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. Guyute711 Says:

    Golden age opens set II. Crushing Steam tonight. I have to dream.

  2. Guyute711 Says:

    Stream going?

  3. ThePigSong Says:

    woah, anyone else getting the “unnnnnkkkkkkk”?

    my dog just looked up, then let his toy fall to the ground. He thinks this is scarier than the scariest dark stars.

  4. c0wfunk Says:

    Hammer on pull off is just a way to link notes together without using the pick again.. allowing for more flow between the notes.

    You can do it with any combo of notes that you can reach on the same string. It is a technique, not a riff or a lick…

    Still waiting on opener? When wakickoff last night. bout nowish?

  5. DukeOfLizards Says:

    PrincessPresto is awesome audio but it seems like they’re still calibrating everything, they keep checking in to see how the quality is and it keeps cutting out.

  6. Corey Says:

    @cOw, Your end is the road…

  7. ThePigSong Says:

    thanks c0w, I knew I could do better than Df’s smart aleck answer 😉

  8. DukeOfLizards Says:


  9. c0wfunk Says:

    Ah so. Possum and now. Nice. Seems possum has moved its slot to early set 1 which should take some of the pressure off for those myriads of fans that just can’t take a blues song mid set 2 😉

  10. voopa Says:

    Cool, just talked to a college friend who lives west of Hollywood, I last saw him 15 years ago, and took him to his first show at the LA Greek in ’95. He and a friend are taking my extras for Monday, and it will be a real good time!

    Moma now. 1st set Wolfman’s Monday.

  11. ThePigSong Says:

    although I kind of already knew because I called my best bud that went to Berklee. 10% of our convo was about the hammer on pull off, 90% was how he is going to pay off his berklee loans 😉

  12. c0wfunk Says:

    And moma is really entrenched in that early show groove slot. The boys are really getting gd like in their modular set building blocks

  13. c0wfunk Says:

    Its almost like trey did a study of 80s gd setlist building

  14. c0wfunk Says:

    Headed to dreamland kidz enjoy the couch tour. Don’t let the jaded bugs bite!

  15. ThePigSong Says:

    YESSSSS Sample!

  16. Cheard Says:

    strong limb intro

  17. ThePigSong Says:

    stream is fairly decent.

    should I walk down the street to a party or just hang here with my dogs and the stream? seriously chime in

  18. butter Says:

    Supp flegionares

  19. chefbradford Says:

    stream is surprisingly solid

    @pig: wait til setbreak maybe? then go down the street

  20. butter Says:

    Going to try the stream. Hood stream?

  21. voopa Says:

    Pig- hang here, don’t go with the flock.

  22. ThePigSong Says:

    ocelot->ThePigSong goes to a party

    have fun, I’m hoping for a deep Pebbles and Marbles.

    that’s my unrealistic call.

  23. voopa Says:

    PrincessP on hoodstream

  24. ThePigSong Says:

    thanks for the support guys, I just got bombarded with phone calls wondering where the f I am.

    it’d be really awkward if I stood them all up for PrincessP.

  25. butter Says:

    i have nothing to click on under PrincessP

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