A Stunner To Start Off

8.5.11 - "Rock and Roll" (Graham Lucas)

Without missing a beat, Phish stepped onto the Gorge’s stage—the grandest of tour—and played one of the magnificent shows of 2011. Building directly off of their white-hot momentum of Super Ball and a furious opening leg, the band showed us that the best part of summer is just beginning. Showcasing an improvisational patience that the Gorge always brings out of them, Phish never wavered—nor skipped a beat—for the better part of an hour in the second set, crafting a masterful sequence in “Rock and Roll -> Meatstick -> Boogie On” that jumped right onto the top shelf of summertime adventures. And with plenty of other standout music to offer, last night’s performance has to be considered one of the band’s defining nights of the year.

8.5.11 - Graham Lucas

At the center of this sequence, and the show, stood a gargantuan “Rock and Roll” that blended so many styles of Phish’s past through their razor sharp jaws of today and came up with music to behold. Infusing the exploratory gem with a hefty dosage of “Storage” jamming—including a stint with Page on Theremin—Phish stepped to Leg Two with the most compelling piece of music we’ve heard since Detroit’s “Disease.  But any musical comparisons would end there. This was a different monster altogether. This was the Gorge. This jam dropped into half-time—and into a distant universe. In this jam, Phish coyly crept upon menacing “Black-Eyed” teases amidst liquid textures, pushing minds to the brink of explosion. In this jam, the band actualized and integrated so much of what they have been honing in on stylistically—and then pushed right beyond it into new frontiers. Within this 20-minute jam, Phish realized so many aural fantasies of mine it would feel too intimate to go on much further. In short, this “Rock and Roll” represents a seminal piece of improv; a piece that on the first night of tour that stomped a new foot forward for a band that won’t stop making musical leaps and bounds in front of our eyes.

8.5.11 - The Gorge (Graham Lucas)

And they were hardly done there, segueing energetically into “Meastick,” Phish just kept bringing it, allowing their chops to take them where they may. Honestly, the songs seemed completely secondary at this point in the show, as the guys were tapped into IT on a stratospheric plane. Songs emerged as natural outgrowths of musical conversations, not because anyone cared about the setlist or curfew. This was Phish on top of the world again. And what better view of the band’s technicolor multiverse than the wide-open vistas of the Columbia River Gorge. Everything I dream of about Phish at the Gorge—patient jams where creativity is the only muse—took hold last night, and left the crowd with a show to be reckoned with to kick off Leg Two.

8.5.11 - The Gorge (Graham Lucas)

And there was so much more. There was the dripping psychedelia of a stunning, first-set “Roggae” that saw the loose and exploratory vibe descend from overhead. There was the phenomenal “Bathtub Gin” that kick-started  the second half of tour, in earnest. There was the intricate and introspective “David Bowie” that brought nightfall to the Gorge. There was the gorgeous “Farmhouse” that resolved the second-set’s odyssey and was backed by bouncier basslines, giving the song a reggae feel. And then there was the cathartic “Show of Life” under a Washington heaven as Trey’s guitar solo likened a child reaching for a falling star. A crunching “Zero” put an exclamation point on a set that exists as “must-hear-now” for every Phish fan on the planet.

Something about opening nights of tours have always gripped me. Whether or not they turn out to be one of the best nights of tour, openers always seemed to possess gritty improvisational memories. Whether it be “Tweezer -> California Love” from Portland ’98, “Bathtub > 2001 > YEM” from the Palace in ’99, “Free” from Bonner Springs ’99, the “Stash” from Vegas ’97, openers have always shot improvisational daggers. But rarely in their history has Phish put together such a prolific set together to kick off a run. Building off Bethel’s summer-opening blowout, Leg Two has started with one of its own. But this one is only half way over…

I: Kill Devil Falls, The Wedge, Bathtub Gin, Nellie Kane, My Friend, My Friend, Cavern, Taste, Roggae, Walk Away, Funky Bitch, Roses Are Free > David Bowie

II: Backwards Down the Number Line, Rock and Roll* -> Meatstick -> Boogie On Reggae Woman > Farmhouse, Show of Life, Julius, Character Zero

E: Loving Cup

*Page on Theremin

Official Gorge Print (Brad Klausen)

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684 Responses to “A Stunner To Start Off”

  1. Brucebeatings Says:

    But what about the Taste?

