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. Chuck sweD Says:

    its hard subject to get a foothold in… just gotta take the plunge sorta. figure out what works for your head.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    I think Chuck’s book rec looks much better than anything I’ve tried

  3. SillyWilly Says:

    @Mr. C

    totally. re: cause and effect

    See, that’s what always fascinates me more than the actual research is how different people are going to use the research for persuasive purposes

  4. MrCompletely Says:


    I can’t have that convo in depth now

    but there are people on both sides who are way off base

    first of all are the new age Tao of Physics crowd who think QM supports their philosophical outlook, or something, and generally talk a lot of trippy sounding mystical nonsense

    then there are the rationalist radical-reductionists who are sure, I mean sure, without any basis in science, that quantum effects are limited to the microscales and basically irrelevant in many ways…

    the truth is somewhere in between, I think that much is obvious. Objects are in some sense real and have permanence. But quantum effects seem to run much deeper and on larger scales than many have thought. There’s a lot of recent experimental evidence in this area, particularly about how quantum systems work in biology. Very fascinating to me.

    FWIW I think the clearest thinker writing for the semi-public about what quantum reality “means” and how it fits into our world is Sir Roger Penrose….but even his “accessible” work is pretty staggeringly hard to follow if you’re math-impaired at all

  5. Esteban Says:

    I love that Miner cites the Raleigh ’00 show was one of the worst shows he saw… I left that show and sent the rest of my summer tickets home to NJ from NC to my two youngest brothers… It was only when they announced the hiatus in Vegas that I gave it another go at Merriweather (09.16.00), and that show was incredible… Drove home and booked a flight to CA for the closing two nights at Shoreline.

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    I mean in a really abstract sense sure, QM and modern physics in general line up great with some eastern philosophical concepts, in a metaphorical way

    but the universal electron sea is not the Tao and neither is dark matter…that kind of thing is just foolishness

  7. Robert Champion Says:

    The Pigsong – You don’t need Facebook to follow the site. Simply go to and click on follow. You will then receive updates on new shows and will also be included in the contests and phish related give a ways that only followers are allowed to be a part of.

    Thanks 🙂

  8. Mike in Austin Says:

    Miner, Lumpyhead from on here is looking for a single if you still have ‘en. Mike . Aurzada @ google mail I can send you my number.

  9. angryjoggerz Says:

    Ok, so I am sort of a phish noob in the sense that though I have been seening them since 93, I have not seen them that many times. My crew of friends is doing the tour picks pool that they have on PT, and I started leg 2 in 175th place and now am in 25th place, thanks to lots of great picks for the opener (called the set 1 opener and closer, set 2 closer, encore and wildcard). Too funny. I think I may win my internal pool, which will pay for all the shows I saw this summer. Woot!

  10. Jtran Says:

    And shout out to tzara’s.

    Didn’t meet up at the show, but he led us around Seattle by text Matrix-style on the first day we were in WA. Met up for breakfast at a great french place the following day.

    Thanks for all the help tzara’s!

  11. Mr. Palmer Says:

    sleeper show tonight?

  12. Robert Champion Says:

    Quantum Physics and Quantum Mechanics are both passions of mine. However, I am fairly certain that my dog won’t hunt in a forum like this. I have been enjoying the conversation from the sidelines though.

  13. lastwaltzer Says:


    yematt is heading out from washington without tickets. He would def. want your extras

    yematt at gmail

  14. voopa Says:

    Defintely. At the motel with Jason and Tzara’s, meeting PB & garret @ lot! Woohoo!

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    Robert, the long-form conversations about nonphish subjects tend to blossom in the evening, when we’re not at work, on non show nights obv…

  16. Robert Champion Says:

    Yeah it’s been good reading.

  17. ThePigSong Says:

    awesome, thanks for the book rec Chuck. Just added it to my cart, the reviews are pretty darn positive.

  18. ThePigSong Says:

    ah! I see that now Robert. The facebook button threw me off, maybe I should work on reading comprehension before I dive into QT books.

  19. Esteban Says:

    @Palmer maybe not of the proportions of the 11.2.98 DSOTM sleeper, but a rager is on its way

  20. sneven Says:

    Hey gang. Been lurking where I can, but real life and work has been a depressant…

    I find it awesome that an “outsider” has found the BB, and could latch on. Rob prolly doesn’t know what he’s in for, but I need to say, @Robert Champion, that you have found the goods as far as phans are concerned.

    With your audio streams, same minded folks will begin to realize that Mr. M is really just a huge phan, and his well written article are his OPINION…

    I can easily see a weekly “i can talk the talk, with you” segment bringing both sites together in a very positive way, and strengthening bonds that are already growing within this special community.

    Mr. Miner and Robert Champion… don’t give up, don’t ever give up 😉

  21. SillyWilly Says:

    Yeah sorry I need to bow out for the night probably

    my girl just got home and I need to help her with dinner and I think we’re watching a movie

    this will be a good convo for the off-season maybe

    have a great night kids!

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    hating on Miner is so 2010

    need to show these kids how its done in 2011

  23. butter Says:

    At Tahoe house, all unpacked, with fresh tube for 420brah

  24. garretc Says:

    About to catch the Burbank > HB bus, which I guess will put me on lot within 45-60. Any of you cats looking to kick it when you show up give me a ring

    Six five zero 766 nine two five eight

  25. ThePigSong Says:

    Why do I always try and read 7 books at once?

    I think I’m going to go grab this one from the library around the corner.

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