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. Ocelot42 Says:

    I’m holding out to see if I can afford that kick-ass Joy Box. If I can’t, well, I may as well just get the thing from Best Buy.

  2. pebbles Says:

    I am freaking counting the minutes until I can leave for Darien. I have to have lunch with some colleagues Thursday, so it’ll be tight for me (leaving at one, 7.5 hour drive without traffic, probably shorter if I hammer on it– if the line isn’t bad, I shouldn’t miss more than the opener).

    Eager to see what Chi-Town gets.

    Something tells me another CE&P could be on tap for the east coast, they really seem to be having fun with that. I really hope Middle of the Road wasn’t just a one-timer– this has got to be the best catchy-yet-non-saccharine number they’ve yet done. Definitely a first-set-type-I crowd-pleaser which I would like to catch live.

    2001 is probably coming in Chicago, I’m not holding my breath for that one.

    I’d like them to finally take the hood-mobile out and let her eat (for those of you who didn’t grow up out in the sticks driving various machines as fast as they could go, “let her eat” is how we hicks say “floor it.” It has a very exuberant, reckless connotation–and I would really like to catch a reckless exuberant Hood).

    Roggae needs some air-time.

    Spock’s Brain would be fun

    50% chance of one more Ya Mar, and I’d be happy to hear that tune every night.

    I’d still like to see an Inlaw Josie Wales (last time for me was at the Meadows 9 years ago– something about that number in the middle of a hot show just makes the skin on my scalp tingle).

    I’m waiting for another folksy/bluegrassy cover in a Timber set: maybe along the lines of Ginseng–>Ya Mar–>Timber–>cavern–>timber

    I feel a strong Frankenstein at Toyo or SPAC to keep everyone pumped for Halloween. Plus, those novelty instruments have to do something besides collect dust, right?

    Really, though, I’m going to care less about the setlist than I ever have. I am totally confident that they could play a 25-minute bouncing and I’d eat it up right now. It is gonna be the heat, and you can quote me on that.

  3. llamalee Says:

    my chicago wish list: llama, lizards, lifeboy, yamar, jesus left chicago, peaches en regalia, dog log, 2001, camel walk, fluff and no TTE. i kinda doubt i get any but 2001

  4. snigglebeach Says:

    Pebbles, i don’t wan to rain on your parade, but that math seems awfully tight. leave at 1 for 7.5 hour drive?? you will miss set 1 + unless u are coming south from Canada, you are going to hit traffic. maybe u are, otherwise come up with something quick, and get out the door earlier

  5. Leo Weaver Says:

    Icculus, we were thinking llama tease there at the end as well…and I enjoyed the setbreak lights on Friday too. He was doing some really cool stuff with the lights vs. wind all show. But I’ve come to expect no less from the guy…he’s a genius IMO.

  6. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    word pebbles, all i REALLY care about setlist wise at darien, other than length of jams, is no TTE. a 25 minute bouncing realistically would be amazing though because they’ve never jammed it out before and who knows where it could go.

  7. Leo Weaver Says:

    @llamalee…me thinks you get the llama, lizards, 2001, and jlchicago.

    “Really, though, I’m going to care less about the setlist than I ever have. I am totally confident that they could play a 25-minute bouncing and I’d eat it up right now. It is gonna be the heat, and you can quote me on that.”

    That’s exactly how you need to look at right now, IMO…they’re doing great fresh stuff with the songs, their placement, etc, etc.

  8. Ocelot42 Says:

    I want a first set Squirming Coil closer where Page just never leaves the stage and plays his piano solo all the way through set-break.

  9. Mugician Says:

    Is anybody else here totally busting a nut over Gordon’s solo on Lawn Boy at RR? Those riffs are so fucking tasty.

  10. Mugician Says:

    Ocelot, I’m down. I was a little underwhelmed at Page’s solo at RR. Gonna go listen to A Live One now…

  11. KWL Says:

    @Pebbles, Darien is listed as 7pm showtime which means 7:40 start or so–I was watching the time on Shoreline because it was also listed as 7 (most shows have been listed as 7:30 and have started around 8:10), and Shoreline started around 7:40. Chi is also listed as 7 (central time mind you) so pay attention to what time it starts tomorrow and that will give you a good idea of when Darien will start…

  12. pebbles Says:

    @sniggle: when mapquest says 7.5, as a general rule pebbles will be there in 6 flat. I’m coming from southern NH, and so I should be past Albany before rush hour. Is Syracuse traffic that gnarly?

    Fingers crossed I can blow off the lunch meeting without pissing anyone off. I would be stoked to get in at 5-6 and have a minute to unwind. It is gonna be a long, hectic weekend.

  13. nonoyolker Says:

    Wow, listened to the Sally and Gin about 4 times each today… THAT WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT BABY! Great improv, loving it! That coupled with RR Tweezer, the jams are sounding ON. I have a feeling the boys are going to kill the end of this leg.

