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Monday, July 25, 2011

2nd Leg: Western Swing

   Westward Ho! sucked as a title for the latest pReview, which follows the same theme as previous blog posts - that is to say the leg gets previewed then reviewed. You're all familiar at this point. That reminds me - I should be thanking you. Thanks. Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, thanks for voting, thanks for being interested. As Phish tour wains towards the end of August into September and we experience a break on the order of several months I hope you'll still tune in as I blog about other interesting things like the NFL, baseball playoffs, the start of the NHL and the NBA (probably at some point). In other words I plan to blog about more than just Phish, although Phish certainly takes precedent during "peak" season. So I guess I'm saying thanks for tuning in and that you should stay tuned in. Life isn't all about Phish, you know...I know, it really is. So anyway, Westward Ho! sucked as a title. I tried to come up with a catchy cliche title for the 2nd Leg, but the most fitting title would have been something like "The West Is The Best", which is obviously unacceptable. The Beast Coast was unfazable. It was a fucking sick title. But that's because we're beasts. The "West Is The Best" is implying something that's simply not true, no matter what dozens of my East Coast transplant friends try to claim as they read this. Hey man, just like deal with it, ya' know bra. Now before anyone gets crazy here and starts sending me hate mail, let's put this into perspective. These titles pertain to Phish tour, nothing else. I'm a geologist; I would never claim the The Gorge or it's sculptor, the Columbia River, paled in comparison to the shopping malls surrounding Merriweather Post Pavilion. A lobotomy could not trick me into thinking that the Riverbend Park in Cincinnati produced the same feelings as being surrounded by the Sierra Nevada range. I get that. But we're talking in terms of Phish tour. So if anyone tried to tell me that anything compared to East Coast Phish musically, well I'd go tell them to jump off a cliff (The Gorge, perhaps?) or jump in a lake (Lake Tahoe is still currently blue). So 'Western Swing' got the nod. A little tribute to the folks who played jazz-inspired country music back in the early 20th century. Kind of sounds like Phish...a little. Well, back to jumping off the Gorge...
   The 1st Leg review was easy; Phish hit many of the same spots they had the year before or at least sometime during 3.0. Obviously the 2nd leg won't be that simple since the Gorge  is the only venue with recent shows to review. Tahoe will be a first. So will Outside Lands, and the last time Phish played a "real" show (details to follow) in SF it was 1994. LA hasn't been graced with Phish's presence since a few radio broadcasts in 2000...their last shows there were in 1998! Same thing for Chicago...the actual city. So as you can read, it'll be the first time in many of these places for many of us. Let me just come right out and say it's my first time at the Gorge. After 14 years and eight Gorge shows (they played two shows, their first at the Gorge, on 8/2 & 8/3 1997 - months before my Phishtism) I am FINALLY going!!! Watch my plane go down. The wife will not enjoy that read. WA through Chicago. Then of course we have a silly two-week break until CO. Why? How about some Deer Creek action? A little Hartford love?? No SPAC surprises??? Just Chicago, an inexplicable two-week break, then CO? OK, whatever. Here we go.

8/5-6, The Gorge Amphitheater, George, WA

   Phish kicks off the 2nd Leg in The Mecca. People say the Gorge changes you. Some say it ruins you. People have described some of the most euphoric experiences at the Gorge - completely sober euphoric experiences - while others have said no other outdoor venue is even acceptable after experiencing the Gorge. I believe all of them. I've tried for several years to make it to the Gorge, I mean it's only a short walk down I-90 from Boston to George, but for myriad reasons I've never made it out. That's all about to change. The last time Phish rocked the Gorge it was August of '09 and it's been exactly two years and 100 shows since.


Set I: DWD, Ocelot, Pebbles and Marbles > Possum, Sleep, Destiny Unbound, Stash, Sneakin' Sally > Cavern

