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. joe Says:

    I’m so behind the times, listening to night 1, set 2. Sweet little breakdown in Boogie On.

  2. Cable Hogue Says:

    Just digging into the Tweezer sequence from last night, and glad to say te trend continues of swanky, creative playing happening in the pre-jam part of Tweezer. Lotta creative little fills and embroidery. Promising.

  3. DocGanz Says:

    Whats up guys? So excited to jump on tour- it’ll be my first time out since last summer, so over a year on the calendar, which is too damn long. Hitting up LA, Tahoe, and SF, and then later Denver. If anyone wants to try and meet up along the way, drop me a line and I’ll give you my number. Would love to see some familiar faces, and being that last time out I was on the East Coast, would love to put some faces to people I havent met yet as well…

  4. DocGanz Says:

    Oh, sorry its d o c g a n z @ h o t m a i l dot com

  5. Cable Hogue Says:

    Outstanding Tweezer. Nice landing in Caspian too.

  6. EL Duderino Says:

    Last night CRUSHED Night #1
    and Yes I do get Phish

  7. DukeOfLizards Says:


    I land at ORD a little before noon on Monday. I believe the other two are around on the weekend.

  8. Cable Hogue Says:

    But that Rock and Roll….oh man…..

  9. willowed Says:

    Hey Doc…Been a while. Hope you’re well. Enjoy your shows!!

  10. Cable Hogue Says:

    A little of the “backwards” effect on this Caspian solo….nice.

  11. Cable Hogue Says:

    Kinda short but this is more like a late 90’s Caspian than the new style versions….

  12. SillyWilly Says:

    yeah I think TG and Alf are on my flight back from Reno to ORD on Thursday

    I can’t help it, but I miss everyone when tour is out, so I’m excited to be able to chill with everyone

    i was afraid id be out of the loop staying with my girl, but its great that I can hop on the redline and I’m 20 minutes away from where most everyone is saying

  13. Cable Hogue Says:

    And a sweet slide -> Sand. Thoughtful transitions abound.

  14. DocGanz Says:

    Whats up Willowed. Been good. Super busy lately, lurking here and there and occasionally popping in to say hello. You making it out to the Denver shows or riding couch tour?

  15. Mr palmer Says:

    I need to get home so can listen to these shows proper. All I’ve heard is Roggae and Rock n Roll. Rainy day today. Good excuse to spin some tunes.

  16. willowed Says:

    Flying out to Denver for the end of tour celebration.

    I just couldn’t deal with not hitting a few shows in leg 2.

    I fly in on Sat a.m. with KP.

  17. DocGanz Says:

    Excellent. Lets definitely meet up at some point out there! Haven’t seen KP since your house

  18. willowed Says:

    I see you’re hitting Denver. Nice!!! Guess we’ll have to throw it down on the field.

    Woot woot!

  19. DocGanz Says:

    Yeah- email me- I’ll give you my number

  20. BrandonKayda Says:

    Damn @Eldude. I’ll check it out. Last night was hard to top for the RnR->Meastick->Boogie On and Roggae alone. Maybe last night as a collective whole is stronger?

    I’ll give it a listen.

  21. Cable Hogue Says:

    Ok, that Tweezer Sand-wich was the stuff of legends. Absolute fire.

  22. willowed Says:

    Doc you have electronic mail

  23. DocGanz Says:

    Yeah, addy is up top of the page

  24. willowed Says:

    I love the submarine torpedo sounds Trza is dropping in this Tweez!

  25. Cable Hogue Says:

    I’ve got no problem with these contained, energetic versions of Birds and Golden Age, especially coming on the heels of such a sweet Tweezer segment.

    I’m psyched on this late 2nd set Reba idea!

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