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. SillyWilly Says:

    @Col Joy

    nice on the rail!

    Da UP, ya?

    hope you’re doing well, man.

    I haven’t seen Cal in several weeks but he said Paul McCartney was awesome.

    hope to see you in UIC.

    good luck in the UP

  2. Matso Says:

    @ DocGanz –

    Have an awesome trip dude. Great to meet you last summer at willowed’s BBBBQ and in Saratoga – hope our paths cross again at some point.

  3. SillyWilly Says:


    coming tomorrow, man.

    wish I was already there

    can’t wait to see you.

    by the way, my girl follows the same dietary philosophy as you and your family. I was telling her about some of your thoughts and she got super excited. she’d love to hash it out with you and your wife sometime.

    she’s been so sick for so long, but she’s coming around and she’ll make some appearances in the BB crowd

  4. Robert Champion Says:

    Cool. Thank you.

  5. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Hey comrades-

    Been lurking a bit but rudely inputting little. Just got through R+R for the 2nd time. It is the real deal. Ranks right up with Bethel Waves, Storage jam, Watkins sdck. May just be my favorite pc of 3.0. The Miles is strong in that one. As well, my wife demanded it be turned off at the 14 min mark, always an indication of some quality Phish.

  6. JeffieM Says:

    Morning BB,

    Just getting into these shows. Page is ripping UP the organ on his Maze solo for me right now. Love it.

    Rage California, kids.

  7. voopa Says:

    Robert- Must’ve been a different SLoping Companion back in the day. No big whoop.

    Alirght, shave, shower, smoke, scoot!

  8. Dr Pronoia Says:

    looking to upgrade a 200 level monday UIC to GA if anyone can kindly help. was figuring the BB could get me down, but last night’s revelation of wrist bands deflated that plan quickly. would love to be down there dancing with everyone

    brienkelley at google

  9. lastwaltzer Says:

    “Anyone else hear a rumor bout the LA Philharmonic joining for a bit tonight?”doc

    please tell me this is reliable……..would be very dope.

    Also the “Steam” they’re going to drop tonight it going elevate many. The steam pouring out of the half dome, with the woods and hills behind it, money visual right there.

  10. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Alright, time for a midday showdown:

    Disease Supreme vs. Rock n Gorage

    Hitting play… Now.

  11. BingosBrother Says:

    200’s gonna be a raging dance party Dr. P. We do what we want up there. Gonna be super STANLY.

  12. angryjoggerz Says:

    Silly, come by our place on Wed for a b-day lunch if you are inclined. Hit me up on e-mail, will give you directions.

  13. Robert Champion Says:

    Hey everyone. My son’s picture is in the running to win a prize this week.

    Please go to the link and vote for him….Kid melts my heart and is a die hard Phish fan in the making.

    You should see him crush couch tour…A vote in his favor would be a huge win for Phish nation!

  14. SillyWilly Says:

    Totally, AJ

    she won’t be coming with me to Tahoe but she lives in Chi, so we’ll have a chance to see you guys around soon.

    sending you an email now!

  15. DavidSilver Says:


    Me and Donna are gonna rage tonight! Dance to Sparkle and make out to Bouncin. Compton, Long Beach, Hollywood! Everybodys invited to the After Dark for the secret set late night.

  16. Spasm Waiter Says:

    @Champ- voted. really cute kid.

  17. lastwaltzer Says:

    apparently the eagle has landed

  18. lastwaltzer Says:

    5/1/70 other one $$$ jerry just tearing the thing apart, heavy as shit.

  19. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    In-flight wi-fi. Neat. Anyone around for lunch in Hollywood?

  20. Robert Champion Says:

    Thank you!!! I have videos of him raging on couch tour and dancing his ass off. Here is one from the Georgia webcast.

  21. SillyWilly Says:

    the Miner interview is really cool if anyone hasn’t heard it yet

  22. butter Says:

    Miner’s minutes

    Minutes with Miner

    Flegionare stew

    A couple ideas @Robert C

    Morning everyone

    Really ready to celebrate 2011 Phish and hop In the truck to Tahoe

    What an encouraging piece Miner, another Gorge run for the history books

  23. Robert Champion Says:

    Keep those suggestions coming…We’ve got big things in store.

  24. butter Says:

    Hope I can stream the interview while driving today

  25. SillyWilly Says:

    Travel safe, butter

    see ya tomorrow afternoon on lot.

    fuck yeah. I love saying that: “See ya tomorrow afternoon on lot.”

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