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Phish Halloween 2013: The Case for Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

by Jay Cullis on October 16, 2013

Our Phish Halloween series continues with another cover possibility for the Atlantic City run later this month. This time, we'll take a look at The Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Be sure to check out the previous installments where we discussed Bob Seger's Nine Tonight, Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life and Derek and the Dominos' Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.

We all know what happened on stage at Sugarbush back in 1994 when a comet crashed into Jupiter.

Now, almost 20 years later another comet is diving through our solar system and Phish is embarking on a tremendously anticipated Fall tour. Coincidence? Maybe not, but it's a good reason for Phish to tackle the most intimate and cosmic album of the early 21st century. It's time for a "modern" album, and The Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is perfect.

Consider the whole package: It's a Bush-era trip through feel-good anthems and paranoid funk -- an album released just prior to the onset of the tumultuous "2.0 era."

At it's most melodic and blissful it's as gorgeous as any great "Reba" jam. And it descends into songs as depth-plumbingly dark as anything "Ghost" has ever produced. It's tight and succinct musically, while painting broad lyrical brushstrokes that can be interpreted in a million different ways. We are Yoshimi. We are the pink robots learning how to love. Should we fight? Should we defend? Should we sit back and watch the world spin by or make sure we're living it fully? It's Phishy Philosophy 101.

Highlights would abound. The opening couplet of "Fight Test" rolling into the sinister bass grooves of "One More Robot" would set the Boardwalk Hall ablaze. The floating comedown of "Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell" could open up into a something spacious and grandiose before finally crashing into the album's sucker-punching third act.

As the clock ticks down on late October and the much anticipated Comet ISON plunges toward the sun -- with millions of astronomers on the edges of their seats about what kind of sky display will occur in the dawn hours of early November -- Phish would crash into "Do You Realize?" This heart-rending bit of personal apocalypse would give us all a chance to "let 'em know you realize that life goes fast," and that "it's hard to make the good things last."

We know: We're Phish fans.

Why They Might Play It:

With lyrics like "I don't know how a man decides what's right for his own life," this is the perfect album for Trey. The fuzzy bass lines are tailored for Mike, especially considering his increased use of the meatball pedal over the summer. Can you imagine Fishman tackling the pseudo-techno drumlines? And there'd be plenty of Phishy weirdness during the fight scene song -- the perfect moment for Trey to take to the kit and for the vacuum to simulate Yoshimi's war cries.

Why They Might Not Play It:

Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne sings in an impossibly high register. Mike would likely have to tackle most of the lyric duties, and with his bass duties in full effect that might be technically difficult. Page would need eight arms to recreate the washes of synthetic background noise.

Still, this is Phish we're talking about. Listening to this album about how anything is possible, I'm ready to believe.


Wow. Not a huge Lips fan, mostly because of Wayne Coyne’s cockiness but I do love this album! Seems to me that musically it wouldn’t be challenging enough. The hurdles here would come from getting Coyne to sign off on it.

By Alex B - 10/16/13

This would be my dream come true. The ethereal vocal melodies coupled with those rock-solid basslines and ambient synths, and Phish improvising over all of it. I have nothing but doubts that it would happen…but a man can dream.

By Joe - 10/16/13

Paul Simon - Graceland

By RJG - 10/16/13

Never gonna happen, but Use Your Illusion 2 would be amazing

By john - 10/16/13

Something by The Band

By Paul-Leon - 10/16/13

Wayne Coyne’s cockiness?  One of the nicest musicians I’ve ever met.  Incredibly cool and far from cocky.

That said, I don’t think Phish could pull it off.  Even the Lips have to make use of backing tracks to do it live.

By Jared - 10/16/13

They don’t need permission from any band to cover their album.

By JTC - 10/17/13

ELO A New World Record

By PeterPhan - 10/17/13

My ears say Zeppelin and the 90’s teenager in me is hoping for Use Your Illusion II but my money is on Santana Abraxas.

Yes, it’s random but I feel the costume is always somewhat unexpected. In 98 everyone thought Dark Side was a sure thing and they dropped loaded. In 09’ they fooled around with Zeppelin and played Little Feet.

Why they might do it:
Summer tour 92 they opened for Santana. I don’t know the average attendance numbers before and after that tour, nor was I old enough to see those shows but I’m going to assume that those shows helped the boys gain popularity and they must have learned a bunch from Carlos and his band. They did depute Walfredo (written about Santana’s drummer) 6 years later.

Plus, I’m not sure how Phish met Giovanni Hidalgo, who backed them in Halloween 09, but considering that Hidalgo also plays wt Santana, I wouldn’t be surprised if Carlos made the intro.

What a better way to celebrate their 30th by covering an album of a mentor and someone that shows mutual respect:

“When you guys were playing, I was picturing the audience as this sea of flowers, the music was the water, and you guys were the hose.” ~ Santana circa 92

Why They Won’t Do It:
Surprisingly, they’ve never covered a Santana tune and they’ve never played and album for a band they’ve never covered.

By Hose Jam - 10/17/13

David Bowie - Hunky Dory

By Rocket In My Pocket - 10/17/13

coyne is a douche

By HAMMER - 10/17/13

want to compare your bullshit with exile,white, etc. you must be cross eyed and stupid


By JM - 10/17/13

Anthem of the Sun?!

By Jesse - 10/17/13

My money is on mumford and sons

By RageCage - 10/17/13

Been saying Yoshimi since they annouced the dates. Would be awesome and outside the box.

By PhlipII - 10/17/13

it’s all about vocals too, any music they could pull off with just the four of them which is insurmountable enough. Someone like Zeppelin or Genesis which we have seen them cover before, would just be so taxing to get right. But damn, seeing the Yes Album or anything like that would be so sick

By Hin - 10/17/13

My $0.02:
“Year of the Cat” by Al Stewart. It’s a classic album with many styles, textures, and ample room for jamming. The vocals are in Trey and Page’s register, too. The tasteful leads were played by Tim Renwick, who later went on to tour with Pink Floyd.
Every time I hear it now, I imagine the Phish playing it! It’s magical.

Somewhere in a Phish forum, someone mentioned the possibility of Genesis’ “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”... with Peter Gabriel. Not exactly sure how Phish fans would feel about that one. But, given their early prog tendancies, I’m sure they could nail it!

By SB - 10/17/13

FYI: it’s also the Lips’ 30th anniversary this year.

By kflinn1 - 10/17/13

In the vain of Yoshimi except WAY funkier- Midnight Vultures, by Beck.  Oh yessss

By Josh - 10/18/13

Pretty sure The Lamb is going forward kids. Listen to the melletron.

By shwa - 10/18/13


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