Martian Monster

Originally Performed ByPhish
Lyrics ByJimmy Johnson
VocalsLaura Olsher (Narration Samples)
Phish Debut2014-10-31
Last Played2023-10-14
Current Gap14
HistorianGrant Calof (That_Guy)
Last Update2024-01-27


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.

Phish ”Martian Monster” 10/31/14, Las Vegas, NV. Video by Mike Wagner

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 narration from  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 07/27/13 at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 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– and even has its own jam chart

It can be quick and to the point (06/24/16), exploratory (10/31/14), atmospheric (12/31/14), full-throttle (07/25/15), soaring (07/23/16), sample-heavy (08/11/18) -- as well as wedged into other tunes (08/11/15, in the “Skin it Back” mash-up, on 08/12/15 in “Free,” and 12/28/16 with a “Tweezer Reprise” jam). 

[creditPhish" style="text-decoration:none">[/youtube][creditPhish “Martian Monster” – 7/31/15, Atlanta, GA. Video by Lazylightning55a.[/credit]

The song made four appearances in 2017 (like 07/15/17 in Huntington Beach, CA & 12/29/17 at MSG), six in 2018 (07/18/18 at Lake Tahoe, 08/31/18 at DSG, 11/02/18 in Vega$ and 12/28/18 at MSG are all solid) and five in 2019 (02/23/19 in Mexico is *fire*, and 12/31/19 closes out the year in style at MSG).  

Regardless of your planet of origin, “Martian Monster” is always a welcome addition to any setlist, like 10/22/21 in Arizona, 08/14/22 in Wisconsin, 04/14/23 in Seattle and 10/14/23 in Chicago-- All of which demand attention, no matter how short your trip.

strong class='credit'Phish" style="text-decoration:none">[/youtube][credit]Phish ”Martian Monster”-- 08/14/22, East Troy, WI. Video by shinepigeon.

Last significant update: 12/19/2023

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