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. tela'smuff Says:

    yeah. been chasing that Dinner and a Movie as well.

  2. Mr. Palmer Says:

    pretty sure my hD just crashed….awesome

  3. Mr. Palmer Says:

    wheww… back. that was scary for a moment.

  4. EL Duderino Says:

    don’t leave ’em plugged in all the time Palmer…

    something to do with the power circuitry or something. Mitch said that’s what probably happened to mine. the HD is ok but i can’t get it to turn on anymore. so i have to remove the hd and install it into another body. I now unplug my GD 1TB drive

  5. Mike in Austin Says:

    Picked up a 2 gig external HD at Costco for $89 this weekend.

    So cheap now to have a good backup.

  6. albert walker Says:

    was out of my head all 3 nights UIC so it never really hit me but UIC didn’t get the dance party set you’d expect in a 3 night run.

    it got sick, psych rock, sick psych rock, WTF

    on respins this weekend night 2 just kept getting better and better. this is a disgustingly sick 3.0 phish show that at first was overshadowed to my ears by the night before.

    also for me ADITL just instantly pisses me off about a set for some reason.

    I left the show feeling it was a sick show limb x limb > Tweezer, + YEM and the rest was somewhat standard.

    on tape after several spins the whole show is just $$$$. just on point performance from the boys throughout. really love this show.

    so 2 great jam heavy phish shows and a clunker. I’ll take that in Colorado for sure.

    also Tahoe 1 is just a sick, sick 2 set phish show. love that shit.

    slow day of work. everyone just kicks it till we come back in September. looking forward to seeing some Phish with my old crew and my girl. got a balcony room up at the Warick which is key also. taste what all my colorado kids are kicking out.

    laterz ya’ll
    phish is good
    miss tour

  7. willowed Says:

    Just got in the house after the clean up. Took all fucking day.

    Hope all you cats are OK out there.

    Can’t wait to leave for CO.

    That UIC LimbXLimb is a keepr for sure. Hot playing in that little number. I recalystreaming that baby on couch tour (wish I was on real tour) and saying that was the goods.

  8. albert walker Says:

    not sure if this link will work. but I’m officially a custie. framed up my set of UIC Masthay’s yesterday. pretty sick.

  9. albert walker Says:

    meant limb x limb through twist and YEM in that last post

  10. EL Duderino Says:

    how much was that frame job?

    looks real nice!

  11. Mr.Miner Says:

    so we are the non-hurricaned crowd…what uuup.

  12. voidboy Says:


    Those prints look sweet. Nice edition, I’m sure.

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    sick frame job @ aw!

  14. albert walker Says:

    A bit over 200. UV glass and its pretty fuckin big

    Good omen phish releasing my 2 fav Colorado jams I caught there in around 30 shows there

    Mikes and that tweezer ate alltime favs of mine

  15. albert walker Says:

    Chilling miner. Like the band I needed these 2 weeks to get back to game shape

  16. EL Duderino Says:

    Yeah, the better glass does cost

  17. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I hope AJ releases more of those prints. I want those badly. Look great.

  18. Mr.Miner Says:

    200 for that? That’s a ridiculously good price…

  19. sumodie Says:

    highly recommend catching the phish webcasts, very cool of phish inc to do that

    hopefully theyll offer the 48hr on demand option -that made tahoe1 very addictive

    in nyc today, all seems back to normal

  20. willowed Says:

    AW’s that frame work is sweet.

    That’s a nice piece to look at! Love those prints.

  21. Mr. Palmer Says:

    ‘200 for that? That’s a ridiculously good price…’

    i thought the same thing. Place by me would charge 300-350 for that i think.

  22. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Still have the PNC print from AJ that i need to frame up. Slacker

  23. albert walker Says:

    I did the framing myself at the store for 230

    For them to do it 300

    I love those prints palmer. The cop and politician watching the bathtub gin get poured down the sewer is vintage Chicago

    Love the skyline too

  24. willowed Says:

    Hey Miner. Hope the family is doing OK. If I recall, your parents are near me in CT.

    We got pucnhed around a bit. Hope they’re OK (if they’re still in CT.)

  25. makisupa Says:

    all-colorado LB hmmm

    antics expected in denver

    nice frame job, what an amazing triptych. loved his gorge too

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