Set II: Moma Dance, Light > Taste, Fluffhead, Joy, Gin > Hood

E: Slave

   DWD opened Set One - despite being played in the second set the night before - and was followed by Ocelot, still a spanking new tune at that point. Pebbles and Marbles, the perfect way to describe what most West Coasters try to convince us as being "good shit" followed, which > Possum. If you hate me, crash my funeral, put Possum on the MP3 player, then break the play, stop, and forward buttons so that song just runs over and over through the ceremony. I'd tell you to break into my casket and fasten a tape player with a continuous version of Possum looping, but I plan on being cremated. Pebbles was actually the first of 3.0 at that point. Sleep came next (hasn't been played since) before the boys finally cut loose with Destiny Unbound, the first since the Fenway show months before, but only the third since 1991 (11/15/91 Charlottesville, VA) at the time. Stash followed and then Phish blasted into the first Sneakin' Salley of 3.0. EPIC. Sneakin' Salley > Cavern. The perfect way to end Set One. Set Two set things right off with Moma Dance and then blasted into the third Light ever at that point. That Light from that show is the reason we want Light so bad. Put it on right now and listen it. Are you on the islands somewhere? Are you in heaven? Space? Nope, it's just Light and it's just the Gorge. Just get used to it. 2011 will be no different, and if you were in attendance at SBIX then you expect even more this time around. Wait, I'm not even done yet. Light > Tatse (obvious breather). Fluffhead followed then Joy. An unfinished Gin, one still talked about to this day, followed Joy and > Hood to close out the set. "Slave To The Wilderness" should have been the title for the encore as Phish wrapped up yet another epic Gorge show.


Set I: Mango > Chalkdust, Middle of the Road, Tweezer, Driver, Twenty Years Later, Ya Mar, It's Ice, Wolfman's > Character Zero > Antelope

Set II: Rock 'n' Roll > Gorge Jam > Makisupa, Alaska, Wedge, YEM, BDTNL > Piper, Grind

E: GTBT, TweepriZe

   The first Mango since IT opened the Second Set and right > Chalkdust. The sound check song of choice throughout the Gorge - Middle Of The Road - debuted next and was followed by Tweezer. Driver - only the fourth since 1.0 - was next, followed by the second Twenty Years Later ever played. I still find that such odd song placement. Ya Mar came next and was followed by the first It's Ice since the Hampton Return shows. Wolfman's > Zero > Antelope to end the set. Although I wasn't there I consider Set Two one of the highlights of ST10:2 (remember our nomenclature from previous blogs). Rock 'n' Roll opened the set > Gorge Jam > Makisupa. Makisupa had Bobby brown references and a little pseudo-Walfredo action with trey and Mike switching instruments. Alaska followed and then the most appropriate song possible for the Gorge - The Wedge. It's on I-90, it's a fucking gorge...dude, it's like it was written for the Gorge. If it was, punch me. By the way, Gorge '11 opens with Wedge, guaranteed. An unusual middle-of-the-set YEM followed complete with Hedwig's Theme teases before the band launched into a sick BDTNL > Piper. A 2009 heavy Grind ended the set. GTBT and TweepriZe encored. So as one can plainly see, the Gorge rocks. The state, the scenery, the people, the camping, the venue, the air, the river, the gorge, the everything. There's a reason people talk so much about the Gorge. And now I'm about to find out for myself...there's really nothing else to say.

8/8/10, The Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA

   OK, so could Phish have picked a more polar opposite environment to play next? Hey, I have an idea...let's play a show at a National Park then follow up with a show at a Sewer Treatment Plant! While we're at it, could you replace my "fresh air" tank with the "pollution" tank? Thanks. I'm sorry folks, I don't get it. LA is famously known for four of my Top 5 Most Hated Things: traffic, smog/pollution, celebrities (any fake insecure people I guess, of which LA has in spades) and the Lakers. And the only two things I could love about LA - the ocean and the woman - are unswimmable for this man, for reason #2 on my hate list and because I'm married, respectively. There are a few people reading this probably desperately trying to come up with reasons why LA is awesome and why I should eat shit. Give it up. I live in the woods at the foothills of two small mountain ranges, 45 minutes from top-notch Southern VT skiing, my parents and in-laws live on some of the best beaches on the East Coast, and my house is within 3 hours of two of the greatest cities in the world. I don't need LA. California is cool though, I'll give you that. My many transplant friends who all think they've discovered something can attest to that. I'll stay in New England and keep the fort down. Maybe we'll let you back in after she sinks. I'm getting carried away. I'm actually fucking PUMPED to get to this LA show. I've never been to the Hollywood Bowl, but from all accounts it's unbelievable. My friends have raved about this place for a while, whether it was about an Allman Brothers show there 40 years ago or the annual jazz concerts. Pictures of the place are breath-taking, if you're into that sort of artistic venue thing. I am. Nothing is lamer than a dull venue. The last time Phish played in LA - as long as you don't count Indio as LA, which you shouldn't - it was at the Key Club for the Mark & Brian radio show in 2000. The last time Phish played a real show was in 1998 at the Greek Theater (10/29 - right before those BOMB Velvet Vegas shows) and it was a doozy...

