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Leg2 Kickoff: Gorge1 Recap

Posted 3 years ago by pzerbo - 23 comments Link: http://phi.sh/b/4e3d94d8

The Gorge. A simply stunning landscape coupled with rich Phish history spanning back to 1997, you know it is going to be good. Apparently required disclaimer: I didn’t attend this gig and am writing this recap literally “on the couch” from Cape Cod based on the recording. If this approach offends your sensibilities or invalidates the opinions offered, you are welcome and encouraged to not read it. Thanks! Let’s get to the action.

A crisp, upbeat and metaphor-rich opening sequence of “Kill Devil Falls” and “The Wedge” starts things out with appropriate nods to the spectacular surroundings before yielding to the first jam vehicle of the night, "Bathtub Gin.” Facing a strong headwind of history at this venue (8/3/97 and 8/7/09 are must-hears) “Gin” immediately dispels any notion that rust may have accumulated during the month break after SBIX. Breezily riding the main theme with Trey sailing over the groove, the foundation doesn’t stray but the steady, attacking build and culmination equals total satisfaction. In the words of @ericwyman: “pure power gin last night, rage face on hardcore.” Indeed.

The brief “Nellie Kane” gives everyone a quick breather before jumping in to “My Friend My Friend.” A welcome mini-curve ball sees a punchy “Cavern” in a mid-set slot, followed by a pleasant if relatively uneventful “Taste.” The set continues with a seemingly innocuous “Roggae.” Smashing “the box” early, Mike drives this into deep space starting around the 4:00 mark – this jam is decidedly “out there” yet consistently engaging. A strong candidate for best version (see 2/26/03, 12/28/09, 6/20/10) and clearly the highlight of the set, you’ll want to squeeze this one in, today.

Walk Away” – a song that has been an energy-boost go-to for most of the band’s career but has packed serious extra mustard since the killer 6/17/10 Hartford version – propels through fifth gear and around the backstretch of the set. Mike then takes over with the always-strong “Funky Bitch.” A stock rendition of Ween’s “Roses Are Free” provides the turn before the river card of “David Bowie,” the 400th lifetime performance of the song. While not likely to immediately jump into many personal “top x” lists, the jam section totally satisfies, with brief glimpses of machine-gun Trey to satiate the head-banger in all of us.

So what we have here is a way-more than respectable opening set that, combined with the stellar Bethel opener from leg one, forms a pattern that basically throws “first set/show of tour is the warm-up” out the window. If you are intimate with contemporary Phish music and are only seeking highlights you’ll likely only need to visit the “Gin” and “Roggae” but the set as a whole is a winner. Let’s break.

A short and bright “Backwards Down the Number Line” kicks off set two and gives way to a “Rock and Roll” that, given the strength and diversity the song displayed on leg one, seemed destined to soar from the start. Launching off from the main theme after the 6:00 mark (curiously LivePhish kept this as one track instead of the traditional long cover song “Gorge Jam #1”), this one is leaping straight for the river canyon and not coming back for a while. Like a tasting menu where the chef is in total control of your palate, this ride is going places! Around ~14:00 Page deploys the theremin for the first time since 8/11/97 that Mike supplements with slow and ominous calls of “and it was all right...” Classic type-II deep-space, we’ll be talking about this jam for a while, folks, so get in on the ground floor and listen to this now.

The driving, funk-laden ending lays the foundation for what is surely among the best genuine segues into “Meatstick.” “Some fans” have felt this song has been both slightly overplayed and lacking adventure of late, but this one absolutely shines. The last two minutes of this are pure gold as Mike shifts into “Boogie On” mode around the 6:30 mark, setting the stage for a classic and seamless “->” in, “->” out before firing up “Boogie On” proper. “BORW” provides the requisite funk, is perfectly slotted in the flow of the set, and breaks out a brief but firm can of whoop-ass on the dreaded “box.” The opening notes of “Farmhouse” might have sent some to cycle fluids, but that, my friends, would have been a mistake. Scanning over the track listing one might easily skip this ~5:30 version, but in this case they deliver a stunning version that could not have been more perfect for set flow. Not that the competition is stiff but this is clearly a candidate for best “Farmhouse” ever.

