Getting Ready For the Gorge

The Gorge - 8.7.09 (Graham Lucas)

Question: What will happen when a blossoming, new-era Phish collides with the vast scenery and rich history of the Gorge?


Wide-Open Improvisation—During June and Super Ball, Phish’s improvisational prowess truly defined their music for the first time this era. This summer has carried the feeling of an arrival; a culmination of the last two years. With the band finally able to visit enchanting music planes regularly, what better place to kick off leg two than the Gorge? A venue that is virtually synonymous with patient, open jamming, the Gorge has brought out the best in Phish throughout their career and will provide an engaging backdrop for the beginning of the summer’s final twelve shows. Ever since the band’s inaugural visit to George, Washington, in 1997, they have played exclusively top-notch shows amidst the amphitheatre’s stunning surroundings. And with Phish coming off a fire-filled festival that was littered with innovative jams, one can only expect Phish to continue pushing new musical frontiers.

The Gorge - 8.7.09 (G.Lucas)

“Storage” Jamming—And part in parcel with Super Ball—and many jams of June—was Phish’s abstract sound-sculpting that Phish culminated in a storage shed late one Saturday night. The last two all-improv, late-night festival sets—Lemonwheel’s Ring of Fire jam and IT’s Tower Jam—were showcases for the Phish’s current and/or upcoming improvisational style, honing on a specific element of an era. If The Storage Jam was any indication, the Gorge shows may feature more abstract exploration of the astral plane. The open-air sound of the Gorge has always pushed Phish in a more patient direction, and when throwing this new style into the mix, things could plunge to serious depths.

Gorge 8.7.09 (Graham Lucas)

A Full Head of “Steam” — When Phish’s wonderful weekend at Watkins Glen came to a close without a festival-sized version of their new song, “Steam,” more than a few fans were a bit surprised. Their only debut of the summer, Phish played the piece only twice over June, and “Steam” seemed due for a breakthrough on the open-air system of Super Ball. But after sticking to a fairly old-school vibe in the Northeast, I surmise the “Steam” we’ve been waiting for will go down at the Gorge. Though I’m not one for “calling” songs, the setting and sound of the slow, groove-based jam seem to match perfectly. And as Phish continues to forge a new path this summer, one has to figure their new song will come along. Will other songs come along as well? Were “Scents and Subtle Sounds” and “A Song the Heard the Ocean Sing” just festival bustouts? It would be inspiring to hear either piece next weekend. What else might the band have in store?

Regardless of what we hear at the Gorge, one can be sure the music within the two shows will be some of the most talked about of the summer. It always is. Only one month removed from their most impressive tour-plus-festival of this go-round, I don’t think its far-fetched think that some of the year’s most exploratory and outstanding improv may stem the two-night stand. And after a year off, the return to the hallowed grounds feels that much more exciting. T-minus 4 days…

8.7.09 (Graham Lucas


Jams of the Day:

Piper” 6.11.2011 II

The improvisational highlight of Merriweather’s opening night. The jams from June just keep on flowing.



Sneakin’ Sally” 8.7.09 I

And one from the Gorge.



8.7.09 (Graham Lucas)

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445 Responses to “Getting Ready For the Gorge”

  1. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Nice, @Luther, we’re nearly of the same vintage. First show was 6/24/90, Autzen stadium. Epic scene I couldn’t come close to digesting.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah I can’t speak for all the varieties of premier camping and whatnot but for regular camping I can’t see how any kind of restriction like that would be applied

  3. Gavinsdad Says:

    Classic show @luther. Perfect 90 setlist. Glad to say I was in attendance and that was one where I was simply one with the music. My first help slip franks taboot. Crappy set break naked dude getting the k9 cops treatment kind of spun me but second set got me right back in the zone. That bottle we had got a workout as it was the driest herb summer in years. What amazing times. Never got back there for the Phish unfortunately.

  4. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Man, I wish I could’ve caught the Dead. Just once.

