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:

    cool, Miner, I will check that for sure!

    Welcome, Robert! Most phish discussion online is so vile & horrible it’s not that hard to look good by comparison, which is the secret of our success here.

  2. SillyWilly Says:

    no worries, Mr. Miner

    I was afraid I used a phrase that had been black listed or something

    but no worries.

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah the universe basically grew from a quantum fluctuation @sw is how most cosmologists see it. far from universal agreement on that, or whether its meaningful to talk about ‘before the beginning’, but a very compelling view of creation

  4. Guyute711 Says:

    Yesterday was my 18th anny of my first Phish show. Hard to fathom that’s true.

  5. SillyWilly Says:

    Mr. C

    to me what’s so crazy is reconciling the difference between what we can comprehend as happening and what is happening

    so we have this idea of a causation built out of everyday experience. you know, like: the glass of water is on the table because I put it there.

    but as far as quantum mechanics are concerned completely random events are the norm or the law.

    so we have to come up with new ways of conceptualizations to communicate or understand these things

    these two realities co-exist side by side. and that’s awesome

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:


  7. SillyWilly Says:

    hey, Mr. P

    hope your monday went well.

    hope your boss wasn’t a jack ass.

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    nah, he was cool today. good day. 4 more days and then road trip, UIC style!!!!

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    indeed @sw

    people who think they understand how the world works clearly don’t understand quantum physics; I’m not saying I understand the world in general or quantum physics in particular – just enough to recognize how far out at sea we all are, understanding-wise

    that being said, it’s pretty impressive how rigorous some of those guys can get while working with such ephemeral and indeed paradoxical tools…

  10. Robert Champion Says:

    Yeah Mr. Completely…I started on in 1994 and have been fighting a losing battle on the boards for years.

    This place is a lot more inviting and civil than any of the boards out there. It was refreshing to be at work today while I was reading the blog to see everyone generally getting along. We don’t all have the same opinions on the music but at least there is enough self respect on this board to give everyone their room to be who they are and think what they want to think without being called any number of vulgarities. Again, thank you.

  11. SillyWilly Says:

    yeah, Mr C

    a cosmological theorist (it seems to me) has to reverse many of the “common sense” principles that many of us use to think with

    like with basic causation and the glass of water example

    this old conception of causation just doesn’t translate to the quantum level

    i think the trick will continue to be finding the limits of each mode of thought.

    how much can QT teach us about being human?

    and how much can the more traditional modes of thought teach us about being human?

    or I guess you can substitute being human with the way the universe works or another phrase

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    we’ve been through all that and occasionally there are still flareup but we’ve learned how much of it to tolerate, how much to just let go, and when to intervene…

    also many of the regulars on here have become IRL show friends which keeps everything much more chill

    for example I was hanging out with 2 BBers on opposite ends of a recent political debate on the terraces…100% awesome vibe

    we just don’t tolerate or respect ad hominem stuff here. no point to it. you don’t have to agree with anyone’s opinion but you have to state your point clearly and without nonsense

    pretty simple really

  13. ThePigSong Says:

    is there anyway to follow your site without facebook, Robert?

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    the caution of course silly is that you can take that stuff to far

    there’s a point (in terms of scale) at which classical physics “takes over” from the quantum world and talking about things in terms of probabilities isn’t really sensible. I feel like a lot of physicists take the quantum view too far and apply it in a kind of philosophical sense that isn’t necessarily appropriate

    for instance I think the ordinary laws of cause and effect probably explain that glass of water perfectly, at the macro level where the object identity “glass of water” exists. You can’t say were any one atom, or electron or quark, is at any one time…but I think the idea that the whole glass “could” suddenly jump 5 feet to the left or spontaneously turn into a whale or whatever is kind of ludicrous, which is why Douglas Adams was making fun of it in the Hitchhiker’s Guide books…

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    oooh yeah me no facebook and am not going to start

  16. kayatosh Says:

    ? for the aud. heads: any thoughts on audience tapes for the gorge. I’ve been rockin taytloc for night 1 and gotfob for night 2, the only sources I’ve heard. very satisfied w/ both.

  17. kayatosh Says:

    taylorc for night 1.

  18. ThePigSong Says:

    yo, silly and c – I’m sure you guys have dropped it on here before, but do either of you have an entry level book on quantum theory I should check out?

  19. Esteban Says:

    Welcome, Robert! Great board to be involved with… Dig the Sloping Companion, too. Will go back through the episodes posted as time allows…

  20. ThePigSong Says:

    just looked up Curiosity silly, looks interesting.

    I’m grabbing it from the noid to watch sometime this week.

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    gahhh sadly no I find almost all quantum physics books totally confusing. Either they are written by laypeople (journalists) and basically present everything in so many layers of metaphor that the book doesn’t mean anything, or they’re just a little too technical to really follow. Been piecing together a knucklehead understanding for decades.

    just don’t believe anything in “The Tao of Physics” that’s for sure, 90% of it was nonsense when it came out and the rest was outdated decades ago

    sorry, that’s a terrible answer

  22. SillyWilly Says:


    I know NOTHING of quantum physics/theory. Like literally I rely on my sense of philosophy to understand generally what I think is going on. But this isn’t a good practice at all.

    what do I mean by not a good practice? well, I guess it’s not very intellectually honest to try and pretend to understand a field as complex as QT with Aristotle, Plato, and Kant.

    so I’d love to see what you turn up

  23. Chuck sweD Says:

    Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed – Dr. Jim Al-Khalili

    is the book i read on the subject a couple years back… dunno how great it is compared to other books, but it answered my basic conceptual questions without a ton of mathematical jargen.

  24. angryjoggerz Says:

    Beautiful day in Tahoe. Did a 2.5 hour boat trip with the fam that had 180 Chinese tourists on it, so I was in heaven. Not much sign of the phishies yet, a few here and there. Town is crowded with tourists. Lots of bands playing in the area (JGB, Lotus, bluegrass showcase) at other casinos for Ph afterparties. Chilling on my deck, 7,500 feet up, overlooking the woods and lake.

    da da da da da. I’m lovin it.

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    50 dollar extras for anyone?

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