You can trace the origins of Halloween back 2,000 years to the Celts, who roamed areas that are now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France. They celebrated a festival called Samhain, taking place on the night of October 31, where people would gather, light bonfires, and pay homage to the dead. These ancient festivals featured costumes (made of animal skins) people wore with the intention of driving away evil spirits, and banquet tables covered in various kinds of food, all meant to keep the spirits happy. And while there is no direct evidence of it, you can assume these festivals featured a local band, also in costume.
Bands dressing up in costumes when playing shows on or around Halloween is as much of a tradition as toilet-papering trees. Any bar or party you go to with a band will feature that band wearing a costume. It’s become standard operating procedure.
Phish have never been ones for standard operating procedure, and the band’s Halloween shows are no exception. They dress up, but they don musical costumes, not physical ones. Instead of dressing up, Phish becomes another band entirely; playing a classic album in its entirety during the second set of their annual Halloween show. It’s become part of the lore surrounding the group, as fans spend months speculating about which album Phish will play at that year’s show. Trey Anastasio and company are taking this year’s holiday off, but we decided to look back at their Halloween history, anyway.