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. albert walker Says:

    from light and floaty, to psychedelic, to some crunchy hard driven Trey in a roggae jam


  2. c0wfunk Says:

    yeah aw .. mike kinda going off here; trey whaling a bit, tastefully, letting Mike lead. Nice roggae for sure.. gotta figure it’s right about sunset at this point? Gorgeous little low section ambiance w/ the loops. Crash cymbal solo. Mike going off. Really really nicely done.

  3. albert walker Says:

    now on rock n roll

    I’m quite impatient. getting right to the meat.

  4. c0wfunk Says:

    definitely ain’t your father’s Roggae. dig it.

  5. albert walker Says:

    no doubt cow

    Mike really took that open space at the beginning of roggae and started pushing it with those fast runs.

    that was a great fuckin jam

    musical density plus better listening and more open conversation = $$$$

  6. c0wfunk Says:

    yeah even when Trey kicks the dirty tone and starts chording and wailing (as opposed to whaling) he’s leading from behind. Page’s clav pedals are pretty slick too. Really rising to the moment.

  7. BrandonKayda Says:

    I feel like I’m going to get attacked for this, but Roggae from last night has a Bird Song feel to it, esp. the psychedelic floaty segment in the middle.

  8. c0wfunk Says:

    ahh and a soft landing into the theme. Excellent. I’d have to agree with the “best roggae ever” hyperbole I’ve seen thrown around. Great version.

  9. c0wfunk Says:

    yeah bk I hear that .. the flow of that jam has a very bird song like arc to it.

  10. kayatosh Says:

    spinnin 8.5 2011 from wedge on again after a detour through 5.14.74. WRS>DS>China doll

  11. c0wfunk Says:

    I like that the tweezerprise ending to walk away has stayed intact. Nice addition to an already fun tune.

  12. angryjoggerz Says:

    wow, this rnr is on some atonal shit

  13. BrandonKayda Says:

    This Roggae is even better the second time.

  14. BrandonKayda Says:

    yeah @aj i love the groove at 12:00. Really atonal but at the same time funky

  15. willowed Says:

    Listening to the Roggae right now. Holy smokes. It’s like a game of leap frog. I love the little roles (not sure the proper term for it) that Page is laying down on the baby grande.

    So nice. Perfect jam for this venue

  16. willowed Says:

    AW hasn’t posted in a few, he must be captured by that Rock and Roll right now. I have a feeling he will dig the shit out of it.

    The parts I’ve heard were smokin and the transition into Meat Stick aint to bad either

  17. butter Says:

    Can’t wait to spin it

    Really great write up Miner, love me some tour openers too

  18. willowed Says:


  19. albert walker Says:

    that Roggae has slowly been making itself up to real jam status in some of the recent versions and it all came together at the Gorge. beautiful

    this RnR is just sick, sick, sick

    was excited for tour and now I want to leave now and make tonight’s show at the Gorge.

    where is dirksen with his 09 Phish is just as hot as 2011 Phish. this shit is just dirty.

  20. albert walker Says:

    yeah I figured Miner probably just fell asleep and probably wouldn’t read it anyway.

    but great fuckin write up. nothing like raising my excitement level 20x for tour

    can just feel the psychedelic excitement that comes out in your words!

    love it man.

  21. albert walker Says:

    i mean he wouldn’t read my post praising this write up

  22. albert walker Says:

    mind blown by this RnR Willowed

    the storage jam effects in full effect

  23. albert walker Says:

    if their were chairs at the gorge the new school kids that were spun would be hiding under them during the end of this RnR

    it’s like the new spin on heavy 95 psychedelia

  24. willowed Says:

    So many different styles wrapped up so nicely in one jam

  25. c0wfunk Says:

    building my anticipation for set 2:) roses now, getting there.

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