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. Robear Says:

    YEM, the new bustout tune 🙂

  2. alf Says:

    travel safe all you kids

  3. c0wfunk Says:

    Rollin outta bed early.. streamed myself to bed.. crashed on your way down and woke up in a deranged maze segue and back out during wilson. Looks like the pedal jammed to the floor all night long. Excited to hear real life reactions from thoarin the flesh. Looks like a barn burner. Cool to see tweezer resurfacing tweefest style ..

  4. Cable Hogue Says:

    Of course we all know shows aren’t played on paper (opener was a case in point), but how can last night not have been a rager? Looks dreamy to me.

  5. Gavinsdad Says:

    Yeah from here that s2 looked dirty.

  6. SillyWilly Says:

    I can’t sleep anymore

    I’m too excited for the shows I’m seeing

  7. SillyWilly Says:

    there’s a source for last night’s show up on bt.etree

    but it doesn’t look like it’s live yet.

  8. Andrew Says:

    Just spun RnR for the first go ’round, love the space they lay out. This is the Phish we have all dreamed off. I’m outta my skull and so early in the morning = winning.

  9. Mr palmer Says:

    6 days till I leave for Chicago!

  10. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Where are you staying, P?

  11. Cable Hogue Says:

    Heatbreaker teases in Wolfman’s, eh? Shades of 11/30/97 Wolfman’s “lights out” jam?

    Yet to listen, can’t wait.

  12. Mr palmer Says:

    Duke. For the shows I’ll be at the Burnham. I have family in the surrounding area that we will be with before and after. 40 minutes outside the city.

  13. joe Says:

    I’ve reached a new low. I hid the sunday paper so my way right wing coworker can’t see it and have it trigger a series of anti-liberal rants. Too hungover to engage.

  14. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Nice. Alf, Tzara’s, and I are around the corner at the Silversmith.

    8 days.

  15. SillyWilly Says:


    im g-mapping my girl’s place to the Silversmith

    when are you getting into Chi?

  16. SillyWilly Says:

    nice. I can take the Redline all the way to your hotel. only about 20 minutes.

  17. SillyWilly Says:

    look at me.

    I’m already little brothering everyone.

    haha. im just pumped for everyone to be here.

  18. Mr palmer Says:

    Nice Duke. Can’t wait. Gdad and his crew is at the Burnham as well.

    Nice people are that close to one another.

  19. Mr palmer Says:

    Are at ^^.

  20. willowed Says:

    I hope it’s cool but I skipped to the On Your Way Down. Can’t wait to hear this jam and the Wolfmam’s.

    Sounds like that was a thick and spicy meatball

  21. joe Says:



    also a bit involving a theremin player: it’s in act three (a true this american life classic)


  22. SillyWilly Says:

    Willowed, I love the Italian metaphor^^^

    Im gonna go with:

    Sounds like that was a dark and smoky glass of whiskey.


  23. willowed Says:

    any of you guys wondering where all the new material is? I recall us talking about all these new songs that Trza and Tom worte before the tour.
    I am hoping they show us a few new jams before this leg 2 ends.

    Not complaining at all, since they are playing lights out. I am just wondering where all the new stuff is.

  24. willowed Says:

    Heartbreaker teases……. interesting!

  25. willowed Says:

    Thought this Wolfman’s was wrapping up, then they take it for a little ride….Nice!!

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