Monday 10/30/2023 by Icculus


[The following opinions are not necessarily shared in any way, shape or form by any or Mockingbird Foundation volunteer. In reading any words in this post, you agree to hold and The Mockingbird Foundation harmless from any and all liability arising therefrom, and you accept any and all responsibility for such liability arising therefrom. -Ed.]

IT is beyond peradventure, as has been established ad nauseum on this website, that rating a work of art on any scale is stupid, frivolous, and offensive. Accordingly, Phish fans have been assigning ratings to and ranking Phish shows for decades.

© 2018 PHISH (Jake Silco)
© 2018 PHISH (Jake Silco)

In October 1994, fan Scott Jordan posted to Rec.Music.Phish with the subject line “Concert Review Poll," asking people to rate the fall tour shows they had just seen on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5 of 10 rating being an average, typically-great, Phish show. As he put it, “The scale should be relative to *Phish only*. In other words, a 5 on The Phish Scale (pun intended) may be an incredible concert, but it only ranks as an average Phish show. I know the tendency is to give every concert you see a 9 or 10, but try to be objective...think about the tapes you've heard and the other shows you've seen and ask yourself how this show compares.” (emphasis added)

This scale was popularized as the “Scott Jordan Concert Review Poll Scale” or SJCRPS and used by some (mostly deranged) fans for decades thereafter, with a 5 of 10 rating being an “average, typically great” Phish show, despite the fact, as you can see here, few people bothered to vote in the original poll in fall 1994 and early 1995, and those who did uh tended to grossly overrate the shows. That said, I think it’s fair to say that, typically, given how average-great-fans used and still use the SJCRPS, a Phish show gets a 1/10 if the band shows up and performs, gets at least a 3/10 if no one takes a shit on stage, and gets at least a 6/10 if the show has even a single (one (1)) jamchartworthy performance of a song. I’d probably only give a show a 6/10 if it had at least two jamchartworthy performances, but I’m unreliable and not in control of my faculties.

Not long after this site was redesigned and modernized by Adam Scheinberg, and the setlists of Phish’s concerts went from being words on a page to organized data in a database from which one’s stats could be determined, users of this site could rate shows on a one to five star system, a system still in use today. If you are logged in, you (yes, even you who suck at Phish and don’t deserve the privilege) can rate any show you want by viewing its permalink setlist page, like this one, and by hovering your mouse pointer over the stars in the row of five stars under—wait for it—“SHOW RATING.”

Recently, after a rogue user of this site abused the five-star rating system to rate every recent Dicks and every summer tour show such that three (3) stars was equivalent to a 5/10 or “average great show” on the SJCRPS, astute user RubyWaves wrote of a rating system that they learned about from Chris Handy (who used the system to rate Grateful Dead shows), whereby a show would receive an A through an E for the strength of the show as a whole, and a 1 to 5 rating for the overall quality of the jams or “for the best jam/song of the show” if there was only one strong jam. In other words, shows like Cypress and 12/31/95 and many other three-set shows would be easy A1 or A2 shows, but the vast majority of Phish shows would likely fall along an A3 through C3 range (since almost no shows likely would get D_ or god forbid E5 ratings). Indeed, as Chris Handy put it: “So a show with a score of C1 means that the show was ‘average’ out of all the ones I reviewed, but maybe it had an absolutely killer jam.” Although some Forum users are calling this scale the "Ruby scale," Chris Handy coined the scale, not RubyWaves (who to their credit said as much), so I believe it’s more appropriate to refer to this scale as the “A1” scale, as I do below (while not as lovely as “the Ruby scale,” or as catchy as "the Handy scale," it nevertheless sounds delicious, no?).

Of course, this A1 scale that Chris Handy devised and RubyWaves popularized among users of this website is strikingly similar to the “Height/Width” rating scale Dan Purcell created on RMP more than twenty-six (26) years ago, which Dan first wrote about on January 13, 1997, in a post entitled, “Height/Width: A New Mechanism for Ranking Shows.” That system incorporated the SJCRPS’s 1 through 10 scale with a 5 being “average Great” but, as Dan explained: “a show's ‘height’ represented the quality of the show's peaks, while the ‘width’ rating measured the overall consistency of the show. In other words, a show like 12/29/94 Providence, with a preternaturally stunning David Bowie and nothing else, would have a high height but little width. Conversely, a show such as 11/30/96 Sacramento, which is uniformly well-played but lacks a showstopper jam, would have substantial width but not as much height.” In other words, 12/29/94 might get a 10 height but a 4 width, and 11/30/96 might get a 4 height but a 6 width (which average to an average-great 5/10 on the SJCRPS). Despite the ingeniousness of this ranking mechanism, or perhaps because of it, it didn’t catch on among the phoi pholloi.

