Saturday, August 02, 2008

Today in Phishtory: 8/2/97 - The Gorge

8/02/97 Gorge Amphitheatre, George, WA

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

Set II: Down With Disease > Tweezer > Down With Disease > Johnny B. Goode, Sparkle, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Loving Cup, Tweezer Reprise

Encore: Harry Hood
Listen/Download link to 8.2.97 (courtesy of

11 years ago today, I saw my first ever concert at the Gorge (in George, WA) and I also caught my first ever west coast Phish show. Just a couple of weeks earlier, I departed my brownstone in Park Slope, Brooklyn and drove cross country in order to move to Seattle. Although the boys didn't play Seattle during the two years I lived there (97-98), they played four shows (two each in 97 and 98) at one of the most amazing and beautiful natural outdoor amphitheaters in the world... the Gorge. I'd also see their Gorge shows in 1999 and 2003.

Senor and his brother flew out from NYC to Seattle and we made the trek out to central Washington and the Gorge. I was shroomin' my balls off and had a run in with a security guard who took an entire film canister filled with heady BC nugs. Luckily, my buddy Jake happened to find us up on the massive lawn and he hooked us up and saved the show.

My buddy Enzo and his wife and their friends from Wyoming were at the show. One of them was a taper and he recorded that show, along with dozens of others that summer tour. A couple of months later, he sent me a copy of this show in the mail on a crisp brand new Maxell cassette tape. Ah, I missed the scene in 1997 and that anticipation of finding a padded mailer in my mailbox. Back in the days of before high speed internet and the availability of CD-burners, the only way to obtain shows was to trade tapes. I must have copied this Gorge show over a dozen times to swap for other Phishy and Dead gems.

Highlights from the first set included two 18-minute versions of Ghost and Divided Sky, which always seemed appropriately performed at outdoor venues.

I got separated from my gang at setbreak and wandered off by myself. I was on the floor when the second set kicked off with a monster... Down with Disease > Tweezer > Down with Disease. That sandwich clocked in at 36 minutes!! Right after, they busted into a lightning-quick coke-fueled cover of Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode.

I spent the remainder of the second set by myself and wandered up to the "steps" and hung out there during a sizzling version of Loving Cup, which hooked me in. For good. I'd become a huge fan of the Stone cover and specifically Page's sensational playing on it.

For the encore, Trey asked Chris Kuroda to kill the lights for a sweet Harry Hood that started out mellow and built in intensity.

I would see some of my favorite Phish shows of all time at the Gorge. Of course, the first one is always the most memorable.

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