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”

  1. bob dylan Says:

    does the meat locker have anything to do with chi-town besides just stepping into the freezer?

  2. bob dylan Says:

    is it a jungle reference?

  3. bob dylan Says:

    nvm. googled the jungle and confirmed. those are really great prints.

    step into the freezer (tweezer) – the jungle
    bathtub gin – bathtub gin prohibition shiz
    phish is like the mob cause they get all our money – al capone

  4. alf Says:

    loved gorge 2. spun set 2 earlier after checking miner’s piece this morning, just a fun ass set, especially from the middle of the BB terrace crew. forgot about the cool breeze blowing in during reba, awesome moment.

    now time for first spin of uic 2 since the show

    have listened to limb, and disease>twist a couple times though, and let it loose like 20 – other than that dont remember what was played besides a first set chalkdust that got gnarly and a theme in set 2

  5. bob dylan Says:

    someone mentioned to me that there is ALWAYS a cool breeze during reba, hood, slave and other cathartic jams.

    think about it and make a mental note for next time. just when its sweaty, they drop a reba and either the way people dance or synchronicity, it gets cooler.

  6. bob dylan Says:

    meant to note that since they told me, i’ve noticed it every time. indoor or outdoor its always true. I’ve tried to figure it out but then got too blessed out to care.

  7. alf Says:

    i’m a fluffer though. walking out i loved every show i caught on leg 2

    except maybe uic 3, though i had a damn good time down on that floor. and really i loved that show too until the makisupa

  8. joe Says:

    I’ve always thought that they pumped in cool air into hot, sweaty indoor venues during hood and slave from way back when. think it was the lsd, but still…

  9. bob dylan Says:


  10. joe Says:

    esp. hood

  11. alf Says:

    what up bobby. maybe it was the collective gasp at a late set 2 reba at the gorge that changed the atmospheric dynamics, ya know, shifted the pressure gradient or something

    (maybe it was just a cool breeze)

  12. bob dylan Says:

    maybe joe mentioned it last year and i crossed it over to a sober thing..

  13. bob dylan Says:

    well i was thinking specifically the reba at uic first night indoor. that bitch was so hot i’m surprised it didn’t set fire.

  14. bob dylan Says:

    so again, it carries over to all versions.

  15. Mr.Miner Says:

    meat packing industry in chicago…

  16. alf Says:

    dig d&m as an opener (totally forgot about that). was there a joke i’m missing that warranted ha ha ha, or just played for the giant sign hanging from the rafters both nights? that tune is strange as a random stand alone first setter (e.g. see AC for perfect placement)

    then into the ripping chalkdust. hot start.

  17. bob dylan Says:

    ya but we have a meat packing district too. i had forgotten the jungle was based out of chicago.

    google school. educating ‘murkin’s since 1996

  18. BrandonKayda Says:

    The Jungle. I remember that book from history class.

    I love how people completely missed the point about the plight of the working man in an unfair and unjust environment and instead thought their food was spoiled. Way to get the point guys 😉

  19. win butler Says:

    wow, good insight BK. i actually prefer your take on it. i thought it was just about spoiled tubesteak.

  20. bob dylan Says:

    way to kill the board, win.

  21. bob dylan Says:

    i’m out. catch you people tomorrow when i again try to figure out the CO trip.

  22. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    BK, how was your first day of school kiddo?

  23. Tom Says:

    Damn just had a weekend from hell. Working the grocery store was insanity. Worked Thurs-to today. Had to work late every night, in terrible conditions, if you live in MA you know what I am talking about. My store is also undergoing expansion and remodeling so there is no room anywhere for carriages. The ceilings started to leak as well so I was on my hands and knees cleaning the floor for hours. The store was packed all day, and most were very irritable worrying about the storm before or worrying about power after and the store was running of a single generator the last two days. Sorry for killing the mood, just needed to vent……….

  24. Stupendous Says:

    i have one question only!

    Who is coming to CO to the Phishdicks mayhem?!

    Let I n I know

    Jah bless!

  25. BrandonKayda Says:


    It went pretty well I think. Took a placement test in Advanced Music Studies for theory – really hoping i did good on it so I can get into theory 2. I think I messed up on some really easy stuff but we’ll see.

    AP Literature is going to kick my ass but the books will be good.

    Philosophy should be good.

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