So, with further ado, below please find my ratings of Phish’s performances on Halloween using the Five Star Rating, SJCRP, and A1 scales, if not also the Height/Width scale, which is the most sensible of the (arguably stupid, frivolous, and offensive) lot.

As always, add your own opinions in the Comments, but be advised that just because you can Comment, does not mean you should. I reserve the right to delete your Comment (with extreme prejudice), or reply to it in a manner that humiliates us both but especially you, if not also suspend your account on this website before I reply—so you cannot contest your humiliation and can only view it on the screen along with thousands of others—with extreme prejudice. $0.02.

10/31/86 Sculpture Room, Goddard College: If they played this setlist today, HEADS WOULD EXPLODE. What a stats-boost that’d be. Trey shreds like a madman in the ten minute “Bowie,” so that’s worth a few stars in the context of the 1980’s. And everything is well-played, and there’s good flow and, well, “Sanity, Skin It Back > Icculus”!? Even though had I seen this show it’d have been the greatest bar band I’d ever seen, and even though I’d love to hear ANY of these songs at every Phish show I see for the rest of my life, strictly based on the performance as a whole, and the uh Halloween Spectacle: THREE STARS. SJCRPS: 5. A1: C3.

My 10/31/94 stub
My 10/31/94 stub

10/31/87 Sculpture Room, Goddard College: It’s dumb to “rate” art as you know but it’s particularly dumb to rate a performance like this, which isn’t even “Phish,” at least for the first few songs. Show begins with a “Jam” into “Whipping Post” with members of The Joneses, and after “Whipping Post” Trey introduces the band, but he’s joking: “We’re half Phish and half The Joneses,” Trey says after the “Whipping Post,” but then there’s a subtle tape cut, and Trey then introduces the band that’s on stage at that point, and he introduces Mike Gordon “on keyboards,” “Moses Dewitt” on bass, “Moses Heaps” on drums, and “on sound, Moses Brown Ladies and Gentlemen!” (“Moses [ ]” are all nicknames for Fish). And then there’s another subtle tape cut. So. I’m pretty sure only the “Jam” and “Whipping Post” involved members of The Joneses, because Phish at that time was known to cover “Sneakin’ Sally” and “Back Porch Boogie Blues” and “Light Up,” of course.

In any event, musically, the show is what it is. I mean, how can you “rate” a show with a bananas version of “Halley’s Comet” like this one? Or that contains Fish “singing” “Love You” and appearing to “play” (what sounds like a fretless) guitar in it as well? (I have to give this show a whole star just for the inanity of this.) But it’s one hell of a second set setlist to be sure, and everything is played average-Fine at best. TWO(?) STARS? SJCRPS: 3, I guess? A1: C4, D4?

10/31/89 Sculpture Room, Goddard College: You can sortof “watch” some of this show here on YouTube. A benefit for Goddard’s Sculpture Building, this show’s highlight is the highly improvisational, type 2, highlighted-on-the-jam-chart, “Mac ‘n Cheese Bowie.” If you don’t understand what that involves, you can struggle to watch it here. In any event, this is what I’d call a “solid” (average-great) Phish show. I first saw Phish only a few weeks before this show, and they were the best bar band I’d ever seen. So while if I’d attended this show I likely would’ve awarded it FOUR stars at the time, it seems ignorant to overrate it so grossly like that today. THREE STARS. SJCRPS: 5. A1: C1.

10/31/90 Armstrong Hall, Colorado College: Well-played show start-to-finish, with jamcharted versions of “Possum,” YEM, “Reba,” “Jim,” and “Tweezer,” though none of them are what I’d call “must hear” (ok maybe the “Reba” is not to be missed). Inarguably among the best shows of the early 1990’s, but there isn’t much of a spectacle here, beyond the obligatory-at-the-time “costume contest” I suppose (which preceded the second set). Three, no, fuckit, FOUR STARS, given the five jamcharted versions of songs. SJCRPS: 7. A1: B3.

