Phish at the Gorge Circa '97

Phish at the Gorge circa '97

Phish at The Gorge- there’s simply nothing like it.  In the first show back in five years, we collectively felt the feeling we forgot as Phish played a show that meshed seamlessly with the one of the grandest surroundings in live music history.  Playing two sets with highlights galore, the band crushed the first night of their two-night stand on the hallowed grounds of their Northwest home.  Smoking right from the start, the band never paused, writing an entire show worthy of many re-listens- though isolated from the internet in rural Washington, listening back is a pleasure I’ve not yet had.  What was once again evident was Phish’s spirit of adventure, taking any opportunity to tear off a unique piece of improv, and creating an all-out musical odyssey.

Shoreline 8.5 (W.Rogell)

Shoreline 8.5 (W.Rogell)

Popping off right from the start, the band shredded an opening “Disease” that spoiled any opener pools after they had just crafted a marathon version in Shoreline’s second set.  With some high-energy fireworks to spark the weekend, the band followed it up with an extensive, laid-back “Ocelot” that represented the furthest out Phish has taken the playful new song.  The 3.0 debut of “Pebbles and Marbles” reminded us of one of post-hiatus’ best compositions, but its “Disease-eqsue” jam seemed somewhat proximate in the set to its brother in the set.  Yet, the boldest improv of the first half came towards the end of the frame in the form of “Stash,” “Sally > Cavern”- and trust me, looks can be deceiving.  The second consecutive blowout of “Stash” saw Phish again transcend the song’s path with a jam that passed through foreign territory with a shining light in darkness deep.  Growing out some melodic jamming from the dark song for the second time this tour, the band again crafted an engaging highlight version.

8.5 (W.Rogell)

8.5 Shoreline (W.Rogell)

As the dramatic “Stash” came to a close, Phish launched into an apparent dance session with the bust-out of “Sneaking Sally.”  But what actually happened was far from what we expected.  As the band entered the jam, they didn’t go minutes deep into dance funk, but instead morphed the rhythmic textures into a “YEM-like” vocal jam.  However, unlike their popular opus, the band jammed out of the vocal mélange, crafting the grandest sound-scape we have heard from since the return.  Possibly inspired by nightfall over the vast landscape, Phish took the usual funk cover to uncharted psychedelia in one of the unquestionable highlights of the entire show. This jam illustrates the creativity of the Phish at this point in time, making musical mountains where you least expect them with purely original ideas that sound fresh to the ear and to the soul. This late set extravaganza sent ripples through the audience, giving the crowd a certain talking point for the break.

Shoreline 8.5 (W.Rogell)

Shoreline 8.5 (W.Rogell)

When Phish stepped onstage for the second set, there was one thing we knew for sure- it was gonna’be big- and big is certainly was. With a beautiful summer night as a backdrop, and with a perfect breeze, it felt blissful to be back at the Gorge again, and what better way to kick off the second set than with the earnest thickness of “The Moma Dance.”  Finally placed in the second frame, Phish gave the song more focused love, using it as a hearty, funkified splash into the second half of the show.  The rest of the set was almost purely composed of improv, as the band flowed through some of the most inspired playing of the tour.  Using “Light” to launch into an other-wordly excursion of the sort I’ve been dreaming of since Trey debuted the song in Brooklyn last summer.  Phish passed through many distinct stages of locked-in jamming before arriving in a stunning calypso groove that virtually sounded composed.  Strewn with more vocal accompaniment, this time layered atop the music, Phish’s creativity was again in full bloom, painting an ongoing portrait of a band renewed as they crafted one of the shows enduring memories.  This multi-textured jam is a must-hear highlight from a set that is filled with them.

Segueing into a soaring “Tatse,” the song’s ripping poly-rhythms were a fitting landing point for “Light’s” next-level improv, and carried the improvisational energy of the set into a surprise “Fluffhead.”  It was awesome to see the band showcase the old-school composition in the middle of the second set at the Gorge, as this version brought back echoes of the band’s first-ever show at the venue in ’97 when the piece took a similarly central role in the second set.

The Gorge circa '03

The Gorge circa '03

After a mid-set “Joy,” the rest of the night was the stuff dreams are made of.  With wide-open, patient jamming, the “Bathtub > Hood, Slave” just sounded like Gorge music.  Few venues influence the sound and style of Phish music like The Gorge does; you can go back through the years and hear the similarity in playing, regardless of the era.  And last night that tradition continued throughout the show, but particularly in these last three songs.

Just after “Bathtub” had taken a step into type-II territory at Red Rocks, the band slaughtered a mind-numbing exploration of the song last night.  Without having listened back, its hard to precisely recall the several connected realms that comprised one of the jams of the show, but providing a fantastic voyage central to the second set’s alchemy, “Bathtub Gin” shone as bright as than ever. Ending in an ambient space that sounded like we were morphing into “2001,” the band was foreshadowing tonight, because instead of launching into the space-funk, the band dropped into a cosmic cannonball of a different variety.  Building a monumental “Hood,” the band took their time to craft a defining moment of the night with the special life-force that only tremendous “Hoods” can channel.  Leaving the entire crowd blissed-out in a spiritually heightened state, this energy spilled into the majestic “Slave” encore.  One for the highlight reels, the band climbed patiently up the ladder, starting in near-silence in which you could hear a pin drop throughout The Gorge, and peaking the jam considerably later in an awing cascade of melody and harmony.

Another beautiful chapter in Phish’s Gorge legacy, last night’s tapped into the unique vibrations of the venue moreso than either post-hiatus show, returning the magical amphitheatre into our own Phishy wonderland once again.  And as the sun came up today, everything seemed a bit more exciting as the proposition of a night two “Tweezer” and “2001” come into play.  In mere hours- let the continuing mystery unfold!

