It all started with wanting to take a drive in the country. The last time I came back from Astoria I stumbled across Nehalem Hwy which was an amazing drive. The weekend weather was looking pretty cool so I decided to head out of the city for a little bit of a drive and some beer in Astoria.
This time around I wanted to plan the driving route a little better then stumbling across it. There was a detour which added to the fun. I got off the highway 26 and turned onto Timber Rd. From here I followed the detour back to 47 and then Nehalem Hwy all the way to Astoria.
For the most part I was able to attack the road and actually get a good drive in. The road was mostly clear and even when someone was in front of me they where driving pretty fast. About 10 to 15 miles outside of Astoria I did run into a foot race of some sorts which really killed the drive. Lots of traffic and and a slow drive.
It took several hours to get to Astoria but totally worth the trip. I decided to get some food and beer at Astoria Brewing Co. There are several breweries in Astoria so I going to drink around as much as possible. I didn’t know they had a tap room and brewpub when I was planning this out. I stumbled into the tap house by mistake. It ended up for the best to be honest. I wanted some food but they only served beer. This is where the actually brew the beer so it makes sense. An old industrial building it has a lower floor where the beer is brewed.
After getting some writing done and being full of beer it was time for dinner. I completely missed lunch but wasn’t leaving Astoria without first getting something to eat. My phone was quickly dying so I just walked around till I found something that looked interesting. At first I walked passed Carruthers but something told me to go back and I am glad I did. I got the crispy duck and it was damn tasty. That and the chicken posole soup to start made for quite the tasty meal.
By the time I started driving home, 202 was clear of all the runners but the rain started to move in. For the most part it was just drizzle so I was able to drive the road as intended and not worry about running off but as the night wore on safety concerns toke over. A good day out in Astoria and it certainly is true that half the fun is the journey there.
My first year living on the west coast and I was excited when Phish announced their summer tour. They have not been touring nearly as long as past tours but they are hitting bigger cities for longer stints which is nice. Over the last few years it has not been so much about the quantity of shows as the quality of shows. When they said three shows at The Gorge I was so excited. Unfortunately this conflicted with a company event and there was just no way I could swing seeing even one show at The Gorge.
Not being deterred I decided to hit three shows on the east coast. If I could not see them in my adopted home I would see them in my real home. This actually worked out for the best. While disappointed to not see them at The Gorge I was excited to see my family. I would see Phish for three straight nights to close the summer tour out. One more time at Walnut Creek and then two nights at Merriweather. The final show of the tour would be Sunday and never miss a Sunday show. It was also just after the 20th anniversary of me seeing Phish live. In fact my first show was their first time at Merriweather so this was a home coming for many reasons.
As the trip grew closer I gotta be honest, I checked out at work. I was so excited for what was about to come. SiriusXM just switched their Jam_On channel to Phish Radio which was awesome. I was going to see my family, and Phish, oh man so excited.
The entire trip didn’t disappoint at all. In fact it went well above my expectations. If there was anything to complain about it was the lack of any real down time. As soon as I landed till the time I took off the tarmac on a delayed flight, I was non-stop go go go. It was exhausting but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It does remind me that I am getting older however.
First thing after landing was picking up the rental car. I needed to make it to Craft House in Fairfax Corner for a drink with my old boss. That guy is great, taught me a lot and it was great catching up with him. He just had his third kid so I was happy he got a kitchen pass for the night to have a couple of drinks. That night I went to my brother’s house. That turned into a disaster, he’s an asshole.
Not letting it ruin my trip the next morning I was up pretty early for being on vacation. It was a five hour drive to Raleigh and I wanted to stop by Old Virginia Tobacco in Woodbridge to hangout and have a cigar. I was not sure who I would run into but I ended up seeing a shit ton of people.
The coolest thing was catching up with CJ. Last I heard he was getting out of OVTC and moving onto a better job. Well come to find out that fell through so he is now running the Woodbridge shop while he looks for a better paying job. Working at OVTC has its benefits but money is not one of them. I ran into a lot of customers including Ed, Sal, John, Baker, Clive, and Ben. Probably forgetting one or two people. For a Friday morning I was happy to run into so many familiar faces as I did.