This smoking set opts to shift into a bit of cruise control for the balance. “Show of Life” starts a string of set closers that absolutely entertained but reigned in the momentum of the set just a tad. Regardless your opinion of the song as a whole, the outro jam was more than pleasant. “Julius” grabs the tempo reigns back and delivers a lilting, casual and patient jam, yielding to the perpetually-rocking “Character Zero” set closer. Hard to complain when the first two-thirds of the set sported such substantial wood. A “Loving Cup” encore sends the kids home happy.

This show is a definite keeper: a solid first set with a strong “Gin” plus a stand-out “Roggae,” and a second set with a genuinely Epcot “R&R” and a sequence from there through “Farmhouse” that is winner-winner tofu dinner. This wasn’t a good show “for a tour opener” – it is a straight-up solid Phish show with a fist-full of genuine thrill rides. Sweet.

@J_D_G is on recap duty tomorrow, with @bertoletdown calling the action from L.A. I’m heading out early to Tahoe so provided I survive US Scare I’ll catch y’all on the flip-side. Cheers.

Comments

bertoletdown Phish.net Staff Reply
bertoletdown Pretty much spot on.

And it bears repeating that this Roggae is enchanting, and mighty, and good. The Gorge Roggae, funny as that sounds.
Score: 4
mjpunzo Reply
Great write-up!

Since you had mentioned the 200th Gin, I thought I'd throw in that it was also the 400th Bowie. Milestones abound!
Score: 0
deBebbler Reply
deBebbler Farmhouse was rough in the song proper, but the jam was beautiful. The feel of this second set reminded me a lot of the second set from 1/1/11. They just seemed very relaxed and confident.

Nice write-up.
Score: 0
parrott56 Reply
parrott56 @deBebbler said:
Farmhouse was rough in the song proper, but the jam was beautiful.
Huh, that's funny. Just from listening to the recording, I thought it sounded more polished/rehearsed than usual.

Absolutely killer show last night. Thanks as always, Phish (and @pzerbo and the .net team for the write-ups!).
Score: 0
waxbanks Reply
waxbanks One assumes that the R'n'R wasn't split up precisely because of the lyrical callbacks from Mike. They only split the tracks up to avoid paying royalties on long jams, and by singing the lyrics they make the copyright claim a little shadier.
Score: 3
waxbanks Reply
waxbanks This performance of Roggae is to the song's usual character as the Jones Beach '09 Hood is to that tune's form. A must-hear performance. That said, the 12/27/10 version of Roggae is like a super-intense cousin to this version (ironically from a famously laid-back show).

Really a top-notch opener for what will no doubt be another best-since-the-return tour. Bravo.
Score: 3
mjpunzo Reply
"curiously LivePhish kept this as one track instead of the traditional long cover song “Gorge Jam #1”

Do you think this is because Mike utters, ". . . and it was all right" in the second half of the jam, thereby keeping it "Rock and Roll?" I've always been curious as to how that works. I think it has something to do with royalties and thus we'll never see "Gorge Jam" after a Phish original.

Thoughts?
Score: 1
BrotherEarth Reply
BrotherEarth Excellent Recap! P.Zerbo gets my nod as best Recapper!
Score: 0
mjpunzo Reply
@waxbanks said:
One assumes that the R'n'R wasn't split up precisely because of the lyrical callbacks from Mike. They only split the tracks up to avoid paying royalties on long jams, and by singing the lyrics they make the copyright claim a little shadier.
I noticed this right after I posted. Well said and agreed.
Score: 0
ThinMan Reply
I think Roggae started to break out of its box way back at Amherst when it was played deep in the 2nd set - which i thought actually worked well in that slot.

the PNC version also was really nice. i am glad to see that it gets even better in this version.
Score: 0
pzerbo Phish.net Staff Reply
pzerbo @mjpunzo said:
Since you had mentioned the 200th Gin, I thought I'd throw in that it was also the 400th Bowie. Milestones abound!
Actually I had that wrong: I neglected to refresh http://phish.net/song/ after the gig, we have an odd asynchronous thing where http://phish.net/song/song-xyz/chart auto refreshes but /song requires a manual push. So "Gin" #200 was actually SBIX, but that was indeed the 400th performance of "Bowie."

I'll request leniency and note here that we'll engage in just a wee tad of historical revisionism and I'll edit to keep the historical record accurate.

