Glory at the Gorge

7.22.13 (Jake Silco)

7.22.13 (Jake Silco)

Playing their best show of the summer—including a flawless second set—Phish raised the bar for 2013 on Saturday night at the Gorge. With a patience and a fluidity that has come to define their efforts at the Gorge, the band wove a stunning non-stop tale after dark, thick with virtuoso jamming and on point musicianship. With Phish as on point at they are right now, the variable of their shows is set craftsmanship, and last night they hit the nail on the head, sculpting a defining frame of music with nary a note out of place. It is nights like last that we will tell stories about for years to come. It is nights like last that bring us back again and again. It is nights like last that live forever.

7/27 Official (DKNG)

7/27 Official (DKNG)

The band eased into the early evening with the first ever “Architect” opener, working so much better than we ever did expect, and fitting the mood congruently. Dropping the first “Golgi” of tour in a surprise slot, the band had crafted an unmistakably afternoon vibe in only two songs. Expounding on this vibe with “The Curtain With,” the band treated the audience to an afternoon delight with a wide open, very slow take on the “With” jam, the unquestionable highlight of the show’s opening half.

Phish veered from the beautiful tone they had set with the squealing intro to “Kill Devil Falls,” and though their playing remained sharp, all of a sudden the set got standard. There were, however, two aberrations, and one bodes incredibly well for the Phish universe. After “Roses,” the band played a bluesy Americana-sounding song that many assumed to a JJ Cale cover, as everyone expected the band to honor the late guitarist. But when a friend told me that it was a Gordon/Murawski original called “Say Something,” my ears tuned in on a whole different level. And before long the guys were knee deep in some dirty grooves, foreshadowing yet another new jam vehicle, this time of the Gordeaux vintage. The band’s tribute to Cale unfolded songs later in a blistering run through his classic, “After Midnight,” a cover with all sorts of Phishy implications. But the best was yet to come.

7.26.13 (John Crouch)

7.26.13 (J. Crouch)

With all of the heavy hitters on the table, the band chose to open the second set with “Down With Disease” for the second time in three shows—a seemingly odd move until I remembered that so many epic Phish tales begin with the classic spring board. Bouding to life with a creative narration, in retrospect—on respin—this “Disease” jam carried a rhythmic direction pointed towards “Undermind” from the get go. With no reason to consider this at the show, when listening back one can hear the band work towards “Undermind” for virtually the entire jam, creating one of the slickest segues of tour. Drenched in fresh ideas, and totally different from Toronto’s masterpiece, “Disease” opened the gateway to a mystical land.

If Friday night’s “Crosseyed” was one of the timeless jams we would leave the Gorge 2013 with in tow, last night’s “Undermind” was the other. As expected, when placed in the second set, this song was a lock for utter glory. Following up Dick’s 2012 all-timer (which actually closed the first set), last night’s second setter found the mountaintop and beyond in a one of the most profound jams of the season. Moving from the song’s playful rhythms and into soul-gripping music, the band rode Fishman’s celestial rhythms, elevating to catharsis and then stepping into the void with a spacescape that felt connected to the endless sky above. A dynamic jam that touched on so many musical elements of Phish, “Undermind” provided an improvisational centerpiece to the set, but the action was far from over.

7.22.13 (J.Silco)

7.22.13 (J.Silco)

The relentless flow continued with “Light,” an instant shot of adrenaline to any show—and we were already pretty damn high. Blasting into a tight-laced exploration, the band actually covered more ground than I remembered when I listened back, a certain case of musical density. And as the jam was chugging along, Trey initiated a back door segue into “Sneakin Sally,” a surprise move that blew the already imploded amphithetare to smithereens. But when then band dropped into the funk, things got pornographic. Kicking off a Gorge-sized dance party with a massive wah lick, Trey dug into his rhythmic playing and set things afire. It’s certainly great to be living in a world again where Trey wears t shirts on the regs and favors his wah pedal above just about all others. Yeah—life is good.

The best part about last night’s “Sally,” however, is that the guys didn’t stop at the funk, but transcended it with a driving, atmospheric passage of pure west coast Phish crack. This infectious segment morphed into a portal to “2001,” creating a dance pairing for the ages. Locking into the same groove they favored in Alpharetta’s version—a lick that emerged in last summer’s renditions—the band met their intergalactic surroundings with some music to match.

7.22.13 (J.Silco)

7.22.13 (J.Silco)

At this juncture, it was anyone’s guess as to what song would be next, and Trey collected from all bettors when he choose “Walls of the Cave.” The post hiatus song served as an introspective comedown from the monumental hour of music that had just unfolded, and just when you thought the band might play out some songs, they improvised out of the end of the “Walls” jam and segued into “Fluffhead!” Yup, it was that kind of night.

Once again placing their iconic composition in a perfect slot, it felt like they might let the feel-good anthem take us home. But surprisingly, they followed it up with a vigorous, open-air take on “Run Like an Antelope.” Boom. Punctuating, dare I say, a perfect set of Phish, this “Antelope” popped with both energy and creativity. On nights such as last, when the band bows in their post-show adulation, one can’t help but bow right back.

Whenever they are announced, it is all but assumed that Phish’s performances at the Gorge will be among the most special of summer. This year, however, these shows represent a new high water mark for the Vermont quartet as they begin their descent down the west coast for summer’s home stretch. Raising their game considerably from the Midwest, Phish has laid it on the line in the summer of their 30th year, and this final week should be something really special.

