Gorge Amphitheatre, George, WA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
Note: As with part one, this was written on the trek from Spokane to Los Angeles. Pardon any and all typos.
For night two we decided to start the first set up on the lawn so I could see the sun set/get a different appreciation for the venue. Phish came out just as the sun snuck behind the ridge and played the worst set of the weekend much to my delight. It’s not that the music was bad, they just happened to play the songs that myself and many others are sick of. “Possum”, “Moma Dance”, “Sample In A Jar” the boys were playing it safe. Hell I even got my bathroom break songs “Limb By Limb” and “Ocelot” back to back. The reason this was perfect (besides the chance to pee) was that I could worry more about soaking in the surroundings of the Gorge instead of focusing just on the music. A safe set of songs I have seen a million times was the perfect musical backdrop for enjoying a sunset with friends. We eventually made our way down to the floor during “Ocelot” and found a sweet spot Page Side Rage Side (a theme for this tour) just in time for a standard run through “Poor Heart.”
In my opinion the band found their groove during the last few songs of the first set. “Wolfman’s Brother” is always great, especially when the band teases “Heartbreaker” by the mighty Led Zeppelin. “Wilson” had the unapologetic energy of Led Zeppelin rocking the crowd hard late in the set. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “Fluffhead” is the new “Guyute” as I witnessed my third 3.0 version of the classic Phish number. No complaints here as I love the song and it served as a perfect close to the first set.
We headed down to the main pit at setbreak and watched the set from about 20 feet away. I was a bit shocked with a set II “Chalkdust Torture” opener as I assumed it would be saved for the Hollywood Bowl. Well that and the fact I told my pals I would buy them each a Pizza-dilla if the band didn’t open with that “I Don’t Like Reggae” song that I got stuck in everyones head over the course of the weekend. Much like night one Set II started with the second song of the set this time with a raging “Tweezer” which sent glowsticks flying and folks high fiving. The jam out of “Tweezer” built nicely before winding down and finding its way into the soft intro that is “Prince Caspian.”
Coming out of “Caspian” was the nights best jam “Sand.” Not a huge fan of this song, but the jam is always good and this one was beefy. I really loved the fact that they ended the section of songs by going back into the tail end of “Tweezer.” Judging by the thunderous ovation from the crowd I am not the only one.
An unexpected highlight in the second set was the bands cover of the TV on the Radio song “Golden Age.” I’ll be honest I don’t know much about TV on the Radio but hearing just how amazing they sound when performed by Phish let’s just say I’m a bit more excited to catch them headline the Hollywood Bowl next month.
The way the final set of the weekend ended is why I go see Phish time and time again. Once again I wore the right shirt as the band busted into “Reba.” The bands playing on the composed sections was superb, but as anyone inside of the Gorge would tell you the highlight was the return of the whistling section at the end of the song. The song eventually gave way to one of my all time favorites “Run Like An Antelope.” Within the first few minutes of the song, Anastasio managed to tease the whistling of “Reba” as well as parts of “Tweezer”, “Sand” and “Golden Age.” After a main build up jam that truly felt more intense than most Antelopes we made it to the lyrics where a playful Anastasio changed Marco Escondolis to Mike-O Escondolis before allowing Mike Gordon a few seconds to lay down a little low end groove. This is easily the most intense Antelope I’ve seen and a perfect end to the second set.
The encore kicked off with “Suzy Greenberg” which made me happy not so much for the song but because thenaturalstoner (who was robbed of the Festival 8 version) finally got his Suzy. However what happened next shocked us all. I thought for sure we would head straight into “Tweezer Reprise” but instead we were treated to the rare gem “Sanity.” Perhaps the band read my open letter because the left coast usually doesn’t get something so epic. When it comes to song selection, this was no doubt was the highlight of the weekend.
As Gordon dropped massive bass bombs during the closer “Tweezer Repise” I took it all in for a final time. The venue, the friends, the fact thenaturalstoner found the Jeff Winston beach ball at the end of the set. It was a lifelong dream to see Phish at the Gorge and that dream finally came true.
As I fly above Sin City in my return to Los Angeles it’s hard to believe my trip to Washington is over. I met some amazing folks including our own Grateful Coug. I got to reconnect with old friends like LeRoy Winston, Phishbeard and RV. I made many new friends too numerous to list. Thanks to Skate for letting me crash on Thursday night and a very special thanks to our own thenaturalstoner who has gone above and beyond the call of duty as tour guide to both myself and Jay Porks the last two weekends. You are an incredible man. Oh and if you’re name is Pete and you call the state of Illinois home, we get it, you fucking hate Dub Step.
Next Stop – Hollywood Bowl.