Few venues hold the type of environmental magic like the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington. Opened in 1985, The Gorge is now a 23,000 capacity (general admission) venue situated amongst picturesque campgrounds atop the Columbia River with views that extend for miles and sunsets that last for an eternity. The trip (most fly into Seattle and drive the 2 1/2 hours east on I-90) is half the fun offering a breathtaking route where the land dips, folds and rises to a new plateau with each passing sign.
There’s a common saying — “Don’t miss Phish at The Gorge” — and for good reason. Phish have performed at the sacred venue 12 times, and-without-a-doubt have produced some of the best West Coast shows (7/17/98) and best material (Debuting “Sand”) across their thirty year history there. In honor of Phish’s upcoming 13th and 14th shows at the outdoor amphitheater, we’ve compiled some of the band’s finest moments and a few videos from the legendary venue.
Theme From The Bottom – The first official song Phish played at the Gorge showing yet again they were well aware of their surroundings.
Down with Disease -> Tweezer – This 36-minute combo is what started the legacy of “You don’t miss Phish at The Gorge.”
Reba – When you think of first set “Rebas” this one jumps to the front of the pack.
Tube – One of the better performances of the song you’ll find with energy in the audience recording that really comes to life when you listen.
Gumbo – A go-to version whenever someone asks for a great “Gumbo.”
2001 – 24-minute “Also Sprach Zarathustra.” One of the best jams Phish has ever played at the venue, bar none.
Mike’s Song > Weekapaug Groove – The highlight of the second set but really this entire show is worth a listen.
Will It Go Round In Circles – A Phish debut. The band has only played the Billy Preston cover twice, both in 1999. A 2013 Phish performance at the Gorge would be bustout central even though Trey Anastasio’s TAB plays the tune regularly.
Gotta Jibbo – Another original debut.
David Bowie – A 25-minute version capping the 2nd set and another successful run.
Wolfman’s Brother – This version ends with a psychedelic full band peak that foreshadowed the debut of…
Sand. This songs debut caught everyone pleasantly off-guard. Oh how far we’ve come…listen to that intro!
Harry Hood – Hood and The Gorge go together like PB&J ever since Trey asked @ChrisCK5 to “turn out the lights” on their first stop there in 1997. This version ranks up there with some of the best – patient and majestic.
Ghost – After hearing this 18-minute version I vowed to not miss Phish the next time they played the Gorge. I had to wait six long years (2009) until they scheduled a show there again.
Round Room – Another example of “Anything they play at The Gorge has a chance to go outside the box.” This relatively new tune off the new album of the same name went 10 minutes.
Seven Below – This 21+ minute “Seven Below” was one of the highlights of the entire Summer tour.
Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley – A first-set scorcher with a vocal jam that goes back into the ending, setting the table for the rest of the weekend.
Light – We’ve heard so many great versions since, but this one should not be forgotten.
Bathtub Gin – Still one of my favorite 3.0 jams.
Roggae – Perfect placement during the evening’s sunset. A surreal 11-minute version in “A circus of light where dreams can take flight.”
Rock and Roll – For the second run in a row, Phish threw down a monster cover of the Velvet Underground classic at the Gorge, completely turning the song on it’s head. Page goes theremin on this version. It’s must-hear and served as a quick reminder in 3.0 that Phish can still create like no other band.
We are about 120 days away from Phish’s 13th show at The Gorge. and for many their first ever trip “over the hill” to a view some say is unmatched for concert goers. Thousands of people all there for the same purpose, all hoping Phish creates new memories, most camping 15 minutes from the stage creating a West Coast festival by day and an after-party by night.