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. Cheard Says:

    no steam in a while

  2. albert walker Says:

    They played the jam of 3.0 last night guyute

    How does that not rock?

  3. albert walker Says:

    Anyone calling out that RNR > meatstick > boogie = clueless

  4. albert walker Says:

    Setlist looks fun

    Can’t wait to see what set 2 brings

    All packed for LA!

  5. Corey Says:

    Did he just say, “Check this out?!?”

  6. voopa Says:

    I listened to that RNR sequence 3 times today…unreal.

  7. halcyon Says:

    Possum, The Moma Dance > Sample in a Jar > Limb By Limb, Ocelot, Poor Heart, On Your Way Down, Wolfman’s Brother[1] > Maze > Wilson > Fluffhead

    This is a solid first set!

  8. Corey Says:

    Don’t make me repeat my post about Rock and Roll. That got me through a tough ride today. Incredible piece of music. Truly New PHiSH.

    @butter, you and your wife doin’ alright? Been quietly following your situat…

  9. albert walker Says:

    Me too voopa

    The mike groove before the meatstick segue gets me everytime

    Perfect use of Thermin too

  10. Corey Says:

    …three listens today as well. Amazing.

  11. Corey Says:

    @pig, Now, you may go to the party. 🙂

  12. DukeOfLizards Says:

    High energy first set. Sick Wolfmaze.

  13. Guyute711 Says:

    Rock n roll was quite good last night aw but that first set smoked. We all have our favorites no doubt but that was straight dominant.

  14. albert walker Says:

    Love first set maze

  15. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Love the moment in the RnR when Trey wraps up his solo and drops that arpeggiated minor chord that I’m pretty sure is lifted straight from the original Storage Jam.

    Followed by about 14 minutes of straight psychedelic filth.

  16. halcyon Says:

    I am seconding AW & PG’s urging, and Mr C’s recommendation from earlier this week to check out Seun Kuti’s and the Egypt 80’s latest release From Africa with Fury Rise

    This album is hot. Seun is carrying his Father’s torch in this effort.

  17. albert walker Says:

    I’m just saying there are only a handful of jams in the history of this band as hot as that RNR

    And few 3.0 segues as buttery as that meatstick

    So I am dying I missed that set 2. Talking down that show just seems silly

  18. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Alright kids, don’t think I’m gonna hang around for this second set.

    One week from tonight I will be wide awake in bed like a kid on Christmas Eve.

    U I fucking C.

  19. voopa Says:

    On my 4th listen now

  20. Bigjig Says:

    Robear. Where u at. Got your stubs

  21. Guyute711 Says:

    I have a heavy jade going from what I have seen this year. The jade ain’t affecting tonight.

  22. BingosBrother Says:

    Here we go. step into it.

  23. goat Says:

    what up fellers. anything better than PrincessP goin?

  24. goat Says:


  25. goat Says:

    damn… anyone else out here?

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