I: Architect, Golgi Apparatus, The Curtain With, Kill Devil Falls, The Moma Dance, Maze, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Roses Are Free, Say Something*, Ocelot, After Midnight

II: Down with Disease -> Undermind > Light -> Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Walls of the Cave > Fluffhead, Run Like an Antelope

E: Show of Life, Good Times Bad Times

*debut

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1,206 Responses to “Glory at the Gorge”

  1. sumodie Says:

    excessive mawl cocktails lead to hurlage…just sayin’ ;0>

    but yeah, that looks like the other evac event

    C’mon Carini!!!!!

  2. sumodie Says:

    Trey does what Trey does….no song ends early or late, but exactly when he wants. Accept that, or not

  3. BrandonKayda Says:

    Oh yeah I’m totally aware of that @sumo, and I’m not trying to sound whiny, it’s just an observation. I have absolutely zero say in anything the band does – however, that doesn’t stop me from be an annoying couch-tour critic 😉

  4. BrandonKayda Says:

    In other news, I’m digging where this Carini is going…

  5. BrandonKayda Says:

    Piper.

  6. GhostPhunk Says:

    agreed @BK, most of the time the setlists that look good on paper don’t deliver for me. Can I get a Mothership Rescue…. probably not.

  7. GhostPhunk Says:

    #toomanysongs

  8. BrandonKayda Says:

    I agree with that sentiment @ghostphunk. Well-intended I’m sure but I just wish there was a bit more meat in the jams sometimes.

  9. sumodie Says:

    No worries, BK, just responding to a common thread, def not you. And yeah, lotsa songs tonight. So it goes…

  10. sumodie Says:

    Of course I always want Trey to play songs the sumo way. Unfortunately he’s often hard of hearing

  11. BrandonKayda Says:

    Haha.

    Exactly @sumo, if the band would just listen to us, everything would be perfect. Right?

    …right?

  12. GhostPhunk Says:

    I’ve been in another conversation thread with non BB phans, one comment I made that I stand by is “I don’t buy it that it can never be 97-like again.” For me, and I get that everyone has their era they love, but fall 97 is the pinnacle. If you want to dissect that with me I’m game.

    3.0 has delivered one set that completely blew my mind. Yes, I was in the room so I’m partial but for the most part Albany II is the only set in 3.0 that breaks the mold and for that single reason alone I love it forever. Please, before you bring the negative nancy parade to me, I’m having a great time people, I really am. I’m so thankful I have a band again and frankly, I’m thankful to have met a lot of you fine people which has made this whole experience better. All I’m saying is there’s no denying I’m leaning towards “acceptance” of 3.0… sounds harsh, not meant to be. #thispostwillbemydemise #withlotsoflove

  13. voopa Says:

    First Mike’s > Slave ever brah

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    This tour blows. See you guys in the fall!

  15. phishm Says:

    Every song in the right mood can take you there. Fairly sure this one will suffice tonight. The vibe that all seek and only the few find. Good thing the rest are asleep.

  16. phishm Says:

    At least you heard something Df. Sorry it was confusing. Maybe next time. And seriously no offense by that statement. You just don’t get what I get and I’m ok with that. Hope you are too. Peace.

  17. BrandonKayda Says:

    Very well put, @ghostphunk

    I think with Phish in 3.0, it’s mainly a matter of intent. As they have proven time and time again, they can absolutely produce mind-numbing pieces (and in some cases, sets) of improvisation and creative playing. Look at FUCKYOURFACE at Dick’s, or Albany II (as you said), or Gorge RnR->Meatstick. I could go on and on, but that would take too much time and would be repeating more of what people have been saying for the past years.

    For people who think that it’s a matter of age, I respectfully disagree. Looking at some of the recent Phil and Friends shows, there is still plenty of lively improvisation (and long jams at that), and Phil is heading into his mid 70s soon enough.

    I think Phish also plays to the room a lot, and maybe hearing people cheer wildly for songs makes them think that deep, exploratory improv is not what the vast majority of fans want to hear. I think that partly explains why these kind of sets happen – a lot of songs, but not a lot of super exploratory jamming.

    I could be completely full of shit, too. But it’s 1am and I wanted to share this half-baked thesis with the other 5 people who are still up. I love Phish and all of you and everything and etc etc don’t murder me.

    Cheers. 😀

  18. BrandonKayda Says:

    That should be “past five years.” I suck at Phish AND forming cohesive sentences. What a shocker.

  19. GhostPhunk Says:

    totally BK, the room is catered to nightly, no doubt. tough to fault them for that though. #catch22

  20. GhostPhunk Says:

    also, FUCKYOURFACE night is the a huge phish show regardless of era. #jadedstonerfuck

  21. William H. Bonney Says:

    @DF see you in the fall… next set of shows for me. Saving my chips to go all in for that run.

  22. voopa Says:

    GP- I wasted many late 90’s shows waiting for the band that I loved in the early 90’s to show up. And in 3.0 it took a long time for me to accept who they are. I’ve caught streams whenever possible, and I fluff, but wasn’t OK with it all until Tahoe ’11.

    I think the lukewarm response to the Tahoe Light made me realize that I have to stop letting others decide how my show was, and even if it’s not what it used to be, it’s still really damn good. Shaking off others opinions helped me not worry about my own expectations and has allowed to live in and value the moment.

  23. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    @william h, same

  24. voopa Says:

    Wow, nearly confused my self there…

  25. tela'smuff Says:

    every night at Dicks has been above and beyond any show of 3.0 IMO.

    FYF most complete show of 3.0, and for me, one of the all-time great shows ever played. off to bed, hoping to hear some good shit sleuthing stories tomorrow. have to fly to Cincinnati tomorrow for work. focused on Dicks.

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