The drive south to Raleigh was shit. I haven’t been on the east coast in a year and even longer since I have driven 95 during the summer months. I didn’t leave Woodbridge till after noon and it took me about 6 hours to make it down to Raleigh. Unfortunately this put a damper on doing any actives in Raleigh before the show. I had just enough time to check into the hotel and then I was off to the venue.
Despite being a Friday it was not sold out. I arrived about thirty minutes before the show and the lawn was not packed at all. What I couldn’t wait for was the sun to set. It is the south in August so needless to say it was hot and muggy that night. Finally when the sun went down things cooled off a little.
First show of summer tour for me and I was rather disappointed in the performance. All during the first set Trey kept screwing up his guitar work and the lyrics. To me it was so obvious. They would have this groove going and all of a sudden Trey would miss a note and it was like dragging fingers across the chalk board to me.
Thankfully the second set pulled it out and helped save the night. Still not a stellar performance from the band but it brought it up to an average rating. The Runaway > Antelope > Runaway > Antelope > Makisupa is what saved the night in my opinion. That little medley was awesome. By the second set I had moved further back and to the left so I wasn’t so crowded. Plus I was further away from all the smokers who where ridiculous.
Having missed dinner and not getting anything at the venue I was hungry for some food. Thankfully Raleigh is a larger city so it was easy to find something that was open late on a Friday night. Virgil’s Original Taqueria which was pretty good. I got three tacos and some chips which all was good but my eyes where bigger then my stomach. A great way to cap off the night.
The next morning I couldn’t sleep in as I needed to head north to Columbia for the show Saturday night. I made a long stop in Fredericksburg to see my mother and her husband at Firebirds Wood Fired Grill. It was a already a long day of driving but thankfully only a little traffic. My mother actually had to kick me out so I wouldn’t be late for the show that night. It was so great catching up for them even if it was only for a few hours.
Similar to Raleigh I was able to check into the hotel, catch a quick nap and then head to the venue. It has been several years since I was last at Merriweather and it has changed a lot since that time. The area around the venue is now well developed with lots of new apartment buildings and retail locations. This changed the parking situation which is now a little confusing if you are not prepared. You can get tickets for parking ahead in numbered lots or just show up and they will guide you to the right lots in the back.
First night I had a lawn seat and tried to get there at a reasonable time. Parking ended up taking longer then I wanted so by the time I got onsite the lawn was already packed. Tonights show was sold out for months so it was going to be a packed house. I noticed that they redesigned the wings on either side of the stage to adjust the seating and have a new roof covering the area instead of those stupid canvas tents. They have also redesigned some of the concessions and looks like they will start doing a true VIP area soon.
First set really started off strong with Blaze On > Party Time. After that it just turned for a much slower pace of show. Blah…get over it. Set ended on a good high of Stash and 46 Days. Second set was constant flip flopping of old school, new school, repeat till the encore. Sand and Ghost had good jams and they rocked Fuego.
The encore was four songs. I over heard someone say this was the first time this tour that happened. Set two was barely over an hour long. They seemed to struggle to play during the second set. To me the crowd just wasn’t into the show. It started with such promise but failed to live up to the hype in a way. A failure of its own success you could say. So even a four set encore wasn’t anything to write home about.
Sunday was the first day I didn’t have to get up and travel some place. It was one day but a well deserved break. I got a casual start before meeting Nancy early for drinks. We were going to get together with others for brunch at Earls Kitchen + Bar. I got a simple eggs Benedict and it was pretty amazing. The Hollanda sauce had the right amount of tang and creamy richness.
After that most of us headed to Bungalow Lakehouse for cigars in the gazebo. Here I meet up with Jaye and Ed. The weather was finally starting to break. The humidity level was dropping along with the temperatures. This just meant that a weather front was moving in and it would rain. I smoked two cigars before I had to leave for Merriweather. Just before I left it started to rain and that meant the highways would be filled with idiots that don’t know how to drive.
