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. Frondoot Says:

    im sorry to spam our wonderful boards but its coming down to the wire for me..

    does anyone have any spac extras? lawn or pav it doesnt matter. im willing to pay somewhat over face, whatever is needed to help accommodate the seller.

    if you have any info please email me at james.fontini@temple.edu

    also..i would be goin by myself so any company/carpooling would be cool

  2. msbjivein Says:

    When I lived out in WA The Gorge didnt allow you to walk around the venue w/ booze. They had a beer garden way in the back. Fucking lame. Just wondering how they do it now.

  3. Ocelot42 Says:

    Joy now available for pre-order: http://drygoods.phish.com/Dept.aspx?cp=773_21803

    BTW, the Joy Box also includes a bonus disc carrying the fabled title of “Party Time”.

  4. Leo Weaver Says:

    @msb…yeah…9 bucks a pop…at least they were cold…that’s probably my ONE complaint. But hey, ya do whatcha gotta do…

  5. msbjivein Says:

    Was it Dank beer?? Or Coors………..

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    @msb – sure. it looked like there was one booth with decent beer and many with the usual stuff. You just have to get a 21+ wristband.

    One other thing before I go lay in this 78 degree sunshine under the giant doug firs and listen to the Gin jam again…

    if they’re still doing the premier parking next time, and it comes with the early entry, it’s worth thinking about if:

    1) you’re not camping
    2) you want a primo spot (central terraces or down front or something)
    3) you have kids or someone that needs easier access

    I was like the 10-15th person into the venue each night and never arrived onsite before 5:20. And that’s even though they messed up the early entrance part the first night. Saturday I didn’t even run.

    You could split the cost of one pass between a large crew and get enough A+ tarp/blanket space nailed down as you need.

    At $28 a night it’s a shakedown, and a well priced one – it’s just barely worth it, but for us, it definitely was.

  7. posternutbag Says:

    That sucks that you have to pre-order the whole box to get the Party Time CD – it sounds like something I need to have, but not for $75…

  8. msbjivein Says:

    The Last Time I was at the Gorge they had just started letting people walk around w/ booze but all they sold was Coors. SUCKED!! I didn’t drink.

    Good to hear they’ve at least added some dank brews. I couldn’t believe all they had was Coors. When you live in the NW you expect dank beer everywhere.

    After hearing everyones experiences I’m gonna make a point not to miss the next Phish Gorge show. If I didn’t land the Red Rocks tix that was where my wife and I were heading. Can’t make em all. Cheers to all that went and had a Great experience!

  9. Leo Weaver Says:

    @msb…16 oz Coors, PBR, Miller Lite or 12 oz Heinies, Coronas where I was in the venue. There was a place on the walk in with some good beers. But they had plenty of water and vitaminwater…

  10. msbjivein Says:

    PBR is an award winning Brew Man!!

  11. Bapslap Says:

    Ok, thanks guys. I’ve heard the area around the Hartford venue is pretty ghetto, but it can’t be any worse than Camden. I just didn’t want to hang around outside the parking lot more than needed.

  12. pebbles Says:

    @bapslap: the Meadows is not a great venue, but from what I remember, the party was pretty uninhibited (haven’t been since the only Phish shows ever there– June 2000). I remember pulling out of that lot and marveling at the small mountains of broken beer bottles and random hippies passed out on the blacktop. I walked around and about and definitely saw a higher-than-normal level of illictness taking place…

    but that was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (all that stands out was the one guy with 5-6 kegs of homebrew in his VW microbus, which he was pouring out for free– and the ridic drop from Haley’s into Mango the first night– still one of the most beautiful transitions I’ve ever heard).

  13. Leo Weaver Says:

    @msb…yeah, it’s good no doubt, even has a blue ribbon and everything. But $9 good? In a can? Sorry, I’m a beer snob…but it was cold, frosty, and hit the spot.

  14. Icculus503 Says:

    Got back to Portland from the Gorge late yesterday after a day of exploring secret river access swim spots around the area.

    I haven’t seen the fellas since Big Cypress and I have to say I entered the experience with a little trepidation. One because I didn’t know how much the scene had changed if at all and two I was taking my wonderful wife of three years to her first Phish experience after slowing increasing her diet of Phish over the past year.

    It was a success on all fronts and blew what expectations I had away. The Gorge is always an amazing venue, but seeing Phish there redefined what shows are to me. The atmosphere was amazing and chill. Everyone high and in high spirits. The terrace is definitely where it is at if you want elbow room and a great view.

