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:

    That RNR though to me is way hotter than the centerpiece jams from 09

    Sorry DF

    A show with a jam that hot can’t be weak. Makes no sense.

  2. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i’d be happy with any show that had a jam like that RnR in it

  3. Lycanthropist Says:

    i cant even hate on the farmhouse that follows 😉

  4. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    lol @roggae standard comment

  5. Robear Says:

    Cactus vocalizing in ‘Rnr’ = Type 17 jamming.

  6. kayatosh Says:

    yes. it is not possible for the band to lay down a jam of the caliber of last night’s RnR and be mediocre or “weak” for the rest of the show. if they’re playing weak in set I they do not find that $$$ RnR in set II. Fact.

    Indeed, last night they sound confident, in sync, relaxed, and creative throughout. The perfect conditions for a masterpiece like RnR to emerge.

    don’t sleep on Taste either. $$ version.

  7. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    now we just need tweezer to be last night’s RnR tonight

  8. kayatosh Says:

    In RnR now (again). The theramin action is sick. This has vaulted to the top of my jams of 2011 list. type 17 jamming, indeed.

  9. Corey Says:

    Yeah, check out that type 17 in bar 17. Man, that’s like optimus prime right there.

    I find set one quite engaging. But despite calling Gin in the three slot, I liked 09’s better.
    Taste-ing now…

  10. BrandonKayda Says:

    There hasn’t been a standout Tweezer since 12/29/09

  11. kayatosh Says:

    Taste through Bowie has $$$ flow.

  12. Lycanthropist Says:

    “There hasn’t been a standout Tweezer since 12/29/09”

    Cincy Tweezer called and wants to kick your ass.

  13. Lycanthropist Says:

    i dont see anyof said Dude comments.

    Couch Tour commentary perhaps?

    if so, that off the cuff reactions to shitty streams doesn’t really count.

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    msg tweezer

  15. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    @lycan, last post i believe

  16. Lycanthropist Says:

    ah ok

  17. kayatosh Says:

    his comments are on pgs. 74-76 of the previous thread.

  18. Lycanthropist Says:

    not that im too worried about it or anything.

  19. lastwaltzer Says:

    Fuck this, I can’t even keep reading…….I so wish I wasn’t at work right now.

  20. BrandonKayda Says:

    I don’t think either of those were on the same level as Miami Tweezer. MPP 10′ was different but sick. MSG and Cincy were good.

    2011 has just been a weak year for the song i guess. Cincy was hot, as was MSG, but I really want something huge like Miami again

  21. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    LW, it sucked, just read dude’s comments

  22. lastwaltzer 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.”BK

    I said the same thing after the deer creek one last year. The tune has been killing it in my book. Can’t wait to hear this one.

  23. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    you said ‘standout tweezers’ though BK

  24. Corey Says:

    Taste was good, typically solid PHiSH. Roggae is lifting spirits…

  25. tela'smuff Says:

    BB threw down last night. Thx to Mr C and Plord for hookin that up.

    Last night will go down as one of the best times I’ve had at a show, and RNR is what its all about.

    Excited to rage my birthday show with a Dog Log.

    Leo says hi. The BB is good people.

Leave a Reply