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. voopa Says:

    “Miner Thoughts”

  2. voopa Says:

    I’ve always thought The Sloping Companion was a fantastic name for a website. Champion, it’s been up since like ’97, right?

  3. Esteban Says:

    Man, the Bowl will be FTW. 19 1/2 hrs in the car after two nights in Quincy is just sick!

  4. BrandonKayda Says:

    Julio Cortozar sounds very familiar. I’ll definitely look him and Borges up. I envy how much knowledge you guys have on literature. I’m getting there…

    If on a Winter’s Night… is definitely odd – meta-fiction if you want to call it that.

  5. willowed Says:

    Nice Robert

    Great spot there my friend. Loved every second of it!

    Call the time slot:

    The “IT” Segement

  6. Guyute711 Says:

    First break first day of work. Seems ok.

  7. willowed Says:


  8. willowed Says:

    Agreed KP

    Rhymes was dope

    That little lic grabs you backed by the thunder of Gordo. Loved that jam!

  9. DocGanz Says:

    About time to “get in my car and cruise the land of the brave and free.” The day has finally arrived- 7 shows in three weeks following a year away. Can’t wait. See some of you along the way. Safe travels all…

  10. willowed Says:

    Go get em’ Doc!!

  11. voopa Says:

    Heh, Ganz you just reminded me that my last show was a year and a day ago- Greek 3. Tonight will be #59 for me…not too bad for a West Coast kid, right?

  12. Luther T. Justice Says:

    I still have a feeling about Hollywood. I lot of people skipping which sometimes means the band takes revenge on those skippers.

    Have a great time voopa!

  13. DocGanz Says:

    Not at all voopa! Tonight is 53 for me. If I was still living on the East Coast it would be much higher, but relationship, money, work, etc gets in the way. I go as much as I can under the circumstances and am ready to rage these next few shows in a bunch of killer venues. Anyone else hear a rumor bout the LA Philharmonic joining for a bit tonight?

  14. SillyWilly Says:

    Thanks for posting, Robert!

    stay and hang out awhile, man

    thanks for what you do

  15. SillyWilly Says:

    llfa at Mr. M’s interviewer’s story about people rolling down the Alpine lawn during the ’96 Reba

  16. dusty Says:

    Foreplay/Long Time for Tahoe1.

    Travel safe all..

  17. st8 of mind Says:

    “Thank you Mr. Miner”

  18. Robert Champion Says:

    Thank you Mr. Miner…

    I’d love to stick around. This place is a lot warmer than some (I won’t mention them) message boards and to answer your question…The Sloping Companion started out as a thread of poems that I wrote after 9-11 and I turned it into a website a little over a year and a half ago. We tried out a few different styles of broadcasts and came up with two that really work. We are doing The Philler and Bob & Ron’s Record Club. You may know Ron. He used to run Green Crew and is now in a successful touring band.

    Thanks for welcoming me into your forum. Let’s do this.

  19. angryjoggerz Says:

    Woke up nice and early (4:30) in Tahoe, trying to keep my kid on her sleeping schedule. I will be the guy at the shows taking a nap.

    Gets hella cold her at night, forgot how the heat just disappears at night. Def not a shorts at the show situation.

  20. SillyWilly Says:

    Right on, Robert!

    we’re pretty much always here (haha. you know, the internet…)

    so, yeah, welcome and have a good day and tour

  21. Robert Champion Says:

    Word – I am doing UIC and Denver and we are pumped!!!

    Can someone tell me how I go about changing my avatar on this site? Thanks.

  22. ColonelJoy Says:

    Colonel is hoping Mr. C made it to the Gorge. I’m streaming the shows while on Army Business to the UP of Michigan.

    Man, 3.0 Phish is sick now! How far we have come since 09′. This is probably my favorite era of Phish. I’m salivating about Chicago….will be doing some rail time on the 17th.

  23. SillyWilly Says:


    just sign up and then upload a picture

    it might take a few minutes to show up

    UIC, bitches.

  24. angryjoggerz Says:

    Robert –, and make your rating G should do it. Welcome to the Blackboard (BB)!

  25. angryjoggerz Says:

    Silly, are you coming to Tahoe or what? I thought you were.

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