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. bhizzle Says:

    Better you than me!!!! It’s getting comfy here too. Ive been busy getting my youngest ready for kindergarden; shopping for school clothes, school bus orientation, class orientation. The oldest off to her first year of college so shopping for her and moving her stuff to her dorm.

    Also, all you gamers, new Maddens out today!

  2. Guyute711 Says:

    Damn all over the place with ages. Enjoy the scenery at college. Don’t drool too much.

  3. SillyWilly Says:

    Congrats on your new little son, Butter!

    good morning everyone

    settling into Madison before school starts. trying to get my apartment back in order.

    gonna go buy some discs later today and check out the local course, Tela’s.

  4. lastwaltzer Says:

    “. 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.”miner

    NICE, I like IT.

  5. lastwaltzer Says:

    Congrats butter!!!!!!!!!!

  6. lastwaltzer Says:


    yo the early set for the dr. sold out. I think we’re gonna grab tickets today. Should I snag you one?

  7. SillyWilly Says:


    no man, I don’t think I’m going to make it back down this weekend.

    me and chicago just had a torrid love affair. it was great. it really was. but we need some time apart to collect our thoughts.

    just some space. I’m still young, ya know? i’m not trying to settle down with one city right now.

    it was fun. she’s a great place. and i’ll be back. back soon even. but we just need a breather.

  8. [Not Tom] Says:

    Does anyone know re: Colorado … is a 3-day pass transferable? In other words, can I use the pass nights 1 and 3 but let someone else use it night 2? Trying to make some decisions on which pass to get, in order to be hooked up with friends as much as possible.


  9. [Not Tom] Says:

    ^ and please only reply with actual knowledge, not suspicion. Thanks again.

  10. SillyWilly Says:

    hey Not Tom!

    how have you been, man??

  11. larencewelk Says:


    are you talking about city?

  12. lawrencewelk Says:


    are sure your talking about chicago?

  13. SillyWilly Says:



    are you sure you’re not my girlfriend?

  14. lawrencewelk Says:

    you’ve said to much, say no more.

  15. lastwaltzer Says:

    welk if you change your our coach is open saturday night (except for the portion in which ill be watching phish from that couch). and sunday if ya wanna come down for the festivities.

  16. lastwaltzer Says:

    me not so good wit english today………….

  17. Jtran Says:

    Congrats butter!! Great news

  18. bhizzle Says:

    “It’s not you, Chicago. It’s me”.

    are you sure you’re not my girlfriend?


  19. alf Says:

    wow, congratulations butter. and good luck!

    fun read today miner, thanks

  20. butter Says:

    thanks everybody

  21. Kaveh Says:

    Morning BBers!

    @Miner: Nice write up…that was surely a great way to start the West Coast tour.

    “seamlessly slid” — yep.

  22. Kaveh Says:

    @Butter: (just reading back) CONGRATS indeed!

  23. Kaveh Says:

    @El Dude: Can’t wait to get my E72 boxset! We are getting very close.

  24. butter Says:

    mucho thanks!!

    and glad your out of the hospital @luther, hang in there with the meds

    this article goes type 2 today !!

  25. DocGanz Says:

    Congrats Butter!

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