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Which classic album will Phish perform for Halloween 2010? Trey Anastasio offers a clue

Trey Anastasio 2003 Ken Hively 
The impending arrival of Halloween often contains an added bit of excitement for Phish fans. The Vermont-based jam band has periodically used the holiday to serve up a treat of its own in the form of a full album that’s a favorite of one or more of the group's members.

This year will be no exception. Phish will be in Atlantic City, N.J., wrapping up a three-night stand at Boardwalk Hall, where lead guitarist-frontman Trey Anastasio and his mates will play…

Ahh, there’s the trick.

“I don’t want to give it away,” Anastasio told me recently. “We’re already learning it, and I’m having the same experience I have every year: You hear that first song, you think you know how the song line goes and how the vocal line goes, but then you learn it exactly and you find out it’s different.”

The idea started in 1994, when the band took on “The Beatles,” the 1968 double album usually referred to as “The White Album.”

“It seemed like a novel idea -- almost a joke gone awry,” Anastasio said. “We were all sitting on the bus, and someone said, ‘We should learn a new cover,’ and somebody else said, ‘Why don’t we learn the whole ‘White Album’?”

Since that grand undertaking, Phish has taken on  Talking Heads’ “Remain in Light,” the Who’s “Quadrophenia,” Velvet Underground’s “Loaded” and, last year in Indio, the Rolling Stones’ 1972 magnum opus, “Exile on Main St.”

“It’s become kind of a tradition,” Anastasio said. “We’ve done at least six now… It’s fun to be playing in a band that has gone through the experience of really delving into the music of some of our heroes. You start to hear the influences pop up when you’re playing.”

For instance?

“ 'Remain in Light,' at the time we did it, it hadn’t gained the notoriety it’s developed since," he said. "It was fun to come out onstage and know that people were going to discover it. It’s really a jigsaw puzzle to figure that record out. But once we did it, we found ourselves layering in background vocals a little more in that style. It starts to seep into your DNA as a musician. You pick up something from each album.”

As for “Quadrophenia,” the Who’s 1973 rock opera suggested by keyboardist Page McConnell, “I had never really listened to it that much,” Anastasio said. “That was in ’96, and we had just started playing arenas. When we played it in the big room, I got it. All their songs just resonate in these big arenas. They kind of invented that: that huge rolling wall of sound, played through huge arena sound systems. And once you’ve played something like that live, it starts to affect how you write songs.”

Although Anastasio held fast against revealing which album gets the nod for Halloween 2010, he did offer a clue that might get fans chattering.

“This year,” he said, “this one’s for me. The one we picked, I’m going to get more out of this as a musician than I ever have before. Three songs into it, I called everybody and told them, ‘None of the other ones -- I wouldn’t think, hopefully -- will have nearly the effect on my playing this one’s going to.' ”

For some reason, the first thing that popped into my mind when he said that was “Layla,” Eric Clapton’s 1970 tour de force under the nom de rock Derek & the Dominos. But, then, it could be the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s 1967 debut “Are You Experienced” or maybe even “Led Zeppelin IV.” Or perhaps something from an entirely different direction.

Readers? Start your guesses.

-- Randy Lewis

Photo of Trey Anastasio during Phish's 2003 performance at the Inglewood Forum. Credit: Ken Hively

Comments () | Archives (59)

Physical Graffitti

it's gonna be a Springsteen album ya dummies

SGT PEPPERS, last year had loving cup, and sgt peppers is PERFECT for the boys, and it ends on a day in the life, and they could dress up like them. But the way they are trey talks about, I have no idea, probably clapton

there are a couple clues there...it has at least three songs and they've already started learning it so we know that the album has been released already.

its the "no country for old men" soundtrack.


Genesis' Selling England by the Pound.

Mark it eight, dude.

Darkness it is!!! Why so many heads are Bruce haters I will never know . In fact the gripes sound very similar to how our friends who don't like Phish hate on them...
The Estreet Band is epic and without them Phish or at least Trey would not exist as we know it.