I. Down With Disease, Ocelot, Pebbles and Marbles, Possum, Sleep, Destiny, Stash, Sally > Cavern
II. Moma, Light > Taste, Fluffhead Joy, Bathtub > Hood
E: Slave

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196 Responses to “Gorgeous”

  1. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    tonight’s ghost is gonna be ridiculous

  2. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    if it’s on a gordon album, which it is, then that’s why they’re playing it: not because they’re playing it on halloween

  3. elbowleg Says:

    have they ever done a harpua at the gorge? if not, i feel it tonight. i was surprised bonnaroo didn’t get one.

  4. alumni blues Says:

    I hear ya Dancing. U know a sick Ghost is coming.

  5. Marmot Says:

    Just put my one year old baby girl to bed and wanted put a few thoughts down about last nite while they are fresh. My first show since SPAC 04 and likely my only this year unless we get a NW surprise this fall. Would have liked to have gone tonite, but Mrs. Marmot had to work and it is difficult to get family to babysit for two nights running. Kudos to Mr. C bringing the kiddo, but the responsibility is huge.

    The Gorge is a stunner of a place to see a show, and is set up so that you don’t see the ~1100′ drop down to the Columbia River until you step out onto the top of the lawn after walking down a long entry path. Really neat to see people literally stopping in their tracks to take in the huge crack in the Earth that is the Columbia basin. The Gorge site was an overflow channel for glacial Lake Columbia in the ice ages, so picture a thousand feet of waterfall rushing over where the lawn and stage are now…Also, if you look carefully at the bench below the stage, you can see ripples and channels from the great floods of the last ice ages. Truly an amazing place to see a show.

    The start of DWD was timed almost to the second with the setting sun behind the stage and was the start of a great set of music to watch the land fade away in the background. P&M was the early highlight for me, but Stash and Sally really brought it home. I had three first timers with me, and they all thought the hand clapping during Stash was great. That said, I’m hearing a lot on the replay of the show that I missed live. Taking new people, I think I was more intent on them having a great time then on being fully focused on the show, and I’m getting a lot of nuance that I missed live. Halfway up the lawn, the wind felt good, but it made the sound wavery at times. Plus there were plenty of distractions like the original Prankster age folks that were in full on party mode and making the college kids look tame in comparison. They were generous about making sure everybody got their heads up though, which more then makes up for a bit of ass showing 🙂 And it was nice not to be the old guy, which was how I felt as a thirtysomething at SPAC last time around…

    I guess in summary it was good to be back. I’ve been a fan since I saw my first show at the Bayou in 1990, and it was great to hear dynamic music being played at one of the best places in the world to see a concert. I’ll be listening to tonite soon enough, and looking forward to hearing more highlights from the 3.0 as the tour swings east. Keep up the good works Miner, they are appreciated!

  6. JP Says:

    Back from night # 2. Another strong show. Not quite as amazing for me personally as night # 1, however, my wife preferred tonight. Total shred fest, 1st set was incredible. The It’s Ice through Antelope was hot. Friggin’ awesome – the band is totally on fire.

  7. JP Says:

    Great post Marmot!

  8. JP Says:

    Did not get my # 1 (Ghost) or # 2 (2001), but still darn bloody happy.

  9. JP Says:

    3.0 = greater than the sum of its parts

  10. pebbles Says:

    That middle of the road has almost no relation to the version Gordo and Kottke performed, other than having the same title.

    Freaking great cover, I hope it stays in rotation.

  11. BrandonKayda Says:

    So, if you were to rate the show from 1 to 10, 1 being terrible and 10 being the best of the leg so far, how would you rate it? I don’t know the setlist yet. I just need to know if this came anywhere near the first night’s brilliance.

  12. pebbles Says:

    8.5-9 so far, I’m only about halfway through the first set though. This is up there with nights 1 and 3 of RR so far in my humble opinion. Brilliant but half a notch short of transcendent. The type-Ier in me loves everything about this first set. Other than a little trainwreck at the beginning of Mango Song, everything is crisp and precise, and played with a real drive and sense of purpose. So far, everything has been contained inside the framework– the sense of adventure comes mostly from new and/or rare songs.

    Best Ya Mar of the modern era, without a doubt. I’ll be playing that Middle of the Road on repeat later today, it is a thing of beauty.

  13. BrandonKayda Says:

    Where did you find the audio? I would like to hear it. Thank you.

  14. pebbles Says:

    @Brandon: sorry, man, I bought the SBDs from Livephish, so I’m no help to you.

  15. T. Leo Says:


    You may want to check out this thread at Phantasy Tour:


  16. BrandonKayda Says:

    No problem Pebbles. I thought you had downloaded it from like PirateBay or something.

    Thanks a lot Leo!

    So this show is good? How is the Rock and Roll

  17. mutt Says:

    Wow..if you were not here thats what id say…best rock and roll ever!

  18. Brett Says:

    How can we get the word out that glo stick wars have TWO rules:
    1. It occurs during the Harry Hood JAM
    2. It’s to be above the floor area and not thrown at the band!!

    Onto Chicago…and then the East Coast.

    Brett R.

  19. Ghost Master Says:

    That ghost was absolutely incredible.

  20. Tahoe-livin Says:

    Let’s not forget the amazing Possum this night where Trey and Page traded off solos during the the entire song, bringing a new twist to an old favorite!

  21. mawf Says:

    must disagree. first night was a 5 or 6 out of ten musically yeah the gorge is great but are we here for the music or the surroundings. destiny was a sure treat and the sally was dope but the hands didnt come out of the pockets too much and thats my measure of a show. and my big complaint was that the supersonic stash paralyzed the crowd…no reaction which was..to me quite astonishing…no reaction to destiny and an out of this world stash that paralyzed the crowd rather than energized

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