Set I: Julius, Roggae, Llama, LxL, Driver, Sleep, Frankie Says, Birds of a Feather, McGrupp > Character Zero

Set II: Possum > Moma Dance > Reba > Walk Away > Simple > Albuquerque, Bowie

E: Something

   Driver and Sleep were acoustic and relative debuts, being the third time each had ever been played. The same could've been said of several tunes that night as there were many tunes not quite in "rotation" yet being relatively new or not covered yet (Roggae, LxL, Frankie Says, BOAF, Moma, Albuqurque...and Something, which actually was new). Either way, it was a standard 1998 show, which I think most of us would still cut heads off for. Particularly the seven-song Second Set pops out, as the band launched into a Possum > Moma > Reba > Walk Away > Simple > Albuquerque for the ages. Walk Away was played for the first time in 366 shows (The Bomb Factory 5/7/94, widely considered one of the greatest shows in Phishtory). Since Phish seems to have gravitated towards some of that 1998 feel lately, and since Phish hasn't graced LaLa Land since before regular people started getting fake boobs and lips, I expect Phish to drop bombs. As long as Trey isn't trying to show off for some corny LA rock star in the audience we'll be good. Expect the lights to bounce off this place and mayhem to ensue as palm trees sway and sea gulls swirl.

8/9-10/11, Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys Stateline, NV

   OK, so before I continue go to Phish's main page. See the TAB tour announcement? OK, now see Trey's picture. Dude, how can you NOT want to punch that guys face in??? That's the WORST picture I have ever seen. This is what happens when Phish lets Trey go out on his own. He starts making Faith +1 album covers and snapping concerned-looking photos of himself. This is the Trey I hate. The Trey tearing through the heart of the Sierra Nevada's with his Languedoc is the Trey we love. I'm obviously half-joking, but the picture is pretty lame. This is a tough review. Seeing as Phish has never played at Lake Tahoe, I'll consider the show at the ARCO Arena in Sacramento on 11/30/96 as the last area show:

Set I: Runaway Jim > PYITE, All Things Reconsidered, Bouncin', Stash, Fluffhead, Old Home Place, Uncle Pen, Caspian > Chalkdust Torture

Set II: La Grange, It's Ice > Glide, Brother, Contact > 2001 > Timber (Jerry) > Taste, Funky Bitch, Amazing Grace, Amazing Grace Jam

E: Possum

   PYITE contained James Brown teases and Fishman clownery. All Things Reconsidered was only played one more time in Italy before being far. John McEuen joined on banjo for OHP and Uncle Pen. La Grange was played for only the second time in over 200 shows (at the I have to keep saying that?). It's Ice > Glide is sick, a must listen. Glide needs to be rotated...immediately. Mayhem next with Brother, Contact > 2001. Ridiculous. More James brown clownery to boot. Peter Apfelbaum joined on tenor saxophone for Timber through the end, and John McEuen rejoined on lap slide guitar for the AG jam. I was busy failing out of Framingham State College. Oh well. Our favorite song, Possum, closed the show. These "Northern" California shows never seem to disappoint, whether it just seems it on paper or through the many tapes we've all heard or through the stories of "laid-back" scenes and epic shows. The Sierra Nevada's...the casinos (look out, Trey)...Lake Tahoe...Reno (I know, it is funny) all makes for a shit show. Let's hope the music matches the hype. Oh yeah, party on the CA side, trust us.

8/12/11, Outside Lands Festival, San Francisco, CA

   I'm not going to OLF, therefore, I don't care. No, I'm kidding, but we're really not going. We need to regroup before driving out to Chicago. No time for a three-day festival in which Phish is playing two measly sets on the first night. That's just The last time Phish played in San Francisco it was a wild scene - it was an "under the radar" show, which was leaked via radio the day of the show. Thousands rushed the scene for ticket vouchers, but only a lucky 400 were granted two each. The show took place at the famous Fillmore on 10/15/98 and it was also a doozy...

