[Recap courtesy of Pete "PhanArt" Mason. -Ed.]
The hot and windy mid-Washington Gorge Amphitheater slowly welcomed Phish fans to their first ever three-night run, home to legendary Phish runs going back 21 years. With eager families and first timers dotting the hill and posing for the obligatory "We have arrived" photo, the return to the Gorge was met with plenty of buzz as the first weekend of the tour got underway.
And so with much anticipation for the start of Phish’s three night run at the best outdoor venue in the country, I gotta say I was surprised when they opened up with a Trey Anastasio Band song, "Set Your Soul Free," when SO many other options were available. But hey, play what 'ya want. The tune did fit the sunset nicely, and the crowd eventually got down to the fun new jam, which worked into "Wolfman's" and "Roggae," a perfect pairing in a first set tonight. A half-hour into the set and the evening setting in, a quick "Poor Heart" preceded an adventurous "Undermind" that always finds a welcome home mid-first. This gave birth to a "Simple" where the band took a blues rock turn, driving deeper for a jam that stands out as a highlight of the night. "Ya Mar" could have been one or two songs earlier and been a perfect fit, but at any point of a first set, it works. The "Sand" closing the first set out was tight and energetic, keeping the vibe of the set flowing well through break.
Set two kicked off with a 24-minute "Chalk Dust Torture" that had a jam of the Baker’s variety: flowing jams with grooves for Trey and Page to slide into, which helped build toward rock peaks beyond the 20-minute mark. Once that peak was found Page got spacey, landing the jam safely for Trey to shift into "My Friend My Friend," and what felt like a first set in the middle of the second set. Not to downplay how great they were playing the songs (the rust from Tahoe was nonexistent tonight), but the selection for set two was set one songs performed with slightly more panache.
Did they really play "Sparkle" in the second set? Yes, it was random, but we accepted it and danced regardless.
"Light" gave some hope with a murky "Hood"-esque jam, lowlighted by unnecessary woo'ing and an abrupt ending by Trey, who opted for a late ballad in "Waste," then a "Rock and Roll" to send us out on. An encore of "Tube" > "Golgi" felt very mid-90's, and was a reaffirmation of Phish’s ability to rock out when they want to.
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