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. joe Says:

    wish I could get the webcast. (tomorrow and wednesday?) timing of shows runs right into the time I’m not at the desk here and then my ride home, where I don’t have a reliable internet connection. Who’s in?

  2. joe Says:

    feeling a first time, out of left field cover coming tonight. GnR tune maybe?

  3. Dr Pronoia Says:

    If you’re still around, welcome Mr. Champion! (just reading back)

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    #420worldproblems: I now have 3 kind strains of herb but I don’t know what any of them are called so I can’t brag about them to my hetty brahs

    (one seems like some kind of diesel for sure, otherwise no clue)

  5. joe Says:

    digging this tweezer from the other night more than most others this summer.

  6. joe Says:

    they have figured out the 12 minute tweezer for sure. very tightly packed bowl of jam themes.

  7. DryIceFactory Says:

    Agree Joe, but I think the best Tweezers of summer are definitely Cinci and Superball, with a monster that smashes all opposotion coming at some point, for some reason I think it will be UIC. Gorge Tweez was no slouch though and definitely satisfies.

    Looking at these shows at a closer glance, I think these shows are and will forever be overrated.

    I’d bet my house we get a Tube opener tonight. And I think we get a nice jammed out Cities for the 1st time since Bethel.

  8. DryIceFactory Says:

    Locked and loaded for #couchtour, yeeehewww!

  9. yematt Says:

    From the road: en route to tahoe from tacoma. Just a 13+ hour drive.. Stopping Eugene for voodoo donuts.

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    unless there’s some bigtime fluffing I’m missing, seems like the general consensus is fairly on point – typical summer 2011 mixed bag with top-shelf highlights and the usual Trey setlist WTF-ery, in a sublime setting

    to me it’s all about the experience cause I was there, and then after that about the highlights, which I think will hold up

  11. Tom Says:

    hoping for taper420 stream tonight. Also i think 10/23/10 is a pretty underated tweezer

  12. Andrew Says:

    It’s the clear-cut proof of where the band is right now @Joe. Musical density has been a subject here, but can’t be overstated.

    They’ve been able to reach a plane while sounding so simple. The collective patience and willingness to embrace a path of least resistance rewards not only the creative whole but the multitudes of earnest and devote fans. I absolutely love what they are bringing out right now.

  13. DryIceFactory Says:

    Allow me to clarify, RnR is easily one of the coolest jams of 3.0, but the end of that set lacked the goods.

    The 2nd night is a solid start to finish smoker, but it felt like the 2nd set was fueled by set list fire and controlled, solid playing. It flowed, it killed, but we never really got a standout jam that will become one of the summer ’11 highlights, with the exception of Sand. A lot of great playing, nothing off the charts. A well above-average show, just not an all-timer.

  14. YborCity Says:

    The best thing that’s happened to PhishThoughts in a long while is the posted podcast from today. Being able to put not only a voice, but a TONE of voice to the written word here is awesome. Everyone can now know how light hearted Miner is. More importantly everyone can understand how much love he puts into all of this.

    It was good to hear from you, Miner. I hope that’s the beginning of a trend!

    I LOVE summer tour. Can’t WAIT to see where the rest of Leg Two goes!

  15. DryIceFactory Says:

    I think Light could go off tonight too, to bring the Cali kids memories of 1 year, 2 days ago. Give me a multi-tiered Light ending in a storage-type jam that lands seemlessly in 2001. It would make my night.

  16. MrCompletely Says:

    “Allow me to clarify, RnR is easily one of the coolest jams of 3.0, but the end of that set lacked the goods.”

    agreed. In the moment I was fine with it b/c it seemed to go over with the crowd and I’d just gotten that crazy-great jam, so I was just happy and whatever. but objectively, it’s what it is, a series of songs.

    And with the second paragraph as well. Set 2 night 2 reminds me a lot of 1/1/11 that way: great flow, super dance party, killer execution and performance level, no bomb centerpiece jam

  17. YborCity Says:

    Word, Mr. Completely…

    Gorge night 1 would have been the BEST SHOW EVA in ’10… Great setlist, nothing wrong, flow-wise, but very little in the way show-long improv… Great show, but not as good as some of Leg 1 (DTE, Superball)

    I love it when Phish kills it like this. I never got to experience one of the historic tours of lore, so to be able to dissect a show like the last two at the gorge and find something legitametely underwhelming about it is and INCREDIBLE feeling! Long live Phish

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    the thing to remember though as people talk about these gigs

    and when reading Miner

    they are talking about the experience, not the part that gets recorded and listened to later

    people who bag on Miner conveniently like to forget that. when he is between tours he writes music reviews. On tour he writes show reviews.

    The place is always majestic but there was something really perfect about the vibe there this past weekend. So when people tell you “those were the best shows ever” don’t be too quick to correct them…

  19. vegas wolfmans Says:

    I understood Farmhouse in the cooldown spot. Farmhouse>Show Of Life slowed momentum to a stand-still in such a way that the energy couldn’t be recaptured via Julius and Zero. Having said that, I’ll take that set ANY DAY of the week for the RnR->*Stick->*Boogie On w/ resolution jam. I was 3 deep in the pit with eyes wide. That RnR is the thunder. A peak experience for me personally.

    *It feels really good to write -> (and mean it)

  20. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I realize i’m probably talking to myself now because AW is at the show and Kaya is fast asleep but HOLY FUCK, the global economic markets are cratering. This is bad shit.

  21. vegas wolfmans Says:

    The vibe was completely blissed out all weekend long IMO. Lots of positivity and people (including the band) having loads fun shakin’ a leg.

  22. butter Says:


    U guys love Phish?

    Shout from south lake

    Got to game for a bit at Harraha’s and walk away even + some tipping money, while wifey got a peddi

    Chilling in the house with pdx friends
    Can’t wait for bigjig and mrs to get here tomorrow

    Enjoy the show kids

  23. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    gorge II reminds me more of darien than 1.1.11

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah @vegas, 100% on point

  25. angryjoggerz Says:

    Buter, where is your house? Down low or up high? We are waaay up high, 7500 feet, unreal view.

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