    My wife loved every minute of it. The first night was her favorite. I am still undecided, but I can say that I wouldn’t of been surprised to see Friday nights setlist on Saturday night and I have no idea how they even followed Fri. up as well as they did. Maybe Sat should of been Fridays show and Friday played on Saturday. But I digress because it is all experience person to person.

    I did not do the experience justice for my wife and she was constantly in awe of the scene, Shakedown, the mass of people being led on a magical journey in the most scenic music venue in the country. It is all almost to much to quantify in text.

    If you were there you know. If you’ve heard the shows you’ve got a taste.

  15. Pence Says:

    wow 10 posters in the Joy/party time bundle, wonder how big they are…What am I going to do with 10!!posters

  16. Icculus503 Says:

    Anyone else lose their shit when that strange calypso jam emerged out of Sally? And the Gin had me floating underwater. First night: Fluid, aqueous, exploratory. Second night: Raging, dancing, laughing.

    Does anyone know about Kuroda’s lights at set break. On Friday the wind was whipping the smoke across the stage and he was doing all these wicked light formations throughout. Second night was standard stand-by at intermission.

    And it was definitely Llama tease at the end of Sat.

  17. youenjoy09 Says:

    @ Mr. C
    the Gin was other-worldly and easily my favorite jam of night 1 (even though it has never been in my top 9 or 10 favorite phish songs). As they fluidly covered vast territories – without ever a dull moment, I was amazed by the mellifluous transitions throughout the changing segments of the jam. I thought night 2 was even better, though the ridiculously clean squares of paper I digested for dinner that evening may have had an influence on my senses 😉 What a truly AMAZING introduction to the live-phish world!

  18. Walfredo Says:

    I think the economy- they would love to host Phish every year again. There were barely any shows there last summer. Only so many bands can pack the place two nights and let them sell camping. DMB does it every year- they would love to have Phish do the same.

    Just a thought.

  19. Nissl Says:

    @Mr Completely

    “In the end, I come to – do I want to listen to the whole show a year from now, or do I have parts of it on mix CDs? Gorge 1 will be in whole-show rotation for ever. Gorge 2 will get mixed down at some point, I can feel it.”

    This is such a great summation I hope you don’t mind me stealing it (with credit!) for future discussions. Gorge 2 has an amazing R&R and great Antelope and then the set from Wedge>Tweeprise is so tight with so much energy even if no versions stick out. The rest is just very good, I mean even if that was the best Alaska or 20 Years Later they’ve played so far I’m still going to be skipping it the 10th time through the show.

    Gorge 1 I don’t see what you can possibly cut. I’m still in the afterglow I suppose but I really think I could listen to this one as much as I did the best couple of post-hiatus shows.

  20. Aquaman Says:

    @Mr C.

    Couldn’t agree more. VIP = worth it. Esp. if you can split with 4 of 5 peeps.

    I did VIP parking 6/20, since I had to race back to Chicago that night, and I was already in Illinois, from East Troy, and I got a call from friends saying they were still stuck in the back corner of the lot.

    It was worth the $28.00 seeing as I was back in the Chi with a Woodford on the rocks in hand before 50% of the lot had even cleared.


  21. tim Says:

    i think your blog would be a better read if you underlined the song titles.

  22. flarrdogg Says:

    These were my first two shows since Coventry and I was so amped to finally get to see Phish 3.0. I went into the weekend with some pretty high expectations- have heard nearly every show and been reading the reviews (mostly here!). At any rate, what I saw FAR exceeded anything I was expecting/ hoping for. I concur that night 1 was a superior show overall, but night 2 was a freaking scorcher as well. Rarities, debuts, pushing the envelope WHENEVER the opportunity presented itself, Destiny Unbound?! It brought me immense joy to witness the phish band playing at such a high level, happy, healthy, etc… So grateful to have witnessed. Awesome.

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

    “i think your blog would be a better read if you underlined the song titles.”

    ^^ that’s incorrect grammar

  24. larry bird flu Says:

    glad everyone had a blast at this weekend’s shows. cant wait to listen these shows. these guys are truly hitting their stride right now.its certainly a great time to be a phish fan

  25. posternutbag Says:

    Alright, this is ridiculous. How does it cost $7 to ship a $10 cd via ground? I want to pre-order Joy but I don’t think I can pay a shipping charge like that on principle.

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