Thanks for pointing that out... editing now.
Score: 1
kipmat Reply
kipmat @ThinMan said:
I think Roggae started to break out of its box way back at Amherst when it was played deep in the 2nd set - which i thought actually worked well in that slot. the PNC version also was really nice. i am glad to see that it gets even better in this version.
Agree... and don't forget the version in the #3 slot at Deer Creek I last year.
Score: 1
dogman Reply
dogman I agree with everything
Score: 0
ZapRowsdower Reply
ZapRowsdower Epcot review, brah.
Score: 1
nichobert Reply
nichobert Longtime Roggae junkie here, the only one that comes close is Worcester from 2010- which I had forgotten about until it was mentioned above.

Totally agree on the 'Farmhouse' as well. Short but excellently groovy compared to most every Farmhouse ever. There is one version that pushes up around 10 minutes and has some really nice pacing, but there was more ideas packed into this 5:30. Not making a value judgement, just pointing out 3.0's ability to make things happen in a flash.

Between the last day of Superball's Mound & Wilson and the Roggae & Farmhouse from this show, I'm starting to feel the hope I felt after Bethel - that Phish could evolve into a band willing to throw so many little curveballs & jamlets into previously innocuous songs that the fanbase couldn't help but be engaged.

I wouldn't say that I like 20 minute jams as much as the next guy.. because I like 20 minute jams more than the next guy. But in 2011, I just want the curveballs. Give me a Sample in a Jar that Trey treats like a Zero jam, a Bouncin that Mike treats like a Ghost, a Taste that the band treats like a 94 Bowie (har har)- over extremely well played but ultimately interchangable versions of the "classic heavy hitters" any day. I know what a completely average 14 minute Tweezer sounds like.. but there isn't even an average for a 14 minute Halfway To The Moon, so why not give it a go?

We can be a great audience when we have a reason to stay on our toes.
Score: 6
ThinMan Reply
@nichobert said:
I know what a completely average 14 minute Tweezer sounds like.. but there isn't even an average for a 14 minute Halfway To The Moon, so why not give it a go? We can be a great audience when we have a reason to stay on our toes.
couldn't agree more
Score: 0
Phanatic77 Reply
Phanatic77 @nichobert I'm also a huge fan of this Roggae, but I'll take the Vegas 2000 from the dvd
Score: 0
tubinator Reply
Near the end of the r&r jam, Mike's groove nearly brought me to tears. Serious type 2 jammage. Amazing show all around, great review.
Score: 1
Sativar Reply
Sativar I'm pretty sure that Page busted out the theremin during the storage jam at SBIX.
Score: 0
TheEmu Phish.net Staff Reply
TheEmu R&R seriously blew me away. I had seen lots of people talking about how Page getting on the theremin took it to a different level, but I still wasn't prepared. Left me open-mouthed staring at the stereo. Great, great jam, and the -> is also sweetness.
Score: 1
InsectEffect Reply
InsectEffect
Nice review -- love the phish.net recaps tradition this year!

I've always thought that the LivePhish "[city name] jam" designations were given when the jam definitively became its own seperate thing --which does often seem to be the case-- but see now that those designations are usually only given to jams that follow cover songs, as a few commenters have pointed out...

But here's at least one possible exception, LivePhish Vol.03 -- "Darien Jam #1" follows Suzy Greenberg, which is a Phish orig unless the Pollack (Dude of Life) co-credit also raises the royalties issue?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_Phish_Volume_3

Also LivePhish Vol.03 -- "Fukuoka Jam #1" follows Twist.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_Phish_Volume_4

Would love to hear a little more clarification about how the royalties thing works.

Score: 0
pzerbo Phish.net Staff Reply
pzerbo @Sativar said:
I'm pretty sure that Page busted out the theremin during the storage jam at SBIX.
Yeah, I suppose I bonked that one, too. ::sigh::
Score: 0
newbornelf Reply
Set 2 night one at Gorge was one of the best sets I've ever seen. It just went and went and did not stop. The transitions were seamless and one had no idea what Phish was going to play next. I could have sworn beyond belief that Rock and Roll was going into Moma, but it just never did. The energy during this set was just amazing. By the time Show of Life came around, it was the best song I have ever heard...and that is saying something.

Sure, there are many 'factors' in a Phish live experience for each individual. Some of my favorite Phish experiences have been nothing shows in terms of stats and reviews. I'm humbled I guess to know that this set was as well received as it was by me. This was an amazing set of live Phish.
Score: 0

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