10/31/91 Armstrong Hall, Colorado College: This WaitFest show circulated well in the early to mid 1990’s in no small part because it’s very strong overall with a stellar YEM for the time period (don’t miss the vomitous, awe-inspiring “Bucket of Lard” vocal jam), which is highlighted on the YEM jam chart for good reasons. But as great as this YEM is, the show’s highlights are arguably the “Wait” (an “It’s Ice” inspired, hilarious, ditty) and particularly the second and third “Waits,” in which the audience kept yelling “FUCK YOU” back at the band where previously the band had been saying “Wait” (think of the woo’ing in the Tahoe Tweezer but with the audience yelling FUCK YOU at the band rather than woo’ing), and finally the wild intro to a must-hear “Bowie." If you’ve never listened to this WaitFest, I highly recommend it simply for its amusement value. And don’t feel ashamed if you enjoy this show more than many of the “costumes” in Phish history, particularly Exile or Waiting for Columbus or Wingsuit. FOUR STARS. SJCRPS: 7 (H/W: 7/6). A1: B2.

© 1994 PHISH (Halloween costume announcement in Doniac Schvice)
© 1994 PHISH (Halloween costume announcement in Doniac Schvice)

10/31/94 Glens Falls: For the first time, fans voted on which album or “costume” Phish would perform at this show, and to say that fans were excited about it is a gross understatement. It was by far the toughest Phish ticket to get in Phish history up until its performance (thank you Ian at AOL and Steve Billings for getting me and a friend into this show!). Rumors were heavy that Zappa’s Joe's Garage would be the “costume,” but Thriller, The White Album, Physical Graffiti, Dark Side of the Moon, and Eat A Peach were also heavily rumored.

Full disclosure, The White Album is among my favorite albums and I used to play the vinyl over and over and over again in the early 1980’s. You’ve likely heard this show, not simply because Phish competently covered an album considered to be among the greatest in the history of rock music (with diverse songs ranging from the delicate, soulful and precious, to the WHAT THE !#@%&^ NOISY CHRIST HIDE YOUR FCKING MONKEY), but because its “Divided” and “Reba” are truly epic, must-hear, legendary versions. And also jamcharted are the “Simple,” “Julius,” “Bowie,” “Coil” and “Antelope” (don’t miss the minor-key jam that sadly lasts for only four or so measures beginning at ~4:45; if this siiiick jam had lasted for several minutes or otherwise taken off, this version today would be among the very best in Phish history). Indeed, the weakest part of the show musically was consciously and deliberately so: a nod to the "Birthday" of Brad Sands, so the show also had this going for it, too.

And if you’ve not heard this White Album show PLEASE, I BEG YOU, listen to it on LivePhish. The show didn’t end until 3:20 a.m. (according to my contemporaneous notes), and to end with Page playing “Coil”? MAGICAL! The entire SHOW was a transcendent experience for attendees! And as for the Halloween Spectacle, don’t forget that Fish disrobed (desmocked?) during the hilariously strange “Revolution 9.” FIVE STARS. SJCRPS: 9 (H/W: 10/9). A1: A1.

© 1995 PHISH (Halloween chocolate coin, both sides)
© 1995 PHISH (Halloween chocolate coin, both sides)

10/31/95 Rosemont Horizon: Once again, fans were asked to vote on what album Phish should perform as their “costume” on Halloween, and beginning more than TWO MONTHS BEFORE the show, Quadrophenia was heavily rumored on RMP to be the album that would be performed. And within a few weeks of the show, many folks thought it would be either Quadrophenia or Tommy. This magnificent show with a legendary YEM opened, appropriately, with “ICCULUS,” and the very well-played first set closed with “HARPUA!” The first set also contained yet another triumphant Halloween “Divided Sky.”

And while the second set’s Quadrophenia performance was very good to be sure (despite the fact that the horns at times didn’t sound or blend well), it’s the third set that is incredible, must-hear Phish. It begins with a joke, in that the Audience Chess Move was skipped because Squirrel from Chicago, a wook, was (or pretended to be) incapable of making the move (I won’t ruin the joke if you’ve never heard it, just listen to it …oh wait you can’t hear the entire thing on Relisten or, you can only fully hear it on LivePhish). Phish then launches into a highly improvisational forty (40) minute YEM, among the greatest versions in Phish history, that concludes with a sodomy-inspired vocal jam. And the rest of the show is spectacular, too, with a must-hear JJLC with horns, a set-closing ADITL, and “Suzy” encore with horns as well! FIVE STARS. SJCRPS: 9 (H/W: 10/8). A1: A1.