After saying my goodbyes and filling up the tank it didn’t take long to make it to the venue. The whole way up it rained but I still made pretty good time. I was able to stop and get a sandwich before the show in fact. I had a pavilion seat so didn’t care if it rained or not.
I got to the venue with plenty of time before the show. As I showed my ticket and walked toward my seat I was shocked at just how closed it was. My seat ended up being the first row of seats, right behind the pit and eye level with the stage. This is the best seat I have ever had seeing Phish or probably any major band ever. One or twice I might have been closer from behind the stage but never this close from the front.
The entire second night kicked ass. Having such a good seat certainly made it a little more enjoyable but the setlist and the energy were all from the band. The rain stopped a little after 7pm and never returned. It cooled everything off quite a lot which was a welcome comfort.
The show got off to a rocking start and the jams throughout the songs kicked ass. Upbeat toons like Llama and BBFCFM are a good way to start things. Lots of these slow laid back kinda jams thrown in all throughout the show. I just couldn’t believe how good the first set was. The end was of the set was just flowed from song to song with a good selection of Tweezer > Bathtub > The Curtain With > Chalk Dust.
I was hoping for as close to the original 8/8/1998 show as possible so during the second set I got a Piper and then a really really good 2001 > Harry Hood to close the set, close the show, close the tour. What a groovy second set they played I was completely blown away by it.
Encore was a mix of typical encore slow jams. Not bad but not really great either. The second Tweezer Reprise certainly was a change of pace and not expected. They opened set two with the reprise so this came completely out of left field.
Just a great show and the perfect way to end the day. It was a short ride back to the hotel and a well deserved nights sleep. The next morning I planed on getting up and out at a reasonable hour. I had a late flight so took the opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Art in the morning. Here I browsed and took some time to do a little writing. Eventually I meet Nancy for lunch at Plan B Burger Bar. I was still on vacation so we started the afternoon off with a couple of beers. After lunch we headed to Ocelot for some more beer before she dropped me off at the airport.
I think going west is easier because you gain all your time back. It does make for a long day but I think its easier getting home and adjusting to the difference. The weather at IAD ended up not playing well and delayed my flight by over an hour. Whats worst was the hour or so lost on the tarmac just sitting there. This just made for a long day of travel getting home. The seats are not the most comfortable so my ass was already hurting before I even left the ground
Once I got home I took the Max home. It felt so good to get home that night. I dropped my bags on the floor and crawled right into bed. This trip was a lot of fun. Not a lot of time to stop and smell the roses but I was able to accomplish a lot of what I wanted. I saw three shows of Phish with the Sunday show completely blowing my mind. I also managed to see a lot of friends and family so it was awesome catching up with them. This was a trip when I really did need a day to recover from my trip. Next year I hope that I can make The Gorge shows. But if they play Merriweather again it is worth it going home to catch them at my home venue. Always a blast.
Phish Friday, August 10th 2018 Walnut Creek – Raleigh, NC
Set 1 starts at 7:33pm 1. Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan 2. Funky Bitch 3. Ocelot > 4. The Wedge 5. Wombat 6. Guelah Papyrus 7. Birds of a Feather > 8. Saw It Again > 9. Timber (Jerry The Mule) > 10. Limb By Limb > 11. Farmhouse > 12. More set over at 8:49pm
Set 2 starts at 9:35pm 1. Meatstick* > 2. Drowned > 3. NICU > 4. Thread > 5. Runaway Jim > 6. Run Like an Antelope > 7. Runaway Jim > 8. Run Like an Antelope > 9. Makisupa Policeman > 10. Run Like an Antelope > 11. You Enjoy Myself set over at 10:38pm
Encore starts at 10:40pm 12. A Day in the Life house lights at 10:46pm
Notes * Trey did a dance associated with In My Feelings. Page teased the theme from Barney Miller after Wombat. Trey quoted Clowny Clown Clown in Saw It Again. Saw It Again was teased and quoted in Timber. Trey quoted In My Feelings and did a dance associated with the song during Meatstick. The first Runaway Jim and the second Run Like an Antelope contained Thread quotes.
