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:

    i love that picture, Multibeast

    “what happens when it happens”

    that’s what I’d call that picture

  2. lastwaltzer Says:

    I don’t like the poster but i do like the nod to the venue

  3. Mulitbeast Says:

    Fitting title for that photo SW.

    We were getting DOWN on those terraces. There is me in the green jacket brown hat.

    So strange to be back at work today. To all going tonight, enjoy the bowl!

  4. Mulitbeast Says:

    I was not crazy about the gorge poster but I have to admit it really has grown on me. Would have loved to have on now….

    Agree LW that the nod to the venue in tonight’s poster is pretty cool.

  5. SillyWilly Says:

    For a second I thought I saw Jtran

    but I don’t see the AC flatbrim….so I can’t be sure.

    haha. just kidding.

  6. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i think i see robear in the shadows

  7. Robert Champion Says:

    Listeners are also encouraged to call The Sloping Companion Hotline and leave messages related to all things Phish and our program. This hotline will also be used when running contests and give-a-ways. Call anytime and leave a message @ 1-630-317-7033 Be as weird or straight up as you would like and we will use it on the show! Tell us what you think!

  8. Guyute711 Says:

    Hey Silver, peach pit after dark post show?

  9. ThePigSong Says:

    terraces look bad ass. looks like there is a ton of open space too.

  10. albert walker Says:

    Went to high school with a rob champion

    You class of 94?

    Landed in LA kids!
    Let’s do this.

  11. butter Says:

    Miner in the mixcloud with the sloping companion

  12. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    tonight’s getting the dark, psychedelic journey

  13. leo weaver Says:

    Leaving Bend, next stop Tahoe! Great little stop along the road in Bend. Hit 3 breweries with telas and Alf…Silver Moon gets the top nod for their Hop Fury IPA. Don’t miss it if you get the chance to sample.

  14. butter Says:

    Love the space funk jazz that’s achieved in Sand before Tweez comes back

    Like really love it

    Did mr c turn into moon dust

    CA dreaming AW – welcome

  15. SillyWilly Says:

    Have fun tonight, AW

    can’t wait to chill tomorrow.

  16. negev79 Says:

    Waputnik – great post!

    Nothing like when that moment hits and you know you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

  17. lastwaltzer Says:

    Beatles Bar Opens In Cuba

  18. SillyWilly Says:

    Maybe a Phish bar will open in Cuba next…

    taste the fear
    taste the fear

    for the devil’s drawing near

  19. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    cannot focus.

    pre-rolled for BBers

    Ha Ha Ha

  20. Waputik Says:

    @Negev79, thanks, you are dead on. Until seeing the Aurora, I REALLY wanted to be down in the fray (terraces, floor, lower hill, etc), but my experience felt so right for me at that moment.

    No Quarter sounds creeping into Roggae ~9 min in.

  21. plord Says:

    Definitely Jtran and Alex next to Negev in that picture. If that’s the 6th, then in the blue shirt behind jtran is alf, and that *might* be my beard and black hat hovering over jtran’s head.

    Could be totally wrong. We had a ton of room and people moved around.

  22. multibeast Says:

    Safe travels Leo, Telas, Alf.

  23. phoammhead Says:

    getting ready to eat the rest of my stash and board a plane . . . i’ve got the gorge shows downloaded and ready for liftoff . . . again!

    incredible weekend here for my first visit to the pacific northwest.

    bek and i took yesterday and waded in the columbia river gorge, went to mtn ranier national park, and went to downtown seattle for dinner.

    now, let’s do this one more time . . . might as well! 🙂

  24. negev79 Says:

    You got it Plord – that is you for sure. And Alf and Jtran too.

    Damn we had a crew this weekend:
    Multi and the soon to be Mrs Multibeast
    Leo Weaver
    William T Bonney
    C and Mrs C
    Jtran and Mrs Jtran
    Robear and his lovely SLF
    Mango Bob Dylan

    I’m sure there were more but that’s off the top of my head. Missed Sumodie, KWL, Phoamm and BEK…next time for sure. I think I met Snowbank briefly but not sure (sorry if so, I know you understand why)

    BB represent!

  25. negev79 Says:

    Plord, that’s you behind the guy in the red hat…my friend John.

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