10/31/96 Omni, Atlanta: Full disclosure, Remain In Light was in the 1980’s and still is among my favorite albums. I used to play a cassette tape of it over and over and over again. I still possess that tape. I love Talking Heads. Love. So when I learned Phish had covered it, I couldn’t have been more excited to get the tapes and listen for myself. Unlike Quadrophenia, this “costume” was a well-kept secret, in that while there was some speculation throughout the year and especially in the weeks preceding the show that the costume might be a Talking Heads album (and once again fans were asked to vote for what album Phish should perform as their “costume” on Halloween), it was no greater than the speculation that Phish would cover a Zeppelin or Floyd or Zappa album; and despite the fact that Trey gave two sincere-at-the-time hints during a radio interview about the album in early October 1996 (that they’d cover an album by an American band that was issued more recently than the last two albums Phish had covered on Halloween), many fans thought Trey was deliberately misleading everyone as a joke.

© 1996 PHISH (A page from the Remain In Light Playbill)
© 1996 PHISH (A page from the Remain In Light Playbill)

In any event, Phish’s performance of Remain In Light in my not at all humble opinion is objectively more skilled than their covers of The White Album and Quadrophenia (particularly thanks to Karl Perazzo and Raul Rekow!). But this show as a whole? Arguably not a five-star show. Why do I say “arguably”? Am I insane? Of course I am. So with this conceded, the first set contains some sublime dogshit. A string of Trey’s guitar goes flat toward the end of DWD’s jam, and so Trey cuts the jam short (to his credit) but DWD’s coda is ATROCIOUS; it sounds TERRIBLE. It has to be the worst-sounding conclusion to DWD in Phish history (at least I hope it is). I kinda want to deduct A Whole Star from the rating just for this. But it gets worse.

Trey is still out of tune at YEM’s beginning, too, it’s AWFUL. Lol, sigh. Thankfully, Trey appears to get back in tune a few minutes into YEM (during the at times improvisational and spacey section of YEM, which begins about a minute and 15 seconds into every version, and in which Fish repeatedly swooshes or whips his hi-hat in 3, a segment I used to fondly refer to as the “pre-nirvana” segment), so Trey sounds average-great for the rest of this average-great YEM. This first set’s Halloween “Reba” is certainly a treat, and “Forbin’s > Mockingbird” has hilarious David Byrne narration, that includes Byrne accidentally hitting Colonel Forbin lol, and the evil-Halloween-spirit, killing-death Famous Mockingbird pecks out Forbin’s eyeballs… and carries them off to Gamehendge. (This is clearly worth A Whole Star!)

Second set as you likely know is a BEDAZZLINGLY MAGICAL performance of Remain In Light, containing among other things a thrilling “Crosseyed and Painless” with Perazzo and Rekow, and one of my favorite segues in Phish history, the segue from “Houses in Motion” into “Seen and Not Seen.” (The horns in the set also tend to sound great and blend well.) Phish phishifies the heck out the album, too, especially during “The Great Curve,” C&P, “Listening Wind” and “The Overload.” A gorgeous set of music.

And the third set? It’s powerful start-to-finish, with segues galore, and features a beautiful “Simple” and closes with JJLC and “Suzy” with horns. FIVE STARS. SJCRPS: 9. A1: A2.

© 1998 PHISH (my 10/31/98 stub)
© 1998 PHISH (my 10/31/98 stub)

10/31/98 Vegas: Other than Cypress, which was more of an Experience and world-historical Event than a mere “show,” Phish shows do not get any “better” than this, though some certainly reach its heights! Even if you’re a deaf jackass who hates The Velvet Underground, setting the fact of Phish’s brilliant cover of this legendary album in the second set aside, the music in all three sets of this show is Phish at the top of their game.

First set both rocks and soulfully and serenely soars, is chock full of segues (flows), funks mellifluously with a slinky “Sneakin’ Sally” -> CDT, and concludes with a concise but still marvelous “Mike’s -> Frankie Says > Groove.” And in the second set, Phish doesn’t simply cover Loaded, THEY KILL IT, they phishify it out of the phucking phark, with phantastic versions of pretty much everything, but particularly “Sweet Jane,” “Rock & Roll,” and “Lonesome Cowboy Bill.” (Anyone else think Phish should bust out “Train Round the Bend” for 10+ minutes and then segue into BOTT for another 10+ minutes? Anyone else hear “Bug,” which debuted in June 1999, and can’t help but think that Trey ripped off “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’”? No? Ok ok, but can we at least agree that it inspired “Bug”?)

