Monday, November 19, 2012

2012.9 I Know I Play a Bad Guitar

August 2, 1997


The Gorge Amphitheater

Quincy, WA

Set I: Theme From the Bottom, Genseng Sullivan, Ghost, Dogs Stole Things, Divided Sky, Wolfman's Brother, Water in the Sky, Split Open and Melt

Set II: Down with Disease>Tweezer>Johnny B. Goode>Sparkle, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Loving Cup>Tweeprise. E: Harry Hood

We had dealt with the camping fiasco and were comfortable in our compound along the back ridges of the Gorge's massive campgrounds. Having traveled for weeks around the majestic northwest and enjoyed the beauty, the weather, the free attitude of the road we were finally settled in to the Gorge. This was the largest Phish crowd since the Clifford Ball and the first of any real mass on the West coast. I was in awe from the traffic snarls, the vast Gorge Amphitheater campground, and the tens of thousands of fans all flocking to the high Washington desert for Phish.

We stayed up all night wandering the grounds and meeting new people while taking in the clear night sky. By dawn we were in an indefinable state of high, blissful excitement combined with slightly exhausted lunacy.

As the heat of the day progressed we reloaded on party favors and fluids before making the long journey from camping to the venue. Once you've made the hike to the top of the lawn looking out over the Columbia River and the grassy lawn that enhance the stage in itself you almost have to take a breath and realize you have made it, and it is good

We found some space at the front of the lawn for the first set, but after the view wore shady and the music picked up, we made our way to the dance floor below and enjoyed the open space and great sound. The crowd around us was as excited as we were. We were about to see Phish in the most magical venue they had yet to play. The possibilities were endless and the setting seemed perfect. The guy behind us repeated over and over again, "Gamehendge! It's happening here." He meant the performance of Trey's psuedo- musical which didn't happen, but the spirit of the mystical place was undeniable.

Theme - the song starts with the piano notes that rise from the bottom of the Gorge and the songs buildup and jam were a perfect welcome back to Phish for me and set a good tone for the weekend.
Gensing - my Mississippi muddy water delta home - a subtle call home after the long trip out west
Ghost - still in its infancy and in groove monster baby steps. I liked the dance vibe
Dogs Stole Things - new and nothing to note for me
Divided Sky as the sun set over the mountains on the horizon while Trey held "the note" as the sun completely set was another magical moment that you could see Trey had been excited to do
Wolfman's - funky but not yet fully in the vein of where it was going, but dancing and bass bombs were shaking the mountainside
Water in the Sky - new song and didn't do much for me - this may have even been the "old" version with a different beat from where it is in current versions
Split - solid energy raging set closer and the fun was on

SETBREAK - we staked out our space mingled with the crew around us. West coast Phish fans had a totally different approach to the fans I had encountered in the Northeast. It was a hippie embrace as opposed to a sinful sect of ragers. I loved both, but was enjoying the change after the journey and considering the environment and location.

Disease>Tweezer - thats how you get a second set party bumping. High energy Disease and slow snarling Tweezer that closed with a Disease Reprise. I was as happy as a man could be to be where I was doing what I was and with who I was during those jams
Johnny B. Goode - brought us back to Earth, but Trey tore apart the Languedoc
Sparkle - faster faster faster
Velvet Sea - my first time to hear a ballad so late in the show, but the lyrics were thick with emotion
Loving Cup - another first for me - was really touched by the lyrics and didn't know it as a Stones' song. Trey ripped the solo and sent a shot of adrenaline into the crowd stamped out by
Tweezer Reprise - never fails to generate liftoff
E: Harry Hood - a very melodic closing jam with an extra touch when Trey asked Chris to kill the lights and just play under the stars. A nice touch to send us off into the wild campground party

The walk back seems twice as long as the walk in and in the dark there is always the potential of missing the turn to your campground. We were high, tired, and intensely laughing the whole way back. After some brief snacks I grabbed my djembe and dove into the madness. I found myself in the center of a 15-20 person circle until pulled aside by a beautiful young lady. My first Phish female friend. We spent the night laughing and watching the grounds until we fell asleep together in my tent. I found out before the next day's sunrise that she was there with her husband. I didn't feel bad because for those few hours we were in love with each other. The moment ends...

I fell back asleep a few hours after dawn under the car shaded by a makeshift tarp/tent. I was in Gamehendge and had no intent to miss out. Just a brief recharge until coming back again on Sunday.

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