Martian Monster

Originally Performed ByPhish
Lyrics ByJimmy Johnson
VocalsLaura Olsher (Narration Samples)
Phish Debut2014-10-31
Last Played2022-08-14
Current Gap4
HistorianGrant Calof (That_Guy)
Last Update2020-05-25


Known by myriad monikers across the globe for thousands of years, the Mars we see nowadays takes its name from ancient Rome’s god of war.  Astronomy and astrology notwithstanding, our long-held fascination with the red planet and the little green men allegedly populating it can be traced back to the late nineteenth century.

Originally published in 1898 by Herbert George ‘H.G.’ Wells, War of the Worlds was the first popular fiction to explore the notion of hostile space invaders.  But the palpable terror of a real-life, real-time Martian invasion didn’t sink its teeth into the collective American psyche until Orson Welles’ radio broadcast of Wells’ War of the Worlds on October 30, 1938.

”Martian Monster” 7/31/15 Atlanta, GA

Seventy-six years and one day after Welles’ historic broadcast, on 10/31/14, Phish debuted “Martian Monster” as the tenth and final instrumental composition inspired by the Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House sound effects album... But that wasn’t the first time they played that tell-tale riff.  The “Martian Monster” riff initially reared its head during “2001” on 7/27/13 at Gorge Amphitheatre, interwoven throughout the song (starting at 2:40).

Along with Laura Olsher’s timeless narration, this sample-laden funk jam takes you, the intrepid first astronaut, on a journey to the 4th planet from the Sun. Thanks to the ‘incredible speed of your rocket,’ your trip is mercifully short-- But so is your time off-world, courtesy of a ‘hungry welcoming committee.’

While many songs from 10/31/14 went on to earn a spot in the 3.0 rotation, “Martian Monster” has found its way onto more setlists than any other tune from that Chilling, Thrilling night.  It can be quick and to the point (6/24/16), exploratory (10/31/14), atmospheric (12/31/14), full-throttle (7/25/15), soaring (7/23/16), sample-heavy (8/11/2018) -- as well as wedged into other tunes (8/11/15, in the “Skin it Back” mash-up, on 8/12/15 in “Free,” and 12/28/16 with a “Tweezer Reprise” jam). 

”Martian Monster” > “Axilla”, “Skin it Back” -> “Martian Monster” - 8/11/15 Philadelphia, PA

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