Sunday 07/28/2013 by multibeast

MORE HEAT: GORGE 2 RECAP

The conclusion of Phish’s 7th set of shows at the Gorge brought more heat, reverence for the beauty, and some serious exploration and jams. I am not one to try and pigeon-hole a show as “best of 3.0” or “best start to finish show of the year” but it’s hard to argue with the playing on both nights of this run, and night 2 has some pretty goosebump-inducing moments and a second set that should stand the test of time.

George, Washington is about as close to the middle of nowhere that you can find, and an odd but beautiful place for a music venue. The dramatic scenery surrounding the stage is awe-inspiring and humbling. Contrast that with the nearly inhospitable heat and dryness of the high desert summer landscape, and you have the tension and release that mirrors what a lot of Phish music attempts to achieve. It is a must-see venue for Phish fans, and this year many finally checked it off their bucket list.

Architect” is a welcome new addition to the Phish catalog and I hope it stays in rotation. I thought it was an odd choice for a first set opener and feel it is a better late second set song but it was well executed. With a nearby wildfire sending its odor and haze to the venue, it seemed almost a nod to the majesty of whatever cosmic architect designed this dangerous and beautiful place. Some discussion ensues after Architect and it appears a fan request is granted with a solid version of “Golgi Apparatus,” the first of 2013. To my ears they sound very relaxed and certainly on-point.

After Golgi there is more discussion and hand signaling with Trey spreading his arms apart, as if peering through windows or perhaps...a curtain! “The Curtain With,” this reviewer’s favorite Phish song, delights with some thoughtful and soaring soloing from Trey and crisp and tight fills from Fishman. The “With” portion of this song is one of those Phish spaces where you really get to hear the interplay between the four members and you can hear Trey and Page musically talking to each other throughout this version.

Kill Devil Falls” finally kicks off the dance party and Trey lays down a solid solo with plenty of throw your arms up and dance energy. Without a pause at the end of the song, they drop right into "The Moma Dance," and Fishman just absolutely crushes it. The intro is loaded with quality Fishman fills that inspire the other band members to take chances that result in a well above average start to the song. The solo is short and to the point, and the song ends with an immediate segue into “Maze.” Page gets his first opportunity of the night to shine and shine he does! With Trey facing him, locked in to what he’s playing, this version takes off to its usual bombastic peaks with a spattering of machine gun Trey. End first quarter.

Taking it down a notch after the previous 3 dance numbers, “Beauty Of A Broken Heart” leads off the second quarter with a sweet Page balad and a tiny trainwreck after the first verse and chorus. Trey continues the couples dance portion of the evening with “Roses Are Free.” I know a lot of fans really enjoy this song but for me, it is a bathroom break tune. I love Ween and I love Phish but I don’t personally like this combo of the two. YMMV. This version is pretty straightforward and solidly played.

Next up we get a rare new song debut with the Mike Gordon/Scott Murawski-penned “Say Something.” A funky beat with a bit of a Little Feat vibe and some sweet 70’s vocals, I think it’s a great tune and look forward to its return. More new songs please, Mike!

Ocelot” drops in next, keeping the vibe somewhat mellow. This is an above average version, Mike leading the way with his bouncy bass lines. The Trey and Fish interplay yields some really great moments here and the end takes off to an apex that would make Jerry proud of this Tennessee Jed knock off. I kid!

As a tribute to the great JJ Cale, who passed away the day before from a heart attack, set one ends with “After Midnight.” For whatever reason they play it in a completely different key than its last three appearances, taking it back to the same key it was played in at Big Cypress. Trey’s solo is filled with some cool vamping and rhythmic chord strumming, but not much more. Not exactly a strong finish to the quieter second half of set one, but a fitting and expected memorial to JJ Cale.

Those watching the webcast got treated to the comedy stylings of a mystery writer (Mike?) after set one finished, and it is always a pleasure to watch and giggle at the silly jokes. Chupacabra!

Set two jumps off to a predictable but strong start with “Down With Disease.” It has found a its home as a second set opener and that is just fine! The jam develops into a nice conversation between all four members, with Page spending a lot of time on his orange mini Wurlitzer piano, aka Lil’ Punkin. Seemingly out of nowhere but probably planned, Trey begins the “Undermind” theme and the rest of the band immediately follows with little to no transition. DWD>Undermind is a great combo and as the first jam opens up, Page returns to Lil’ Punkin for some really tasty soloing and one of the highlights of the show. Returning to the song, Trey adds a little delay to his chords for a great effect. The second jam instantly drops into exploratory territory that gets dark and fuzzy with plenty of meatball Mike, changes gears a few more times and eventually gets quiet and really spacey. Kuroda’s more subdued lighting rig turns into a vision from Close Encounters and we find ourselves in deep interstellar space, with a brief visit to the Marimba Lumina by Fish. Top notch version on par with the Dick’s Undermind.

