Hey, Another Saturday Night!

The Gorge (G. Lucas)

The Gorge '09 (G. Lucas)

In a more straightforward rocker, Phish closed out their mini-west coast run at The Gorge with a show that couldn’t quite hold up to night one’s triumph.  Thinking The Gorge would be exempt from the “Saturday Night Special”- the more anthemic rock and roll show catering to the weekend crowd- Phish nonetheless came with an upbeat rock episode that had many highlights, but left some majesty to be desired in a venue that defines the word.  Noteworthy jams came in both sets, while the band noticeably left the “2001” that had been looming all weekend long hanging for another day.  While not exactly my style of show, it was nonetheless presented quite well by the now-consistently-firing Phish.

Set I (G. Lucas)

Set I (G. Lucas)

The smoking eleven-song first set spanned the spectrum- from the return of “Mango Song” and the debut of a new Mike song, to an interesting “Tweezer,” a smoking “Wolfmans,” and a wide-open “Antelope.”  As the sun dipped below the gorge, Phish got the show started on a energetic note, opening with the 3.0 bust-out of “Mango Song”- a fitting summertime introduction to the evening.  The Gorge seemed like the ideal place to bust out the elusive favorite, and the song was greeted with open arms.  The band soon unveiled what is presumably called “Middle of the Road,” a new Mike song that brought his usual quirky songwriting into the mix with his second contribution to the new-school catalog.  When the band dropped the “Tweezer” lick for the first time since Red Rocks aural crack-out session, we thought we were stepping into a segment of deep northwest Yeti funk.  But instead of dropping into any heavy rhythm grooves, Trey continued building the jam with direct staccato picking, seemingly leading to a crescendo that would splash into some thicker territory.  His pattern of playing didn’t vary much, however, until he merged with the song’s natural build.  An interesting version- no doubt- but after Red Rocks, it just didn’t compare.  But if it wasn’t a musical masterpiece, it certainly was an experiential keeper.  Taking a “Tweezer” to the dome at dusk with a most psychedelic landscape engulfing your field of vision- well, there’s nothing I’d rather do in the world.

8.7.09 (G.Lucas)

8.7.09 (G.Lucas)

Phish brought back their lyrical tale of “Twenty Years Later” for the first time since it’s Jones Beach debut. An autobiographic tale about the experience of life over time, this song will close their new album of a similar theme.  After a bust-out of “It’s Ice” for the first time since Hampton, Phish played possibly the jam of the set in “Wolfman’s Brother.”  Getting into the dirty dance funk that “Tweezer” had sidestepped, this excursion brought a welcomed dose of thickness that was scarce throughout the show.  The other candidate for jam of the set came in the surprise post-“Zero” “Antelope.”  Taking the jam on a laid back, Gorge-esque path, the band infused some unique melodic work into the dark canvas, riding “Antelope” to its second unique jam in a row.  The band has certainly shot some revitalized energy into their old-school favorite that had long grown stagnant.  Punctuating a high-quality first set with a bang, the band left much for the imagination at setbreak.  With seemingly infinite songs to pull from, what they would bring on night two at The Gorge was anyone’s guess.

The Gorge (G.Lucas)

The Gorge (G.Lucas)

Opening a second-set with “Rock and Roll” for the second time this tour, this one went places the Red Rocks’ version could go only dream of.  Phish transformed the cover into a high-speed chase through the musical universe, taking crazy twists and turns while creating the no-brainer highlight of the show.  In what had to be close to twenty minutes of searing improv, the band moved from straight ahead rock and into several different sections of slower creativity, leaving many jaws firmly resting on the earth below.  When the dust settled on this jam, everyone was bright eyed and bushy tailed as the band drifted into “Makisupa,” which got the full second-set treatment.  Taking their time with the Vermont-style reggae rhythms, the band shaped a nice cool down session that included a Phishy twist at the end.  As the band settled into a basic pattern, Trey and Mike switched guitars for the end of the song and Mike played some great leads while Trey held down the bottom end.  This was but a small detail of the show, but it definitely bears a larger significance to the band’s state of mind and sheer enthusiasm for Phish right now, and with that shared enthusiasm, it was very fun to see.

