On Saturday night, Phish returned to The Gorge for the second night of their first ever three-night run at the beloved outdoor venue in George, WA. Opening up their Gorge run on Friday night in style, the band delivered a monster 24-minute “Chalkdust Torture”, that is now in the prestigious 20+ minute jam club. Phish also debuted “Set Your Soul Free”, a Trey Anastasio written song that was debuted with Trey Anastasio Band in Las Vegas this past October.
Starting Saturday night off at 8:2o PST, the band jumped into a celebratory “Party Time” with an extended jam. Trey Anastasio was feeling loose out of the gates, trading solos back and forth with Page McConnell as Jon Fishman laid down his signature “Party Time” beats. After a brief pause, Trey and Mike Gordon came in heavy with the intro to “Punch You In The Eye”, winding down the deep salsa-infused road that we all know and love. With Gordon rocking some tropical-flowery pants, and his signature electric-green Nike’s, he and Anastasio got loose at the knees and down into their dance, comfortably getting night-two at the Gorge off to an impressive start.
“Punch You In The Eye”
[Video: Gregory Marcus]
Settling in, the band dove head-first into “Mike’s Song”, with Gordon taking charge, dropping some serious first-set bombs. Anastasio has been digging a watery-effect harnassing his Leslie speaker, laying down some dark and heavy power chords as “Mike’s” continued to grow deeper. Chris Kuroda‘s slightly altered rig from last summer is doing even more magical and mind-blowing things than we’ve seen before, impressively getting things moving fast as the last minutes of daylight lingered. With the picturesque Columbia River Gorge providing the most perfect of backgrounds, Trey slowly floated into “I Am Hydrogen”, as the sun settled below the horizon.
A lofty “Hydrogen” led way into the anticipated “Weekapaug Groove”, with Gordon hammering away, looking lean and mean in his “sleeveless Mike” style. The “Weekapaug” was strong but standard, with Anastasio leading the way into some scorching solos, reminding everyone of the magic that began at Madison Square Garden one year ago to the date. The same creative energy seems t0 be flowing this summer, and the Vermonters seem happier than ever, clearly and precisely locked-in with each other as they set out to destroy America this summer.
Up next was a Phish debut, “Infinite”, led on vocals by Gordon. Page McConnell has been exceptional to start off this tour, laying down some funky work on the grand piano, allowing Gordon and Fishman to lock-in to an infectious groove. The new debut was rocking, with all four members of the band playing with confidence and grinning from ear-to-ear, as the 25,000+ person outdoor amphitheatre rocked with them, thoroughly impressed. The new jam came to a halt, and Page came in on the organ, swinging into “It’s Ice” and giving Trey some room to step slightly out-of-bounds and lay down some impressive guitar work.
“Divided Sky” was next and, after some early stumbles, was played with precision. Trey’s sustained note rang out loud, with fans whistling and chanting, seemingly louder than at virtually any venue the band plays in the country. A hard-hitting “Cavern” brought set-one to a close. The first-ever three-night run at The Gorge was going swimmingly as it rounded the halfway point, the first three sets of the weekend in the rearview mirror.
Following a forty-five minute set-break, Phish came back out and dove head first into “Tweezer”. Following two interesting yet well-received shows in Tahoe, fans were buzzing about the monster “Tweezer” that they were anticipating and hoping for at The Gorge. Well, although not extremely long, the jam quickly moved into fast-paced Phish, with Gordon leading the way. After moving past the main theme of the song and heading into deep jam-territory, Trey initiated liftoff, shredding away as The Gorge crowd prepared for blastoff.
After a soaring Anastasio peak, with McConnell following him as cohesively as any two musicians might hope to play together, the jam slowly fizzled out, leading the way to “Golden Age”. Anastasio’s voice sounded sharp and strong, as he led his bandmates through the feel-good chorus. The “Golden Age” jam got super funky, with McConnell sending out some extraterrestrial noises, hopping between various keyboards in his impressive setup. Following some deep funk, sticky bass bombs rang out from Gordon’s side of the stage, locking into a few thrilling minutes of exploration before a two-second pause, and quick transition into “Farmhouse”.
“Tweezer” > “Golden Age”
[Video: Gregory Marcus]
The band is feeling as comfortable as they ever have, and their selection of “Farmhouse” midway through the set was well-played, as Anastasio laid down some delicate licks accompanied by more of Gordon’s bombs. “Farmhouse” was short and sweet, but what came next was the exact opposite. The band dug deep into “Piper”, easily marking the highlight jam of the show. Page sent off more dark and spacey tones and Kuroda had the light rig bouncing as the band slowly transitioned into silky-smooth Type II territory.
The vibe the band set during “Piper” continued into “Prince Caspian”. “Caspian” had some legs, and Anastasio helped his bandmates lead the jam to a blissful peak, firing off notes at rapid-fire speed. Entering a psychedelic space, McConnell kept the space-funk coming, elegantly complimenting Anastasio’s solo. Yet another slower song, “Wading In The Velvet Sea”, came next, a bit of a surprise after the earlt-set “Farmhouse”. “Wading” carried the same heartfelt emotion that the song will carry with it forever, Trey’s carefully crafted solo soaring gracefully over the awe-inspiring natural beauty of the venue.
“Rise/ Come Together”, originally debuted by Trey Anastasio Band, was noticeably strong on the vocal end, as it sometimes seems hard for Anastasio to hold down large harmonies that Jen Hartswick, Natalie Cressman and James Casey are there to assist on with TAB. “Rise/ Come Together” gave way to a roaring “Run Like An Antelope”, bringing the second set to a close. Anastasio seemed exhausted as “Antelope” peaked and landed into “Rye, Rye, Rocco”, a sure sign that Phish brought the heat to The Gorge once again.
Returning for their encore, and seeming to have taken enough time to catch their breath, Phish offered up “Bug”, with an ecstatic crowd singing along, “It doesn’t matter!”. “Tweezer Reprise” brought a joyous Saturday night at The Gorge to the finish line, with the band member seeming relaxed and taking a few moments before exiting the stage.
“Bug” > “Tweezer Reprise”
[Video: Gregory Marcus]
Phish returns to the Gorge tonight for their third and final performance of the weekend. For a full list of Phish’s upcoming dates, head to the band’s website.
You can view a gallery of photos from Phish’s second of three nights at The Gorge below via Dave Vann.
Setlist: Phish | The Gorge | George, WA | 7/21/2018
Set One: Party Time, Punch You In The Eye > Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Infinite^ > It’s Ice> Divided Sky, Cavern
Set Two: Tweezer > Golden Age > Farmhouse > Piper> Prince Caspian > Wading In The Velvet Sea > Rise/Come Together > Run Like An Antelope
Encore: Bug> Tweezer Reprise