A Stunner To Start Off

8.5.11 - "Rock and Roll" (Graham Lucas)

Without missing a beat, Phish stepped onto the Gorge’s stage—the grandest of tour—and played one of the magnificent shows of 2011. Building directly off of their white-hot momentum of Super Ball and a furious opening leg, the band showed us that the best part of summer is just beginning. Showcasing an improvisational patience that the Gorge always brings out of them, Phish never wavered—nor skipped a beat—for the better part of an hour in the second set, crafting a masterful sequence in “Rock and Roll -> Meatstick -> Boogie On” that jumped right onto the top shelf of summertime adventures. And with plenty of other standout music to offer, last night’s performance has to be considered one of the band’s defining nights of the year.

8.5.11 - Graham Lucas

At the center of this sequence, and the show, stood a gargantuan “Rock and Roll” that blended so many styles of Phish’s past through their razor sharp jaws of today and came up with music to behold. Infusing the exploratory gem with a hefty dosage of “Storage” jamming—including a stint with Page on Theremin—Phish stepped to Leg Two with the most compelling piece of music we’ve heard since Detroit’s “Disease.  But any musical comparisons would end there. This was a different monster altogether. This was the Gorge. This jam dropped into half-time—and into a distant universe. In this jam, Phish coyly crept upon menacing “Black-Eyed” teases amidst liquid textures, pushing minds to the brink of explosion. In this jam, the band actualized and integrated so much of what they have been honing in on stylistically—and then pushed right beyond it into new frontiers. Within this 20-minute jam, Phish realized so many aural fantasies of mine it would feel too intimate to go on much further. In short, this “Rock and Roll” represents a seminal piece of improv; a piece that on the first night of tour that stomped a new foot forward for a band that won’t stop making musical leaps and bounds in front of our eyes.

8.5.11 - The Gorge (Graham Lucas)

And they were hardly done there, segueing energetically into “Meastick,” Phish just kept bringing it, allowing their chops to take them where they may. Honestly, the songs seemed completely secondary at this point in the show, as the guys were tapped into IT on a stratospheric plane. Songs emerged as natural outgrowths of musical conversations, not because anyone cared about the setlist or curfew. This was Phish on top of the world again. And what better view of the band’s technicolor multiverse than the wide-open vistas of the Columbia River Gorge. Everything I dream of about Phish at the Gorge—patient jams where creativity is the only muse—took hold last night, and left the crowd with a show to be reckoned with to kick off Leg Two.

8.5.11 - The Gorge (Graham Lucas)

And there was so much more. There was the dripping psychedelia of a stunning, first-set “Roggae” that saw the loose and exploratory vibe descend from overhead. There was the phenomenal “Bathtub Gin” that kick-started  the second half of tour, in earnest. There was the intricate and introspective “David Bowie” that brought nightfall to the Gorge. There was the gorgeous “Farmhouse” that resolved the second-set’s odyssey and was backed by bouncier basslines, giving the song a reggae feel. And then there was the cathartic “Show of Life” under a Washington heaven as Trey’s guitar solo likened a child reaching for a falling star. A crunching “Zero” put an exclamation point on a set that exists as “must-hear-now” for every Phish fan on the planet.

Something about opening nights of tours have always gripped me. Whether or not they turn out to be one of the best nights of tour, openers always seemed to possess gritty improvisational memories. Whether it be “Tweezer -> California Love” from Portland ’98, “Bathtub > 2001 > YEM” from the Palace in ’99, “Free” from Bonner Springs ’99, the “Stash” from Vegas ’97, openers have always shot improvisational daggers. But rarely in their history has Phish put together such a prolific set together to kick off a run. Building off Bethel’s summer-opening blowout, Leg Two has started with one of its own. But this one is only half way over…

I: Kill Devil Falls, The Wedge, Bathtub Gin, Nellie Kane, My Friend, My Friend, Cavern, Taste, Roggae, Walk Away, Funky Bitch, Roses Are Free > David Bowie

II: Backwards Down the Number Line, Rock and Roll* -> Meatstick -> Boogie On Reggae Woman > Farmhouse, Show of Life, Julius, Character Zero

E: Loving Cup

*Page on Theremin

Official Gorge Print (Brad Klausen)

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684 Responses to “A Stunner To Start Off”

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  1. willowed Says:

    This makes me happy!

