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:

    happy bday Telas

    have fun!

  2. kayatosh Says:

    tour shirt: “Embrace the Meatstick”

    perhaps a picture on the back of a giant red headed kielbasa playing the ocedoc.

  3. Lycanthropist Says:

    glad we got back to cool poster prints this leg too.

  4. albert walker Says:

    Miami Tweezer is of course at the top and one of my fav jams of 3.0

    but cats that don’t give the cinci tweezer props just don’t get it

    that is some heavy ass groove psychedelia by cats at the top of their game. top tweezer from any era for me.

    Miami
    Cinci
    Red Rocks

    love cinci tweezer. in case you haven’t heard

    it’s subtle and tasty and sick as hell

  5. Lycanthropist Says:

    are they doing video releases this leg? wondering what they will pick?

    roggae?

  6. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    gorge ’11 tweezer> cinci tweezer

  7. kayatosh Says:

    this meatstick jam — $$$. love it.

  8. Lycanthropist Says:

    and MPP Tweezer is still in my top 3.0 Tweezers.

    that shit is deliciously demonic

  9. Corey Says:

    Well, that’s a new direction for Roggae. Some loose trading in there. And no, I’m not talking wall street.

  10. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    woah nice territory at the end of boogie on here

  11. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    yeah MPP tweezer def deserves to be remembered

  12. Lycanthropist Says:

    im gonna be spinning the RnR over and over and over.

  13. albert walker Says:

    SBIX Tweezer and MPP Tweezer are similar creative tweezers that almost work for me. some great moments and A for the creative effort

    now that the psychedelia style seems to be back hopefully they nail a more 95 style abstract freak out version

    I feel it coming

  14. Lycanthropist Says:

    the SBIX Tweezer sounds like it was an experiment in the actual aural tonalities of the venue.

    Most have been massive there.

    MPP just goes in the directions that I have a personal affinity for.

    I will agree for the most part Tweezer has stepped back in 2011, Cincy not withstanding.

  15. Corey Says:

    Well, I like other Roggae’s much better, but that was a different version. Left the tune for a bit then settled back in at the end. Cool. I dig the hopeful, blissful leads Trey likes to play on this tune. Uplifting. This one didn’t take me there, but still nice to listen to.

  16. kayatosh Says:

    “last night’s performance has to be considered one of the band’s defining nights of the year.” — miner

    “meh” – el dude

  17. Robear Says:

    Worth noting that Kuroda used a-typical light combinations throughout the second set.

    Loved and loving the Gin. Phish App FTW!

  18. Lycanthropist Says:

    this rock and roll is just so heavily layered and deep.

    I can’t believe this is present day Phish.

  19. kayatosh Says:

    I too loved the gin on playback. has a patient, organic buildup in tempo and intensity. great peak.

  20. Lycanthropist Says:

    damn i forgot to check the Gin

    got too excited for the the RnR

  21. kayatosh Says:

    some nifty stuff happening in this boogie. a bethel boogie baby.

  22. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    last night’s RnR is what happens when they apply musical density over 20 minutes (i guess 15 minutes of actual jam)

  23. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    haha kaya, that made me laugh out loud

  24. Brucebeatings Says:

    Yeah, but what about the Taste?

  25. plord Says:

    Roggae a straight shot to the heart. Lost myself in it. I am a sucker for that tune anyway and last night’s was fabulous.

    Anybody else hear a Scents tease before Roses? Clever and subtle, Ernesto…

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