And the third set as you likely already know contains only three Phish songs, “Wolfman’s,” “Piper” and “Ghost,” but lasts over fifty (50) minutes, because the must-hear “Wolfman’s” is highly improvisational at over thirty (30) minutes. To be sure, this third set wasn’t well-received by everyone at the time, because the type-2 improv in the “Wolfman’s” was and still is, well, improvisation that often doesn’t sound at all like melodious, composed music. But there’s no disputing that as far as Phish shows go, this show Has It All. And as much as some disliked parts of the “Wolfman’s,” a fiery “Piper” brought smiles to all or nearly all, even as it cooled-off into a melodic haze, out of which a concise, mystical “Ghost” concluded the set. And a MonkeyPrise encore!? FIVE STARS. SJCRPS: 10. A1: A1.

© 1998 PHISH (from the Loaded playbill)
© 1998 PHISH (from the Loaded playbill)

10/31/09 Festival 8, Indio: The way Phish hyped up the “costume” they’d be performing at this show was sooooo cool, remember? Beginning a month before the show, the Festival 8 website published 99 album covers, and then, day by day, killed a number of them off, and so by the day before Halloween there remained a dozen or so albums, including Exile. BRILLIANT!

Although nothing in it is jamcharted, the first set is nevertheless well-played to be sure. Second set contains a superb cover of the album Exile On Main Street but, let’s not kid ourselves, many of us hoped they’d phishify the phuck outta this album, and they only kindasorta did, here and there, particularly on “Casino Boogie,” “Torn and Frayed,” “Loving Cup” (which Phish had been covering since Page began playing piano on stage in February 1993), and “I Just Want To See His Face.” I love the Stones, and I love Phish, and I love this set. But in hindsight I think my loaded (pun intended) expectations were unreasonably high. Bottom line is this is still an extraordinary cover of a legendary album!

Third set is what it is. Kidding. It’s a five-song set with a “BDTNL” opener that has an outro-jam-coda that somewhat abruptly ends with the opening chords of the first Halloween “FLUFFHEAD” since 1987! Set also contains a very good “Ghost” and “Circus,” and a set-closing YEM. And the “Suzy” encore with all the guest musicians who performed Exile is not to be missed, an amazing version and a fitting end to a well-above-average-great Phish show. FOUR STARS. SJCRPS: 8 (H/W: 7/8). A1: A3.

10/31/10 AC Boardwalk Hall: Full disclosure, Waiting For Columbus was in the 1980’s and still is among my favorite albums. I listened to the damn thing on vinyl over and over and over again forty or so years ago. Love Little Feat. Love. Was THRILLED that Phish chose to cover this album and that I was there for it! First set is solid, featuring a “Spooky” bust-out (!) and a stellar version of “Stash.” The second set as you undoubtedly know involves an entertaining, expertly executed cover of Waiting For Columbus, an album that I never thought I’d ever hear performed live. THE HORNS are near-perfect throughout the set (sounding and blending perfectly), and the incredible Giovanni Hidalgo on percussion is must-hear!

But uh once again I think my expectations, in hindsight, were too high, as I really wanted Phish to phishify this album more than they did, even though they certainly phishified it to an extent. “Spanish Moon” and “Dixie Chicken” and “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now” are wonderful versions to be sure! (I sure wish they played these covers more often.) And Fish on “Willin’” and an a cappella version of “Don’t Bogart That Joint” couldn’t be more Phish, of course. So I’m likely being unreasonable in expecting them to have phishified their cover of this album more than they clearly did (but if I wasn’t being unreasonably critical of Phish’s music, I wouldn’t be me).

Third set is classic Phish, despite their having to restart the DWD opener, and it closes with YEM. Of all things, “WILSON” is the highlight of this set, though, as it’s improvisational and must-hear if you’ve never heard it (it’s arguably among the sickest ten or so versions in Phish history). Show closes with a must-hear, fantastic “Julius” with all of the musicians who performed on Waiting for Columbus. FOUR STARS. SJCRPS: 8 (H/W: 8/8). A1: A2.

© 1998 PHISH (back page of Loaded playbill)
© 1998 PHISH (back page of Loaded playbill)

10/31/13 AC Boardwalk Hall: It’s hilarious to me how heavily rumored it was that the “costume” would be The ABB’s Eat A Peach (a masterpiece, which I still hope Phish phishifies one day), only to have Phish perform a new Phish album “from the future” instead. Whatever you think of this Wingsuit costume, debuting an album (that would be released in studio form as Fuego in June 2014) on Halloween is a spectacularly bold move. In fact the only “cover” song Phish performed this night was in the encore slot: “Mighty Quinn," a cover I hope we get on the NYE run, ideally when I’m present.