  2. c0wfunk Says:

    phish wins!

  3. DukeOfLizards Says:

    How 90% of phans approach processing new Phish:


  4. c0wfunk Says:

    “Honestly, the songs seemed completely secondary at this point in the show, as the guys were tapped into IT on a stratospheric plane. Songs emerged as natural outgrowths of musical conversations, not because anyone cared about the setlist or curfew. ”

    ^love reading this. Funny thing is the setlist still came out just about the same as those that have been accused of being contrived. The flow however it sounds like was pretty smooth. Listening soon.

  5. kayatosh Says:

    “Rock and Roll” represents a seminal piece of improv;

    ^^ agreed. a masterpiece with A+ incorporation of the storage style. theramin = psychedelic sweetness. $$ version of meatstick. neat little jam at the end.

    they get successfully lost in a $$ boogie jam and find themselves in that same bethel boogie space. Once there, they decide not to repeat the bethel boogie deconstruction and instead roll into farmhouse. nice tune w/ quality trey solo. $$ SOL w/ soaring, triumphant trey. a happy march with red out front.

    agreed on gin roggae and bowie all being must hears. and the other set I tunes and the set as a whole work well for me. nellie into MFMF segue was $$.

  6. Mike in Austin Says:

    “Phish realized so many aural fantasies of mine it would feel too intimate to go on much further.”

    Trey is blushing if he reads this.

  7. kayatosh Says:

    flow in set II is much better than the setlist would suggest. I was dubious of the set II at first glance, but have thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. $$+ show.

    maybe I’m biased in favor of phresh phish?

  8. alf Says:

    Ya, the chatter this morning was funny. Miner is dead on. best jam i’ve ever seen. Most groundbreaking too

  9. Looking For Owl's Says:

    This Rock n’ Roll is the Goods

  10. kayatosh Says:

    may have to drop my julius negative bias if they keep playing it like this.

    RnR is 20 mins. but it seems less than half that length. a thoroughly engaging jam. can’t wait for spin two of that one. $$$.

  11. DukeOfLizards Says:

    To pick nits:

    Seems like they’re struggling to find ways to close out second sets without relying on YEM/Antelope/Slave/etc closers. The past few have been Closer>Closer>Closer.


    Who’s got my hetty late-set deep excursion?

  12. kayatosh Says:

    I still cringe w/ zero. need to get over that distaste as well.

  13. alf Says:

    No words for that jam in that setting

  14. Brucebeatings Says:

    How was the Taste?

  15. angryjoggerz Says:

    got an hour to chill at home solo, packing for tahoe, anyone want to tt a bit?

  16. drew cluley Says:

    The crowd seemed sparse at 7:30 bit by the time the
    opening notes flowed the venue was a sea of smiling faces.
    The fans energy was buzzing and fed the band who in turn
    amplified that energy and coated the audience in sticky dank bliss.
    What a monster show in a gorgeous venue! Walk away blew me away!

  17. angryjoggerz Says:

    I still cringe w/ zero. need to get over that distaste as well.

    ^ visit the Blossom zero, leaves ya with a good taste

  18. c0wfunk Says:

    @duke – to me there’s a reason for that -> those songs make good closers!

  19. Mike in Austin Says:

    People need to go to a cringe free zone.

    You never know what’s gonna happen until they stop.

  20. kayatosh Says:

    yes, aj. I do like the 6.4.2011 blossom zero. the one i kept from the 5 played on june tour

  21. Mr palmer Says:

    Sweet review miner! Can’t wait to spin in full.

    Must Get To Gorge Soon!!!

  22. DukeOfLizards Says:


    Well yeah, I just feel like a set only really needs one closer.

    Whatever. Didn’t mean to rant, just a thought I had.

    Gorage Jam is astounding. Exciting stuff.

  23. JMelby Says:

    Looks like The Wedge even went over the 8 minute mark.

  24. BingosBrother Says:

    Better patent Gorage Jam. $$$ phrase

    I need to stop being Scumbag Steve. Couldn’t have been more surprised by this review. Mornin all.

  25. kayatosh Says:

    fightin phils


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