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. stapes Says:

    simultaneous post = simultaneous ideas


  2. bearito Says:

    ^ yes indeed

  3. EL Duderino Says:

    gonna try and try out this so called “O.S.” and see if it’s “All That”.

    lookin’ forward to my “Cracker” tho’

  4. DukeOfLizards Says:


    I think it’s hurricane-related, but not because people aren’t at work – I think a lot of the northeast is powerless right now. I’ve heard from friends ranging from southern NJ to the greater Boston area that they probably won’t have power until at least midweek.

  5. bearito Says:

    Running through some old entries and I stumbled upon this gem

    about 16 minutes in


  6. EL Duderino Says:

    Yes 12/06/97 is a great 2nd set

  7. bearito Says:

    need to dig it up off one of my external HD’s

    What a f’n Tweezer

    moves so effortlessly from one segment to another

  8. tela'smuff Says:

    4 days people. Friday night will be historic. i feel it.

    webcasting these shows also makes me think there could be some kind of additional shenanigans.


  9. stapes Says:

    getting excited. productivity is at an all-time low.

  10. EL Duderino Says:


  11. stapes Says:

    maybe i should just take the whole week off.

  12. joe Says:

    Is it wrong of me to complain that they didn’t release an official video for the last 2 shows? we are very spoiled in 2011

  13. makisupa Says:

    I’m ready for another go-to jam

    I’ve been listening to 12.29.97 and I almost can’t believe it’s from that year in phishtory

    it’s crisp and tight, very different from the phuzz of the phall tour

    I’m going to spin rochester (very serious go-to jams) and see where I wind up in re-assessing the fall tour 1997

    My assessment of 2011: Carini is better than ever, amongst other things

    nice gorge segment @miner. i like the tweezer more than the sand. random shout of “#$%kerpants” on the tape when Caspian rolls out – I’ve always liked this song, never got the disdain

  14. tela'smuff Says:

    2 weeks off in between
    first night of a 3 show run
    no touring rest of year possibly
    coming off of what i consider to be their best summer tour (or any tour maybe) since Summer ’99.

    = let it all hang out. jams, setlists, antics.

    night 1 CO will be huge in some manner shape or form.

  15. phoammhead Says:

    no, it is not, joe . . . after all, expectations are meant to be fulfilled, no?

  16. phoammhead Says:

    i’m spinning gorge rnr . . . for the umpteenth time.

  17. phoammhead Says:

    damn, wish i had plans for colorado and no work for a lifetime . . .

  18. EL Duderino Says:

    3 nights = One super jammy show, one dance party show and one Rock and Rollie show, like UIC me thinks

  19. tela'smuff Says:

    not sure if they can pull off another RnR. so utterly original.

    but i think they’ll go very deep.

  20. phoammhead Says:

    anyway you look at it, dude, gonna be bomb!

    hope you have a blast, btw! and have a safe trip.

  21. tela'smuff Says:

    been a while since my last Harpua as well. i’d like to get some antics.

    and still waiting on my Dog Log.

  22. EL Duderino Says:

    dog log would be special!

    thanks phoamm. it’s a win win.

  23. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Same formula as the other runs, like el dude said.

  24. EL Duderino Says:

    DAAM would be nice to cross of the list but I doubt it with the UIC and all

  25. EL Duderino Says:

    yeah Palmer…

    it’s something for everybody

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