Phish Saturday, August 11th 2018 Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD
Set 1 starts at 7:38pm 1. Blaze On > 2. Party Time 3. Breath and Burning 4. Sugar Shack 5. Home 6. Joy 7. Stash 8. 46 Days set over at 8:46pm
Set 2 starts at 9:19pm 1. Sand > 2. Mercury > 3. Ghost > 4. Fuego > 5. Slave to the Traffic Light set over at 10:23pm
Encore starts at 10:26pm 6. Twenty Years Later > 7. Martian Monster > 8. Rocky Top > 9. Golgi Apparatus house lights at 10:46pm
Notes Trey teased Wingsuit in 46 Days.
Phish Sunday, August 12th 2018 Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD
Set 1 starts at 7:36pm 1. Llama 2. Big Black Furry Creature from Mars 3. Meat 4. Alaska 5. Tweezer > 6. Bathtub Gin > 7. The Curtain With > 8. Chalk Dust Torture set over at 8:50pm
Set 2 starts at 9:24pm 1. Tweezer Reprise > 2. No Men In No Man’s Land > 3. Twist > 4. Prince Caspian > 5. Piper > 6. Backwards Down the Number Line > 7. Also Sprach Zarathustra > 8. Harry Hood set over at 10:37pm
Encore starts at 10:39pm 9. Heavy Things 10. Bug > 11. Tweezer Reprise 12. house lights at 10:54pm
Notes Trey teased Streets of Cairo during Meat. Trey teased L.A. Woman during Tweezer. Trey teased San-Ho-Zay in No Men in No Man’s Land. Page teased In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida in Twist. Piper contained a Tweezer Reprise jam and quotes. Also Sprach Zarathustra included Martian Monster teases.
The Gorge Amphitheatre has been on my bucket list for years. Like over 20 year it has been on my list. I remember seeing pictures from the lawn and it just looked amazing. The back of the stage opens up to the Columbia River and the sun sets to the west. It is wide open spaces and a beautiful sight to see. I read that original it was going to be a winery. Glad they decided to make it a music venue instead.
From my house The Gorge is a four hour drive. It is very close to Yakima and Spokane with the larger cities of Seattle and Portland as outliers. Now the great thing about this place is you can camp which makes perfect sense because it is in the middle of no where. How else do you expect to get that view.
The Dead & Co. show was a Friday night so I took the whole day off to travel, setup camp, and chill out a little before the show. I took my time getting up and getting packed which was great to just relax during a weekday. After the four hour drive I got onsite and setup camp. By the late afternoon I was tired from the heat and took a nap. Nothing like a nap in the middle of the day.
The crowd and people here were pretty cool. It was a great seeing all these like minded people camping and getting ready for the show. Lots of older people like I would expect, many around my age and even some “young” folks as well. My camp neighbors looked to be in their early 20’s. The lot was also a happening place with your traditional vendors and shakedown street setup. People everywhere just hanging out.
As night wore on I started making my way to the venue. I had a lawn seat and to be honest I didn’t know what to expect when I got there. The lawn is a really weird one. You are so high and there is no direct access to the seating area below which is probably 50′ or more down. Then in front of that they have a large orchestra pit area. Dead & Co. offered all sorts of ticket packages. I was cheap and just went with the lawn seat which was already pretty expensive.
I actually arrived late to the lawn. It was easily 80% filled when I got there and that was with 30 minutes to lights out. I managed to find a decent spot and then got lost by the landscape. Despite it being warm out it was an amazing view from the lawn. As the sun set over the gorge the light played some amazing tricks on the canyon walls.
