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. Mulitbeast Says:

    Amazing crew this weekend. My lady was really glad I made sure we met up with my ‘internet friends’. She had a ball and so did I.

  2. snowbank Says:

    Hey BB!

    Finally able to share some from the amazing weekend. WoW! does phish bring it to the gorge or what? My review: It was awesome.

    It was great seeing BB crew all weekend. Nice to meet you Negev! And see Leo, Jtran, Alf and mitch. Then I also got to meet robear, MrC, Plord and I think I meet others whose actual names I remember. I even grooved with Robear for awhile. I kept trying to make it up to the BB camp on the terrace but kept getting stuck with my local crew. It was a new problem for me having sooo many awesome friends I want to see at a show. I can’t tell you all how much I appreciate all of you as new friends. and now a story about my crew…

  3. garretc Says:

    About to mob over to the airport for sea-tac > sac > Burbank!

    More Phish, gotta love it.

    Hey voopa, shoot me an email if you’re around: garretconour at gmail. Or if anyone else has voopas email, let me know… Thanks!

  4. lastwaltzer Says:


    Alf is KWL lol

  5. phoammhead Says:

    yeah, too bad i missed most of you bbers. but, the groupme texting was entertaining to stay somewhat bb connected.

  6. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Phish slays
    The BB provides
    and the tour goes on and on

    nice work everyone. keep it up.

  7. DocGanz Says:

    Whatup Matso? How you been? Cant wait to hang again- on the next Europe tour or next time you get a chance to make it over here.

    Waputik- great post earlier- wouldve commented earlier, but just catching up. Welcome to the pham.

    Will be meeting up with crew in Tahoe but anyone at the Bowl tonight who wants to catch up, email me soon (leaving in two hours) with your number, and Ill do the same. Garretc, last time we hung in Camden I had a blank space where my mind should be- hope we cross paths along the way. Voopa, anyone else, the emails docganz at hotmail dot com.

  8. makisupa Says:

    just back from a weekend in Toronto

    Epic weddings and parties, so much fun and NOW

    I get to jump into some Gorge audio @ work

    going for the jugular – Golden Age. so smooth, trey almost whispering the lyrics. Can’t wait to hear the Antelope, my wife and I both gasped a bit seeing it ending a Gorge show

    I will read back, but I know looking at the set flow that it was another great Gorge weekend, especially a Tweezer sandwich to chew on and a late show Reba for the old timey phans

    Thank you Robert Champion! More great online programming.

    AGAIN! Mr Miner, to speak so beautifully about the music – literally in the moment – is breathtaking. Your reviews are getting better and better. It doesn’t hurt that I agree completely about Phish @ the Gorge, it does something to their sound which they can play with – the music plays the band, and the setlist isn’t the real story

    and i guess it’s gravatar time…..

  9. garretc Says:


    Haha, no worries man, I was similarly incapacitated at the time… If you see a hella tall kid in a orange brim giants hat, it’s probably me, just give a holler…

  10. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    t-minus 4 hours til i board the plane to burbank

  11. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    garret is is vooopa (3oos) at giggity mailio

  12. garretc Says:

    Awesome, thanks pb

  13. snowbank Says:

    So, a friend, Mrs Hawaii, took some L from a friend during the 2nd show. He was already pretty wasted and gave her a lot. At the start of the 2nd set,s he was saying she was super high. Highest ever and she has a long history with many types of psychedelics. So we knew to keep an eye on her.
    You know how in plane accidents there are always at least three thing that go wrong? The first was an inexact L dose! The second was that we let her go to the bathroom by herself. Some how she did and at the end of the show we noticed she was gone. We all huddel and the last place someone saw her was leaving the bathroom. She seemed to be headed back and wasn’t.
    She we waited and we fanned out and looked around. No sign of her. So we waited until the place cleared out. The kicker: she left everything from her sweater to her phone. Eventually we walked up to the top and waited. Almost everyone was gone so we headed back to camp. I called local hospitals and talked to security. we weren’t sure what we could do so we went back to wildhorse cg. still not there. eventually we went to sleep… aftering leaving info and numbers with both campground staff… knowing our friend is out there somewhere super spun with no money, phone etc… just a wildhorse campground bracelet.
    So at 5am I get a phone call from our friend. Mrs Hawaii is back at wildhorse. Two gentlemen walked her over from the gorge camping lot. They had found her somewhere between the venue and the camping lot in the fetal position totally spun. They were spun too and weren’t sure exactly when they had found her!!! (Awesome). Mrs Hawaii was so spun that she couldn’t tell them her name or phone number, so they just took her with them and took care of her all night. Mrs Hawaii said someone at the camp was particularly comforting and made sure she was warm and comfortable, etc. When she finally chilled enough, they walked her back to wildhorse. Our friend was there for her and thanked the gentlemen profusely and dent them away with beverages and treats.

    Mrs Hawaii had an awesome trip. It was the lowest and the highest she ever felt. She remembered feeling like she was in purgatory for losing us when she was at the gorge and had to keep walking up to get out which likely explains how she left (our group was down, not up). And well, the stories about her visions were enetertained us all morning.
    I tried to keep faith all night knowing that people are awesome and that someone would take care of her.. but she didn’t even have her FUCKING SHOES!!! First time I lost a spunion, not sure if it will be the last.

