Gazing Into the Gorge

8.6.11 - The Gorge (Joe Iudice)

Over the weekend, Phish kicked off the back end of summer with a ferocious one-two punch. Pairing a psychedelic monstrosity on night one with a set of super-sized candy grooves on night two, the band delivered on every level, littering the Gorge with jams of all shapes and sizes. In each show, Phish set the improvisational tone with first set selections and then magnified that focus in the second set with some of their most impressive on-stage conversations of the summer. Adopting the classic exploratory-then-celebratory contour of so many legendary two-night stands, Phish fans couldn’t ask for anything more from their favorite band in the Pacific Northwest.

8.6.11 (J.Iudice)

In the tour opener, “Roggae” not only sparked the first set in earnest, the loose and free-form improvisation laid the groundwork for the monumental music that would take place in the following frame. On the second night, the band laid down a foundation of groove with “Moma Dance,” “On Your Way Down,” and “Wolfman’s,” and then laid down a dance clinic come set two. Stylistically diverse and musically focused, each night at the Gorge formed one half of a phenomenal whole.

And how about the music within? With only two shows down, the band is already stacking leg two highlights like chips at a poker table. Instead of plucking single jams as the standouts of the show, we can simply point to both second sets as the highlights of the Gorge (not to mention some first set gems). Playing all their cards just right, Phish dropped a spectrum of highlights that, collectively, spoke to all factions of their fan base. Inspired—as always—by the beauty and seclusion of the Columbia River Gorge, the band’s playing was defined by patient interplay and a willingness to take jams wherever they naturally flowed. As a result, each show and, specifically, each second set flowed from beginning to end.

8.5.11 - (G. Lucas)

The first show likened a nuclear explosion with “Rock and Roll’s” era-defining excursion. The jams’ massive wake carried the guys right through another half-hour of top-notch jamming in “Meatstick” and “Boogie On.” The rest of the show felt like the natural fallout from such a paradigm-shifting explosion. Seamlessly integrating Storage-style psychedelia into “Rock and Roll,” Phish gave us an intimate and jaw-dropping glimpse into the their next evolutionary step. The second night resembled a heat-seeking missile, as the band honed in on a specific style and tore a thematic—and ballistic—show to smithereens. The groove fiesta came to a mid-set peak in a silky-turned-apocalyptic “Sand” that was a culminating version (to date) of the many standouts renditions of summer. In short, Phish succeeded in taking their weekend crowd, first, through an alternate reality and then through an all-night dance party—executing their weekend plan to perfection.

And the buzz of Phish 2011 continues to grow. IT started at Bethel. IT increased during June’s Midwestern swing. IT got a boosted during the last three shows of Leg One—Charlotte, Raleigh, and Portsmouth. IT ballooned considerably at Super Ball. And, once again, at the Gorge, Phish’s summer momentum continued snowballing. A weekend whose music was centered around an ground-breaking, improvisational beast of the likes we haven’t seen—well, ever— in “Rock and Roll,” showcased a band whose diligent focus and continual improvement evokes memories of a young, goofy-looking quartet from Burlington that toured in the ‘90s. But it’s 2011 now, and matured like a fine wine, Phish is moving forward in ways many had never imagined would happen again, and nothing could possibly be sweeter.


In other Phish Thoughts-related news…

The Philler: I mentioned last week that I was being interviewed for a cloudcast—The Philler—run by Robert Champion. After talking with Robert and his partner, Sammy Saltzman, at length, we decided that I would join them for a yet-to-be-named, weekly segment of Phish analysis during their broadcasts. Look for more news on this in the future, but you can now listen to our initial conversation embedded in the audio player below, and spiced up by Robert and the guys at The Sloping Companion with audio tracks from June and enhancements ranging from the musical to the comic to the bizarre. Check it out…


The Philler – Episode Four – Mr. Miner by The Sloping Companion on Mixcloud

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608 Responses to “Gazing Into the Gorge”

  1. MrCompletely Says:

    I have some waiting in mod for no obv reason: for science I’ll attempt repost

    ====best jam ever, whatever I have no idea about that

    I think it’s a top shelf jam of the summer, and an evolutionary moment b/c it brings full Storage style jamming into the context of a regular set

    I wasn’t puddled at all fwiw. just prerolls all weekend for me and the missus. I heard every note clearly, it is def mad legit

    the only counterpoint is one of taste. can be not your thing. I think it’s fucking killer though. for what it is, its a definite home run

    not getting into any hyperbole though

  2. SillyWilly Says:

    Oh nice, Mr. C

    I told LW to keep his Utica DVD because it would be fun to see in 10 yrs to watch the progression.

    maybe the blog didn’t like the Utica show…

  3. Robert Champion Says:

    I am listening to Gorge night two right now as I type this. The Moma and Possum were both very solid. Let’s see what happens next.

