Last month, each and every one of us sat at our computers constantly checking Phish’s unfolding Save the Date animations. As States were wiped off the map, and sometimes replaced, we all found ourselves listening to the same eerie ambient jam. The odd ambient loops, overlapped with Page’s creepy piano made for the perfect backdrop. As we sat there attempting to discern the pattern, or find lost states, our attention was drawn away from this absolute gem of music we were hearing.
The jam, which is from the Wolfman’s on Halloween ’98, is the perfect example of the musical depths that Phish can take us to. Given the right setting, and the proper amount of energy, the band can often reach musical plateaus that seem other-worldly. This jam is a perfect example. Coming from the most unlikely of songs, the band slowly delves into pure ambiance. At 21:20 you will hear the exact clip played on Phish’s website. The improvised section starts off fairly tame yet very well played, leading into a slow groove. Mike demonstrates some stellar playing (7:35) holding the jam together tightly. While Mike is exploring the neck of his bass, Jon softly provides a backbeat while Page and Trey begin to layer effects. Slowly the jam becomes more and more ambient and spacey, contrasted by Jon’s standard drum pattern. Trey slides into some extremely melodic lead playing before slipping back into the ambiance. The jam becomes reminiscent of the flatbed jam with a simplistic equal part focus. As the ambiance grows, the psychedelia follows with layered loops from Page. Trey begins to delve into the dark, leading the jam into the abyss. Finally arriving at the climax, the “save the date jam”, the band perfectly fills the space with the culmination of the loops and effects that have been layering.
The jam reaches a point that simply cannot happen at any time or at any show. The music must be explored extensively, and after a certain point, new levels of communication and improvisation take place. Once the band has reached a point such as this, their every note suits the jam as though it were irreplaceable. It is though the music was meant to happen this particular way, and as it unfolds the listener feels as much a part of the experience as do the performers. There is nothing like it. Listening to this Wolfman’s jam that the band clearly chose for a reason, exemplifies their ability to improvise in a simplistic, subtle way. Within the structure of the jam each individual member is heard contributing to create the ideal sound. The band reaches points rarely seen, and offers us a glimpse of hope that someday, something like this may happen again.
While Phish continues sweeping the nation, each fan has the same thing on the back of their mind. HALLOWEEN. As much as Phish is progressing and evolving (see Phish 3.5), the thought of where they will be in October is something we are all wondering. Not only this, but the thought of the band hosting their own festival on Halloween is particularly exciting. The surroundings will be in place to set the stage for the band to reach all new heights. The possibilities are endless. This Wolfman’s that the band has chosen for their site, ever so instrumentally, is a look at what this quartet can do when the proper elements are in place.
Listen below to this Wolfman’s Brother from October 31st, 1998 when Phish covered the Velvet Underground’s “Loaded”. Make sure to to listen at 21:20 for the “Save the Date Jam”! Enjoy this gem.
Last week, Rolling Stone asked readers to vote for the album they would like Phish to cover on Halloween. These are the results:
1. Radiohead – OK Computer 2. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
3. David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
4. Radiohead – In Rainbows
5. Guns n’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I
6. Guns n’ Roses – Use Your Illusion II
7. Aerosmith – Toys in the Attic
8. The Allman Brothers Band – At Fillmore East
9. Boston – Boston
10. Frank Zappa – Joe’s Garage: Acts I,II & III
11. Tool – Aenima
12. Michael Jackson – Thriller
13. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced?
14. The Who – Who’s Next
15. Yes – Fragil
The consensus seems to be Radiohead’s “OK Computer”. Not my first pick, but nonetheless, Phish would do an excellent job covering it. As Rolling Stone points out, Fetival 8 with coincide with the 25th anniversary of the release of Prince’s “Purple Rain”, from which Phish has covered the title track in the past. Great prediction. But, the fact that Rolling Stone is predicting it should be reason enough for Phish not to do it. Regardless, speculation is heavily underway and I can honestly say I haven’t been this excited for Halloween since I was…five. Click HERE, to read the Rolling Stone article. Below is a video from Phish’s ’96 Halloween show (musical costume, Talking Heads “Remain in Light”) at the Omni in Atlanta, GA.
