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. Jtran Says:

    Guess the picture was already discussed, my bad

  2. garretc Says:

    Hey PB, sitting at the Burbank bus stop right noe, probably see you here!

  3. garretc Says:

    Yeah Jtran, figure it out!


  4. joe Says:

    garrect will be wondering if everyone on the bus is pb. what if pb was one of us, just a stranger on the bus.

    too all in la, have a good show.

  5. joe Says:

    umm..I don’t like to correct myself, but ^to all.

  6. halcyon Says:

    Hey Friends…..just got back from Sweetwater reservoir where we went canoeing…. listening to the interview and i like the format, the interviews, and as others echoed good to put a voice to the writings. Really happy for those in attendance at the Gorge, and those hitting Hollywood Bowl tonight.

    Past 2 nights have been real enjoyable to listen to. Can’t really explain it, but there is a certain ambiance to the music from the boards, and the aud tape that has complemented the music. Maybe I am projecting my thoughts of the Gorge when listening, and knowing how amazing of an environment it is.

    As for Physics, has anyone read anything by Michio Kaku? He wrote Physics of the Future, and some friends have recommended his writings.

  7. Jtran Says:

    Just finishing my first respin (disregarding at the hotel on alf’s phone) of RnR segment.

    Wow, $$$+. The best jam I’ve caught live to this point

  8. ThePigSong Says:

    I read The Physics of the Impossible last year sometime. Some cool stuff in there, but overall I’d give a “meh”

  9. halcyon Says:

    What Phish Song do you think of when looking at this photo….

    Many come to mind….
    Right now, Waves

  10. garretc Says:

    Hey Jtran, what’s the track time like on that RnR? Haven’t had a chance to dl yet…

  11. halcyon Says:

    Actually Rock n Roll and Storage Jam come to mind now…..

  12. Jtran Says:


    20 minutes, with about the last minute of the jam tracked as Meatstick

  13. Jtran Says:

    And sorry we never hooked up again. We ended up going hiking on Saturday then straight to the terrace when we got in.

  14. angryjoggerz Says:

    butter, where abouts is your house?

  15. bob dylan Says:

    Just listened to the security guy give his shpeal. He used to tour so he gets it.

    Basically if you don’t dance in the down aisle you’re golden. He said to be friendly to everyone early in the show so they will be cool later when spun.

    There are 17,000 smokers here. If they wanna smoke, let em.

    Should be a good one.

  16. garretc Says:

    Nice, 20 would have been about my guess!

    No worries, I’m partly to blame as well for failing to get my sorry ass to any WW meet ups…

  17. butter Says:

    1st set closer perfect for fluff

    I called the ball antelope “stockalope” and check out the next version
    Super creative and pretty smokin gorge lope, love it

  18. Jtran Says:

    Funny story about Farmhouse:

    Farmhouse is an slf favorite (although she’d never admit it ;)) I’ve told her it’s fine and all to hear in the car or at the house, but it’s not something we ever really want to hear at a show. As a joke, we’ve kind of coined it the song she was chasing.

    After the huge opening to that set 2 (and a little bit of accoutrements) I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when Farmhouse started up. It took almost the whole lyrics section of the song to get over the fact that they were indeed playing it with the slf in attendance, and they had just jammed for 40 minutes.

    Maybe a had to be there moment, but it threw both of us for a real comical loop. She’s done chasing songs now.

  19. garretc Says:


    My non-phishie friend who hit his first two shows this weekend with me (you meet him briefly friday) had one song he wanted to hear this weekend:


    Of course, we all know how that turned out…

    Phish at the gorge 2011: everybody goes home happy!

  20. Bigjig Says:

    Hey does anyone need a ticket tonight. I have a couple xtras pretty nice seats.

  21. DukeOfLizards Says:


    You know Miner wants to drop “stockalope” in one of his pieces, too.

    Let’s hope he doesn’t get the chance.

  22. Esteban Says:

    @halcyon incredible shot. Sanity?

  23. garretc Says:

    I find it extremely exciting just how many energy tunes got taken off the table the last couple nights.

    Hit us with that weird shit tonight

  24. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    awww yeah i forgot there’s a show tonight

  25. sneven Says:

    on the eve of a very special day, no doubt…

    there was a dad or two in the crowd who was very proud

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