ATLANTIC CITY — The Vermont-based jam band Phish sure knows how to throw a Halloween party.
Phish, a four-piece band that formed in 1983, is known for playing for hours with nonstop moving and dancing from their Generation X fans, but the group kicked it up a notch for their third and final show Sunday of their three-night, sold-out engagement at Boardwalk Hall here.
The final concert fell on Halloween, so the band announced a Halloween contest for the first time since 1994. Fans were to vote on the winner, who will receive tickets to their sold-out New Year’s Eve show at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Fans might have shown up in costume anyway, but the contest helped inspire more.
Other music stars — such as Slash, Prince and Madonna — were popular, along with superheroes such as Green Lantern, Captain America, Batman and Spider-Man, famous actors such as Marilyn Monroe and other fictional characters such as the Ghostbusters.
Phish fans were out to have an especially good time, and the band held up their end of the bargain in supplying the music for it.
When Phish opened its show with a cover of the 1970s instrumental “Frankenstein” by the Edgar Winter Group, with their keyboardist Page McConnell standing and playing a white keytar, it sent a message that looseness and spontaneity was the order of the night.
The Phish members seemed to enjoy themselves during the special show. During the song “Ghost,” from the band’s 1998 CD, “The Story of the Ghost,” McConnell dropped in a little of the tune “Spooky” by The Classics IV. Guitarist Trey Anastasio smiled at him broadly while he did this.
When they played their own material during their first set, the band members used the opportunity to perform more of their atmospheric pieces — “The Divided Sky” — or to turn in epic versions of their songs —“Stash.” The covers Phish selected during its first set, Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie on Reggae Woman” and Ween’s “Roses Are Free,” concentrated the band’s energy into more danceable, compact tunes.
Phish’s Halloween shows are famous because the cult band plays the entire CD of one of their musical heroes.
In previous years, full albums Phish played on Halloween — called a musical costume — have been included the Beatles’ “White Album,” the Rolling Stones’ “Exile on Main Street,” the Talking Heads’ “Remain In Light” and the Who’s “Quadrophenia.”
This time, they picked another cult band, but one whose following was never as big as theirs, Little Feat.
The band played all the songs from Little Feat’s 1978 live double album, “Waiting for Columbus,” assisted by a percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo, and by two trumpets, two saxophones and a trombone on some songs.
This segment was dedicated to two Little Feat members who are now deceased — singer-songwriter and guitarist Lowell George and drummer Richie Hayward.
This was a musical treat for fans who have seen this band dozens if not hundreds of times, and also for the band members who pride themselves on doing the unexpected.
It was a rarity to hear Anastasio’s screaming guitar lines played in unison with horn blasts, as was the case during Little Feat’s “Day Or Night.”
For Phish’s final show during its debut concert engagement here, the band seemed to be in fine form energizing the crowd but also taking part good-naturedly in the festivities as some fans, who were in various levels of altered states and consciousness, also brought the celebration to them.
“The Divided Sky” customarily has a pause where the musicians don’t play and people just yell and scream and throw glow sticks. Inside the hall, it looked like a multi-colored waterfall as the glow sticks rained down from the upper levels. During the course of the show, glow sticks, confetti and what looked like flowers made it onto the stage from the front of the audience.
“I love it. I thought it was fantastic. They are about the surprise,” said Scott C. Hutchinson, 38, of Boston, who has seen the band more than 300 times. “That’s what’s so cool about them. You don’t know what you will get.”
Sunday’s concert here ended Phish’s 15-date fall tour, which began Oct. 10 in Colorado. Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland or Ocean County residents, who received their first taste of the band live with this stint, will have to travel to Massachusetts or New York from Dec. 27 to Jan. 1 to see them again.
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