    Also – i had to tell my friend that I sent him the ticket. He kept telling everyone that the band sent him a ticket. He was still super stoked and loved the gag. Thanks again Sumodie.

  14. Waputik Says:

    @DocGanz, thanks. Everyone all weekend was so understanding and supportive of us bringing our little guy that I had to share a long but powerful story from a different perspective. Can’t wait to take him when he’s older…

    Gorge Meatstick has Fire On the Mountain ALL over it!

    Jealous of the folks on tour, Hollywood Bowl Mike’s is going to be epic!!!

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    @waputik great post on p4. I did the kid groove @ Gorge in 09 and know exactly some of the feelings you describe.

    just getting caught up. many of my weekend highlights happened at the hotel room and are strictly NSFW but musically the obvious highlights were Roggae, RnR, Tweezer and the segment from the Sand peak (which was nuts) into the 2nd Tweezer jam. The peaked-out Gin and Limb were among the strong first-set moments.

    In general everything was played with fire and intention and the crowd was, for the most part, full engaged in the moment, joyous and energetic without being obnoxious or intrusive.

    Socially speaking, it was great to meet everyone, and see people again. Hung out a lot with @negev79 and some of her crew, and @Wm Bonney, and @Leo Weaver and others, all of whom were as awesome as one could hope, and again, pretty much as you’d expect them to be from online.

    Everyone was really cool about giving me space to be in wife oriented mode which was great. She enjoyed meeting everyone and had fun at the shows, though as a very oldschool phish fan that only sees a few shows a year, she’s pretty ready to get lucky and see a less standard setlist. She loved the jams and the performance level but was hoping for a less rock-oriented & standards-driven setlist. To be honest I feel the same way but I had such a great time I could care less.

    It seemed to me like Trey went back and forth between matching the vibe perfectly, and his typical forcing-the-issue misreading of the moment. Not in a terrible way, but I felt the first show deserved a stronger ending and the second show deserved a deeper dive somewhere in the middle, just a break from the frenetic energy….the moment that was most possible was at the Tweezer Jam after Sand…that could have melted down easily. But the Birds kids got their call, and Trey made some people happy, which is what he wants to do, so there you go.

    It’s a totally different, less bruising, and much less depressing form of phish whiplash than the 2.0 version, but there’s still a little of that.

    The scene itself was essentially ideal. Perfect weather, perfect crowd – all the right people were missing, I kept saying, which just took the edge off a little bit, crowdwise…great scene…fun shows with a few staggeringly big highlights…Big Dipper over the stage, though I missed the Northern Lights…Phish at the Gorge, baby!

    lots of little specific stories and anecdotes as time allows. busy busy

  16. snowbank Says:

    I forgot to add – people can be awesome. Ususally they suck and cut you off in traffic and shit, but they can beautiful. Definitely more beauty on display than shithead this weekend.

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    lol I don’t see us in that crowd photo, maybe b/c I kept giving the camera person the finger when they’d focus on us…kept pointing that fucking thing at us when I was trying to spark a preroll

  18. leo weaver Says:

    Nice story snowbank. I was a little afraid I may have gotten to that point when I looked at the puddle your buddy dumped in my hand. Teetered on the edge for a while but held it together pretty well. Tell him thanks again. Good to see you. And one more big thanks for directing our spunion selves to the bus. That walk woulda been brutal.

  19. makisupa Says:

    nice post @waputik! aurora’d

    assuming you’ve done the floor/terraces before, it’s nice to take in the sky view @ the Gorge, esp. with Baby Waputik to think about

    took a flabbergasted friend from the floor up to the top o’the hill to chill after the amazing set 1 of 7.17.98, so great up there. Went down to rock the terrace space for the epicness that followed, knowing he and his lady would be cosmically well placed up there.

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    start of MEatstick was a comically spanking “yes of course we could play a GD song for you now and no we are not going to” moment as it sometimes is

    I enjoyed watching people think it was going to happen but I’ve been meatstick’d before

    incredible story @snowbank, wow! alls well that ends well, etc

  21. Robert Champion Says:

    Albert Walker: Who are you? i did graduate in 1994.

    Do we know each other?

    Thanks for all the support today guys and girls. It would be a huge help if you went to and clicked on the follow button. Followers to the show have special access to contests and give a ways. We will be giving away all sorts of phish related things – tickets, posters…the whole nine. Contest winners will also have one of a kind songs written about them for the show and for their own personal enjoyment. We have some great things in store. Click on follow to learn more.

  22. Mulitbeast Says:

    First night, Leo, Telas, me and my lady had a helluva time finding that wildhorse bus. Damn.

    Big thumbs up for the wildhorse. Really great program they are running there….I would highly recommend it.

  23. voopa Says:

    Contacted garret, thanks PB. Airport bound!

  24. leo weaver Says:

    Wildhorse definitely has it dialed in. Every detail covered.

  25. eljefe Says:

    Is the whole BB in that pic? I’m in the upper left corner….Double thumbs up to the whitehorse. Multi- Did you get to play the huge Jenga?

    What a great weekend!! Our crew had 7 1st timers! I know 2 GOT IT after the 1st night!! It was awesome looking over and seeing them just slack jawed and then shit eating grinnin’…

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