Exiting the dark matter of the Undermind jam, the band attempts the jump into hyperspace with “Light.” Expectations of this song have become deservedly high, but this version is comparatively brief and uneventful compared to other recent renditions.Type I all the way and some nice work by Trey but nothing that really stands out. As the jam fades, the crowd is treated to the first “Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley” since last year’s San Francisco show. Coincidently that Sally came out of Light as well. A funky vocal jam pause then full on meatball Mike-led funk dance party. Trey makes some pretty strong statements in this one and takes the jam to a satisfying, extended peak, after which the song levels off and fades into “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”

Much like recent versions of Tube, 2001 doesn’t have long legs but this one has some really creative playing led by Page and his assortment of keyboards. The middle jam has what sounds like a musical quote of some sort but I have yet to see it identified as anything other than something cool they fell into. A unique version well worth a listen!

Walls Of The Cave” is up next, a song that saw lots of play in 2011, only once in 2012, and once this year already at SPAC. This version does not disappoint, each movement presented masterfully and turning into quite the shred fest for Trey, then slowly dissolving into a “Fluffhead” that I don’t think anyone saw coming. The composed section was a bit of a mess but the rest of the song was nailed, although the solo by Trey was a little disjointed and lacking.

Run Like An Antelope” closes out set two, having done the same thing in Chicago the weekend prior. Often a first set closer it’s great to see this song in the second set end slot. The jam starts quietly as usual but quickly turns into a plentiful dose of Trey, hitting the double time peak with verve. As second sets go, this one is filled with a lot to love. Trey thanks everyone for an incredible two days and gives expressions of love for the venue.

That same expression of love kicks off the encore with “Show Of Life.” Love it or hate it, Trey is going to use this song to send a message of gratitude and we should all be thankful. Also we should be glad they didn’t end the show with it! Instead we get one more rocker in “Good Times Bad Times.” To me it feels a little out of place here but we get to end the show on a high note.

The west coast leg of the 2013 tour kicked off with two really high quality shows from four guys who are locked in tight and obviously loving every minute of being on stage together. Let’s see if they can keep the energy up for the rest of the west. Next stop, more amazing beauty at Lake Tahoe, with two shows in a parking lot behind a casino. Quite different from the Gorge! See you there!

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Comments

, comment by InsectEffect
InsectEffect
Yet another great recap! Succinct but detailed enough to suggest the show's flavor and tantalize soon-to-be listeners like myself.

A minor quibble re: phish.net -- I know the correct title of Strauss' full version of the song is “Also Sprach Zarathustra," I know. But can't we just call it "2001" on Phish.net setlists, as that's how it's most commonly referred to among fans? Even LivePhish calls it "2001."

, comment by PayThePiper
PayThePiper Perfect review. Thanks. Loved that Curtain With. And I agree, could have done with something other than Good Times Bad Times there. But a great show!
, comment by whatstheuse324
whatstheuse324 Great review, @multibeast. I was able to stay up and watch the show in its entirety from the east coast until 2:50 AM. I would have to give this one the nod for the show of the year so far.

The musical quote you mentioned being played in 2001, although I do not know its origin, was definitely present in my favorite version of the song, 10/9/1999 in Albany. In the middle of this super-extended version, the band drops out while Mike lays down the same "quote" with his baseline. Check it out if you are so inclined.

Also, the comedy routine at set break was excellent. It was delivered, via text, with the same spot on sarcastic style as Steven Wright. What a treat!

Can't wait for the rest of the west coast shows...
, comment by whatstheuse324
whatstheuse324 Also, a little while ago I came across someone on a message board saying that funk-jams died in 1998. First, I disagree. Second, this person needs to hear the funk-jam out of last night's Sneakin' Sally. Back from the dead Muthaf#cka!
, comment by lumpblockclod
lumpblockclod @InsectEffect said:
A minor quibble re: phish.net -- I know the correct title of Strauss' full version of the song is �Also Sprach Zarathustra," I know. But can't we just call it "2001" on Phish.net setlists, as that's how it's most commonly referred to among fans? Even LivePhish calls it "2001."
If you go to the setlists page at the top you can click on setlist options and choose "show song nicknames." You'll get other abbreviations, too, but it's actually how I prefer to view the site.
, comment by vtspeedy
vtspeedy Sally jam - Another One Bites the Dust?
, comment by SoStupendous
SoStupendous This was my first ever couch show.... and what a delight! Sad to say that I got my first Fluffhead on my apartment couch, but hey, someday it will come to me live and in person. I thought the second set was absolutely delectable and got into some solid rhythmic grooves that I love so much and are such a signature of a Phish jam, maybe I should even say relatively 'modern' Phish jams. The -> Undermind was so buttery it totally caught me off guard! This was definitely a show that I was simultaneously jealous of those in attendance since I couldn't make it, but also grateful that so many wonderful people other than me got to witness such a great show and some much anticipated tunes such as Curtain With.

