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:

    random fun observation: the kids on the floor tried gamely to gather up glowsticks and start a glow thing but every time they coordinated to throw a big fountain of glow in the air all at the same time…it was exactly coordinated with a huge blast of white light by CK5 that drwoned the whole thing out. Hilarious, happened several times. Either he’s sandbagging them (funnier explanation) or they’re just triggering off the same “big moment” cues (more likely)

    epic ck5 of course. almost goes without saying. very on point use of strobe flares especially

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    very interesting bit by Questo on the album in particular but also about the way people react to new music in general

  3. negev79 Says:

    I noticed that too Mr C! Funny as hell.

    Speaking of kids and glowsticks – one of the funniest moments for me was at one point Fri night, standing next to Tela’s, both gorked, and this kid literally tumbles by us down the terrace, rolling around, arms flailing. We were both like “ARGH, WTF is that kid doing???” We were a little scared the kid was dosed or something.

    Turns out, we eventually realized, he was after glowsticks.

  4. negev79 Says:

    I should add, in case it’s not clear, the kid really was a kid. Like 10 or something.

    I suck at stories today. Lol!

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    those kids pillaging through our area were hilarious

    at one point of of em comes over and plops down in our zone. I gave him this severe look of “I came here without my kid, damn if this is the babysitting zone, adults only there junior” hopefully without being a dick but he got hte point posthaste

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    actually it was just a well practiced parental look of



    he got it.

  7. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Boots on the ground here. What a craphole, when does the show start? Nothing for a hippy to do, though the Phishy population is starting to grow I did just see a stormtrooper so that was pretty cool.
    Thinking of hitting lunch at BoHo gastropub on Hollywood and Highland.

  8. Robear Says:

    Anyone heading toward or near Long Beach after the show?

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    y’all keep in mind it sounds like @pham needs a ride, ok?

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    he got ditched. don’t sleep on that, homeboy needs a pickup. leave no man behind y’all

  11. bob dylan Says:

    Just discussed at the lunch table: “what would it be like to masturbate with medical lotion?” (after talking about the different things you can get at a dispensary)

  12. bob dylan Says:

    Classic case of mitch says something weird and the board dies.

  13. lastwaltzer Says:


    just do everyone else a favor and don’t let on who was at the lunch table. Maybe their dignity can remain in tack.

  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    mitch eats lunch alone

  15. negev79 Says:

    “Classic case of mitch says something weird and the board dies.”

  16. Robert Champion Says:

    All I know is that if Phish plays Hollywood bowl ever again it will be number one or two on my list of must attend shows.

    Jesus that place is beautiful…

  17. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Yeah, driving by the grounds, the Bowl area looks great. Can’t wait for tonight. Anyone in the area? Meeting voopa here in a bit.

  18. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    No ride needed.

    Flathead screwdriver and a ’97 or earlier GM vehicle and I am good to go.

    Or $1.50 on the metro and 1/3 mile hoof…

    My presumed ride would have been fuller of tobacco smokers and that is lamer than a sparkly cape in my book.

    I photoshopped the tickets still working on creating a 9 block of tickets to create a base camp in the sweet spot.

    All good on this end.

  19. butter Says:

    Suisun city,ca

    En route to south lake

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    well @mitch

    I dunno about the medical lotion but I used to make extracted oils for use in interpersonal relations….ghee can work for that too if its well made and you don’t kind the smell (which I did after awhile)

    never drove it solo but the stuff does absorb like crazy through mucus membranes

    so I say it’s a win

    they should have full-on cannabis extract lubes IMO…too bad you can’t really make a water based one though

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    now that your arms are out of the slings you can just science it and let us know though right?

  22. ThePigSong Says:

    I wish I had that house on the top of the hill at Hbowl. balln

  23. Willowed Says:

    The Bowl looks freakin beautiful. It’s designed purposely for sound right? If so, I see a monster Cities being dropped tonight so they can tweak out some plinko funk, ambient wall of sound type shit. That place looks like a giant balloon ready to pop with heavy beats!

    Cities tonight

    Mark it

  24. Willowed Says:

    Plus, CK5 is going to work some magic with that backdrop.

    It’s going to look like a living organism once he has his way with it.

    I wish I was in LA

  25. bob dylan Says:

    I’d rather someone else do the application but yeah if we get some I’ll keep you guys posted.

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