Dead & Co. started just before 7:30 and played for rather short set. I have been watching Bob Weir over the last few years and this night was another example of him showing his age. At times things seamed force and awkward in his playing. At other times he would have moment of brilliance. It was awesome to see John Mayer as well. Always thought he was a great addition to the group and can really get into some guitar solos.
By the second set the sun was really getting low on the horizon till it was finally slipped below the horizon. Even with the sun gone the full moon really lite up the valley. I was texting a friend back and forth during the entire show and I remember saying at one point it was so peaceful. I really found myself getting lost just watching nature all around me and the crowd on the lawn.
Second set was ok. I thought they really killed the mode with Comes a Time and they never really recovered. I was talking with my other camp neighbors and one of them strongly disagreed with me on that last point. He loved the Jerry stuff and couldn’t get enough of it. One thing that never lost my attention, the scenery.
After the show the party kept going. I got back to my campsite and cooked some food while I watched several fireworks displays in the lot. Highly illegal and dangerous considering the the dry conditions but still fun to watch. I wasn’t for certain seeing fireworks on the fourth so this was a welcome sight. That night I slept well despite the party raging for hours deep into the night.
The next morning I planned to camp at Pine Flats Campground a little further north and east of west. I just wasn’t feeling well and decided to cut my losses spending another long day in the heat and felling like shit. It was a lazy morning packing and getting out of the campsite. I did take the time to make some coffee and have a cigar which was awesome. After four hours I was back home. I was up long enough to have some food and then take another well deserved nap.
Dead & Co. Friday, June 29th 2018
The Gorge Amphitheatre – Quincy, WA
String Cheese Incident doesn’t tour nearly as much as they use to. In fact they took a break for a couple of years before getting back together and hitting the road on a limited basis. Now they do way more festivals and multi-day stints in cities instead of being on the road for months at a time hitting a bunch of different cities. When it was announced that they would be playing two nights at the Cuthbert Amphitheater in Eugene I had to get tickets. It has been a minute since I last saw them for NYE in Denver and I wanted to check them out again on the west coast.
My plan was to pack as much crap into two days as I could and be back to work on Monday. I started with a hike to Silver Falls State Park. I saw a picture of this park on my computers login screen and I needed to see this place in person. A great hike and an awesome time. I actually timed things pretty well that day. Checked into the hotel, took a nap for a while and then I was off to see the show. It was so awesome having the ability to just walk to the venue and not worry about a car.
The venue is an interesting one. A small outdoor amp hither it has its charms. First the stage faces the sun so as an audience we get shade cover long before the band. There is no back to the venue either, just the forest behind. This comes into play at night when the sun goes down and the lights can project onto the trees. Adds an interesting element to the standard light show. On the upper ring of the lawn you can have low back chairs. Then there is your standard blanket lawn and the seats. Classic ballpark stiff, narrow and pretty uncomfortable seats.
The show was not sold out but as the night went on the place got pretty packed. It was a total general admission which was really cool. First night I spent it pretty close stage right in the seats. This is why I know they are so uncomfortable. The show this night and the next were both kick ass performances. In fact I thought both shows where better then the recent Dead & Co. show I saw and dare I say it, each individual night of SCI was better too. Just such a great time jamming out with the band and the crowd. It was such a good vibe both nights. During the second night’s performance I spent most of set two lounging on the lawn. There where so many kids running around and babies too. Lots of babies. I never remember it being so family friendly but as time has gone on, just like Phish shows, the fans got older and are bringing their kids.
After the first night I was hungry for food. I didn’t get anything before the show because I was napping and during I just didn’t see any vendor that interested me. For a somewhat large city it has limited options open late. I was disappointed I couldn’t walk to something. On a Saturday night everything was closed by 11pm, right when the show ended. Every time I am in a smaller city I always run into this problem. You would think by now I would be use to it.
Sunday I checked out of the hotel and started my day of adventure. Home was only 2 hours away so I told myself I could tough it out and make it home after the show. Saturday started late and Sunday they would start on time. With a curfew of 11pm I figured I had a good chance of seeing the entire show and still making it home at a reasonable hour.
