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. Lycanthropist Says:

    @el dude

    there is no definitely no WAY that you can say last nights Roggae wasn’t face melting

    this song has steadily been headed towards this style since the come back… first fully realized version of the new psychedelic Roggae.

  2. Lycanthropist Says:

    what an amazing roggae…

    holy crap

  3. Dr Pronoia Says:

    damn TG, “Gospel joy and insect fear all wrapped up in one” is a great description…

    Sorry to hear of your loss, Plord. I hope you get everything you need out of tonight…

  4. halcyon Says:


    listened to that an hour ago, and what a patient mellow version. Music fit the atmosphere of the Gorge completely.

  5. albert walker Says:

    My girlfriend has a black eye for making us miss the gorge Corey

    Ok. Really out to breakfast now

    Massive roggae
    Rock it out tonight kids

  6. Corey Says:

    Sorry to hear @plord. Lost my last living grandparent while at PNC 99, along with a brief stint with state popo at the same time I got the call. Skipped the next show b/4 Oswego for funeral. Heavy times. Seemed then like PHiSH was playing to me alone, for Memere. Still sounds that way when I (rarely) listen back. I’m sure the music will resonate at a whole ‘nother level for you tonight too. Good thoughts from me to you.

  7. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    first time spinning phish in 3 weeks. and first on my new speakers

    fucks. yes.

  8. halcyon Says:


    May the music tonight lift you to a higher plane as you celebrate your friends life. Condolences and well wishes.

    #line and show of life for you last night. your friend was thinking of you.

    Celebrate life tonight!

  9. Looking For Owl's Says:

    15 years ago today 1st “Hood” chant at red rocks 8-6-1996. I remember it like yesterday. Purple Rain, Tweezer, Makisupa Policeman Opener

  10. Corey Says:

    Nice aw, that’ll surely get us there for the next one. :-). My wife’s not even in the country right now and I still didn’t go. Fail.

    Off to listen to yesternight’s festivities.

    Guten tag.

  11. Lycanthropist Says:

    rnr here we go

  12. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    tweezer night tonight

  13. Moby Dick Says:

    There is even some of me in this RnR jam!

  14. multibeast Says:

    Miners review is pretty much right on IMO. Had a ball last nite with the BB’ers. Wildhorse is one of the nicest phish camping experinces I’ve ever had.

  15. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Condolences @plord. Hope the music helps a little with what you’re dealing with. Sounds like you were a great friend and I’m sure he appreciated it more than you could know.

  16. albert walker Says:

    Hood chant blows

  17. Fly Says:

    What a Rock and Roll.

    Hope everyone is doing great. Much love.

  18. albert walker Says:

    Was just thinking the same lycan, I mean moby

    Whale heavy

  19. Moby Dick Says:

    and Page is even throwing out some whale calls of his own.

    wow this is sick

  20. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    post whaling is straight brand new phish

  21. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    best moma dance ever

  22. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    mike bringing out the scary vocals on this. thanks for reading my posts mike!

  23. voopa Says:

    Thinking of you, plord.

    Was lucky enough to be watching the SF/Philadies game with friends last night when the fight broke out (literally watching, I was playing the Holy Ghost, Charlotte RNR>Ghost, Alpha Mound, etc.)…drove home while the game was winding down, got home and turned on the stream right as Page was starting on the Theremin. ?!?!?!?

    Enjoyed a mostly uninterrupted and reasonable sounding stream for the rest of the set, had the SBD about 90 min. later, and proceeded to spin. Passed out during Gin. Dammit.

    So I started w/II this morning, and Zero is finishing up now. Will check I next, this time without passing out. Yeah, that RNR>Robearstick>Boogie sequence is the shit right there!

    Some sort of fire out in the delta this morning…fitting because it’s smoky in here too, and the music is blazing! Enjoy your Saturday, everyone. Especially those at work.

  24. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i’m terrified

  25. Moby Dick Says:

    whoa, segue is money as hell!

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