victim to some short-term memory loss. the halloween set will stay with me forever.

  15. Stoney Case Says:

    The Very Long Fuse is a straight up tribute to the recently retired Allman Brothers. Just fantastic.

    Duane Allman and Dickey Betts for Life!

  16. fat bastard Says:

    had a blackberry for 6 years (3 different phones) and never had one issue…got an i phone 6 thursday and broke the screen this am. wtf

  17. garretcorncob Says:

    Halloween has us all too fluffy. Can we schedule an asshole day soon?

  18. Snow Says:

    Yo! Has anyone noticed that BGCA ghost and vegas star spangled banner ( WAIT wtf. Spangled is a word!? Crazy.) are played in a weird key??? I think there was another song that got a key change.

    Theories: they were playing the songs in a minor key or matching the key of chilling thrilling sounds??? Any music people know?

  19. garretcorncob Says:

    Sounds like tough luck, FB. I’ve had 3 or 4 different iPhones over the past… let’s see, 8 years maybe, and haven’t broken a single one in any way. But my girlfriend broke her screen after owning an iPhone for a month.

  20. Snow Says:

    Oh the other one was the intro into light in Vegas

  21. dorn76 Says:

    Def, @Stoney. Huge Allmans peaky joyful guitar sound there.

    Really a massive Rock album is a big chunk of its core with elements of Tom Petty, ZZ Top, Allmans sounds rattling around in my brain.

    All that done with Page adding so much funk to the mix he deserves honorary ‘Black From the Waist Down’ status.

    New Floyd is some soulless music on 1st listen. Ick.

  22. Snow Says:

    I think Saturday was my favorite show of vegas. I missed the first set halloween so that likely plays a role. Really the whole weekend was simply a huge win for phish.

  23. MiA Says:

    my home buttons died on both of the iPhone 4’s. But have never broken a screen. That said, I have a strong grip on my phone most of the time.

    My tech21 phone “protector” is imperative to me. Super light, feels good in the hand, and slips in and out of the pocket easily.

    It contains D3o materials. Science Yo Mr. White!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D3o

    https://www.tech21.com/classic-shell-with-cover-case-for-iphone-6-clear.html

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    not sure why you need my comments on those comments. seems like a finely reasoned discourse between intelligent and insightful individuals.

    thanks for the writeup Miner – comments readers knew where you stood, but it’s good to have it in article form!

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    I did forward that comments section to Thoughts on the Dead, though

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