Jimmy, I have some bad news...
What is it Dad?
It's about your cat, Poster...
You mean Poster Nutbag?
“It’s Halloween Night in Gamehendge…” is a great way to start any tale that follows some oom-pa-pas. Trey begins by mentioning how on Halloween, Harpua takes on an even more evil form than usual with longer fangs, even more oozing mucus, and that sort of thing. Harpua and The Old Man walk through The Town late at night while everyone is sleeping and oddly everyone is dreaming the same horrible dream… This brings Mike to the mic as he recounts the dream from the perspective of one of the dreamers.
He begins by explaining the location (his parents’ house) and as he walks through it, he sees something scurry which he follows into the bathroom. It’s a raccoon! Mike says “WATCH IT ROCKY!” (a callback to the prior year’s costume which included the song Rocky Raccoon, naturally). After pushing Rocky into the bathtub and closing the door as he exits, he notices motion in the bedrooms so he goes to investigate. There are now hundreds of raccoons spilling out into the hallway, and as Mike starts trying to push them back into the bedrooms one by one, he notices that they are tiny raccoons! BABY RACCOONS!!
Trey takes the conch back now, steering the story back to the one person in The Town who wasn’t dreaming the dream, our man Jimmy. He wasn’t dreaming because he wasn’t asleep. He was sitting on his couch with his cat Poster Nutbag, listening to his favorite album. And what was that album you may ask? Well, it just so happened that it was the very album that band Phish would be performing for their costume set on this very Halloween night in the Rosemont Horizon! The band drops into a tease of Beat It, causing the crowd to go wild as they often do. Wow, that really is gonna be amazing to hear them take on MJ after the setbreak, huh?
After a quick shift back to the story (Poster went outside, encounters Harpua, they battle) we move on to the coda with the only notable change here being Trey inserting “a raccoon” during the end refrain between Jimmy and his dad.
Fight Locale: The Town I suppose but we never really hear that part.
Method of Death: Battle
Song(s) Teased: Beat It (Michael Jackson)
Show Fun Facts:
There is some good banter to be found in the show opening Icculus, which wonderfully sets the mood for the occasion to come.
The band plays the trick of the costume set out with great effect, not just with the Beat It tease in this Harpua, but also with Wanna Be Starting Something and Thriller both able to be heard in the ocean sounds that lead into the start of the *real* costume of the night - The Who’s Quadrophenia.
Quadrophenia marks the first costume set where additional musicians are brought on stage, something that would become the norm, though not always the case as both the Loaded (1998) and Wingsuit (2013) shows were just The Phish.
The third set carrying YEM is the longest ever played and contains teases of The Real Me (debuted in the costume set) and DEG. It also has one of the more hilariously dark vocal jams you will find... which is saying something.
Following the fantastic four-song third set, the band came out and did a “mini” stage take on The Who’s My Generation, culminating in a pyrotechnic, over the top homage to that band’s penchant for destroying their instruments in concert.
I don’t know how many times I have to say this: Never. Trust. A. Prankster. This was a time before the internet was much more than listservs and some really shoddy websites, so there was a ton of rumor and speculation about what the band would play for that year’s costume, but most of it was word of mouth instead of plastered everywhere for all to see. Prior shows that Fall included a few teases that fans thought were signals but IT WAS ALL A SMOKESCREEN. When will we learn that this band is constantly looking to make the joke?
Certainly this night is a prime example that if you go in accepting what you see on the surface, you are going to come out with wide eyes and maybe a bit of shock and awe. All of the New Year’s gags, setlist fakeouts, Halloween rumors, band/crowd in jokes, and more should have taught us by now, yet still we fall for it over and over. As a wise person probably said, “fool me once, shame on you, but fool me four hundred and seventy-nine times, shame on me.”