For nearly three decades, Halloween has been one of the biggest occasions of each year for Phish. The jam titans have presented a handful of legendary sets on October 31st in
“musical costume,” performing classic records in sequence: The Who’s Quadrophenia, The Beatles’ White Album and Talking Heads’ Remain in Light, among others. In recent years, the band have seemingly moved on from just covering existing records for the occasion, instead using the vaunted Halloween night for some even more mischievous musical stunts — sewing together their own fully original “musical costumes.” The band have, in essence, gone from reliving the classics to “covering” bands that… don’t exist. The ramped-up theatrics have only grown more exhilarating with each year. Feast your eyes, for example, on this Halloween’s Dune-meets-Power Rangers space suits (pictured above), which the band donned for ninety minutes in the guise of their 2021 costume: a “band” called Sci-Fi Soldier, who performed their “album” Get More Down from the year… 4680.
The particulars of whether Phish’s maximalist musical stunt as Sci-Fi Soldier constitutes a Full Album Cover are, for the purposes of our publication, a bit murky. Thankfully though, the band built up to this year’s Halloween show with plenty of “regular” covers in the mix too. Across their four-night run, including Halloween itself, at MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Phish littered their sets on October 28th, 29th and 30th with some epic a la carte tributes (and dropped a few subtle musical hints about the Halloween hijinx that were to follow).
Night 1’s setlist was comprised of all songs that featured numbers in the title. Together, the digits of all the songs added up to 4,680 (the origin year of the aforementioned Sci-Fi Solider costume band). If the numerology here has already lost you, don’t worry — you can still lap up the band’s killer versions of Richard Strauss’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra” (“2001,” as it’s known to phans, given its feature in the Kubrick film) and Prince’s “1999.” The pair of covers opened the four-night run with a proper bang.
Later in Night 1, the band debuted an incendiary version of Jimi Hendrix’s “If 6 Was 9” — keeping with the numerical theme, and blowing some minds in the process.
For Night 2 (Friday 10/29), Phish closed their show — which, seemingly, didn’t have a concrete theme — with a take on James Gang’s “Walk Away.” The band have had this cover in their arsenal since the late ’80s when they played in bars and small clubs, but this was their first time dusting off the cobwebs on it in the post-pandemic era. You wouldn’t guess that it was out of the rotation for long though, based on this rendition.
Night 3 (Saturday 10/30)’s show featured all selections with animals in the title, mostly originals. In retrospect, the band seemingly plopped in this theme in the mix for the sole purpose of diverting audience expectations on what would be covered the following night. (Indeed, in the wake of the Saturday set, a lead prediction among fans for the Halloween Costume was Pink Floyd’s Animals.). Among the many gems from The Animal Set was a version of The Beatles‘ “I Am the Walrus,” brought out from the vaults of Halloweens past and closing the night’s second set.
Stream & download Phish’s full Halloween run here, via the group’s LivePhish platform. If the band returns to covering actual full records for Halloween 2022, we’ll keep you duly posted…