(G.Lucas)Epic (G.Lucas)

The bluesy interlude of “Alaska” led to a high-spirited “Wedge” that was tended to with meticulous care.  At this point in the show, we knew the band was going big, and they decided to showcase a massive Gorge “YEM.”  Laying way back on this jam, the band played some fantastic lounge-like grooves in what was the second sharp and standout version in a row.  Bringing down the house with their quintessential opus, Phish had the crowd in the palm of their hand, manipulating energy like craftsmen.  If they were dropping the much-anticipated Gorge “2001” it was going to be now, but Phish started up “Number Line” instead, seeming to choose the less improvisational path.  Yet little did we know that the band was about to blow-up the song like never before.  Breaking its noodly pattern, the band got psychedelic on this piece for the first time ever, creating some hairy textures out of the usually vanilla jam.  As the band got further and further away from the song, we began wondering where this trip was taking us and that question was answered with a well-executed transition into “Piper” and the full-on, shred-session that followed.  Capping the show with a new combination of songs and two engaging jams, Phish ended their final set at The Gorge in dynamic fashion before stepping to the mic with the comedic a cappella conclusion of “Grind.”


The Gorge '09 (G.Lucas)

A high-energy encore of “Good Times, Bad Times,” “Reprise” seemed to fit the vibe of the show quite well, topping off Saturday’s sundae with a bombastic cherry to complement the rocking affair.  If there is any better place to see a Phish than The Gorge, let me know.  Combining intense surroundings with intense explorations all weekend long, the band left their stamp on the Pacific Northwest mecca this year, reminding us what Phish at The Gorge is all about.  After a life-affirming west coast jaunt, we now have two days off before hitting The Windy City.  If you’re driving it, god bless and be safe, otherwise, enjoy your flights and we’ll meet down on a soccer field for a 30,000 person throwdown on Tuesday night.  Enjoy the much needed rest.

I. The Mango Song, Chalk Dust Torture, Middle of the Road*, Tweezer > Driver, Twenty Years Later, Yamar, It’s Ice, Wolfman’s Brother, Character Zero, Run Like An Antelope

II. Rock and Roll > Makisupa Policeman, Alaska, The Wedge, You Enjoy Myself, Backwards Down the Number Line > Piper, Grind

E: Good Times, Bad Times


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429 Responses to “Hey, Another Saturday Night!”

  1. KWL Says:

    anyone know how these ticket re-releases from Live Nation work? I mean is there any advance notice? Wouldn’t mind picking up a SPAC pav or two for face…

  2. cwc Says:

    I know there have been an abundance of tickets available on the lot, but I have been stuck with 4 lawns for MPP. I would rather not just give them away. Does anyone want to trade for a pavilion seat. May be going solo to this one. email me at ccammack at triad dot rr dot com

  3. Leo Weaver Says:

    @Mr. C…that’s hilarious about the meetup…I had visions of all us high-fiving, joking, etc, etc. before the show, guess I’m not a psychic after all. haha. tele and I felt kinda bummed about not making, I feel better now.

    @butter, I agree with you re: venue reverb…it’s just so steep from stage to top I’m sure it helps add to the fullness of his sound. We were at the back of the floor both nights and it was like being in a small indoor room but with more space for the sound to fill…absolutely incredible. And the best part about Mike killing it wasn’t just his big loud sound…his playing was superb. He did some interplay with Trey that was simply sublime. And a new effect I think…that really high register thing he did was cool.

    Oh, and they nailed the Wedge, and as Mr C said, it was VERY fitting placement, both set and venue wise.

  4. Leo Weaver Says:

    ^should be re: “venue reverb with Mike’s bass/sound”

  5. albert walker Says:

    we were 20th row center at red rocks thinking the same thing
    just getting shook by mike bombs all night long
    I remember feelings the vibrations during Ghost and thinking, well someone decided to turn Mike up, for once
    in all sound sounded great at everything I’ve seen in 2009

  6. Bapslap Says:

    Hey all-

    Does anyone know when the lot open for Hartford? I’m planning to get there early for some hang time.

    Also, I’ve never been to this venue before. Any one have any do’s and don’ts about the lots?


  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    the steep (but very huge) venue really does create a “wall of people” effect, and on top of all that basalt, yeah…it sounded great and mike was immense any time he wanted to be

    It was loud from Note 1 on day 1, second night they dialed it back a little and brought it up slowly. I have to say it actually sounded better than prior years…more consistently loud and clear…some of that was just less wind of course. Previous years being @ top of the lawn it might not be really loud but this year everyone seemed to have great sound no matter where they were.


    Trey refers to the RR Ghost Fatboy Slim theme early on in this Gin jam, yeah? I love how this jam morphs constantly. The Sally jam (like most so far) has distinct phases you could map out (if you were a huge nerd) but this one just does *this* and then changes a tiny bit and then *this* and then changes again just over and over

    about halfway back through it now, really enjoying myself

  8. msbjivein Says:

    Anyone know how the security is getting into and during the show at TOYOTA PARK?????

