Phish

Live Phish, Vol. 13: 10/31/94, Glens Falls Civic Center, Glens Falls, NY

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In the spring of 1994, Phish played a show that included Trey Anastasio's "Gamehendge" suite in its entirety for the first set. For the second set, they performed their then new album, Hoist, from start to finish. For a band that famously changed its set lists every night, this was a rarity. After the show, they playfully boasted that they could not only play their own albums, but they could perform any album ever recorded. An announcement went out in their newsletter, and they began soliciting votes for an album to perform as a "musical costume" for their Halloween performance in Glens Falls, NY. The Beatles' self-titled 1968 double LP (aka the White Album) won, though they didn't announce this to the public. So, on Halloween night, the band performed a three-set marathon. The first and last set featured the band's own material, the middle set a complete two-hour cover of The Beatles, famously ending with drummer Jon Fishman getting naked following the band's vacuum-enhanced rendition of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's musique concrète "Revolution 9." The band took its own idiosyncratic liberties with the material, changing a lyric here and there where an inside joke was appropriate (such as adapting the Beatles universe referential "Glass Onion" to their own body of lore or placing "Don't Pass Me By" in a bluegrass setting). Mostly, though, they were faithful to the original, transcribing solos, vocal tics, and everything else. Typically, Phish's Halloween choices (the band would do this three other times before its performing hiatus in 2000) reflected on its contemporary directions. The Beatles was, of course, a sprawling masterpiece that could've used a good deal of editing. It was also hugely ambitious, and not a little earnestly pompous. This fit in nicely with Phish circa 1994. Distinctly Beatlesque original songs began to turn up in Phish sets over the course of 1995 as the band moved away from its prog rock roots to a more mature vision of its musical identity. The band's playing throughout is frantic and young, the vocals being particularly rough around the edges (probably unbearably so to those not already fans of the band). Still, the whole package is great fun -- from Fishman's ragtag delivery of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" in the first set to the gentle beauty of the show-closing "The Squirming Coil."

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