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    there are parts of the Utica show that hold up great

  5. SillyWilly Says:

    RnR is awesome to my ears

    One of my favorite jams from 3.0 easily

    but I’m not good at comparing jams (outside of saying Yeah I love that one, and Yeah that one was pretty good)

    so I’ll leave that to the experts.

  6. yematt Says:

    ok, we’re going!

    tahoe bitches!


  7. Guyute711 Says:

    Believe me I have no problem with that version. I was modded out like 5 times. Thought it was because I was saying they still can’t nail Mango for whatever reason. M A N G O E D

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    *shrug* like the Greek Light and Simple and the 09 Gorge Gin, Sally, RnR I will never be able to form an objective opinion about these performances, so I’ll just talk about what they mean to me. The experience in the moment at the Gorge is so fucking huge there’s no way to separate it from the music….for instance I will always see the sunset colors and silhouettes during that blissful Roggae jam

  9. Mr.Miner Says:

    Nice interview Miner. Weird to finally put a voice with your words.

    ^ Cheers! My voice actually normalizes by the middle of the interview…at the beginning I think I sound like its a dwarf on speed, a few octaves high and very fast…but thanks 🙂 Psyched to be part of Robert’s show…also, good to see you on here Rob!

  10. Robert Champion Says:

    Phish came out punching for night two. There is no question…Now my question is….Do they bring the weird further down the line? Can they top that RnR strange? Let’s see what happens.

  11. Mr.Miner Says:

    got 2 single extras tonight in mid-pav if anyone needs em…I’ll do em for 50 a pop…

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    and the fact of “holy shit, they are jamming out Roggae for the first time ever (?) in a blissful transcendent style and I am actually present and I love this song” which was cool too.

    very kickdown-y for me

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    I’ll bump that interview here presently, I’m Jerry Week’d at the moment

  14. joe Says:

    I was thinking of you, Mr. C, when I saw Roggae on the twitter setlist updates. Probably a good sign that I need new (real) things to think about.

  15. joe Says:

    I’m on the reba portion of the interview. so far, a very cool venture Robert and Mr. Miner.

  16. SillyWilly Says:

    Hey Mr. C

    I was watching a show on Discovery channel last night called “Curiosity” with Stephen Hawking giving his explanation for why he doesn’t believe in god

    thought you might dig it because it talks about black holes and the way time literally becomes non-existent in a black hole

    what was even more fascinating to me was the way these theoretical cosmologists seem to believe unanimously that the universe created itself spontaneously out of nothing

    and that this spontaneous creation is literally the law of the universe.

    maybe you’ve seen this and maybe it’s sort of old news to people who have read some cosmology (i have not)

    anyway that idea (literal spontaneous creation) is so freakin cool.

  17. Chuck sweD Says:

    …i want to quit my job and hop on tour…

    i just caught up on the no spoilers and the write ups… what a way to open the second leg (to both miner and the band)!

  18. Robert Champion Says:

    Good afternoon Mr. Miner. I have been following the thread all day and I must say it has been a breath of fresh air. I look forward to checking in more often and am equally excited about our new collaboration.

    Our show got the Mr. Miner bump today and I am grateful for the kind words. We’ve only just begun.

  19. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ C check out Roggae on 12/28/03 I …. monster psychedelic version…

  20. SillyWilly Says:

    I’ve always wanted Roggae to jam

    so yeah, I would have gone nuts if I was there

  21. Jtran Says:

    Back from the red eye at 11 AM, at work at 1 PM

    Wish I was still out west. Had a blast at the shows and traveling around that beautiful state beforehand.

    Enjoyed Gorge 2 more than the first night, but that Rock and Roll was amazing. Roggae was another real highlight of the weekend for me.

    Nice to meet Mr. C, tela’s, negev as well.

    West coast Phish >>> east coast. The ease of entry and movement in the venue, the crowd, the lack of flat brims. I’ll be back next summer if Phish is.

  22. Mr.Miner Says:

    not sure what was up with modded comments…tried to adjust something…should be good…

  23. Robert Champion Says:

    Thanks for the kind words Joe. We keep building momentum and are adding some new concepts in the coming episodes. If you like what you hear then don’t forget to click on follow on the mixcloud site. Followers will be able to access contests and give a ways that are only available by clicking on the button.

    Also, I am looking for a pair of tickets to any night of UIC. We just need to get in.

  24. Guyute711 Says:

    You must not watch Family Guy Silly. Stewie Griffin invented the universe when he got caught outside of the space time continuum. He had to cause an explosin which was actually the Big Bang. FACT

  25. SillyWilly Says:


    saw a picture of you in the venue.

    almost didn’t recognize you without the AC flatbrim.

    we’ll miss you in Tahoe and UIC, man. The AC flatbrims are much more powerful when united.

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