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. Mr.Miner Says:

    @Mr C. – Thanks, man. That means a lot coming from you. I’m so glad you had an amazing time. The weekend was unbelievable. Even though we’ve never actually met, I thought of the fact that Friday was your first new-school show at some point in set II and thought you must be loving it…so glad you did…

  2. Lycanthropist Says:

    @ Mr Miner and Mr Completely –

    You guys and your comments tonight are a perfect example of what drew me forth to the seen.

  3. sumodie Says:

    My 6 show left coast run (no shoreline) has been incredible. the Gorge scene abounded in good vibes (though I heard one fan jumped off a cliff the first night), and security was way more chill than in ’99 and ’03 (remember getting searched going back into the campground?). And I forgot just how incredible the scenery is at the Gorge -every fan should put it at the top of their to-do list next to RR of course.

    Gorge 1 was a much better show for me -the overall flow was excellent, probably my 3rd favorite after night 2 & 4 at Red Rocks (maybe tied for second -but does it really matter since leg 2 has been all around astounding?). CK lights were AMAZING!

    Gorge 2 was my least favorite of RR/Gorge, but that is in no way a gripe. Looking at individual songs, there were many highlights – the overall flow left me wanting. Makisupa was probably my highlight, closely followed by RnRoll. Again, I seem to be agreeing with Miner’s take on leg 2 thus far (excellent reporting, btw). Also cool to see the Merry Pranksters’ Further bus on shakedown (which cemented my desire to tack on Darien, as I was there for the Ken Kesey appearance). Did I mention that the campground scene was fantastic?!?

    Lastly, and most importantly, the Gorge allowed me to reunite with my old touring crew, former Mass residents who’ve all migrated to WA. The experience felt complete for me on all levels!

    Flying back to MA tomorrow, then ramping up for Darien, Hartford, SPAC. Loving the insightful chill vibe here as usual.

  4. sumodie Says:

    Also meant to add that it’s interesting that folks make so much about Trey’s sobriety yet an overall Phish crowd is anything but sober. Of course I love the band’s healthy vibe (I’m always hesitant to make assumptions & presumptions about individual band member’s personal choices regarding what they imbibe) and want Trey to be healthy, happy, and passionate.

    It just strikes me as a bit dichotomous that we praise his sobriety when (many/most?) of us are not.

  5. BrandonKayda Says:

    Lycan –

    You are turning into one of my favorite new writers on here. Between you, Mr.C and Miner there is a lot of great conversation going on. I am really liking to hear your experiences and analyises on the previous and upcoming shows.

    This is the one forum I have been to where people openly discuss the concerts in such a detailed manner, takes this site a big step above Phantasy Phish and all of those other sites.

    I am probably not seeing Phish at the Merriweather as I planned, but that does not mean I am not seeing Phish. There is still the possibility of a Fall tour or Spring/Summer 2010 to look forward to. By the end of next year, I want to have seen Phish in concert. I imagine, based on reading other’s reviews that the experience is amazing. I mean, listening to tapes is one thing, but actually being there; the people, the music, the lights, and everything mixed in together is probably breathtaking.

    Anybody can listen to tapes and then bitch and moan about how Trey missed that note in YEM or Reba or whatever, but actually attending the concert and feeling the energy all around you takes all of the minor flubs and annoyances away. Even at the concerts I have been to, the atmosphere and the energy have sometimes been better than the music itself. The energy is everything. I may be using a quote out of context here, but:

    “Buy the ticket, take the ride”

    Toyota Park will be a scorcher that is for sure. Phish always pulls out the trump card when it comes to sleeper shows like that one (I hope I used that analogy right) Meaning they always surprise you with bustouts or something unexpected. I am going to guess that they will get a Funky Bitch. That is another one my government teacher was hoping to hear. Can’t wait to hear the tapes!