Start-to-finish, this was a well-above-average-great Phish show to be sure, even though, full disclosure: I HATE Trey’s tone at times, as it’s just flat enough to make my ears cringe, sadly at times even during the night’s greatest improvisations. The well-executed first set yet again features a jamchartworthy, above-average-great “Stash,” and the Wingsuit second set is performed quite well, with songs many of us have grown to love or have loved from their Halloween debut (I loved “Waiting All Night” from the start, and while I realize this is an unpopular opinion, and don’t have strong feelings about this, FYYFF if you don’t also love it! it’s a serene, mellifluous, bliss jam turned into a god damn song ffs!).

Third set opens with a solid “Ghost” that is followed with a highlighted-in-its-jamchart-though-maybe-it-shouldn’t-be-given-how-many-other-excellent-versions-there-are-todayCarini.” And the rest of the show is at least average-super Phish, so there’s that, too. And look I’ll be frank, as good as the “Carini” is and was in this show, and as audacious as debuting a new album was given the Eat A Peach rumors, the show’s most moving aspect to me is Page’s thanking the fans before the “Quinn” encore, after Fish wishes everyone a “Happy Halloween”:

“Yes Happy Halloween everybody, thank you guys so much. I know Trey said this a little bit during our middle set there but we are just so amazed by our audience, you guyser so incredible to support us. And we talk about it all the time, and we don’t know how we got so lucky to have such an amazing audience that’s so encouraging, and full of joy, and full of acceptance and letting us go and try all this new stuff, because I don’t think any other band has this. So thank you guys so much, from the bottom of our hearts, I mean that.” Page said that to us ten years ago. ::wistful sigh:: FOUR STARS. SJCRPS: 8 (H/W: 8/7). A1: A2.

© 2014 PHISH (page from the Chilling Thrilling playbill)
© 2014 PHISH (page from the Chilling Thrilling playbill)

10/31/14 MGM Grand, Vegas: As you no doubt know, Phish’s “costume” this night was mostly instrumental, original music that they composed for the tracks of the 1964 album Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House. THIS IS GENIUS!!! And the spectacle of this Halloween set continues to me to be simply awe-inspiring (e.g., watch “The Birds” or “Shipwreck”). I mean, do we even deserve this band!?!? Page seems to think so. Of all the Halloween shows I missed seeing, this is the one I wish I’d witnessed the most.

But that said, this show proves that the five-star rating system and SJCRPS can be very misleading (i.e., bullshit), in that imo this show deserves FIVE STARS and a high SJCRPS rating only for the creative brilliance of the second set. The rest of the show is mostly average-great Phish, with the exception of the first set “SOAMule” and third-set, must-hear “Sand.” FIVE STARS. SJCRPS: 8 (H/W: 7/9). A1: A2.

10/31/16 MGM Grand, Vegas: Full disclosure: as much as I loved Bowie forty years ago, and still love Bowie, I did not play Ziggy Stardust over and over and over again on vinyl. I just played it over and over again on vinyl. But yet again I think my hopes were unreasonably loaded and high going into the “costume” set, in that no matter what Phish did, I really wanted them to phishify the phuck outta It, whatever It might, would, be. And well. This was basically another White Album or Quadrophenia (aren’t we spoiled!?), in that they covered Ziggy well enough, and this set did bring me to tears at one point in the moment. But Phish didn’t cover Ziggy “five stars” well enough, as I hear it (and as I hear it again, right now). And as for the Phish music they performed, average-great Phish it is to be sure, except for the above-average-great third set “Sand” and highlighted-in-its-jam-chart 2001. And the Phishiest-by-far part of the night? Why, the a cappella “Space Oddity” encore, naturally. LOVE THIS BAND, but remember, rating art is stupid, frivolous and offensive: FOUR STARS. SJCRPS: 7 (H/W: 6/7). A1: A3 (B2?!).