Good review! I was gonna say great review until I saw the cliched bust-out of "disjointed and lacking". Also, while it was definitely an overall above average review that hits the nail on the head, there were some parts of the review that tended to meander and just weren't going anywhere. Hopefully less whammy pedal is used next time.
, comment by Beenjammin84
Beenjammin84 Gorge 2 is about as good as it gets for a 2 set Phish show. CERTAINLY, the best first set of 2013. Architect is such an awesome song(as are most of the tunes on Traveler) and seeing it open the show reflects the versatility of the tune(see the deep set 2 placements of Carini> Architect from Spac2 or Hood> Architect from Merriweather1). The key and jam in After Midnight are nearly identical to the legendary version played at Big Cypress(although considerably shorter), and it's wonderful to see them bring the tune back after 2 years.

As for set 2 - Disease> Undermind is some of the best 3.0 that I'm aware of, right up there with -7> Ghost from Albany 2009, Jim> Farmhouse/Golden Age> Caspian> Light/Sand> Ghost from Dick's 2012 or any other start to set two of 3.0. As reviewer pointed out, I'm thrilled Disease seems to have found its permanent home back in set 2 where it belongs. Merriweather > Gorge are the most consistently raging set of shows I know of since 1999. To think that we've got Tahoe, Bill Graham, and Dick's left on the plate before Fall Tour and Halloween is just scary. Its incredibly gratifying to see this band playing so well. WE LOVE YOU GUYS!
, comment by bouncin7
bouncin7 The musical quote during 2001 is Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal." @whatstheuse324 said:
Great review, @multibeast. I was able to stay up and watch the show in its entirety from the east coast until 2:50 AM. I would have to give this one the nod for the show of the year so far.

The musical quote you mentioned being played in 2001, although I do not know its origin, was definitely present in my favorite version of the song, 10/9/1999 in Albany. In the middle of this super-extended version, the band drops out while Mike lays down the same "quote" with his baseline. Check it out if you are so inclined.

Also, the comedy routine at set break was excellent. It was delivered, via text, with the same spot on sarcastic style as Steven Wright. What a treat!

Can't wait for the rest of the west coast shows...
, comment by ninebyframe
ninebyframe Excellent recap, @multibeast! Couch toured set II as soon as I got home from work on the east coast.

DWD-> Undermind and Light-> Sally were jaw dropping, joy-inducing segues that require dozens of listens on their own. Set II is now the set to beat for this tour, the boys are just on a rampage to my ears!!

Looking forward to the Tahoe recaps, let's hope there are some streamers there for mine and all the east coasters' sakes!
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @Beenjammin84 said: [quote]Gorge 2 is about as good as it gets for a 2 set Phish show. CERTAINLY, the best first set of 2013.

Can't agree with that statement. Thought the previous night, not to mention Merriweather2, SPAC3, and Toronto all topped it, but your sentiments in general I totally agree with. The Gorge was certainly the best multi-night run of the tour so far. They are picking up steam!
, comment by ThomasFunkyEdison
ThomasFunkyEdison Great recap, but too much Trey bashing. Seems like too often the weight of criticism falls on his shoulders.
, comment by yanzlow
yanzlow Not sure why so many people were down on After Midnight. I thought it smoked, and it had to since everyone knew it was coming.
, comment by ThinMan
ThinMan Yeah, I am under the opinion that the 1st set was a little ho hum until the Roses Are Free. While Architect is a great song, I really don't think it fit the mood of The Gorge at that moment. Seemed like Fish stared the drum beat and Trey just went with it. I also thought the With was pretty weak and seemed like Trey stuggled at the end. KDF picked it up, but Moma was pretty ugly at the end. I will need to re-listen.

Trey still continues to struggle with Broken Heart, but so glad it is getting more than once a year play and he can start to really crush the song...Major energy boost during the Roses and from there on out, the show rips
, comment by newbornelf
newbornelf A few notes:

During Undermind, the biggest beach ball the world has ever seen made its rounds through the crowd, and right up to the stage. Was it the Phish organization that let this ball loose, or just a fan with a hell of a pump? This ball was absolutely massive. I'm talking like 10 feet? More? Huge. The whole crowd oohed and aahed, and in sure you can hear it in the recording.

Antelope was not merely a good choice for second set closer. It was symbolic. At the gorge, one has to walk a VERY long way back to camp after the show. After night one, my buddy and I found out the hard way (actually he was so flipped we had to wait until the entire venue cleared out to make the trek) that leaving late is very bad news. People are corralled and the road is blocked as Phish vehicles make their way out of the venue for the night.
You DO have to run like an antelope to get the hell back to camp! This is no accident that this song was played last song of second set.

