Dancing On the Altar

8.5.11 - The Gorge (Graham Lucas)

Taking a fantasy-like setlist and tearing it to shreds, Phish crafted a larger-than-life dance party on Saturday night in the greatest venue on Earth. Focused on wide open-dance grooves to match the Gorge’s vast surroundings, Phish threw down a rhythmic juggernaut on the second night of tour; a perfect yin to the exploratory yang of tour’s opening night. Anchoring the second set with two-massive dance excursions in “Tweezer” and “Sand,” the band threw down dueling crack-like groove sessions set that will need to be relistened time and time again to be fully appreciated. However, the entire second set deserves a full run down. so let’s get to it.

8.5.11 (G.Lucas)

After a rocking “Chalk Dust” opener, “Tweezer” cracked open the second-set fiesta with an carpet bombing of chunky grooves that, on the Gorge’s massive, open-air sound system, sounded like a slice of heaven. A sonic aura that can not be replicated by soundboards and only approximated by audience tapes, poured onto the crowd like nectar from the gods. Laced with phenomenal interplay between Trey and Mike, the band oozed with attitude and triumph through a throughout this soul-cleansing romp. Then—building off of this mountain of rhythmic narcotics—Phish morphed from a snarling exercise into a melodic, four-part exchange that added introspective intrigue into the mix. Taking their time to work through this section, the band built an eventual bridge into “Prince Caspian.”

Favoring the song’s classic, guitar-solo contour, Trey tore into this “Caspian” like he hasn’t in some time while the band has, more often than not, taken the piece in variant directions. Skirting the song’s final chords, Phish drifted into an ethereal texture towards that, surprisingly, merged with “Sand.” And at this juncture, we met our second sky-scraping dance escapade of the set.

8.5.11 (G.Lucas)

A rendition that fused “Sands” past and present, last night’s outing featured an amalgam of styles. Embarking on this ocean of rhythmic adventure, Trey likened refined jazz player, but by the end, he assumed his rightful position as the world’s greatest guitar assassin. Taking the band out with some of the most laid-back funk stylings you’ll ever hear, and drenching the music with a swanky, James Brown sensibility, Trey laid down a ridiculously infectious opening. The piece’s recent jazz-proclivity shone as it built, peaking in a series of atonal rhythm chords by Trey before he annihilated the “Sand’s” final sequence with a six-string assault. And then—at the top of the jam—Trey wove in the “Tweezer” lick and brought the band—legitimately—back into “Tweezer!” A completely head-bursting maneuver had the crowd in dribbles as the band slowed back into the chunky groove. But just as soon as they had pulled-off the unprecedented move and seemed headed for the Storage shed, they pulled the rug from underneath the experimental direction in favor of a heat-seeking “Birds of a Feather.”

A brief exhale of “Waste” made way for…“Golden Age!?” This time around, the band employed the base-song only as a set that featured one surprise after another still had one of its best yet to come—a unexpected late-set, left-hook in “Reba.” A delicate and majestic build matched the environs congruently as as Trey ripped off one enchanting, perfectly phrased lick after another. A cool breeze blew through the amphitheatre as if cued by Kuroda, enhancing an overwhelmingly blissful late-night scene.

8.5.11 (G.Lucas)

To wrap up a set of dreams, the band closed with a “medley” style “Antelope” into which “Reba,” “Tweezer,” and “Sand” were teased in the intro before “Antelope’s” ferocious jam passed through a “Golden Age” section, summing up all the major points of a spectacular set of music. Stringing together creative versions of their classic songs, last night turned into a cathartic celebration of Phish groove. And that exact vibe highlighted the opening set, taboot.

An syrupy, early-show, “Moma” immediately brought memories of the previous night’s musical pornography that was “Rock and Roll,” using the piece to artistically bridge both shows. At sunset, Little Phish came out to play with a thick version of “On Your Way Down” that featured a guitar solo for the ages. And then, upon the onset of night, came the opening half’s defining jaunt in “Wolfman’s -> Maze.” Another in the emerging series of “Wolman’s” jams that depart from funk grooves and move into unique explorations of their own, this rendition passed through a tease of Led Zepplin’s “Heartbreaker” and a subsequent staccato funk breakdown before passing through a darker realm and into a scorching “Maze.” Finishing the first set on the old-school tip, the band paired “Wilson” and “Fluffhead,” punctuating an impressive opening frame.

Each of the past two summer tours, the band has made monumental leaps from leg one to leg two, but after an incredible June run and Super Ball, I wondered if a similar quantum leap was possible in 2011. Well, Phish came right out of the doors and answered that question with, arguably, their two best shows of the summer—an explosive start that few could have imagined. But if there is one virtual-objectivity that we were reminded of after a year’s absence is that there is no venue on the planet that speaks to Phish like the the Gorge. But, nonetheless, I’m willing to travel south to see what this Hollywood Bowl is all about! Plus, we have plenty to listen to in the meantime.