© 2018 PHISH (Jake Silco)
© 2018 PHISH (Jake Silco)

10/31/18 MGM Grand, Vegas: The concept of this “costume” makes me giggle like a schoolgirl to this day and so, accordingly, the show deserves (a very, very misleading) FIVE STARS. A fake, parody, prog-rokk band Kasvot Växt performing a fake, prog-parody album i Rokk full of fake, proggy songs? HILARIOUS. Phish simply cannot be lauded enough for this mind-blowingly creative effort! And back in November 2018, I thought as much, and when someone suggested I “review” the “set” by this fake “band,” given how stupid, frivolous, and offensive such a “review” could potentially be, i akkcepted the request: for how better to honor this monumental event in Phish history with a fake, parody review of the fake, parody band’s performance of a fake album full of fake songs on Halloween, a day notorious for people pretending to be people or beings or monsters or Things They are not, or are at least mostly not? (While I may have been crucified in the Comments of that “review” for having the audacity to humiliate myself in a manner perceived by many users of this site to be unfunny, mixing truth with bullshit, please please I have no regrets; though, in a remarkable coincidence, I didn’t write again substantively for the blog until a year later lolz.)

So I’ve already said and written all that I wish to write and say about the genius Phish displayed in the second set. And as for the rest of the show, well. To quote Abraham Lincoln, “’twas a mixed-bag,” which come to think of it, may just be why so many were seemingly so offended by my “review” of this “set.” I was personally attacked for my bullshit “review” of the fake band’s performance of a fake album’s fake songs by some dot net users perhaps, perhaps, because they were insecure in the knowledge that they knew in their hearts to be true: the Phish music performed this All Hallows’ Eve wasn’t all that fucken hallowed (for Phish). In fact, while i rokk is certainly must-hear for Phish fans, I wouldn’t recommend anything from this show to someone who doesn’t already love Phish. The “Halley’s” and ASIHTOS are jamcharted, so sure check them out if you’ve not heard them before. FIVE FAKE STARS. SJCRPS: 7 (H/W: 7/6). A1: A3 (or B2, whatever [insert your own bullshit rating here]).

© 2021 PHISH (a page from the Sci Fi Soldier comic)
© 2021 PHISH (a page from the Sci Fi Soldier comic)

10/31/21 MGM Grand, Vegas: This is a stupendous Halloween show, and I’m not just saying this because I find moss piglets to be among the most terrifyingly disgusting creatures in the universe, whose extinction I welcome. I’ve never even been much of a fan of comic books but still think the concept behind this “costume” is, and the spectacle of the set was, HILARIOUSLY ENTERTAINING, particularly in Las Vegas ffs, where the absurd is celebrated. I appreciate that some (if not many) of you who attended Chilling Thrilling and/or Kasvot Växt and this show didn’t like Sci Fi Soldier as much as you liked either or both of those other two Halloween shows, and that’s fine. You are entitled to your opinion. But, and I mean this with the utmost disrespect, you’re fukken deaf if you think the music of those shows is overall superior to the music of this Sci Fi Soldier show.

Not only is this Sci Fi Soldier second set, like Chilling Thrilling and Kasvot Växt, as Phishy as it gets, involving some gloriously creative, original performances, but this time, this Halloween, all three sets contained at least something worth relistening to multiple times. The first set contains an exceptional 25+ minute “Ghost” and a KDF that’s also worth a damn, and the second set contains funkengroovy, engaging, and/or fierce improv throughout the set, whether you like any of the (deliberately and consciously silly) songs or not. And fwiw although they don’t use these instruments in this debut version, I hope Page uses both the clav AND the moog and Trey uses the mu-tron envelope filter more often in “The Howling” in the future, as they did at Wilmington on 7/18/23, since it’s sooo close to SWINGING a la “Dancin’” or “Shakedown Street.”

And the third set? Opens with a wild-ride-of-a “Carini,” the jam of which goes major key relatively quickly and, well, far from being lumpy or frightening, is wondrous! Set also contains a good “Soul Planet,” jamcharted because its final few minutes involve outstanding band interplay (including Trey’s expert use of the echoplex I suspect as well) and a smoooooth -> segue into “Death Don’t Hurt Very Long.” And a “Harry Hood” encore?? Get the tapes! FIVE STARS. SJCRPS: 9. A1: A1.

Phish Halloween 2024 in The Sphere? Phucking afraid? No?

To view all of the jamcharted versions of Phish songs performed on October 31, simply click on this hyperlinked sentence. Thank you, Jam Charts Team!


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, comment by BathtubJohn84
BathtubJohn84 I’m sorry but I was in that thread and the A1 rating thing was anything but popular (no offense to those involved). The rating system of 1-5 star with Jam Charts is fine.

