, attached to 2003-07-12

Review by FunkyCFunkyDo

FunkyCFunkyDo Gorge shows are magic. There is no possible argument against that. The venue is a psychedelic epicenter that you must be there, in person, to feel, appreciate, and ultimately respect. Its grandeur and immensity is not gaudy or forced - the backdrop, the environment, is one nature itself created and thus is adulterated and raw. It is pure. It is beauty. Because of this, regardless of what the setlist may dictate, Gorge shows ought to be listened to with ears filled with cosmic wonder.

Taste gets things rolling with an accelerated, open air twist on a classic tune. That's the Gorge for you. It, in and of itself, serves as an amplifier for any songs... all songs. To get things started with a spiraling Taste was a treat. This Taste at first features very nifty Page-piano work before Trey aggressively takes the lead and takes the jam to, as a I said earlier, a spiraling climax. Now, I try to look at the bright side of everything, and seeing a show at the Gorge is validation enough, but the next six songs simply do not flow. Mexican Cousin was a fun, off-balanced treat, but placing it in slot #2 was ill-advised. Stash came next and attempted to regain that momentum that Taste generated, but it fell short. Not much to write about with this Stash. NICU was standard affair. Heavy Thing was standard affair, and even Trey's solo felt just a little... off. At this point I am wondering, "Hmm... seems like the band is searching for that jam, rather than letting it come to pass on its own." It felt, not forced, but not also urgent; almost nonchalant in the sense that the band's passion was a little subdued and nothing was being done about it. Mock Song and Army of One really sucked the air out of the set. I quite enjoy Mock Song, given its rarity and quirky studio but it was a terrible pairing of songs after NICU, Heavy Things. Maze comes in next and finally we get some energy back. Too little too late? No such thing. Phish plays a hearty, gritty, swirling, intense, extended version of Maze that is able to cover up some of the lackluster selections that preceded it. After Page's frenetic organ solo which led into Trey's heated guitar solo, the band drops into a full conversation of snarls and growls. Not angry at each, no, but unleashing some pent up energy that the flow of the set let build and boil. All that energy was unleashed during this extended Maze. And even though the set leaves A LOT to be desired, the bookends give us some high-quality energy to feed the second set.

Piper set 2 opener, yessss please! Gotta admit, I had a little apprehension as to what would open set 2. Like I've said earlier, I go into these listening sessions without looking at setlists (not always beneficial, as some shows I know by heart... but this was not one of those, so I was unaware to all the surprises, good and bad). I pull up phishtracks, click the show, hang out, and occasionally partake in a living room dance party with Mrs. Funky that usually spills out onto the balcony... most of the time pantsless. Well the pantsless dance party wasted no time getting started. Piper locks into a high-powered rock groove right out of the chorus. I mean it really drives. Whatever they talked about at setbreak made a difference, because this jam has an attitude, a swagger. I am a smiling kind of guy, but this is a jam which if I was there in person, I would put my head down, narrow my eyes, and focus in on the intensity - trying to out-dance the pace of the jam. Whew. What a jam! It fades slowly into, god damn it, Two Version of Me. Set 1 all over again? Please no. Another bad selection to follow up a fiery jam. What's that I hear. The opening lick to the song that usually winds up with me behind bars due to the level of controversy my dance moves create? Oh. Oh yes. Tweezer. At this point I was eating my words (thoughts?) on the poor setlist construction. Tweezer saved the day, as it usually does, and I evaded the police (frankly, they were baffled by Walking Through Unseen Spiderweb at Night - my 6th most controversial dance move). The Tweezer energy was short lived, however. A brief, slow tempo jam playing on the Free riff led into a meandering, directionless "jam" that never got going. A fun segue into Dogs Stole Things perked everyone back up, as this bust out is fun, comical, and loose. Well placed. Water in the Sky comes next and my doubts about this set and show start to re-creep back in. A twinkling Page solo and an even brighter Trey solo assuage my fears ... and I know at this point (having a soft spot for the next song which I already knew by heart) that we are going to end on a high note. Ever wonder to yourself, "What's the best Ghost I've never heard." This one is. Oh man do I LOVE this Ghost. Slinky, sultry, spacey, break-downy. This Ghost has it all. It's like Phish saved it all for one, apex jam late in the show. I mean this thing just bubbles over with creativity. Akin in some sense to 2.26.03, this Ghost tinkers in the quantum, meaning the jam is small, quiet, and groove-based - not overwhelming or seismic. It tip toes and slinks around, whisping curls of musical mist into the atmosphere. It hits a "peak" of sorts, albeit respectfully restrained, and settles back into the Ghost theme before ending properly. Just a phenomenal version. Must-hear for sure. The high hat starts and the effects are layered. David Bowie. Now we're talking. It's never too late for a dance party. An above average Bowie that showcases some energetic chaos hits just the right spot to follow up that hypnotic Ghost. Bowie creeks along, moving in and out of psychedelic overtures before culminating in 4 well executed, tension filled, on-the-button peaks! Great stuff here. A rockin Frankenstein, Tweezer Reprise encore sends us off into the cool Gorge evening air with a renewed sense that Phish is ready to bring back the jams after its previous 3 sets asking, "Where did the jams go?"

Must-hear jams: Maze, Piper, Ghost
Probably-should-listen-to jams: Taste, Water in the Sky, David Bowie


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