The History Of Phish At The Gorge

By Scott Bernstein Jul 15, 2016 10:11 am PDT

This evening, Phish kicks off a two-night stand at one of the world’s most beautiful venues, The Gorge in Quincy, Washington. The Gorge is a nine-time winner of Pollstar’s Best Outdoor Music Venue award since it first opened in 1986. Phish has played 14 prior shows at The Gorge starting in 1997 with this weekend marking the group’s 15th and 16th-ever concerts at the amphitheater which “offers sweeping and majestic views of the Columbia River as it skirts the foothills of the Cascade Range southbound, as well as extreme eastern Kittitas County and extreme western Grant County. It is also known for its spectacular views of the Columbia Gorge canyon.”

Before The Gorge took its current form, “The original amphitheater was owned and operated by Dr. Vince Bryan, along with the adjoining winery, Champs de Brionne Winery. The amphitheater was very small, seating only about 3000 people.” Phish has played two-night stands at the venue in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2011 and 2013. Here’s audio (thanks to From The Aquarium and the tapers), setlists and a brief run downs of all 14 prior visits from the quartet to The Gorge.


8/2/1997 Highlights: Phish’s debut at The Gorge included the band’s first version of “Tweezer” in 37 shows, which is the longest gap since the song’s debut in 1990 by a long shot. In fact, Phish has only gone more than 10 shows between “Tweezer” four other times over the past 26 years. Other memorable moments include a blissful “Divided Sky” at a venue made for the tune, a short but incredibly sweet “Wolfman’s,” a cow funk-heavy “Down With Disease” and a version of “Harry Hood” in which all the lights at the venue were turned off.

8/3/1997 Highlights: The longest “Foam” in Phish history, the second and final “Samson Variation,” a “My Mind Has A Mind Of Its Own” bust out, inventive “Limb By Limb,” near Type II “Taste,” beautiful “Lifeboy” and wild “Julius” are among the must-hear moments from Night Two at The Gorge in 1997.


7/16/1998 Highlights: Among the memorable moments were the 1997 debuts of “The Squirming Coil,” “Fast Enough For You” and “Slave To The Traffic Light” as well as stand out versions of “Reba,” “Julius” and “Tube.”

7/17/1998 Highlights: The evening’s four-song second set needs to be heard to be believed with insane versions of “2001,” “Mike’s” and “Weekapaug” along with the energetic “Character Zero.” A “Makisupa” > “Ya Mar” opening sequence also stands out as does a “Gumbo” with “Manteca” teases.


9/10/1999 Highlights: Phish debuted a cover of Billy Preston’s “Will It Go Round In Circles?” at this second night of Fall Tour ’99 and would only play it again one other time. The show is also memorable for the Phish debut of “Gotta Jibboo” and a frisky “Fee.”

9/11/1999 Highlights: The Vermonters’ Gorge finale in ’99 included the Phish debuts of “Heavy Things and “Sand” as well as an atypical “Harry Hood,” an all-over-the-place “Wolfman’s Brother” and wild “Prince Caspian” from one of the best years in the song’s history.


7/12/2003 Highlights: Phish debuted “Mock Song,” “Army Of One” and “Two Versions Of Me” on this night and the former would be the only version of the song until last summer’s Magnaball festival. A rare exploratory “Maze” and a “Ghost” that would make Jimi Hendrix proud also stand out.

7/13/2003 Highlights: Mike busted out a set of electric bagpipes he bought earlier in the tour for “Halley’s Comet” and “Guyute.” One of two versions of “Round Room” to make’s Jamming Chart and crazy, 21-minute “Seven Below” were among the evening’s other impressive moments.


8/7/2009 Highlights: The era’s first versions of “Pebbles & Marbles” and “Sneakin'” are found in the first set with the latter among the year’s best jams. “Light” and “Bathtub Gin” are also must-hear takes.

8/8/2009 Highlights: The Phish debut of “Middle Of The Road,” a “Makisupa Policeman” with a rotation jam and insane 22-minute “Rock & Roll” highlight the final night of the band’s visit to The Gorge in 2009.


08/05/2011 Highlights: There’s plenty to love on this night including what still stands as the longest and best “Roggae” in Phish history. An insane “Rock & Roll” with a transition into “Meatsick” that needs to be heard to be believed and fantastic “Boogie On” also stand out.

08/06/2011 Highlights: A wild “Run Like An Antelope” with teases of SEVEN other songs and crazy “Tweezer” > “Prince Caspian” > “Sand” -> “Tweezer” sequence are where it’s at.


07/26/2013 Highlights: Trey made the locals proud by sporting a t-shirt honoring Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on this night and yes, they played “Wilson.” Also, “Secret Smile” returned after 156 shows and still hasn’t been played again. “Wolfman’s,” “Crosseyed & Painless,” “The Mango Song” and “Waves” each featured “extra mustard,” while “Character Zero” saw the quartet howl at the moon.

07/27/2013 Highlights: “After Midnight” was played in honor of JJ Cale who had just passed, while the show also featured the debut of “Say Something,” Type II “Undermind” and a winning “Sneakin’ Sally.”

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