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    wish I’d hit that deer creek/chi run and caught those final Brent shows

    coming off 2 long tours in a row, plus a bunch of west coast trips (NYE, again in Feb, again for June) I was just too beat. and had done all the business I needed to. I barely made it to Rich Stadium, the thought of hoofing it to Indiana in mid July seemed beyond the pale…

    now I sure wish I’d done it

  6. voopa Says:

    Just flashed to Gorge ’97…we rolled in w/no idea about camping or anything…the dude said “80 bucks” and we drove into a grassy lot, which we were almost kicked out of the next day had it not been for my keen eye when the “official” parking nazis came by and I explained our sitch…they put a camping pass on our car and all was good.

    I still suspect that the one dude pocketed our cash..oh well, we got a fairly reasonable place to camp for the weekend, and it wasn’t our fault that the staff didn’t have their shit together.

  7. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    @C that RFK show has always been a favorite. Did you make that one? Pretty dark 2nd set with Dark Star.

  8. sumodie Says:

    Today’s pics show why ck5 light’s will not be better if that ugly black backdrop is up -his work in ’09 was phenomenal

    I’m rolling to the Gorge expecting the black backdrop to be up, that way I won’t be disappointed

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah there was a lot of demand that summer for sure. made that end of the business very easy. like falling off a log

  10. sumodie Says:

    Uncle Eb, email sent…

  11. Gavinsdad Says:

    Well IMHO mr c you got a beaut at Rich. I thought csn tuned that place up lovely and we got the loose Lucy, all over now and man I can so clearly remember the crowd just pleading Jer into that high time from the first note of it he hit when tuning up. Fun times in the stands all the way back with my dear departed buddy Paul and then a silly Fun set 2 back of the floor (they actually had portapots Down there) and getting to burn one with this wacky guy Drummer Al…not sure if u ever crossed paths with that piece of work. Did you make it back out for Denver 90? Pretty crazy fun shows which culminated with me getting booted from Colo st u a couple weeks later. Gotta pay to play sometimes.

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    I did the west coast leg from Sacto > Shoreline > Autzen, flew back east, skipped Bonner Springs, got on tour in Louisville and did the run through Buffalo. My last really serious tour haul. I did fragments in spring and summer 91 but nothing like that.

    the sequence from louisville > pittsburgh > raleigh was a serious grind

  13. Gavinsdad Says:

    C – I’ll hit the sack and chill on the biz talk after this but at those deer creek shows my friends from arcata had herbs delivered and the bulk of it ended up with Cameron sears. The thinking was that my friends were just brown nosing for passes tix and being hangers on instead of getting their family (ie us Jonesers who knew them for years) some head herb. Goes to show and all that.

    Nite kids.

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    well @gd that’s kind of it, that series of shows was great, and I was exhausted…so I was feeling satisfied and tired and had no financial incentive. so that’s why no deer creek. of course it is better to remember the shows I caught than the ones I missed, though.

    I saw no shows, zero, none in fall ’90. Too weird for me. Not ready. I didn’t like how fast and seemingly callous the whole picking a new guy and hitting the road process was. Again, my loss when I view it in retrospect. But at the time there was just no way I could be in the building.

    By Spring 91 I was ready but it was never the same again so really you could say that Buffalo show was the last one of what I think of as “my years on Dead tour”

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    well GD in their limited defense it has to be said that the GD family crew exhibited an unstoppable gravitational force that could attract any high quality drugs circulating anywhere in the scene…they just sort of drew it all towards them inexorably

    but if you wanted to turn weight into money you had to keep it all pointed squarely at the lots

  16. MrCompletely Says:

    I’m just going to leave this here.

  17. Bwana Says:

    Just finished streaming “The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle”

    Here’s a review or do like I did and go for the completely unexpecting approach — either way, have fun!

  18. voopa Says:

  19. halcyon Says:

    Cool live version of Spirtualized’s I think I’m in Love

  20. DankSinatra Says:


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