The main issue is, as you pointed out, abuse of the ratings system with some shady character (s) bombing reviews to alter scores. Others have shown this by monitoring review scores over time and there are clear spikes of 30+ reviews coming in all at once. should require your phone number or a reCaptcha check to leave a review. Either solution would most likely fix the issue since its probably bots doing this or someone with 30 email addresses.

No need to reinvent the wheel in my humble opinion.
, comment by FunkyCFunkyDo
FunkyCFunkyDo It was my understanding there would be no math, therefore, I must give these Halloween shows my lowest rating ever: Seven Thumbs Up.
, comment by fukuoka_gumbo
fukuoka_gumbo @BathtubJohn84 said:
I’m sorry but I was in that thread and the A1 rating thing was anything but popular (no offense to those involved). The rating system of 1-5 star with Jam Charts is fine.

The main issue is, as you pointed out, abuse of the ratings system with some shady character (s) bombing reviews to alter scores. Others have shown this by monitoring review scores over time and there are clear spikes of 30+ reviews coming in all at once. should require your phone number or a reCaptcha check to leave a review. Either solution would most likely fix the issue since its probably bots doing this or someone with 30 email addresses.

No need to reinvent the wheel in my humble opinion.
Its so sad and pathetic that people are out here making a bunch of accounts to lower the rating of a phish show lol
, comment by HarborSeal
HarborSeal Lovely article. I read every word carefully and with pleasure. Beautifully done.

I have no idea what to add to this! You've said basically all there is to be said about these remarkable and unique shows. I would only remark that covering Leonard Cohen's "Is This What You Wanted?" with it's apropos lyrics in the encore of 10/31/14 was poignant and deserves a mention.
, comment by deceasedlavy
deceasedlavy Sure, I suppose "un-head the knee" could end up in the annals of rock history alongside "the walrus was Paul". Phish must agree since they continue to play all of those classic Sci-Fi Soldier tunes frequently to this day. Or maybe the underlying argument here is that the quality of the actual songs played should have zero impact on the rating of a performance? Music: it's only as good as the relative competence and/or adventurousness via which Phish play it.
, comment by 12ozMouse
12ozMouse Icculus sets us straight, once again! Loaded and Chilling thrilling sounds are my two favorite Halloween shows. That Sally>CDT and Set III from 98 are some of my favorite phish moments to listen to over and over again.

Also, how could we ever forget Is This What You Wanted?
, comment by theincrediblepurp
theincrediblepurp I give it 4 bags of popcorn and a couple of sodas. Here's the only rating system I trust:
, comment by petestick
petestick @HarborSeal said:
Lovely article. I read every word carefully and with pleasure. Beautifully done.

I have no idea what to add to this! You've said basically all there is to be said about these remarkable and unique shows. I would only remark that covering Leonard Cohen's "Is This What You Wanted?" with it's apropos lyrics in the encore of 10/31/14 was poignant and deserves a mention.
I'll second this. Great song that's now firmly entrenched on my Halloween playlists.

IMO the set II songs deserve some additional credit for essentially being jammed out versions of what they would become - I still don't think any subsequent version has matched the debut of MM, Birds, Dogs, YPC (although one was jammed longer), in length or quality.
, comment by JMart
JMart i was luckily in attendance for both kasvot and sci fi soldiers. both i thought were great at the time, real Halloween spectacles. the difference is I've listened to kasvot many time since then and am not sure I've ever relistened to sfs. i guess i'm fukken def or can listen for myself.
, comment by deceasedlavy
deceasedlavy (...or perhaps the inference is that song quality is too subjective to even factor into a subjective rating? Once upon a time the internet hosted discussions about Phish, I dunno.

Either way, I've enjoyed your writings for decades, Icculus. Thanks for all of it.)
, comment by HarborSeal
HarborSeal ITS, NOT IT'S!!! And I'm a teacher dammit.

@HarborSeal said:
Lovely article. I read every word carefully and with pleasure. Beautifully done.

I have no idea what to add to this! You've said basically all there is to be said about these remarkable and unique shows. I would only remark that covering Leonard Cohen's "Is This What You Wanted?" with it's apropos lyrics in the encore of 10/31/14 was poignant and deserves a mention.
, comment by SimpleGin
SimpleGin I appreciate the love for festival 8. My first phish shows and that night was so great. Slayed one of my favorite albums. Due for a relisten.
, comment by mcgrupp81
mcgrupp81 Don’t discount the 10/31/90 Foam. It’s one of their better played versions.
, comment by TwiceBitten
TwiceBitten i was told there would be no math

this is great
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