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)

Tags: ,

684 Responses to “A Stunner To Start Off”

  1. albert walker Says:

    since Bethel there has def been a heavier psychedelic spin to these shows

    started noticing it more and more leading up to SBIX and the storage jam

    this huge RnR makes me hope and pray this will continue on this scale through this leg. the return of psychedelic phish. it’s about time

    laterz kids
    gonna catch breakfast read the new economist and spin this shit

  2. ThePigSong Says:

    Glowing review, awesome!

  3. Corey Says:

    I thought my wow at the top of pg 69 would explain it to people. Rock and roll in storage.
    Apparently, ya’ll still needed to listen. 🙂

    Always love the peaceful bliss of Roggae.

    One more RandR like that, and I’ve got a cd to make.

    Yeah, I’d listen to that rock and roll cd!
    Best rock and roll record evahh.

  4. c0wfunk Says:

    nicely ->’d into bowie.

  5. albert walker Says:

    we have a strong jam of the return candidate right there

  6. c0wfunk Says:

    Apparently the world is ripe for more phishy psychedelia. I think all can agree that is a good thing 🙂

  7. alf Says:

    Was looking for one more jam late 2, but after roggae rnr, if you’re asking for more, you’re pretty demanding I guess


    Hotel breakfast after a gorge show is $$$

  8. alf Says:

    agreed aw. took me a little bit to collect myself last night but about 2 hours after the show i was ready to say thats the best jam ive ever seen

    whole new approach to psychedelia. unbelievable.

  9. Mike in Austin Says:

    Found out the wife’s Dad made it through surgery fine before getting on plane. Kinda worried there for an 84 year old.

    Anxiety gone. Looking forward to vacation.

  10. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Damn, @AW that Jam was right up your alley, wish you could be here. Hard to convey the physical power and dark energy swirling around the place. I was literally laughing which a couple times nearly turned to crying. IT is why we come. Gospel joy and insect fear all wrapped up in one.

  11. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    What’s up @alf? How’s Quincy treating you?

  12. Lycanthropist Says:

    can’t wait to hear this.

    God bless the Gorge.

  13. albert walker Says:

    It’s killing me man. My girl is a grant writer and had a big project due yesterday

    May have to beat her ass today to make me feel better

    After missing 09 for my work and 11 for hers we will quit our jobs before missing the gorge again

    I don’t go to venues for views but the music there is so $$$$

  14. Corey Says:

    That’s great news, @MiA. Get your trav’lin’ shoes ready.

  15. albert walker Says:

    Fingers crossed this whole tour slays

    Indoor phish too!

  16. leo weaver Says:

    Telas here.

    That Rnr was a top jam ever for me. Unreal. Words can’t do it justice. Dub stew in there.

    Roggae up there in the upper teir jams of summer as far as the setting goes it was perfection

    Alf. Holla if u need me

  17. Corey Says:

    @aw, out there, the music and view are one (won).

  18. albert walker Says:

    See ya in Chicago man!

  19. albert walker Says:

    I was there 97 and 98

    Eyes closed all spun and focused on music usually so the view isn’t really that much of my experience

    I get that it effects the music

  20. plord Says:

    Last night was as heavy and deep an excursion as I’ve ever taken and the only accoutrement I had was a preroll or six. Monstrously affected by the lyrics all night long and lost it a little during Numberline and Show of Life.

    and so it was that i learned upon waking up that my buddy passed away overnight. I expect an even deeper and heavier musical journey tonight. My trust in the band to deliver more of what I need is sky high.

    That Gin, Roggae, and RnR are must hear. Deep dub funk out of the RnR had my spine twisting in concentric circles.

  21. Lycanthropist Says:

    ha love how in Roggae they changed the vocal pitch to better fit their current range. 🙂

  22. Lycanthropist Says:

    thoughts, love and vibes to you plord.

    just know that he will now be there with you in collective conscious.

    i hope you have an amazing and beautiful show tonight.

  23. Guyute711 Says:

    doses were good eh Tela’s? Slow your roll.

  24. Guyute711 Says:

    sorry to hear of your loss plord, you are a good friend

  25. Corey Says:

    ^There in 97 and 09 too. Case in point: Hood encore. No lights needed, just…listen.
    They don’t like to disappoint out there. I, however, am disappointed I couldn’t make it out this round. I’m sure you are too. Next time, @aw, next time we’ll get Gorge’d.

Leave a Reply