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. negev79 Says:

    ok I think I’m giving up. I suspect a stream will ultimately surface, but truth be told, I am not recovered from the Gorge. I’m gonna go lie down! 🙂

    See you all tomorrow!

  2. Tom Says:

    short tube

  3. Andrew Says:

    Thanks for the effort negev!

  4. Andrew Says:

    Don’t go yet negev, taper420 is almost on, starting to connect

  5. DryIceFactory Says:

    a nice 2 minute tube. wtf…? I have a feeling we are going to be greeted by a very angry AW tomorrow morning if this trend continues.

  6. Tom Says:

    we have liftoff

  7. DryIceFactory Says:

    taper420 is live and BOTT sounds oh so sweet. What I can hear anyways

  8. gavinsdad Says:

    taper 420 up

  9. Andrew Says:

    Not password protected yet so I’m thinking he’s just getting settled, may still be a bit before he’s locked and loaded. Probably hopped a rail for two for all us 😉

  10. Tom Says:

    wilson again

  11. gavinsdad Says:

    sup andrew…u stickin around NC this leg or hittin the road?

  12. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    really? people still complaining about short tubes? yawn

  13. DryIceFactory Says:

    The mawl crew is getting their show of the year.

  14. DryIceFactory Says:

    I dont complain about a short tube, but I wonder what happened when it lasted 2 minutes?

  15. Tom Says:

    taper420 pretty consistant

  16. negev79 Says:

    See, I just needed to leave. Like in Pulp Fiction – if you go to the bathroom at a restaurant, your food will come to the table.

    Still not sure if it will be worth it to stick around though. I am trying VERY hard not to judge a show via setlist and choppy stream.

  17. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    lol, bet you $100000 it was at least 4

  18. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    or negev you come back out to a mexican standoff

  19. negev79 Says:

    lol DF, exactly

  20. gavinsdad Says:

    first tube
    last tube
    short tube

  21. Andrew Says:

    No shows this leg GDad, settled into work and keeping the kids occupied during the obnoxiously hot summer we’ve had. Beach offers some aid here and there but not much on days with little wind and the water a cool 85 degrees.

  22. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    30 minute rock n roll tonight

  23. angryjoggerz Says:

    taper 420 does not have his signature sound

  24. DryIceFactory Says:

    You are probably right DF. It was just confusing when my LivePhish page updated to BOTT after 2 mins. Maybe the page was running slow?

  25. negev79 Says:

    yeah, I’m out. have a good night all.

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