When Phish made the announcement earlier this month that there would be a 3 day festival, over Halloween weekend, there was no question amongst true fans as to whether or not they were going. As the flash pages on the band’s website slowly revealed the chosen state to be California, confirming all the rumors that had been brewing since day one, fans immediately began booking flights, hotels, RV’s and everything else required for a 3 day Phish festival. No one stopped to check their schedule (or at least no one I know), the decision had been made, we were going. In all honesty, had Phish put up a map of Africa, it wouldn’t have made a difference.Phish has not performed on Halloween since 1998, when they covered the Velvet Underground’s Loaded as their “musical costume”. Previous years saw Phish cover The Beatles’ White Album, The Who’s Quadrophenia and Talking Heads’ Remain In Light on Halloween. In each of these shows, Phish lent their own unique touch, creating a magical experience that became a coveted tradition for the Quartet and their fans.
Every musical costume has allowed Phish to step outside of their conventional roles, and have fun playing someone else’s music. The Halloween shows have traditionally showcased the entire bands musical abilities. Whether it be Jon learning to sing and drum for Remain in Light, or Trey tearing apart Lou Reed’s lines on Loaded every show has had some unique aspect. Often times, these costumes would leave the band changed, as was clear after Remain in Light. Walking away from the Omni on Halloween 1996, every member of the band, and their music, would be changed. The band entered into a more funk-based direction in their jams, which has had an affect on their music to this day. So, needless to say, every phish fan is wondering what this year’s Halloween will bring, and what, if any, influence it will have on the future direction of the band.
As rumors swirl, and speculation gets heavily underway, we are all wondering the same question…”What is the musical costume going to be this year?” Phish has already confirmed on their Festival 8 website that they will be doing a musical costume this year. So, here are a few ideas in no particular order:Possible Musical Costumes
- Michael Jackson’s Thriller – For very obvious reasons. He was the King of Pop, and covering this album would be a huge tribute. Trey has teased licks from “Black or White”* and “Beat It”**, as can be heard in the show from 10-21-95, Pershing Auditorium, Lincoln, NE (*teased in GTBT **teased in both Harry and Suzy). So needless to say, I think this one is on everyone’s radar as a possibility.
- Bob Dylan and The Band’s The Basement Tapes – Trey mentioned in a 2003 article with Relix magazine that this was a possible Halloween cover. The odd thing about this one is Phish doesn’t cover Dylan songs or The Band songs very often. In November of 1985, Trey performed “The Hurricane” which many people have heard, but that song is not on this album. And that was once…24 years ago. However, Trey said it and its one of my personal favorites, so I’m all for it.
- Brian Eno’s Another Green World – For those of you who don’t know, Brian Eno is the genius behind a great deal of Talking Heads music, and is widely known as one of the founders of ambient music. In the same 2003 Relix interview as mentioned above, Trey named this as another possible musical costume. While Phish doesn’t cover Eno’s music directly, they do cover a number of songs that he has co-written. For example, Eno co-wrote every song on Remain in Light. Trey is a huge Eno fan, and the Quartet would do a very nice job spicing up some of the ambient sections. In a 2006 interview with the Bonnaroo Beacon (the Bonnaroo magazine), Trey was quoted saying: “The first two things that pop into my mind…are My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless and the four mid-’70s [Brian] Eno pop records: Taking Tiger Mountain, Here Come the Warm Jets, Before and After Science and Another Green World” when asked what albums he thought the whole world should hear. This gives good reason to believe that this is another highly possible album.
- My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless – This album, as is mentioned in the quote above, is one of Trey’s favorites. He has also been quoted as saying “‘Loveless’ is the best album recorded in the ’90s. History will tell, and 20 years from now that album will be considered a complete classic, while a lot of the albums that are real popular today will have been forgotten.” Apparently, Trey has pushed hard for this album in the past. Again, a major possibility.
These are just some ideas. If you have any others, please comment. Otherwise, enjoy these videos. There is also a link to the Torrent for the ’94 Halloween show from Glen Falls Civic Center posted below.
1994-10-31 Glen Falls Civic Centre, Glen Falls, NY
The first video, is a classic from the 1994, White Album, Halloween show. Here’s “Why Don’t We Do It In the Road”.
This video is of “Lonesome Cowboy Bill” from the ’98 Halloween cover of Loaded.
And this final video is from the 1996 Halloween show, musical costume: Remain in Light.
RIP Brent Mydland
On this day in 1990, the fourth Keyboardist for the Grateful Dead, passed away. Mydland contributed a unique sound to the band, often adding more organs and synthesizers to enrichen the sound (especially Space). Mydland died of a speed-ball overdose at his home on July 26, 1990 shortly after completing the summer tour. His music will forever live on.