  9. Themanatee Says:

    Great reading all the positivity about the gorge. I am luckyenough to have seen Friday and sat of red rocks and Friday of the gorge due to work and wedding obligations. The vitality and focus of the playing is just incredible. I have to say the calypso vocals at the end of light were so touching and phishy and awe inspiring. Did anyone else catch the praise you chord progressions in the gin as well ? So cool to see that re-emerge. The hood slave combo was a double dose of beauty. Friday at the gorge was my girls first time ever seeing the band and while fluffhead scared the crap out of her at times, and the hugs crowd was a bit overwhelming she loved the gin and was getting acquainted ! Just listened to tweezer and antelope from night two and really liked em
    both. But if you want to talk tweezer the red rocks version….

  10. bcb Says:

    ^^msb- Ive been wondering about this too. I went to a Fire game there once, and had no problem tailgating with some brews, but obviously very different. The only shows i’ve heard of being there are shit like Korn. Anyone seen a concert there?

  11. Themanatee Says:

    There ya go mr c. Beat me to the fatboy slim reference in the gin. It is def there

  12. Pence Says:

    @msb They dont have a lot of concerts at Toyo very often so that could mean that they could treat it like any other event. Soccer gmaes dont have much security, or over blow it. I know that may not give you a clear answer.. Buffet is playing there I believe tonight, so hopefully all things go well there so they become a little more relaxed! I dont think it will be that bad. Although they usually over compenstate for phish shows by default. So MSB it could go either way LOL, I didnt answer your question.

  13. Themanatee Says:

    Trey’s descending lines toward the end of hood are just perfect

  14. msbjivein Says:

    So security could be Bad or it could be pretty chill or maybe even somewhere in between………. I’ll take the regular precautions. Thanks guys LOL!

  15. SOAM Says:

    all you need to know about Hartford is that it is a beautiful shithole-don’t panic if your parking lot is a dump (literally)

  16. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    my memories of Meadows (last time there was Phil & Friends with GRAB about 2-3 years ago) are that the parking is somewhat disjointed. there is a large lot they funnel people into coming from the Hartford side that is about a half mile walk from the venue. there is parking closer but it fills up kind of early. not sure on the lot open time but I think it is probably about 3-4 hours prior to showtime.

  17. albert walker Says:

    Toyota should be chill
    saw crossroads fest there with no issues
    weird location keeps it off most radars
    kind of out of everone’s way

  18. Pence Says:

    Exactly Msb, I wouldnt recommend bringing a bazooka, nor 5 kilos of Columbian Gold. Although a “piece” and quarter of Chron should be fine.

  19. albert walker Says:

    by piece you mean a 22 in your shoe right?
    it is the south side

  20. msbjivein Says:

    Rocket don’t smoke, Rocket don’t joke, Rocket put a cap in a………………

  21. Robear Says:

    These guys just threw down 7 incredible shows in a row. And I say that without hearing a single note yet from the Gorge. I can tell by the comments, the set-lists, and juxtaposing what I felt and heard at Red Rocks and Shoreline. A bunch of friends rediscovering something so dear and important, and being blown beyond any hope or expectation. Tapped into the source since note 1, Red Rocks, Phish has been playing from the heart.

    A northwest, on-site camping festival, with, what sounds like minimal to non-existent security, has to be experienced to be imagined. Unbelievably fun, expansive, and mellow. That aspect could not have been matched at any place, thus far. I remember my first experience, the Oregon Country Fair in 1994. Peace ya’ll, enjoyed the posts today. Gotta’ go hike the water line, falling leaves.

  22. Danny B Says:

    SOAM- Perfect description of meadows lot!! It is a shithole but I love it, that’s where I grew up seeing shows.

  23. Chalkdustin Says:

    A brief story regarding security: Second night, I found myself dancing on the walk between the lawn and the terraces. When the first set was over, I sat down to rest and two dudes came up next to me and asked if the show was over. I said it was only setbreak and asked if it was their first show. I didn’t realize they were part of the EMT staff (or whatever group it was) until they turned around to show me the lettering on their shirts. They told me it was their first show and had never even heard Phish before but loved the experience. They explained their job was really to be sure those who were stumbling around drunk didn’t harm anyone or themselves, and even said they don’t mind puffing. One guy told me he’ll gently ask someone to put their joint out or even ask to take a hit! I found that to be really awesome. Everything was much more chill out west!

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    @chalkdustin – WOW that is amazing. It has NOT always been that chill at the Gorge, not by a long shot. I wonder what changed.

  25. msbjivein Says:

    Do they sell beer at the Gorge??

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