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Arts and Entertainment

Phish Rock Rolling Stones Halloween Costume at Festival 8

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It wasn't until concertgoers arrived at the gates yesterday that they finally learned what classic album Phish would cover in its entirety during their "musical costume" set at Festival 8. Reviving a tradition that began in 1994 when Phish covered The Beatles' The White Album, last night the quartet staged an ambitious cover of the Rolling Stones' 18-song double LP, Exile on Main St. As in years past, the costume choice was a closely-guarded secret until the day of the show, when thousands of "Phishbill" programs (à la Playbill) were distributed, complete with bios of the "cast," which last night included Sharon Jones on vocals and members of the Dap Kings on horns.

They obviously spent a lot of time putting the costume together, and the result was an exuberantly executed tribute to a sprawling classic, which features such hits as "Rocks Off," "Torn and Frayed," "Shine a Light," and "Loving Cup"—a song Phish has covered frequently in the past and should probably retire after last night's dazzling horn-enhanced rendition. They'll never top it, and this number in particular found frontman Trey Anastasio's voice in peak form, hitting notes that had sometimes been beyond his reach in past years. Bassist Mike Gordon and keyboardist Page McConnell shared vocal duty too, but even Sharon Jones was upstaged by drummer Jon Fishman's earnest so-weird-it's-good singing on "Sweet Virginia." The man, who wears a muumuu onstage and played an extended solo on Electrolux vacuum Friday night, is a born entertainer.

Fans are literally sprinting toward the stage as we write this; today Phish performs three more sets to wrap up the weekend, and they're punching in early at "the crack of noon" with their first-ever all-acoustic set, accompanied by coffee and eight-shaped donuts for 40,000. We're out of time, but we have to give a hat tip to the Phish crew for organizing such a remarkably hassle-free and multi-faceted festival in this absolutely breathtaking corner of the desert. And here's a round of applause for the thousands of campers who came dressed to impress in some truly inspired—and masochistically warm—costumes. Believe it or not, they're not all burnout Trustafarians dancing arrhythmically with a nitrous balloon in each hand. Here's our full report from day one, and you want to listen along to the last of Festival 8 tonight, Sirius is broadcasting it live.

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