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. sumodie Says:

    official phish ftr twitter works great for setlist updates

    boarding plane home from seattle momentarily

  2. angryjoggerz Says:

    i may be the only cat in tahoe who is without herbs.

    family trip’d

  3. halcyon Says:

    what up BB back from the brewpub with some friends…any word on stream or should I just wait for no spoilers….

  4. Tom Says:

    its back

  5. alf Says:

    saw roughly 7,327 storage sheds over the past 900 miles. stanly.

    custy crib west bitches!!

  6. Tom Says:


  7. Esteban Says:

    This is the time of the evening in which I really wish I had about 1/2 lb of roast beef in the fridge, some rye bread and a touch of mayo…

    Why don’t delis stay open until 1 am?

  8. leo weaver Says:

    We’re up a little way aj. Just above heavenly. Huge deck. Come visit ifyou can break from the fam for a few.

  9. butter Says:

    Cool Leo, just map quested u. 1.3 miles

    Stop by here anytime, give a shout

  10. Multibeast Says:

    hey leo
    Hows the pad? Love the sound of a massive deck.

  11. Tom Says:


  12. leo weaver Says:

    Will do butter. I’ll swing by tomorrow for sure. I think we may try to get outdoors tomorrow and try to find a trail or two. Scenery is stunning, I gotta explore some.

  13. leo weaver Says:

    @aj…fb me your digits again. The last number is for a land line per the return txt I got.

  14. tela'smuff Says:

    Stream from the mountain side. Tahoe bitches. Drove 28 hrs, 6 states, 4 breweries, and 2 Phish shows, finally in crib in Tahoe.

    Great meeting so many BB peeps at Gorge. We all threw down and that was a great crew. Special shout out to Plord and Negev!

    And u too Multi!

    Stop by the crib if your in Tahoe

  15. Tom Says:

    great piper

  16. butter Says:

    Stoked for Phish yoga tomorrow

  17. butter Says:

    AJ – sry just saw your post. We are right off of pioneer trail level with casinos in Ca

  18. Tom Says:

    50 ways to leave your lover

  19. YborCity Says:

    Show looks GREAT tonight! Can’t wait to hear Fish sing 50 Ways tomorrow morning!

  20. albert walker Says:

    fun show. will still be spun for 7 AM Reno flight.

    great night in the hills

    see ya in Tahoe!

  21. albert walker Says:

    Phish destroyed the Paul Simon tune

    but like i said do not take anything about my review seriously. wheels came off the track tonight a bit. from Split on not sure what really went down.

    seemed to be some good Phish somehwere in the middle

  22. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    waddup AW, phish will destroy on the stream tomorrow

  23. albert walker Says:

    we fell of the track. not phish.

    Piper seemed to get a bit gooey.

  24. albert walker Says:

    not flying with any puff to Tahoe so I’ll be dying to puff when we get in around 11:00

  25. Cable Hogue Says:

    Heard they used the H.Bowl PA last night. Wonder how the sound was further back.

    Safe travels everyone. The stage is set for a Tahoe throwdown, the greatest webcast of the webcast era……

    jk, sorta.

    Have a great show folks.

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