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.

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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. Paul E. Roots Says:

    The second set in and of itself does nothing to disprove the common critique about you, Miner, which is your point in the first two sentences. Your *positive review* of that set (as opposed to Phish’s second set *itself*) detracts from the common ctiticism, but that is not what you said. A technical point about logical argument. nevermind. Pet peeve.

  2. Guyute711 Says:

    I hear ya marshall. Most of my time is gonna be spent with my friend who is battling cancer anyway. Ill be with a bunch of friends and we will be having some drinks at night. If you are around let me know.

  3. Phuzzy Says:

    @Paul Roots Why should anyone with an opinion have to change said opinion because one person or group of persons does not agree with said opinion. If you feel that Miner is soooooo mistakenly wrong or uneducated or blatantly dissing your band with his opinion, why continue to subject yourself to the obvious pain it causes you by reading this man’s opinions? If your musical experience hinges on someone else’s experience lining up with yours, I would suggest finding one of your buddies to start a blog so that they can regurgitate your review of each show. That way, you can be satisfied with your musical endeavors without having to get butt hurt every time you read this blog.

  4. [Not Tom] Says:

    @ guyute – will you be in town to see your friend who’s ill?

  5. tela'smuff Says:

    NTM – let me know if i can be of any help for your CO decision making/planning.

  6. [Not Tom] Says:

    @ guyute – I definitely will. My in-law Aunt will be here both of those nights, which is one of the reason’s I’m trying to get out of town. If I’m here, I’ll certainly be looking to get away from the house if I can.

  7. Guyute711 Says:

    Yeah ntm, probably be a golf outing one day too.

  8. angryjoggerz Says:

    TT afternoon sesh in sesh

  9. voopa Says:

    @Phuzzy- well put! Or as my radio buddies like to say, “If you don’t like it, change the station.”

    Hooray webcast!

  10. [Not Tom] Says:

    @ Tela’s – I’ve got a pretty good option as it stands right now – a father/son duo who lived 3 doors away from me growing up have offered to let me bunk up in their suite in Aurora on Colfax Blvd. My flight would get in at the same time as theirs so I’d have a ride as well. The Sr. wants to visit Boulder one of the days and I mentioned that that was where you live and thought you might be hosting a little get-together. If I make it, I’ll be looking to see you guys while there, whether that be pre-show or during the shows.

    Just trying to figure out what the consequences are going to be to the rest of my life if I make this trip. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal, unfortunately life is happening around me right now. Trying to make good decisions.

  11. Paul E. Roots Says:

    @Phuzzy: My only point was about the logic of the review, not about ANY of Miner’s opinions in it whatsoever. Indeed, I agree with Miner’s review here.

    Also, this is a public blog site as far as I am aware, so I don’t take your point I should not read it. Thanks.

  12. [Not Tom] Says:

    @ guyute – if I stay I would DEFINITELY be up for joining in on some golf if you guys need to fill out a foursome. Is this a group of his friends that are coming to see him or just you and him?

  13. tela'smuff Says:

    right on marshall. we’ll hook up one way or the other.

  14. Guyute711 Says:

    Large group of mutual friends

  15. Mr palmer Says:

    Webcast, eh?

    I’ll probably grab one night. Welcome to the future. How long till all shows have this option?

  16. [Not Tom] Says:

    FYI – Largest Beer selection downtown is at Barley’s Pizza, with some heady beers on tap down in the cellar below known as the Trapp Door. I’m sure your friend(s) will know of both.

  17. Phuzzy Says:

    @ Roots The logic, as I see it, is that Miner is trying to extend some kind of olive branch to all the folks that spew vitriol about his blog. By writing a clearly positive “second look” review of this show which, by all accounts, didn’t have a show stopping monster jam, he is stating that he can and does appreciate these types of shows contrary to “popular” belief. Are they the butter for his bread, no. Do they carry weight in the overall pantheon of Phish music, yes, just as much as every other show that doesn’t completely stand out because of epic, timeless jams.

    My suggestion to you was merely that. You do you. Yes, this is a public forum to discuss all things Phish and beyond. And you are right, wether speaking about this forum or in “real” life, there are no rules against being a douche. You are a free man.

  18. Admiral Ackbar Says:

    @Phuzzy: My only point was about the logic of the review, not about ANY of Miner’s opinions in it whatsoever. Indeed, I agree with Miner’s review here.

    Semantics police!

    6 Up!

  19. Admiral Ackbar Says:


    He’s just saying that Miner should have said that his “review of the second night of the Gorge is a review that disproves any such theories.”

    Technically a valid point.

    Trap, et cetera.

  20. bearito Says:

    Well this makes not being there a lot less painful.

  21. Kaveh Says:

    @Bearito: Indeed.

  22. stapes Says:

    “Welcome to the future. How long till all shows have this option?”

    this would be crazy

  23. Phuzzy Says:

    @ Admiral Yes. Trap indeed. I fell victim to one of the two most well known traps in the universe: You never get involved in a land war in Asia, and only slightly less well known, you never get into a death match with a Sicilian.

  24. Admiral Ackbar Says:

    I fell victim to one of the two most well known traps in the universe


  25. waputik Says:

    Paul E Roots@ It’s funny how a person can criticize slightly fuzzy logic with tremendously fuzzy statements! If you take logical arguments so seriously, you should try to make a coherent argument for yourself before trashing someone else’s implied but clear statements. FTR, EVERYONE that’s read the review (including yourself) knew what Miner meant, but NOONE understood your comments about the review until you clarified them.

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