Set I: Ghost > Water in the Sky, Wolfman's, Gumbo, Bowie, Brian and Robert, Reba > Character Zero

Set II: My Soul > Chalkdust Torture, Roggae, Moma Dance, Wading in the Velvet Sea > Caspian > Frankie Says, Birds of a Feather, Lawn Boy, Hood

E: Dirt, LxL

   Nothing particularly special in terms of bust-outs as Phish seemed to be featuring many of their latest repertoire, but what an experience for the <1000 fans, especially at a time when Phish was regularly selling out larger arenas...on the East Coast. Fucking amazing. San Francisco has a great vibe and I see Phish rocking out the festival, but sticking to just that: rocking out. I don't expect much of what most of us die-hards live for. Nothing wrong with that. Maybe Phish will join some other bands on stage. All I know is that it's a festival and Phish is only playing one day for two sets. No thanks. I said the same thing to Austin City Limits. Besides, I'll be doing laundry preparing for...

8/15-16-17/11, UIC Pavilion, Chicago, IL

   These shows are already sold out - no shit. The place holds 6500, it's Chicago, and it's the last three shows of the leg. I refuse to consider the "Denver" shows part of the Second Leg. It's like two fucking weeks later. I'm calling those shows the "Labor Day Run" and those shows get their own pReview. Sorry if you were rushing to the newsstands to see what I thought of the CO shows. If Phish announces some filler shows between Chicago and CO, we'll revise. But Phish ends the Leg with a three-day run in Chicago at the UIC Pavilion, the smallest venue of the summer as far as I know. Portsmouth was small, but I don't think that small; Tahoe holds more than 6500 I think. Correct me if I'm wrong. Oh yeah, and it's INSIDE! Fall Tour in August! Shit is going to be EPIC! Why do I know this? Because the last time Phish played in the city of Chicago, it was a three-night run at the UIC Pavilion 11/7-8-9/98. Does anyone else notice this theme here? I talked and talked about the 98ish revival after SBIX...many of these venues are being played for the first time since 1998...CK5 has been using a time portal lately. Don't say I didn't warn you the next time you go to discuss Obama and someone reminds you that Bill Clinton is president. Anyway, I can't even review these epic funk bomb shows, because they're too beastly but feast your eyes on these:


Set I: My Soul, Mike's, Driver, Brian and Robert, Wedge, LxL, Fikus, Billy Breathes, Beauty of My Dreams, Weekapaug

Set II: AC/DC Bag -> Ghost, Reba, Farmhouse

E: Guyute, While My Guitar Gently Weeps

   Are you fucking serious? Acoustic Driver, the last Fikus, a four-song Second Set...holy shit. We can only hope for four-song sets these days.


Set I: Taste, Carini, Love Me, Ride Captain Ride, Fee, Paul and Silas, Roggae, Water in the Sky, Stash, Cavern

Set II: Chalkdust Torture, Meat > Rock and Roll > DWD > Piper > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Antelope

E: Been Caught Stealing

   Ride Captain Ride was only the second in almost 500 shows. That's ridiculous in and of itself. Been Caught Stealing was the second ever and has only been played four times since. I was at three of them...sorry.


Set I: Llama, Horn, I Get a Kick Out of You, Divided Sky, Frankie Says, Dogs Stole Things, Poor Heart > Free, NICU, Bold As Love

Set II: Gin, TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > TMWSIY > Moma Dance > Slave > YEM

E: Frankenstein, Free Bird

   Does it get much better than this? Llama opener...Dogs Stole Things (only played 10 times since...but at countless sound checks), TMWSIY > Avenu > TMWSIY, a STRONG seven-song Second Set and two fan favorite for a double encore. Epic. We expect the same the round out the Second Leg of ST11. With only three shows remaining after that - The Labor Day Run - until the inevitable NYE Run, phans are going to be getting their fill at'll be the only taste of anything resembling a Fall Tour in 2011...unless your going to Quay, I mean Trey tour. And that's not Phish, so yeah, it's our only Fall Tour taste. Then the long drought. But that's after CO...which is reviewed later.
   So the Second Leg takes us from the breathtaking gorges of WA through the glittered streets of CA  and from the wanna-be streets of Reno (OK, Tahoe) all the way to Chicago with a fitting, yet unfitting end to Summer Tour 2011 - a three-day run at the famed UIC Pavilion, an indoor pavilion in the middle of August. Should we have expected anything different from these guys? let's rock it. See you at the Gorge. I'll be the one crying.

- Trigger Treinta Uno

Trigger 31. com

Thanks to for set list help



  1. Phish played LA in 2003. The Gorge shows are 8/5-8/6

  2. I don't consider Inglewood LA - neither should you.

    I'll get on those Gorge date changes right away.