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”

  1. butter Says:

    enjoy it buddy, was out payin bills, and organizing files today

    the shit you never have to do on tour, some how the world goes on just fine without you doing your normal stressful life

    go figure

    i heart tour

  2. voopa Says:

    Sure Pig, a lot of Zappa’s solos have strange patterns that use that.

    Eddie VH’s Eruption is probably the earliest and still one of the best examples of the style.

  3. brother Says:

    @miner, when remembering tour openers, the only one i was ever at was summer 97 when we made the trek from cincy to VA beach. only time i’ve ever had seats right in front as well, besides GA. 2nd row in front of page. opened with a sick ghost and it was on. hadn’t heard a lick of 97 until then so i was pretty blown away by how they sounded. gin, wolfs, bowie, guest sax player, etc., was a great opener imo.

  4. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    For sure pigsong, trey def has his own style

  5. ThePigSong Says:

    had no idea the front of stage was concrete.

  6. joe Says:

    Watching Jimmy Page play theremin on deleted scenes of It Might Get Loud with jack white and the edge. What a cool instrument.

  7. Dr Pronoia Says:

    After a day of reading about it, I finally got the little one down long enough to run through R&R>Meatstick.

    Wow, what an improvisational kick to the teeth to open up leg 2, huh?

    goddamn I’m happy I’m trading marital discord for the three nights at UIC

  8. SillyWilly Says:

    See you at UIC, Dr. Pro!

    excited youre coming. i didn’t realize you were

  9. voopa Says:

    I keep looking outside like a lonely puppy waiting for Phish…

  10. Kevin Says:

    Holy shit, this RNR — this jamming style is the most wicked thing I’ve ever heard. If they keep this up, new Phish will be my favorite Phish.

  11. DukeOfLizards Says:

    There’s a 30-minute jam around the corner somewhere. Mark it.

    I am literally shuddering at what will happen when all of the ideas and energy built up over the summer get crammed into a tiny indoor venue in 9 days.

    (9 days!)

  12. goat Says:

    what’s up peeps, been off the grid for a bit… scorcher last night, anxious to hear the rest of it later. what time did they come on last night? hoping to catch most of it tonight, despite having to be back at work at 8am…

  13. goat Says:

    nevermind, forgot how awesome hidden track is…


  14. Beantownboy Says:

    At a redoing watching white folk dance to Michael Jackson and dreaming about the Gorge RnR.

    Gotta love life…

  15. Beantownboy Says:



  16. Guyute711 Says:

    10-31-85 gd holy smokes!!!!!

  17. Corey Says:

    Just finished a 43 mile bike ride with Bethel Gin/Waves and last night’s Gin/Taste/Roggae and the Rock (and Roll) of Ages. Great bike riding music. the storage stuff must’ve kept the rain away, as it’s looked like rain all day long.

    I think PHiSH will do some Radiohead. This “new” dark place their going to, like RandR and of course Watkins…it’s screaming to come out of a sick Radiohead tune.

    I think they’re ready. Enjoy round 2 at the Gorge!

    Guyute to open.
    Split to close set 1.

    I have no idea what they’ll do after that. 🙂

  18. Corey Says:

    ^they’re going to…sheesh.

  19. Guyute711 Says:

    Tonight will be better than last night. Id stake my life on it.

  20. Guyute711 Says:

    My life ain’t worth much so good luck with the payoff.

  21. DukeOfLizards Says:


    Either Tweez or Light will get the big time Storage treatment tonight.

    Mark it.

  22. Mr palmer Says:

    Meh + 🙂

  23. Mr palmer Says:

    Disease tonight.

  24. halcyon Says:

    Predicting a debut tonight….

  25. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Wow, great stream.


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