A Portal to Paradise

"Rock and Roll" - 8.5.11 - The Gorge (Graham Lucas)

As the lights spun to the side of the stage just before the band launched into “Rock and Roll’s” jam, I looked out over the Gorge on a fresh head and thought to myself, “Is this really gonna’ happen?” I wasn’t sure what I meant. It was one of those transient thoughts that flash through your mind as quickly as they leave during an electric night at Phish. The sound was perfect, the weather divine, and on the first night of tour, it felt like the band was on the brink of something huge. Twenty minutes—or a lifetime—later as Phish seamlessly slid into “Meatstick,” bringing me out of an subconscious state, my soul had been wrenched by spiritual aliens, worked over by a funk seductress, and dragged deep into the dark side by a demonic, psychedelic muse. Phish had harnessed IT—that unspeakable power of the universe—in the course of one musical adventure for the ages. And when the dust settled on “Rock and Roll,” let alone “-> Meatstick -> Boogie On,” I had just lived a dream.

8.5.11 (G.Lucas)

This is the type of cosmic escapade that alters lives, moves metaphysical mountains—changes things. Walking up the terraces of the Gorge after the show, I—we—had been forever altered by such a profound evening with the Phish. Wide-eyed and beaming, still trailing stardust behind, I pondered the musical insanity that had just transpired. Phish had been playing unbelievably at Super Ball, but this was a different sort of scene. This was one of those nights where the guys’ playing was so natural and of the stars, it infused a sense of majesty into every unfolding moment. And moments seemed to be around every corner during this sequence. Fusing styles past and present, Phish molded a psychedelic symphony out of “Rock and Roll” that stands up to anything they’ve ever done. Period. (Not to mention one of the most fluid segues in history.)

8.5.11 (G.Lucas)

With improvisation so innovative and engaging, time stood still—or flew out the window. This was an experience that afterwards one looked back on in awe and respect rather that just as a piece of music. Everything flowed with such patience and prowess, and the band committed to taking us to places none of us had seen before—a collective musical discovery amidst the natural world. Building through distinct stages of improv without losing cohesion, Phish hit a sacred stride on this night. Something special happened; something that doesn’t occur at every show. The band created a piece of music that spoke to the very ethos of Phish, a jam that opened up an invisible doorway to a fantasy for which we criss-cross the nation.

Everything over the past two-plus years had built up to this. All the stepping stones of ’09 and ’10—all the sublime highlights and borked jams, missed transitions and musical triumphs—had brought us here; to the Gorge on August 5th, a night when everything changed again. Phish hadn’t dropped something like this before. Not in this context. Not with this palate of sound. Not ever. Throw the era qualifications right into the Columbia River Gorge. And when Mike dropped that bass line deep into the night, bringing the beat back from the netherworld, the Earth shook with delight as skulls shattered across the hillside. IT was real. And IT was good.

In fact, IT was alright.


Jam of the Day:

Rock and Roll -> Meatstick -> Boogie On” 8.5 II

A musical revelation on the first night of tour.



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277 Responses to “A Portal to Paradise”

  1. Mike in Austin Says:

    I appreciate my power. Immensely. And all those that work hard to bring it to me. Small round of applause over here.

  2. BingosBrother Says:

    this dude put together a sick compilation of phish if you are interested. 1980’s-2010


  3. halcyon Says:

    Definitely Bob D.

    You just have to bite your tongue when what you really want to do is tell them how you really feel!

    One story before I have to jump off.

    A few years ago we had an outage, it was summertime, during sunset. Person calls in to report the outage saying “I have 2 young children, what do I do with them?” I tell her crews are dispatched and will work on restoring power, and to take the kids outside and show them the stars.

    really? you don’t know what to do with kids when the lights are out? can’t imagine what it must be when cable or the internet is out for them.

    Either that, or their nanny spends all the time with the kids, and the parents are just with them when they go to their 15000 sq. ft house at the base of Buttermilk mtn in Aspen. ❓

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I really enjoy Foam when they nail it. Not an easy one to play and nail once a tour.

  5. Robear Says:

    Dang. All the regulars lost power.

  6. Robear Says:


  7. stapes Says:

    where are you at halcyon?

  8. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Just read back a little, and in case he somehow has a free moment to pop in and see what’s up….

    CONGRATULATIONS BUTTER on the birth of your son!

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    welcome to the rest of your night:


    there are a LOT of very very great stories in there but that one is a funny place to start

  10. Dr Pronoia Says:

    where do you find this shit, C??

    Hope all’s well with you, man.

    Just got back from Durham. Had an all day (like 13 hours, breakfast through dinner) interview at Duke. Should hear in a few weeks if I got it.

    My wife is justifiably freaking about such a major move, so who knows if I’ll take it even if it works out…

  11. bob dylan Says:

    can ya really blame em for laughing at the same people we do.

    they just laugh to the bank is all. don’t hate the playa hate the game.

  12. bob dylan Says:

    sorry, that was re: the dmb link

  13. bob dylan Says:

    this makes me wanna start going to questlove dj nights at bk bowl.

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    ?uestlove’s Celebrity Stories are kinda internet famous. He used to hang out and answer questions on the okayplayer forums, or somewhere like that, I forget exactly. I spaced this site, which collects those posts, until earlier tonight. Dig around in there, there is some seriously hilarious shit.

    Saw the @butter news on the tweeter a bit ago. Awesome!

    Good luck on the job. Freaking about practicalities is one of the things wives are for, no offense ladies but you know its true.

    Just dropped by to post that link. Work is crazy but good, came back from vaca to mad deadlines everywhere, all of which are being met successfully but I haven’t had any time to catch up. We’re streaming this weekend so I’ll check in when I can. peace

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    if I lived in the same place as questo I’d be at his gigs all the fuckin time

  16. bob dylan Says:


  17. bob dylan Says:

    he does a dj night every thursday down the street. would almost consider jimmy fallon to see them play up close. id rather see him go off on his kit than dj tho.

  18. alf Says:

    you cats are hilarious with the drive by

    tahoe 1 is a great phish show. absolutely love the jibboo light combo.

  19. alf Says:

    slick slick trey work in the jibboo

    pauly ballz!!!

  20. alf Says:

    pauly ballz, the common phishie.

  21. garretc Says:

    Haha, great story from C’s link about Prince…

  22. stitchstash Says:

    Welcome to the world Baby butter!!

    Virgo sun
    Virgo moon


  23. halcyon Says:

    @ Stapes

    Just “up” the road from you in Eagle (right between Vail and Glenwood).

    Questlove’s stories are great. Stayed late at work reading them.

    Off to bed now. Peace.

  24. butter Says:

    my Night Nurse……just brought me strawberry ice cream 😉

  25. stapes Says:

    @hal – that’s a great area. been meaning to get up there for some mt biking sometime.

    gotta head into denver the next 2 days for a conference. can’t wait to get it over with and head down there again on friday for some fun!

    been having some phishy dreams the past few nights. one including a yem opener.

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