I: Possum, The Moma Dance, Sample in a Jar, Limb By Limb, Ocelot, Poor Heart, On Your Way Down, Wolfman’s Brother > Maze, Wilson, Fluffhead

II: Chalk Dust Torture, Tweezer > Prince Caspian > Sand -> Tweezer > Birds of a Feather,Waste, Golden Age > Reba, Run Like an Antelope

E: Suzy Greenberg, Sanity, Tweezer Reprise

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423 Responses to “Dancing On the Altar”

  1. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Free Big Boi!

    jailed on drug possession charges

  2. leo weaver Says:

    See ya soon butter. You and the Mrs have a nice ride out to tahoe. Telas is wondering if you know something abt the wsox that he doesn’t…he’s hopeful.

    @multi…great meeting and hanging with you and c. The garlic fries put me and telas down for the count last night. Fell asleep as soon as I hit my chair…had to hit the sack. Safe travels, we’ll see ya down the road.

  3. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Boy did I, @butter. Last night was a blast, but that Rock n Roll is going to leave a mark. Great kickoff, packing for Hollywood now.

  4. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    What up, @leo? Great to meet you, and thanks for the candy.

  5. Dorn76 Says:

    The Phish from VT doing work!

    Oh I cannot wait to listen to these shows on the road this week…

    And UIC is getting awfully close, dare I say….bitches!

  6. leo weaver Says:

    Likewise tg. Plenty more where that came from. Y’all have fun in Hollywood. See ya at the custy crib.

  7. ThePigSong Says:

    Fuck me. I know it’s getting old but RnR does it all for me. At points I want to jump for joy, others I want to cry. Straight full band beauty.

    I know, I’m a huge n00b/fluffier/pussy. I’m cool with that.

  8. Dorn76 Says:

    Congrats on scoring 2 amazing shows west coasters. I’m scowling a bit into my laptop here in CT, but you all deserve it.

  9. ThePigSong Says:

    and since im a nerd, this is a nerd band, and it’s teh webz, I’ll post my new top three 3.0 jams

    DTE Disease
    Greek simple

    None of which I was present for.

    Top five moments I’ve been in attendance for:

    Hampton fluff
    MSG sand
    MSG first tube
    Little Phish
    Acoustic set
    NYE meatsticj
    Sbix destiny
    Sbix Reba Bowie
    Posting on this board
    Sharing all this goodness with my favorite people, real life and web life.

    That was way more than five.

  10. gavinsdad Says:

    BB representing. thanks for the reports. the tangled web we weave only getting stronger.

  11. willowed Says:

    I gace that Wolfman’s a proper spin this afternoon when I was chillin’ outside. When they get to the end and I feel they’re wrapping it up, they take it for another little funk ride.

    I swear I here a little Greek Cities in there. Same tone and vibe.


  12. Litteringandd Says:

    Um that last minute of RnR/Meatstick intro is nasty

  13. Litteringandd Says:

    One moment I wish would have seen was the MJ2001. That has gotten alot of spins from me

  14. leo weaver Says:

    I thought the same thing last night willowed…Greek cities definitely showed up in wolfman’s.

  15. willowed Says:

    It’s the same Gordo tone that he dropped durring the funky, funky part of that Cities.

  16. ThePigSong Says:

    good call littering, MJ01 hasn’t had as many spins from me, but I remember rocking that shit out it at my parents house last summer while on vacation.

    Drove 24 hours straight ATL – U.P. of Mich > walked into my parents place and cranked the CDT and 2001 at 11 with my sis. Good memories.

  17. bob dylan Says:

    Found the local tavern. Terrible country satellite radio playing. Depressing music. “semper fi”

    Asked if there were specials she said “nah it’s Sunday, NASCAR is over”

    Then I find out pbr is 1.25 in tall cold tap glasses.


  18. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ lycan…

    “manatee funk” just made me laugh out loud…the sand is the straight business…

  19. SillyWilly Says:

    What was Big Boi jailed on??

    What and how much?

    Should be able to bond out. Unless it was an unreal amount.

  20. SillyWilly Says:

    Yo, LW

    Do you read the Irish American News publication in Chicago?

    Great free magazine. Keeps up to date with the struggles in Ireland as well as in the US

    There’s also some blantant calls for support for the Republic which makes me smile…I thought : Oh yeah ill send these guys a 10$. Good cause.

    Then I thought: Republic. Republic? Ohhhhhhhhh. Yeah I’m not tryin to go to jail.

  21. Mr. Palmer Says:

    silly- big boi got busted getting off a cruise ship in miami w/ molly and viagra!?.

  22. SillyWilly Says:


    they don’t like that molly so much

    new drugs are scary to the courts.

  23. Mr. Palmer Says:

    lesson learned, never leave a vacation or cruise with extras. Either consume all while on said vacay/ cruise, or flush.

    Wife and I went to Jamaica in 2000 and had so much extra herb we just found another couple just arriving and gave it to them. They were happy.

  24. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    See you in a couple days, @silly. It’s amazing to me that it’s that close. Got a little errand to run in LA, then I’ll head straight to Nevada. Damn early flight too, hope I don’t miss it.

  25. sumodie Says:

    did gp420 ever find UIC tix?

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