  2. c0wfunk Says:

    phillies fight was fun to watch. Amusing when victorino busts out after being pulled away and gets in one more tackle.

    @duke rant all you want .. I dig the double closer thing, myself! Nice punctuation mark on a show.

    Interesting listening to this FOB recording, after so much SBD over the last few years. There was some very distracting comb filtering during KDF but it seems to have eased off here by the time tub comes around. Rolling into tub jam now.

  3. c0wfunk Says:

    @bingo I was expecting a negatory review myself as well after seeing “on paper” goes to show a 20 min jam in set 2 will even out most any show 🙂 Imagine, for just a moment, if meatstick had appeared 10 minutes earlier in the show. I have to think the vibe would be quite a bit different.

  4. c0wfunk Says:

    ooh tub slides immediately into a very relaxed gorge’d jam. Very smooth and liquid. Page owning the rhodes.

  5. kayatosh Says:

    jerry week pick: 5.14.74 weather report suite>Dark star>china doll

  6. kayatosh Says:

    love the rhodes.

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    nice tub – falls off a bit at the end before getting quite “there” but as a third song I imagine it was just about the right thing for the moment.

  8. kayatosh Says:

    8.9.0211 phish in tahoe — maybe a jerry song?

  9. c0wfunk Says:

    ahh the eternal “will phish play a dead tune on a jerry day” 😉

    seemed to me the mlbj in caspian and mighty quinn at telluride last year were a nod to the big guy

  10. EL Duderino Says:

    Phish will never play a GD tune again. PERIOD

  11. c0wfunk Says:

    barring a random lesh or weir sit-in I imagine you’re right mr. duderino

  12. c0wfunk Says:

    I’m probably reading too much here, but the telluride caspian, before the mlbj featured trey jamming on the lyrical melody, I believe the only time he’s done this in the tune. Which is something that Jerry did better than most anyone. So I hear a musician technique nod in that too.

    Like I said, probably reading too much, but hey that’s what this site is all about 😉

  13. EL Duderino Says:

    We caught a MLBJ @ CLT this year. clear as a bell!

  14. EL Duderino Says:

    I should say teases

  15. BingosBrother Says:

    Hope you’re wrong LD. GD is really getting me lifted this week. Eyes at the Gorge would be supreme. Lovin the Further bus at the show.

  16. dusty Says:

    I think it will be a cathartic Shakedown in the Sierras with Mike dropping bombs that will flash kids out of existence like Fat Man and Little Boy.

  17. c0wfunk Says:

    yeah absolutely mlbj’d in clt fo sho

    …amid taste from last night. Fishmans’ throwing some curve balls; trey’s spinning ’em right back. Nicely realized.

    Nice take on the ending theme, staccato style. Cool peak here! Really nice version.

  18. c0wfunk Says:

    errr trey still doesn’t know the ending chords and spun out into trills and power chords. Oh well.

    How is it that Page always remembers those progressions and Trey can’t?

  19. BingosBrother Says:

    Cause Page loves him a taste for free.

  20. Mr palmer Says:

    I’m with Dude. The nod in ’98 is much more powerful because it’s the only one. Leave it alone.

  21. c0wfunk Says:

    nice to hear Trey has learned the chords to Roggae though 🙂 Miami 09 was kind of fun to hear him learn it on the spot but it’s nicer when he just knows it 8)

  22. willowed Says:

    The Phish App continues to lock up right before the good stuff in RnR
    I have tried streaming this one 3 times. As soon as I get excited….Boom….Pow – Kick to the balls.

    Why do you mock me Jesus (shakes hand in air towards the heavens)

  23. albert walker Says:

    wow. great roggae.

    love the full band conversation. dropping out so others can fill. tons of movement. not dominated by just Trey. real flowing and open.

    amazing jam.

    damn that is some sick conversational phish.

  24. joe Says:

    not sure if I love or hate the poster, but I know that I love the review and hope that the others in attendance had a great time last night and have another great one tonight.

  25. angryjoggerz Says:

    8.9.0211 phish in tahoe — maybe a jerry song?

    ^ woot, my b-day show

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