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. MrCompletely Says:

    word mitch

    the complications of psychedelicized social interactions…no worries at all

  2. negev79 Says:

    Yes absolutely C – we must all hang out. You and the Mrs could meet that elusive and mysterious SMF of mine. 🙂

  3. marcoesq Says:


    there some good indian joints round santa monica way if you’ve got transportation

    tandoor-india on pico blvd in santa monica is fantastic shit

  4. bob dylan Says:

    SMF, ha

  5. kayatosh Says:

    Long live phish and its kind fans.

    Much Love to you All.


  6. Robear Says:

    Mmm, but no car, Marco. Any by LAX?

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    sounds good. I think I still have your # in the phone from failed greek meetup attempts lol

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    lol Robear, you can’t do anything in LA without a car, what are you, a communist or something

  9. Beantownboy Says:

    Whatup, BB!

    Glad to hear that the Gorge lived up, and surpassed, the lofty expectations.
    Looking forward to spinning these shows.

    We were at a friends wedding in Ithaca, NY over the weekend. First time to that place and it had an interesting vibe to it. Almost on an Arcata level. Tucked way back in the hills, prominent bane shops in the downtown area (Headies was the name of the main headshop), and a cool vibe all around. Definitely recommend checking it out if you’re ever in the Finger Lakes Region.

    CO can’t hear here soon enough!

    But first I need to survive my own wedding in a few…

    @ Mitch

    Are you hitting up CO? Been entirely way too long since our paths crossed.

  10. Robear Says:


  11. marcoesq Says:

    yeah, robear, there’s a place in el segundo right by LAX that is pretty good. lemme text my buddy that’s local there and get name

  12. Robear Says:

    Who was Alf with at the Gorge and where was missus Alf?

  13. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    just watch your wallet if you go over to el segundo

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    fantastic twitter war this morning BTW re: Watch The Throne, the kanye/jayz album that just dropped (with zero leaks AFAIK)

    apparently if you don’t like it you’re a hater but if you do you’re a sucka

    sound familiar?

    Questo in the thick of things….funny shit

    about to bump the album after lunch here

  15. lastwaltzer Says:

    Don’t leave your wallet in el segundo :ting:

  16. lastwaltzer Says:

    fuck t3

  17. marcoesq Says:


    yes! he said there’s a tandoor-a-india right next to LAX. i’ve never been but pretty sure its the same franchise as one in SM. here’s info

    8406 Pershing Drive, CA 90293-7844
    (310) 822-1435

  18. marcoesq Says:



    and you too, lw

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    not really a fan of either kanye or jayz but still a little interested to hear this thing

  20. marcoesq Says:

    merrit badge pretty cool (relatively) tonight

  21. bob dylan Says:

    CO seems unlikely at this point. Work prob wants me to well, work.

    Need to trade shifts and find a cheap flight. Last I checked they werent cheap.

  22. Robear Says:

    Word marco! Found that on Yelp. Will try for thatnn

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    ::blows metaphoric smoke off finger tip::

    gotcha this time, waltzer :mrgreen:

  24. WanderMuch Says:

    Good shows, overall. Great way to open the second leg.

  25. Admiral Ackbar Says:

    T3 Shot First

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