  6. SinVin Says:

    Just wanted to send a big shout-out to this site and everyone on it. Seems like the only mature place to blog in the Phish world. Had tried PT but was grossly disappointed. I have been lurking, reading, enjoying the posts/reviews since 3.0 began. Hit Deer Creek in June and recently Shoreline. Definitely a nice growth to the sound this tour. It was during DWD at Shoreline that I finally committed in my heart/mind to going to Indio for Halloween. Staring seeing Phish in 93′ and have been to almost a hundred shows since. My musical world is large and diverse. I only hope that Phish can continue to grow and return to that energy that has blown my mind oh’ so many times. Each show, each new explored jam brings them/us closer to that space. I will continue to enjoy this site and may even throw in some insight once in a while. Thank you all for keeping this site fun!

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    @sumodie – well said. In my case what I mean precisely when I say “sober” is “healthy.” I don’t know any more about what substances are or are not being used than anyone else does, but I can definitely tell a huge difference in the clarity of the moment; and there’s a subtle and hard-to-describe edge that’s gone missing, so it’s even harder to describe its absence: a feeling of living on borrowed time, of holding a tiger by the tail, of witnessing magic born from an unsustainable intensity of living.

    This feels sustainable and healthy. That’s what we want for ourselves, our friends and Trey and everyone else. I have friends who need to stay mostly clear of anything harder than weed unless they’re ready for a six month bender, I have others that still party like rock stars in their 40s. As long as it’s healthy for that person it’s all good.

    I definitely have been thinking about that dialectic though.

    That Makisupa was really something.

    Security was nonexistent, at least on the terraces. Simply absent. Totally different than prior years, agreed – combined with incredible weather made for a super chill environment. Didn’t hear about the possible cliff fall; did hear about fracas involving the exit line to the campground after night 1. If what I heard was right it was basically an understaffing mistake on the part of the venue.

    re: Family scene – yeah when you see Mike in a golf cart with a baby in a Snuggli it pretty well cements the Family Vibe image compared to prior eras. However, a 4 year old kid requested Ghost from him and got denied – ouch! step off kid! lol

    @Miner yeah I knew you’d be digging that show too. Thanks a lot for the thoughts and energy. I would have failed to make any meeting I set up with anyone for any reason – parenting became an all-consuming task, no surprise – but I’d love to do that sometime.

  8. Lycanthropist Says:

    @ Brandon

    Thanks for the kind words. I too wish I could have been at the Gorge. Unfortunately, Knoxville is the only show I have been able to catch (reference new found parent segment of Phish fan base, though what a wonderful show to catch). I also am unable to commit as fully to catching shows cause I am oft playing every weekend I can (chasing the dream and paying the bills, never thought those two things would combine).

    Agreed that there are several other fantastic and interesting posters here: Miner of course, Pebbles, Mr. C, Col. Joy (whom I havent seen in a bit) just to name a few. I very much love this board, and feel fortunate to be so early held in esteem with some of my favorite posters of this group.

    Trying very hard to make Festival 8 happen for my wife and I. Sadly had to cancel playing any Halloween Shows as a result, though Halloween shows are typically hard for local bands to make good, especially so close to New Orleans.

    Long post short –

    Thanks for the great words from long time posters and thanks for excepting a new one.

  9. posternutbag Says:

    While I agree with Mr. C that security was virtually nonexistent, there was a very fierce “beverage enforcement” group that was only concerned with people bringing outside drinks into the venue. I was on the lawn for the first set on Saturday and saw two guys get swarmed by the patrol and thrown out for bringing in a flask. Kind of ridiculous that they had to miss the second set (esp since they seemed of age) when there was all sorts of unnoticed mischief going on around them, and they didn’t seem to be too obvious about it. But hey, karma is a bitch.

  10. BrandonKayda Says:

    Thank you as well, Lycan.

    I hope all is well for you and your band. I have always wanted to do something like that.

    I am going to bed now though. Goodnight folks.

  11. Pence Says:

    hello is anybody out there?

