Phish Continues ‘Musical Costume’ Halloween Tradition On Fall Tour 1995
This year marks 25 years since Phish’s historic Fall Tour 1995. In recognition of that noteworthy tour and to make up for the lack of shows this fall, JamBase presents a daily retrospective highlighting a noteworthy moment from a Phish fall tour concert that took place on that date over the past 25 years (read a note on Fall 1997 here). The 25 Years Of Phish Fall Tour series runs each day between the start of Phish Fall Tour 1995 on September 27 through that tour’s finale on December 17.
Phish’s Fall Tour 1995 was anchored by a mid-tour stop at Rosemont Horizon in the suburbs of Chicago. The second of three sets that night was Phish’s “musical costume” cover of The Who’s album, Quadrophenia.
More 25 Years Of Phish Fall Tour on JamBase
A significant aspect of Phish’s Halloween 1995 performance was that it established the musical costume tradition of entirely covering an album, from what could have been a one-off experience the year before. On October 31, 1994, Phish successfully covered The Beatles’ self-titled The White Album in Glens Falls, New York, which had they stopped there would still be an impressive accomplishment. Instead, Phish decided to “wear” a different musical costume on Fall Tour 1995.
Guessing what album would be covered on Halloween was a tradition established by Phish fans. Phish kept them guessing at shows leading up to Halloween, teasing Michael Jackson, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin while keeping the real choice secret. Fans wouldn’t learn of Phish’s intent to cover Quadrophenia until the start of the second set on Halloween 1995 (which was preceded by more Michael Jackson fake-outs over the P.A.). Subsequent Halloween concerts featured Broadway-style “Phishbills” handed out as fans entered the venue, revealing the evening’s musical costume before the show started.
The Michael Jackson teasing started in the first set at the Rosemont Horizon (now called Allstate Arena) when guitarist Trey Anastasio teased “Beat It” during the “Harpua” narration. Phish’s 1995 Halloween concert featured special guest musicians, which they would also incorporate at future Halloween shows, as they were joined for the second set by Don Glasgo on trombone, Dave “The Truth” Grippo on saxophone, Joey Sommerville on trumpet and Alan Parshley on French horn. Longtime crew member, the late Leigh Fordham (namechecked in “46 Days”) dressed in a bell boy uniform and came onstage for “Bell Boy.”
Sung by bassist Mike Gordon, “Drowned” became a staple of Phish’s live repertoire, while fellow Quadrophenia tracks “Sea And Sand,” sung by keyboardist Page McConnell has been played three additional times and “The Real Me” was brought back once more inside “Bathtub Gin” in December 1995. Phish’s encore on Halloween 1995 was another dose of The Who, an acoustic version of “My Generation” that ended with The Who-like smashing of instruments and destruction on stage.
Phish’s musical costume tradition continued in Atlanta in 1996 with Talking Heads’ Remain In Light. Fall Tour 1997 started after Halloween, but the musical costume was back in 1998 when Phish covered Loaded by The Velvet Underground on October 31 in Las Vegas. Two night later, in West Valley, Utah, Phish surprised the audience by completely covering Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon in the set second, a feat they decided to pull off the day of the show, learning the album hours before taking the stage at the E Center. Early Fall Tour 1999 ended before Halloween and Phish’s Fall Tour 2000 ended on October 7 and started their first hiatus.
Phish came back on New Year’s Eve 2002, but there was no Halloween show in 2003 and by the end of August 2004 they were on a second, longer hiatus.
The second break was broken in March 2009 and for Fall Tour 2009, Phish’s musical costume tradition was resurrected at Festival 8 in Indio, California. The band counted down from 99 possible musical costume albums leading up to the three-day event at the site of Coachella. For the first time in 11 years, Phish put a musical costume back on and devoted an entire set to covering The Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street.
Phish continued the musical costume tradition on Halloween 2010. Their first October 31 concert at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey was also the first time they picked a live album to cover. That night’s second set consisted of Little Feat’s Waiting For Columbus.
Phish did not tour in the fall of 2011 or 2012, but were back at Boardwalk Hall on October 31, 2013. That year’s controversial Wingsuit musical costume was a version of the band from the future, which consisted of the live debuts of several songs that would later form their studio album Fuego. Abe Vigoda, dressed in wombat costume, came onstage during the debut of “Wombat,” which mentions the late actor.
Phish continued to stretch the concept of the musical costume on Halloween 2014. Back in Vegas at the MGM Grand, Phish’s second set that year was built out of the 1964 Disney album, Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House. Taking titles from the record, Phish wrote new original music that was paired with narration from Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House. The theatrical performance featured elaborate stage decorations and the band wearing actual costumes.
Phish took fall 2015 off from touring but headed back to Sin City for Halloween 2016. That year at MGM Grand saw the band go back to the more traditional musical costume approach, covering David Bowie’s The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars. The set introduced future member Celisse Henderson to the Phish community. The show ended with “Space Oddity,” another nod to Bowie who had died in January 2016.
With no fall 2017 shows, and only eight in 2019, the most recent Phish Halloween musical costume concert occurred on October 31, 2018. Back at the MGM Grand, the second set is the grandest Halloween production to date. Phish created the fictional band Kasvot Växt, enlisted other websites to create a fake backstory, and proceeded to play 10 new songs supposedly from the album, i Rokk. Choreography, matching white outfits, an LED-lit stage and other special lights hanging from the rafters went along with the ultimate Halloween prank.
Stream a Phish Halloween-inspired Spotify Playlist — going back to 1994’s White Album musical costume — below: