Dancing On the Altar

8.5.11 - The Gorge (Graham Lucas)

Taking a fantasy-like setlist and tearing it to shreds, Phish crafted a larger-than-life dance party on Saturday night in the greatest venue on Earth. Focused on wide open-dance grooves to match the Gorge’s vast surroundings, Phish threw down a rhythmic juggernaut on the second night of tour; a perfect yin to the exploratory yang of tour’s opening night. Anchoring the second set with two-massive dance excursions in “Tweezer” and “Sand,” the band threw down dueling crack-like groove sessions set that will need to be relistened time and time again to be fully appreciated. However, the entire second set deserves a full run down. so let’s get to it.

8.5.11 (G.Lucas)

After a rocking “Chalk Dust” opener, “Tweezer” cracked open the second-set fiesta with an carpet bombing of chunky grooves that, on the Gorge’s massive, open-air sound system, sounded like a slice of heaven. A sonic aura that can not be replicated by soundboards and only approximated by audience tapes, poured onto the crowd like nectar from the gods. Laced with phenomenal interplay between Trey and Mike, the band oozed with attitude and triumph through a throughout this soul-cleansing romp. Then—building off of this mountain of rhythmic narcotics—Phish morphed from a snarling exercise into a melodic, four-part exchange that added introspective intrigue into the mix. Taking their time to work through this section, the band built an eventual bridge into “Prince Caspian.”

Favoring the song’s classic, guitar-solo contour, Trey tore into this “Caspian” like he hasn’t in some time while the band has, more often than not, taken the piece in variant directions. Skirting the song’s final chords, Phish drifted into an ethereal texture towards that, surprisingly, merged with “Sand.” And at this juncture, we met our second sky-scraping dance escapade of the set.

8.5.11 (G.Lucas)

A rendition that fused “Sands” past and present, last night’s outing featured an amalgam of styles. Embarking on this ocean of rhythmic adventure, Trey likened refined jazz player, but by the end, he assumed his rightful position as the world’s greatest guitar assassin. Taking the band out with some of the most laid-back funk stylings you’ll ever hear, and drenching the music with a swanky, James Brown sensibility, Trey laid down a ridiculously infectious opening. The piece’s recent jazz-proclivity shone as it built, peaking in a series of atonal rhythm chords by Trey before he annihilated the “Sand’s” final sequence with a six-string assault. And then—at the top of the jam—Trey wove in the “Tweezer” lick and brought the band—legitimately—back into “Tweezer!” A completely head-bursting maneuver had the crowd in dribbles as the band slowed back into the chunky groove. But just as soon as they had pulled-off the unprecedented move and seemed headed for the Storage shed, they pulled the rug from underneath the experimental direction in favor of a heat-seeking “Birds of a Feather.”

A brief exhale of “Waste” made way for…“Golden Age!?” This time around, the band employed the base-song only as a set that featured one surprise after another still had one of its best yet to come—a unexpected late-set, left-hook in “Reba.” A delicate and majestic build matched the environs congruently as as Trey ripped off one enchanting, perfectly phrased lick after another. A cool breeze blew through the amphitheatre as if cued by Kuroda, enhancing an overwhelmingly blissful late-night scene.

8.5.11 (G.Lucas)

To wrap up a set of dreams, the band closed with a “medley” style “Antelope” into which “Reba,” “Tweezer,” and “Sand” were teased in the intro before “Antelope’s” ferocious jam passed through a “Golden Age” section, summing up all the major points of a spectacular set of music. Stringing together creative versions of their classic songs, last night turned into a cathartic celebration of Phish groove. And that exact vibe highlighted the opening set, taboot.

An syrupy, early-show, “Moma” immediately brought memories of the previous night’s musical pornography that was “Rock and Roll,” using the piece to artistically bridge both shows. At sunset, Little Phish came out to play with a thick version of “On Your Way Down” that featured a guitar solo for the ages. And then, upon the onset of night, came the opening half’s defining jaunt in “Wolfman’s -> Maze.” Another in the emerging series of “Wolman’s” jams that depart from funk grooves and move into unique explorations of their own, this rendition passed through a tease of Led Zepplin’s “Heartbreaker” and a subsequent staccato funk breakdown before passing through a darker realm and into a scorching “Maze.” Finishing the first set on the old-school tip, the band paired “Wilson” and “Fluffhead,” punctuating an impressive opening frame.

Each of the past two summer tours, the band has made monumental leaps from leg one to leg two, but after an incredible June run and Super Ball, I wondered if a similar quantum leap was possible in 2011. Well, Phish came right out of the doors and answered that question with, arguably, their two best shows of the summer—an explosive start that few could have imagined. But if there is one virtual-objectivity that we were reminded of after a year’s absence is that there is no venue on the planet that speaks to Phish like the the Gorge. But, nonetheless, I’m willing to travel south to see what this Hollywood Bowl is all about! Plus, we have plenty to listen to in the meantime.

I: Possum, The Moma Dance, Sample in a Jar, Limb By Limb, Ocelot, Poor Heart, On Your Way Down, Wolfman’s Brother > Maze, Wilson, Fluffhead

II: Chalk Dust Torture, Tweezer > Prince Caspian > Sand -> Tweezer > Birds of a Feather,Waste, Golden Age > Reba, Run Like an Antelope

E: Suzy Greenberg, Sanity, Tweezer Reprise

Tags: ,

423 Responses to “Dancing On the Altar”

  1. DukeOfLizards Says:

    What the fuck.

    Why is it not NEXT Sunday night right now?

  2. negev79 Says:

    Whew, finally home, showered, fed, exhausted!

    What a weekend! I had a blast. Thrilled to meet all the BB peeps.

    Downloaded the shows as soon as I got home, went straight for the Rock and Roll and am just finishing up the set now. I dig the flow all the way through to the end.

    It has been a very long time since I had a moment (or moments) at a show like I had during that RnR. Blown away. Jaw on floor. I really am having a hard time explaining it in words actually. That jam is the reason I will keep going to see this band over and over and over again.

    Loved both shows, but if I had to pick I’d go with night one, for the Roggae, Rnr, etc. craziness.

    And said in the car on the way home – Gorge is the perfect place for a 3 night run, 2 is just too short!

  3. fatbunch Says:

    Hey Robear! Great to say hello in person and to get a Robear hug on Saturday at the WW. Thanks for taking me over to meet Mr. C and the gang. Sounds like my buddy made it by the WW to give you a couple of lables from the George the Phish IPA? I tried to slip a bomber through for you but, alas, that turned out to be a decoy item… Locust may say hello in Tahoe if you’re there. Wonderful wide open shows at the Gorge! Shooting stars and all. Sunrise… and sunset… since the beginning it hasn’t changed yet…
    Phish on!

  4. Robear Says:

    Fatbunch, label is on WW jug!

  5. negev79 Says:

    Ok Phish’s Roggae video on vimeo says it is from 8/6. But it was 8/5 right? I clearly remember Roggae Friday night but now I’m questioning. I’m not that spun, right?

  6. fatbunch Says:

    Nice @Robear! That’s awesome – Scott will be stoked 🙂

  7. fatbunch Says:

    @negev79 Roggae:Friday

  8. negev79 Says:

    whew. thanks fatbunch. 🙂

  9. fatbunch Says:

    right? 🙂

  10. fatbunch Says:

    safe travels all! I’m out to prep (i.e. sleep) for re-entry

  11. voopa Says:

    Woohoo! See you all tomorrow!

  12. leo weaver Says:

    Hotel hotbox.

    Listening to gorge 1 for the first time. I’ll say it again…everything beyond roggae was gravy.

  13. leo weaver Says:

    Negev is the cats pajamas. One hip chick. Thx again for your real estate acumen.

  14. leo weaver Says:

    Boogie on was Stanley. Complete Stanley.

  15. butter Says:

    Just a fabulous write up again Miner

    Worth a second read

    Leaving for Tahoe in the morn

    So nice to be able to drive to a Phish show!

  16. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    have fun butter, see you on the stream!

  17. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    finishing up set ii now, fun show for sure. sand much more like the msg version. need to hear it again LOUD to really judge.

  18. Conigs77 Says:

    Phish really needs to let loose on 2001 like they used to. That song has endless boundaries. I’m not sure why they cut it short nowadays. I’d love to ask Trey that question.

  19. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Holy Shit!

    IT is happening tonight!

    Look out!

  20. plord Says:

    @alf I saw what you did there on page 10. STANLY indeed.

    Yawn, 4 hours in ORD waiting on the next flight. Anybody else on the red-eye and going through Chicago?

  21. plord Says:

    You all want to hear a classic B moment? I wish I had video of the Terrace crew when both Sample and Waste started up. Instant, though mild, deflation. We all recovered (hard not to with all that goodness) but it was way funny.

    I was being a little self-conscious, thinking “Damn, I don’t really want to hear this but I shouldn’t bring the neg vibes” then I look over and people are like, sitting and turning to talk and otherwise waiting for 5 minutes to get back to the good stuff.

    Cracked. Me. Up.

  22. plord Says:

    New post up!

  23. Esteban Says:

    Is anyone’s stream acting oddly? I logged in, had the stream, and then was booted entirely. Can’t login to My Stash at all…

Leave a Reply