Awesome Without Exploration

8.5.11 - Graham Lucas

It’s often been said that I don’t give credit to shows that don’t include outside-the-box jamming. While my affinity certainly lies in the unknown, the second night of the Gorge is a show that disproves any such theories. Without diverging from song structure (less a first set “Wolfman’s” that transformed into “Maze”) Phish put together a standout performance, one that I loved to the core, without any “type II” jamming. Using confident and powerful playing, larger-than-life dance grooves, and creative interplay all night long, Phish threw down a show that has gone under-appreciated in the rightful shadow of the previous night’s breakthrough performance.

While Phish didn’t craft any alternate realities on this evening, they sculpted a groove-focused show with airtight interplay, a creative setlist and relentless flow. And though they weren’t traveling the outer realms of the Milky Way, the guys crafted a set of spectacular dance grooves that contained nary a lull throughout.

8.6.11 (G.Lucas)

Anchored by two dark explorations of rhythm, the second set is one of the most listenable of the summer with sweet-sounding grooves flowing night long. A filthy “Tweezer” that has flown way under the radar due to monster “Sand” that follows, contains all sorts of funked up action and uncompressed swagger before releasing into a patient, guitar-led build and cerebral denouement. With only a “Caspian” separating them—a “Caspian” that saw Trey dig and let loose—Phish cranked out two of their swankiest groove vehicles. Segueing into “Caspian” from “Tweezer” and out of the song, unfinished, into “Sand,” the band cranked out one crunchy groove after another amidst the Gorge aka “Heaven In the Form of a Concert Venue.”

On September 11th of 1999, Phish debuted “Sand” out of a silky “Wolfman’s” jam at the Gorge. The song crossed over from Trey’s power trio and became a platform for guitar annihilation on the big stage. But when the band dropped into the same song twelve years later on the same stage, they were playing with a whole different beast. Having undergone a metamorphosis last fall from a one-man show into a whole band jam, “Sand” had seen several standout versions during June’s opening leg. And when the song came out for its West Coast homecoming, it exploded.

Gorge (Masthay)

A laid-back, James Brown groove that Trey alternately broke up with a pitch-bent whale calls had the Gorge pulsating as Phish set sail into this scorcher. Within these large, open-air textures, Mike’s and Fishman provided a ultra-danceable pocket while Trey and Page tickled the top with the type of funk accompaniment that draws howls on listen back. Progressing into a more aggressive sequence, Trey took command of the jam and as the band built to a ferocious peak, he laid down the “Tweezer” lick and everyone hopped on, slowing the pace back into the big dog, outright. Though the band had a chance to drop a second “Tweezer” jam on a silver platter, they deferred for a quasi-classic slowdown ending and a change of pace with “Birds.”

Few things sound more old-school than a “Reba” “Antelope” combination, a pairing that seems unprecedented in this day and age. But that is exactly how this set wound up. Without moving from structure, and launching off an abbreviated “Golden Age,” Phish threw down two more stirring renditions. Complete with a “recap” of the set within the “Antelope” intro (and jam), the band capped the evening with a big-time one-two punch. And we haven’t even mentioned the first set, a frame that contained doses of standout jamming in “Limb” and “Wolfman’s -> Maze.”

After an opening night of tour that touched the very core of the band’s raison d’etre, this second night of ballistic Phish anthems felt like a refreshing bath in an endless pool of groove. Focusing not on cosmic exploration, but dance floor action and lockstep improv, the guys threw down a monster show on the second night of the Gorge. And it had nothing to do with exploratory jamming.


Jam of the Day:

Tweezer > Caspian -> Sand -> Tweezer” 8.6.11

The thick of the second set.



In Other News…

Surrender to The Flow: Phish Yoga in Denver


Portland Phish fan and yoga instructor, Chris Calarco, has put together a yoga concept class that blends Phish jams with the flow of his instruction. He taught these at Super Ball and at Lake Tahoe, and will be teaching a couple more in Denver this weekend. Here are the details from Chris:

“On 9/3 and 9/4 in downtown Denver join me for Surrender to the Flow: Phish Yoga. Warm, stretch, and strengthen your body to fully celebrate what could be the final Phish shows of the year. Phish and yoga are two paths calling to those of us seeking more; alternate yet similar pathways to divine spirit. Make a physically devotional offering to classic and 3.0 jams thematically connected to yoga philosophy. Click Chris’s website or the class’ Facebook page for all the info.

Classes are at Root Yoga Center from 2:00pm – 3:15pm

$20 pre-registered for one class, $30 pre-registered for two classes. $25 at the door.