  14. KWL Says:

    ^also traffic tends to be pretty backed up off of I-90 for Darien shows because that’s the only major route into the venue.

  15. Ocelot42 Says:

    Shoreline Suzy: “What did we say about neurologists? … I liked that piano solo, Page. I really did! YEEEEAAAARGHUHUH!” Love it.

  16. KWL Says:

    @Pebbles, actually there has been construction on I-90 around here in Syracuse… So expect a few spots, but nothing that will hold you up longer than 20-30 minutes imo, it certainly won’t be a standstill

  17. Snowbank Says:

    msb & gorge changes- I don’t think anybody fully answered you. This was my first show in a few years. They had wrist bands and then there were booze stands all around the venue. Never waited more than 5 minutes. I think that they figured out that they can make more $$$ if they don’t make you drink in beer gardens… cause people I went with never bothered.
    On the chron scene… it got way worse after 9/11. The previous shows were all right and then they went with the whole security crackdown vibe. Probably so they could sell more food and drinks. I went to a DMB show (with a friend that really wanted to see the Gorge) and was nearly stripped searched going in. Luckily I had more pockets than he could find. To add to my speculation, I think they decided to focus security on under age drinking. Most staff I saw in the venue where wearing coats with “Beverage enforcement” on them. It took me a while to grasp it, but the change seemed to indicate that they were NOT enforcing anything else. Finally, Seattle has made chron the lowest law enforcement priority and the state has passed a Med Marijuana law… it all adds up to being a low priority.
    Th thing that would be interesting would be to hear what security is like at more family oriented shows…. just to test if they are adapting to a Phish show.

  18. Lycanthropist Says:

    Man this Gin jam at about the 11:20 min mark to the 13:00 is so righteous. That minute and a half just grabs me by shoulders and lifts me. It has such sweet melancholy, especially right there at the last bit before it goes into the rocking part.

    Its that sweeping soaring jamming that can really move you.

    The transition into the funk is great step to the just amazing flutteriness of the final segment of the jam. The descending riff repeats but takes on darker and darker tones as the patient menacing tones of Pages synth work swallows the whole shot of Gin.

    every last drop.

  19. Wax Banks Says:

    Listened to both Gorge shows today while working. Seven hundred minutes of devastating music, none more transporting than the last few minutes of ‘Light’ on 8/7. I can’t believe I’m gonna say it: the last couple weeks have put not only 99% of June but much of 2003-04 in the shade. It’s the variety that staggers me, man: part of the reason those June ’04 sets make for such absorbing listening is that they’re consistent-bordering-on-samey. And the June ’09 stuff tended to be that way too, a little. But god damn, the boys are wading toward the hallowed ground of 1997 at this point in terms of sheer sonic grab-bag catholicism.

    Last time I saw the boys at SPAC they dropped a bomb marked “6/19/04” on us. Seeing ’em there this year, with a warmup at Hartford, and I’m almost scared of what’s coming. That ‘Light’ is some Fall ’94 shit with the patience of Fall ’97. Perfect.

    Paying job, beautiful wife, music from all around. Life is fine.

  20. Wax Banks Says:

    Wow my math is fucked up.

    Four hundred minutes tops. Yikes!

  21. Snowbank Says:

    Also, in the regular parking lot (not camping) they used to actively look for people drinking. I saw two guys walking around. They came to the group next to us that was obviously drinking (I had my beer in a commuter mug), and asked them to put it away. The group said they were finishing and the guys were like, ” you better, the show is about to start.” In the past, I have seen them pour out all of the beer a 40 something had in his trunk.

    It’s funny cause I saw mostly out of towners in the lot, and I was fighting the urge to tell them to be low pro with their beer. Glad I didn’t – I would have felt like such a loser.

  22. Ocelot42 Says:

    I’m calling a Type I show for Chicago. Hell, it’s technically a stadium show. Perfect for some Llama love. And I’d definitely take another 2001. As much as I’d like to see some transcendent stuff, I think it will leapfrog us here in the midwest. Could be wrong, though.

    Should be there in less than 24 hours. Hopefully there are no traffic F-ups between Kalamazoo and Chi-town.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Nissl – that’s how I think of both Phish and Dead shows, and have since CDRs made the mix thing so easy. Life’s too short to listen to Mexicali Blues when there’s a Bird Song coming…and there are dozens of Brent era shows that benefit immensely from the mixdown process, it tightens them right up…I got in the habit from that.

    Who called out the descending Trey runs at the end of the Gorge Hood earlier? Man, that’s beautiful stuff, and listen to Fish answer him!

    Great to hear everyone’s reactions as they come in. It was obvious in the moment everyone was in the same groove but it’s very sweet to read it in the afterglow.

  24. Ocelot42 Says:

    In fact, just thinking about Chicago traffic, maybe we’ll be in for a nice Highway To Hell cover.

  25. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    Just got into Chi-town. Ready to get my party on, just one short cab ride away!

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