If we rewind to October of 2009 many people didn't want Exile.and we all know how that turned out.

Regardless of who they play its gonna be awesome and I'm gonna be there.

It will be a Pavement album.

Lamb Lies Down on Broadway seems to be in the cards. But I'm going wildcard - It'll be Radiohead's OK Computer.

Could you imagine if they did Boston!!!??? Trey grew up on it.

...If they could sing it (maybe with voice modulators). That would be truly unbelievable!

Dudes, it's gotta be Van Halen's first album, Van Halen. When Trey fires up "Runnin' with the Devil", I'm gonna headbutt the wook spinning around next to me.

I think they will do a Zepplin album. They've done the Beatles, The Who, T. Heads, P. Floyd, and The R. Stones. That leaves Zepplin. Zepplin's first or second would be fantastic.........

Judging from the crowd reaction, a cover of the Rage album would be awesome. I'd also like the Pixies' Doolittle. Anything by Pavement would be great, too. I think something recent is in order; who even remembers Little Feet?

Hot Rats by Frank Zappa and the Mothers.

Is there a reason there's not a single prediction for Doors? I saw one wishful thinking guess for the Dead, so I'll chime in with my own - Doors Strange Days.

I can't get over the hunch that pipe organ factor in that venue will play some part. Iron Butterfly's in-a-gadda-da-vida maybe, but that's serious longshot. Sticking with Doors (also longshot, I know).

My top 5 guesses would be:

1. Born To Run (the obvious choice)
2. Physical Graffitti (the BEST choice)
3. My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (unlikely...but would fit Trey's description from the article...not to mention would be unprecedented to hear something so obscure - but beautiful).

Trey - If you're reading please don't play
1. ANYTHING by Genesis
2. Anthting by Genesis
3. See 1 & 2

There is only really 1 album that makes sense.
New Jersey - Bon Jovi. A classic!

PLEASE redeem your ticket barcodes for free downloads at LivePhish.com. People, if we want them to keep providing us with free downloads, we have to support the initiative. All they are asking is to redeem your code and get the mp3 download for free. I would love to see this continue but we have to all get behind it. Thanks people.

Two things we've been hearing:

1. DMB - not sure which album will be covered but you can bet that Dave will join them for the show.

2. Boston - one of Trey's favorites, but technically very difficult for the band.

I've been listening for almost 20 years with no idea (100+) shows to recall on. The Halloween 'dressed up set' is a great and unique tradition. So many Phish Phans like myself, spent countless hours and countless gasoline to go see Jerry and the boys (and Donna), as did the four memebers of Phish. Its time guys to cover a Dead Album. Workingmans or Terrapin would be my choice, or even dress the album cover up even further and cover a set from a live show (Barton Hall, Cornell 77?). The shadow is gone but we know the influence is there. If played well, will go down as best Halloween show ever, better than the famous White Album, and a collectable for every Phish Head like me that hopes you guys do it for another 25 years! Thanks for literally the best music and shows of my time.

I'm thinking Jimi...Trey loves Jimi and it would go over well with the fans. If this one is for Trey, then you know it is going to be guitar heavy. I would love to see some Zep, but I don't think Page wants to sing the entire set. It is going to be awesome whatever it is.


American Beauty OR Physical Graffiti

I called this in the summer. They covered "The Rover" in Camden. First time ever. Pre-cursor to Halloween. Mark it down Physical Graffiti. Trey loves Led Zep. Grew up listening to them in NJ. They're playing NJ for Halloween. It's gonna get silly people.

Who's going to sing Kashmir? Page?

It is going to be Led Zeppelin. Signs indicate Physical Graffiti, as it is a double album. Think about it--all the classic bands have been covered, the Beatles, Who, Stones. Now is time for Led Zeppelin. Jimmy Page is a major influence on Trey.

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