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. butter Says:

    If it’s on Monday

    Monday’s with Miner

  2. Waputik Says:

    I just got back last night from an amazing, amazing weekend at the Gorge. I very rarely post but felt compelled to share a unique experience with all of you and apologize now for the long post. This weekend my wife and I took our 13 mo old son to his first concerts and the entire family had their best weekend ever!!! I have to preface this story by saying when I started seeing Phish in 1992, I NEVER could have imagined taking my child to a Phish show, mostly because my interests were to cut loose and hyper-indulge as freely as possible while enjoying the music. Not that indulgence that was my only reason for going, far from it, in fact the darkness of the scene kept me from seeing Phish from Big Cypress until Gorge 2009.

    I have to admit that I was more nervous than my wife taking our son to a Phish show (e.g. loud noises, meltdowns, wookdowns, etc), but she assumed me it would be OK. We figured it was the Gorge and it would be the ideal place if one exists to attempt to take such a small child. Fortunately, there were lots of other children at the Gorge and our son made many little Phriends. My biggest worry was that we’d have a major meltdown on our hands which would inhibit our enjoyment of the show along with others, but as soon as the music started our little man settled into a deep stupor and by the end of Taste he was fully asleep with his ear protection on.

    The next song was Roggae, and it’s hard for me to describe the bliss I felt when Phish opened up that particular song in that particular venue. It could not have been more perfect! Because we had the little man and stroller, we were hanging far from the speakers up on the rim of the venue, a place I had never hung out even after many Gorge shows. It was so incredible to see the fading light washing over the Columbia River from up on high while hearing Phish openly jam such a beautiful and poignant song. During set break, we had the best view of the sky at the Gorge I’ve ever had and as it grew darker I started noticing faint lights in the northern sky. From where we sat, we had an incredible view straight north over the stage and when the lights went down for BDTNL, it became clear to me that I was seeing Northern Lights, yes the aurora Borealis, while Phish played at the fracking Gorge!!!! Living in Montana, we see them a couple times a year, and many times they are faint beams of light like this rather than brilliant colorful shimmering streaks in the sky. Either way, the faint Northern Lights continued through BDTNL and into Rock and Roll. When RandR started, I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed because I figured it would be hard for Phish to top the Gorge ’09 version, but they quickly put that notion to rest. This damn post is already too long, but holy crap was it unbelievable to see Phish play that jam (which Miner already described so well) after seeing the Aurora in the greatest venue on Earth. Throw in a few of the best shooting stars I’ve ever seen and you have one truly transcendent experience for a mostly sober but blissfully proud papa. I’m normally not a big fan of the song Farmhouse, but the lyrics felt so perfect after seeing a faint version of the NL, I wonder if Phish had any idea what was going on behind them, I know 99.9% of the venue wouldn’t have had the view to see it, but the NL was confirmed in news reports throughout the region:

  3. DavidSilver Says:

    Hangin With Mr. Miner

  4. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Crack-Like Chats With Mr. Miner
    A Pimp Ride Through Miner’s Galaxy

  5. lastwaltzer Says:

    A Pampin’ Ride Through Miner’s Galaxy*

    *fixed that for ya

  6. butter Says:

    Tweezer Talk

  7. butter Says:

    And so much more

  8. lastwaltzer Says:

    Miner Talks His Talk With You

  9. butter Says:

    Takin Gorge Tweez to the dome with rippers of og

  10. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Pronouncing It In Several Ways with Mr. Miner

  11. halcyon Says:

    Why did I choose responsibility over not flying to LA and Tahoe again???

    Oh well. Couch tour it is!

  12. DavidSilver Says:

    A Musical Conversation

    Great post Waputik. Thats the stuff I like to read. Sweet stuff.

  13. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Mr. Miner Thinks Out Loud

  14. butter Says:

    Red with Uncompressed staccato to die for

    with Mike just doing things I can’t even try and describe
    Right when u get your finger on what he’s doing, he does a run of 12 notes and changes directions

    Well……..this Tweezer is sick

  15. Admiral Ackbar Says:

    Blurb for the segment:

    “Mr. Miner gives the best appearance in a cloud cast since Billy Dee Williams!”

    You’re welcome.

  16. Robert Champion Says:

    Butter – Currently there are two ways that you can listen to the cloudcast in your car. They have an iphone app and an android app is on the way from what the developers have told me.

    If you have the inputs in your car stereo then you are good to go…I have RCA inputs in my explorer and listen to cloudcasts on the regular in my car while I am in the field working.

    Keep those ideas coming for a title to the segment with Mr. Miner….We’ve got some good suggestions so far. Thanks for the input.

  17. lastwaltzer Says:


    Miner Talks His Talks His Talk, With You

  18. negev79 Says:

    Mr. Champion – welcome! Just watched that youtube video of your son….love the reaction when Moma starts, he’s all “whoa!”

    The funk is strong in that one. Nice work!

    Someone asked a few pages back if Mr. C made it to the Gorge. He did! Mr and Mrs C threw down with the BB crew on the terraces – it was a sublime time!

  19. plord Says:

    @BK if you think your version of If on a Winters Night a Traveler is defective….just keep going. It might be part of the structure of the book! Although I am sure there are also bum copies, the thing must be a bitch to proofread.

  20. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    I am sooo electrified.

    Boarding plane in 6 hours.

    First show since Telluride.

    First sober show ever. Been practicing my mind control for the band so we are all in for a treat.

  21. Robert Champion Says:

    Yes little Waylon is a rage king….The jam is strong in this one.

  22. Mulitbeast Says:

    Speaking of the BB and the terraces, check out this photo. I can see the crew, and ther is Negev! Nice work!!/photo.php?fbid=10150248884216290&set=a.10150248879446290.321887.6458611289&type=1&pid=7911603&id=6458611289

  23. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    little split reference from trey in this sand

  24. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    official poster

  25. negev79 Says:

    Yes! There I am! Third terrace up, far left, orange hat, white shirt, green pants, one hand up like “oh yeah bring it band!”


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