On Saturday Phish played their second consecutive show at The Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington. This summer’s run spans three nights as opposed to their two-night visits at the venue with breathtaking views of the Columbia River and surrounding cliffs in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2016. Saturday’s performance was all over the place with a strong first set including a new original and a promising start to a second set that ended with a focus on ballads.
By Saturday night most of those at The Gorge were settled in at the venue in a remote area of Washington. With not much to do but enjoy the shows and friends it was indeed “Party Time” when the band took the stage. Guitarist Trey Anastasio, bassist Mike Gordon, keyboardist Page McConnell and drummer Jon Fishman followed “Party Time” and the “Punch You In The Eye” that filled the second slot with the old-school pairing of “Mike’s Song” > “I Am Hydrogen” > “Weekapaug Groove.” Though the seventh “Mike’s” out of the last nine to appear in a first set didn’t contain the celebrated second jam all three songs were well played. Anastasio immediately employed his new Leslie speaker at the start of the “Mike’s” jam, while McConnell was back to using grand piano for “I Am Hydrogen” after utilizing electric piano for his parts of the instrumental at Madison Square Garden back on December 30, 2017.
Speaking of “Mike’s Song,” fans were treated to a new song from Gordon and writing partner Scott Murawski titled “Infinite,” the second debut of tour. The catchy number features a “Bathtub Gin”-esque groove laid down by Fishman and isn’t too far afield from “555” musically. Phish took “Infinite” out for a spin as Trey once again showed off the Leslie speaker that has become an integral part of his tone this tour. “Infinite” certainly has potential to become a jam vehicle for the band. Nearly one year after Phish laid down an all-time “It’s Ice” during their historic Baker’s Dozen residency at Madison Square Garden, the band reverted to a more typical breakdown at The Gorge on Saturday. The “It’s Ice” jam may have been short but the foursome made the most of it with a groove similar to “Mike’s Song.” Next, Phish played to the beauty of the venue by performing “Divided Sky” at The Gorge for the first time since 1999 before ending the set with “Cavern.”
Phish opened the second set with the year’s first “Tweezer.” McConnell deftly moved from synth to electric piano to grand piano during a patient build to a rolling boil. The only portion of the Gorge “Tweezer” to stray from structure was the final two minutes after Gordon initiated a transition into a major-key. Just when it seemed the jam was ready to spread its wings, Trey started “Golden Age.” The TV On The Radio cover was a different story as the quartet quickly blasted beyond the song’s normal boundaries. Mike showed Trey wasn’t the only member of the band who could put a synthed-out sound to good use during “Golden Age.” Gordon’s tone was particularly dirty, while Page focused on Clavinet work. Eventually, “Golden Age” faded out, in a more organic fashion then “Tweezer,” and “Farmhouse” began. Phish slowly made their way through a “Farmhouse” that featured an unusual little solo from Gordon.
“Piper” was the back end of a double dose of 2000’s Farmhouse. This “Piper” wasn’t as long as it was deep. Phish inserted full-fledged psychedelia within as they locked in on a version that contained multiple climaxes, touched on countless places and ended with a wall of deliciously weird sounds. The show continued with two ballads as a reprise of the “Prince Caspian” > “Wading In The Velvet Sea” sequence from New Year’s Eve was in store.
“Rise/Come Together,” which was debuted just over a year earlier, bled into “Run Like An Antelope” to end the fourth of six 2018 sets at The Gorge. “Antelope” was an unusually languid version that didn’t have much meat on the bone. After “Farmhouse,” “Prince Caspian,” “Wading In The Velvet Sea” and “Rise/Come Together” were each featured towards the end of the second set, fans couldn’t be blamed for wanting a high-impact song to accompany the expected “Tweezer Reprise” in the encore. Instead, Phish selected “Bug.”
Phish heads back to The Gorge on Sunday. A webcast is available via LivePhish.com.
The Gorge [See upcoming shows]
17 shows — 08/02/1997, 08/03/1997, 07/16/1998, 07/17/1998, 09/10/1999, 09/11/1999, 07/12/2003, 07/13/2003, 08/07/2009, 08/08/2009, 08/05/2011, 08/06/2011, 07/26/2013, 07/27/2013, 07/15/2016, 07/16/2016, 07/20/2018
9 songs / 8:17 pm to 9:32 pm (75 minutes)
10 songs / 10:06 pm to 11:36 pm (90 minutes)
19 songs / 18 originals / 1 cover
8.67 [Gap chart]
Infinite (Mike Gordon/Scott Murawski)
It's Ice - 21 Shows (LTP - 7/23/2017)
Divided Sky - 15:51
I Am Hydrogen - 3:01
Junta - 1, Lawn Boy - 1, A Picture of Nectar - 3, Rift - 1, Billy Breathes - 1, The Story of the Ghost - 1, Farmhouse - 3, Misc. - 7, Covers - 1
78° and sunny at showtime