  12. Chuck D Says:

    @ poster

    That sucks those kids got kicked out for bringing in a flask. I got caught at RR with a flask; cop just walked up, grabbed it from my pocket and kept on going. No words exchanged or anything, we both knew what was up. I would have been devistated to not see the show. Karma is a bitch tho…

  13. Chuck D Says:

    Just nod if you can hear me.

  14. Aquaman Says:




    Agreed the phans in the Chi are all chomping at the bit to see what “one off specialties” come our way tomorrow night at TOYO PARK.


    P.S. Miner, Et. Al. – Has anyone picked a meeting spot for kind wishes and handshakes before the show? I think the Waterwheel table was mentioned for he RR and Gorge shows.

  15. Brian Says:

    in set II of Gorge night one right now. this show is definitely ridic good. Gotta say though wasn’t really digging that Stash as much as RR. will be listening to night two after lunch!

  16. wvbrdr Says:

    Back to work after a weekend at the Gorge. I love the rock and roll Phish, and they are back. That concert was so much FUN, it’s hard to express it. The whole vibe throughout the weekend was so positive and full of a strong sense of joy to be back there with friends and community.

    The band sounded fresh. As far as comparing songs to another, im not going to do that, that’s for Miner or others going to a bunch of shows to do. When I was there, in front of the band, dancing so friggin hard, that was the best version of that song that I was going to hear. I just wanted to clear my mind and move my body. That was a fun weekend and it’s because everybody there, the fans and the band. Thanks everyone.

  17. Pence Says:

    LOL, just thought it was weird no comments and no post by miner at 8:00 am CST, the day before Toyo. Did anyone here Fishman teasing Llama at the end of piper at the gorge. Llama toyo opener!

  18. Walfredo Says:

    These shows where just amazing. Such an unbelievable weekend. The vibe and energy was SO STRONG. 2009 Phish is slowly becoming my favorite year as a fan. The tapes probably don’t hold up across the board to some of the best years- but Hampton and Gorge weekends are two of the best I can remember. This West Coast run- its got to be the best West Coast run ever right? 4 nights of Red Rocks, Shoreline, and 2 nights Gorge? Best ever?

  19. halcyon Says:

    @ Pence…..that was real nice sounding at the end of Piper…very trance like….good beats

    Has anyone heard the studio version of BDTNL on Phish’s Myspace page? It has that “live” sound that they were looking for in their upcoming release.

  20. Ocelot42 Says:

    Whew, tickets from StubHub got here here just in time. That’s a load off of my mind. Taking a buddy to the show tomorrow and it will be his first Phish. Not just his first show, but his first PHISH. The only stuff he has listened to is a sampler disc I burned him last week and whatever I play on the way there. He’s an older (than me, anyway) guy and deeply loves 70’s rock. His absolute favourite band is Jethro Tull, so I’m not too worried that he’ll enjoy himself with complex, playful music.

  21. Pence Says:

    If they play anything like they did in that Bathtub gin at toyo, my head might explode

  22. BrandonKayda Says:

    That Gin was amazing.

  23. halcyon Says:

    Today’s Laugh of the Day.


  24. wvbrdr Says:

    That new song Alaska sounded like it could have easily been played by the Dead. It’s not my favorite, but it was danceable. BDTNL seems to get stuck in my head very easily.

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    @wvbrdr – “That concert was so much FUN, it’s hard to express it. The whole vibe throughout the weekend was so positive and full of a strong sense of joy to be back there with friends and community.”

    @Walfredo – “These shows where just amazing. Such an unbelievable weekend. The vibe and energy was SO STRONG.”

    Before the Saturday show I was talking about this with our kind Whistler-ite terrace neighbors – looking out at the crowd as the show was about to start, the sea of people on the floor, and the wall of people around and above us – and we shared a great moment talking about the feeling we get just from being with our tribe in a high setting like that.

    I love hearing from other people who felt it the way we did.

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