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261 Responses to “Awesome Without Exploration”

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  1. Corey Says:

    Love the Gorge. Dig the view. However, I don’t think the venue needs the words above it. Those that are there…they already know. Thanks for the (re)view Mr. Miner.

    Have fun in CO. You know, as much fun as you can have in one of our most beautiful states…while listening to some of the most beautiful sounds….

    Glad all made it safely through the storm. Now, can we have at least a week of summer before leaves fall and snow accumulates? Thank you, thank you very much. Back to Beantown this eve. Hoping our garden has survived the wind and rain. G’night all.

  2. BrandonKayda Says:

    What’s up Corey?

  3. BrandonKayda Says:

    Gorge RnR would be a strange tune to meditate to IMO

  4. Foul_Domain Says:

    Totally agree, Miner. I felt the same way about Darien this year. Im always looking for type II, but the dancefest that was the Darien show was a welcome alternative.

    btw, a couple of the links to Chris’ pages are dead…

    pfft – what kind of website are you running here anyway?? 😉

  5. Foul_Domain Says:

    best Phish yoga tune – Fukuoka Twist!

  6. kdub Says:

    Nice writeup. It’s reviews like this that make mr miner the best of Phish blogs.

  7. st8 of mind Says:

    Nice work Miner. Need to give this show a listen.

  8. EL Duderino Says:

    48 hours ’til I’m on a plane to the Mile High city

  9. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Great review of a stellar show Miner.

    We are still w/o power here on eastern long island. Smartphones rule in emergency type situations.

    Corey- my garden didn’t fair so well.

  10. bob dylan Says:

    Morning all. Look! The storms gone!

    Lets make it a good one.

  11. bob dylan Says:

    I’m going back and spinning the tour all the way thru. Still looking for codes for 8.10 and 8.17 if anyone has em to kick down.

  12. butter Says:

    Miner – thats just a high quality write up

    stoked to spin Gorge 2

    ” he laid down the “Tweezer” lick and everyone hopped on, slowing the pace back into the big dog, outright. ” -Miner ….Love it

  13. butter Says:

    and do Phish yoga if you can, kids

    did it both days in Tahoe

    Chris is a fun, solid Teacher, and it will hook you up with just the right amount of exercise and toxin release for shows

  14. DryIceFactory Says:

    Gorge II, LA, Tahoe II, UIC3.

    The “fun” shows. I would have killed to be at any of those shows this tour.

  15. tela'smuff Says:

    many small vermont towns devastated by flooding. vibes sent to them. hope plord and jtran are all good.

  16. kdub Says:

    @Dylan – Email me kevincwasik@gmail

  17. Jtran Says:


    All good here. Burlington didn’t get it bad at all, most likely because it is one of the few towns here on top of a hill, not at the bottom of one. Just read that Obama’s declared a state of emergency here, mostly because of the situation in southern VT.

    We lost power for about 30 mins yesterday, but that’s about it. I know plord lost power for much longer (and still may be without). He also lives right on a river and lake, but I haven’t heard anything regarding flooding in his area.

  18. Snigglebeach Says:

    you don’t have to prove your devotion Miner, what other people say (myself included) is irrelevent. your take is your take. I usually agree.

    that being said, no one ever doubted u enjoyed a show with a tweezer, reba and antelope..

    and thanks for this weekends vids. using this site with my phone, I still cant play reg audio clips u post,but videos always work.

    thanks again for all u do in the community.. have fun in colorodo

  19. Mike in Austin Says:

    I wish I had the pre-show giddies like some of y’all going out to Colorado.

  20. stapes Says:

    vibes to all you EC’ers hit by Irene.

    tough monday morning in the office. what’s new? computer crashed this weekend. luckily all was backed up.

    busy week. can’t wait for friday to let it loose.

  21. lastwaltzer Says:

    Ghost 7/15/99 $$$ now thats how you start a fucking show.

  22. angryjoggerz Says:

    My wife this am was like “i don;t understand why you dont just go to Colorado, I mean, arent they the last shows of the year?”

    God I love this woman. Still, because of that love, I am not going. I have about 1.5 months of travel away from the family coming up before new years and that is too much for me, personally, to be away. Still, the happiness is still there because I feel the love.

  23. lastwaltzer Says:

    “. I have about 1.5 months of travel away from the family coming up before new years”aj

    damn dude. Don’t know how you do it.

  24. bob dylan Says:

    Buddy had a code for 8.17. Thanks guys.

  25. BingosBrother Says:

    Mornin all. ? Does anyone know if there is a site where you can stream older phish shows? Been wanting to dig into some old stuff, but don’t want to DL everything to hear a few songs. Any help appreciated.

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