Show Of Life encore was indeed a thanks. But it was also a further message that ok it is time for you to leave I you are in the know. Start now and beat the crowd or else. It is such a long walk that you can hear the sing just fine and look back and reflect on the band and audience at certain vantage points anyway and knowing that you're going to beat the crowd is priceless. Good times bad times could be heard all the way walking out which is just fine. We've heard the song a million times and it rocks, especially since you can hear it crystal clear on the way out of the venue.

If I could explain how much walls of cave means to trey and all of us if we'd realize, I would. He is leaving us all a message as he says. This will not last forever. The band will not be here forever. It was moving to hear trey song this song on this night. I would not be surprised if this was the most moving version of this song ever played.

Now for Light. The first notes of Trey's solo were as heartfelt and moving as any in Light ever. The first phrase is deep. The song may not have been that exploratory as reviewer stated, by if you were there, and in the right state, you'd know how touching it was.

So much more could be said. But overall, the second set was just incredible. Amazing experience for me I can't even begin. 4th time Phish at Gorge. This was the set.

, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @newbornelf said:
A few notes:

During Undermind, the biggest beach ball the world has ever seen made its rounds through the crowd, and right up to the stage. Was it the Phish organization that let this ball loose, or just a fan with a hell of a pump? This ball was absolutely massive. I'm talking like 10 feet? More? Huge. The whole crowd oohed and aahed, and in sure you can hear it in the recording.

Antelope was not merely a good choice for second set closer. It was symbolic. At the gorge, one has to walk a VERY long way back to camp after the show. After night one, my buddy and I found out the hard way (actually he was so flipped we had to wait until the entire venue cleared out to make the trek) that leaving late is very bad news. People are corralled and the road is blocked as Phish vehicles make their way out of the venue for the night.
You DO have to run like an antelope to get the hell back to camp! This is no accident that this song was played last song of second set.

Show Of Life encore was indeed a thanks. But it was also a further message that ok it is time for you to leave I you are in the know. Start now and beat the crowd or else. It is such a long walk that you can hear the sing just fine and look back and reflect on the band and audience at certain vantage points anyway and knowing that you're going to beat the crowd is priceless. Good times bad times could be heard all the way walking out which is just fine. We've heard the song a million times and it rocks, especially since you can hear it crystal clear on the way out of the venue.

If I could explain how much walls of cave means to trey and all of us if we'd realize, I would. He is leaving us all a message as he says. This will not last forever. The band will not be here forever. It was moving to hear trey song this song on this night. I would not be surprised if this was the most moving version of this song ever played.

Now for Light. The first notes of Trey's solo were as heartfelt and moving as any in Light ever. The first phrase is deep. The song may not have been that exploratory as reviewer stated, by if you were there, and in the right state, you'd know how touching it was.

So much more could be said. But overall, the second set was just incredible. Amazing experience for me I can't even begin. 4th time Phish at Gorge. This was the set.
Your commentary made me smile, because you clearly were on your own personal trip that night. I relate. I remember seeing the Dead in Maine in the 80's and the second set was like a written novel to me. I coudn't really explain it to anyone, and no one understood it when I tried, but it's still vivid to this day.

Reading what you wrote, it is clear to me that we are all way too critical of the boys. This music is personal to each of us in unique ways and you really can't separate the experience from the facts. That's why the running bow-shots between old Phish-Heads and newer fans will never end. The old fans can't distinguish in their memories between what really went down and how they felt about it at the time. It colors our objectivity and that's okay, because it's supposed to. It's music, life, emotion.

You're right. Someday it will end. I sometimes go back into the phish.net archived blogs and read reviews of shows that are in some cases now considered classic, and I smirk as I read the criticisms of fans "in the know". We really are quite a crowd.

We will all weep heartily in loss and gratitude when they finally hang it up for good. Let's hope it stays real to the end.
, comment by rudy79
rudy79 What I like about these reviews is the attempt to give each night's performance some historical perspective. Most nights, Phish is wonderful, but it isn't likely to be something that phans who weren't attending need to add to their own collection. It's great to know when Phish punches through to the next level, and delivers something special and unique. I think these reviews help figuring this out.
, comment by InsectEffect
InsectEffect
@lumpblockclod Thanks for the tip -- that gives the Setlists page more of an old-school cassette notation, which I likes. ;-)

, comment by hip_school_preppie
hip_school_preppie Set 2 was one of the best sets of the tour - sorry, but it doesn't get much better than that top to bottom, and After Midnight kicked ass. While I like Architect, it's a strange show opener due to the fact many folks just don't know it - hard to gain the excitement of the crowd that way. Golgi is always meh to me, but somewhat of a crowd pleaser to many, so it fits right in with the Saturday night vibe. From Curtain "With" on I was sold - more please!
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