Phish 08/05 & 06/11
The Gorge – George, WA
Words/Photos by Phishbeard
On the 5th and 6th of August 2011, the Gorge was once again blessed with the presence of Phish. Phans from all over America congregated for one of the most magical weekends in recent Phishtory. The weather was superb and the campgrounds were packed by the time my crew arrived at the Gorge to set up camp and prefunk for the Friday night show. We had numerous cars of people as part of our caravan at the campground and more people joined our camp as the weekend went on. When it was all said and done, we had approximately 20 people, representing 5 different states as part of our camp. When we come to a Phish show, we come in style and this year was no different. Our camp was huge, shaded, luxorious and full of good people, beers and other goodies. This was by far the best camp set up that I have been part of in all my concert going years and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to share that experience with.
Once we had gathered all things necessary for the Friday show, we made our way to the venue. By the time we got to the gates, my most wonderful chocolate that I had ate had kicked in and I was on the path to a face melting evening. Once inside the venue and past a relaxed security check, most of my group decided to venture to the floor. I opted out and found myself a spot to video tape the music from the hillside. I then made my way to the porta-potties and to my surprise there was little to no line and they were clean! This is unheard of at a Phish show and I was in awe, even more so since I was tripping pretty hard by that time. The boys opened up with Kill Devil Falls followed by the Wedge to start off one of the best Phish shows that I have ever attended.
Friday’s first set brought out some big hitters such as an 11 plus minute Bathtub Gin and a bitchin’ Walk Away. My buddy also got My Friend, My Friend, which he was dying to hear. Cavern and Taste were also played in that first set. By the time they busted out Roggae, it was dark enough that the light show became a stellar spectacle for all to adore. The highlights for me during that set were Roses are Free and David Bowie. Roses goes into Bowie so well that those 16 minutes were an epic way to end a set and was actually just a small taste of what was in store for all the Phans after set break. The boys were on fire and this was by far the best sounding show I have had heard them play live.
The second set opened up with Backwards Down the Number Line, which brought a smile to my face, since I am still in the phase of trying to accept new Phish songs. The next song, Rock and Roll by the Velvet Underground was by far the highlight of the night for me and more than likely the best I have heard the boys play ever. Rock and Roll was 20 minutes of crazy mind melting jamming and Page even played on a theremin, which is a rarity. All I can say is that after that song, most people were trying hard to reform from the puddles of which they became. After such an epic Rock and Roll, the boys pushed on through with a 9 minute Meatstick! This version of Meatstick even had the Japanese lyrics in it. Wow what a treat it was to get that. I also enjoyed Farmhouse and Show of Life. Unfortunately, for such an epic show, the boys had to play the best version of Julius that I have ever heard and I hate that song with all my heart. Phish was playing so good, that songs I hate even sounded ok. The night ended with a nice 7 minute encore of Loving Cup, sending everyone back to camp in good form.
At the end of the show, I staked a good spot on the hill to locate my friend’s. After about 30 minutes, my Jeff Winston cries served their purpose and I was able to find some friends that were not part of our crew and at the same time, literally within minutes, I found my crew as well! The Gorge always has had some special way of making friends gravitate towards each other. During the long trek back to camp, I found my friend from New Orleans and some other friends from Oregon. Still tripping and riding the high off the post show excitement, I lost my crew and got stuck gabbing with my other friends. Unfortunately I was not blessed with a sense of direction and after parting ways with my friends, I proceeded to wander the campgrounds lost and wasted looking for my camp. Only after 2 hours of walking, many phone calls, and tons of panic, did I finally contact a friend and made him take me back to my camp. That’s what friends are for right?
The next day, we had a long haul of drinking and other activities ahead of us before the show. Once it was daylight, I made a mental map of the location of my friend’s camps as well as our camp. We made a venture down to Shakedown Street a couple times for souvenirs and some grub. Overall the campground was very lively and everyone was pumped about another night of Phish. Saturday was a bit warmer than Friday was and we had to care for a friend who was suffering from heat exhaustion. After we were all good and buzzed up, as well as rested for the night, our crew made the trek once more to see the boys perform the Saturday show. Herds of people flowed down the path to the venue like groups of zombies headed for fresh blood, which is a bit different than post shows, when it is more like a mass of cattle being funneled down a path back to the campground.
The Saturday show will forever be dubbed as the best shitty show I have seen the boys play. I say that because the majority of the songs played Saturday are mostly the songs I hate from the Phish catalogue. Even though the song choices were horrible, the music itself was decent. Phish was on fire yet again and killed every song I hate with such grace. The show opened up with Possum and I knew right there that all my friend’s were laughing at me and that I had a long night ahead of crappy songs to come. Some of the songs I was pleased to hear during the first set were, The Moma Dance, Limb by Limb, and Wolfman’s Brother. The set also had a stellar 10 plus minute Maze, which I was just begging for it to end after it first started. Ending the set was a bitchin’ Wilson into Fluffhead! By far the highlight of the night for me and it helped bring me back up, after being bummed about the songs played prior.
During set break I gathered myself up as best as I could and prayed for a better round of songs for the second set. The boys must have been listening to my prayers, because when they came back out they opened with Chalkdust Torture and played into Tweezer > Prince Caspian > Sand and then back into Tweezer. Wow what a sandwich that was!!! If they would have replaced Sand with something else, the sandwich would have been epic instead of great. The boys brought it back down for me a bit with Birds of a Feather, which made me scream a tad on the inside. Thank God the rest of the set was nothing but tasty tunes, such as Waste and 12 min versions of Reba and Run Like an Antelope to end the set. A triple encore was then played, which consisted of Suzy Greenburg (which I could do without), Sanity (which was phenomenal!), and a Tweezer Reprise. Overall the show was good, but if I could have got at least half those disliked songs replaced, this show would have been so much better. All I can say about the weekend is that there were many good times, many friends seen, and plenty of great music heard. Best weekend of Phish in my concert career, easily.