I mostly walked around the city trying to find cool stuff. Sunday was a pretty quite day I most say. Downtown is not that big with these dispersed shopping streets. I did manage to find the Oregon Art Supply and a cool vinyl shop House of Records. I found Miles Davis In a Silent Way here and was super excited about it. One of my favorite all time records. Unfortunately side two is all fucked up so that is disappointing but side A is where its at. I found out later it could be the entire re-issue that is screwed for side B so that’s awesome.
One thing I didn’t do was find a brewery. The entire weekend was hot and I just didn’t have it in me to sit and drink beer. Closest I got was Bill & Tim’s BBQ for lunch where I had a beer. Honestly the BBQ was ok at best. It didn’t really have a smokey flavor I was looking for. Neither the brisket or pork. The sauce was also kinda weak and the meat was dry. They certainly cooked it a day or two before and then served it. Sides were good but overall, pretty disappointing.
I actually had a hard time finding things to do in downtown, it was just dead. I eventually gave up and headed to the venue not long before doors opened. I grabbed my chair and found a nice spot in the shade to relax. By relax I mean take a nap. It was so hot and I had already walked several miles, I needed the break. Plus I knew I wouldn’t make it through the show and then 2 hours driving that night without a nap.
Honestly another banging set from String Cheese Incident on Sunday. It was again filled with some killer jams and just these rolling beats that I love. The light show was great and the weather wasn’t to bad. Certainly after the sun set things really heated up. This time I spent the first set on the left and then during set break moved to the lawn. I was just ready to lounge out and listen to some killer music. Another kick ass show, really good.
I kept watching the time but eventually I left the show early. When the set was over I started making my way to my car. I wanted to beat the crowds out and start my long drive home. Earlier I had picked up a few donuts from Voodoo Doughnuts for a sugar rush and some iced coffee. Thankfully the drive home was uneventful and I made it without issue. I think I got home around 12:30 or 1am. Went right back to bed and was up early the next morning for work. I would have stayed a second night if only I had the PTO.
It was really awesome seeing SCI for two nights in Eugene. There is just something about seeing bands on the west coast. Phish and SCI both seam to have a different vibe out this way and I love it. The town could have been a little better but next time I will venture out from the downtown area. I have a feeling there is more to see, you just have to travel to it.
String Cheese Incident Saturday, July 7th 2018
Cuthbert Amphitheater – Eugene, OR
Set 1 starts at 7:35pm
Close Your Eyes >
So Far From Home >
Freedom Jazz Dance
Late in the Evening* >
Just One Story Set over at 8:45pm
Set 2 starts at 9:22pm
The Big Reveal >
Mrs. Browns Teahouse
Stay Through >
Lands End >
Colliding Set over at 10:53pm Encore starts at 10:54pm
Quine the Eskimo* House lights at 11:00pm
Notes: * with Jarrod Kaplan on percussion 11:02pm come out to tell us to go away and go home. I believe there is a curfew at 11pm because of the park.
String Cheese Incident Sunday, July 8th 2018 Cuthbert Amphitheater – Eugene, OR
Set 1 starts at 7:04pm
Can’t Stop Now
Could You Be Loved
Falling Through the Cracks
Dirk Set over at 8:19pm
Set 2 starts at 8:54pm
Song in My Head
Valley of the Jib
You Wreck Me^
This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) >
Heads Up jam >
Texas Set over at 10:22pm Encore
Can’t Wait Another Day
Notes: * with Jeff Pevar on guitar ^ with John Kadelicik on guitar
The weather had finally started to change and I wanted to get out for a hike before things got to hot. I mentioned this to Tracy and we ended up doing a hike with Ellie to Beacon Rock. I was thinking Silver Falls State Park to the south but because of logistics we decided that was not the best park. I was able to hike this park on my way down to see SCI so it all worked out.
The park is only 40 minutes or so from Vancouver and it is right on the highway. The parking lot and trail head are steps apart. This is a well maintained path that while steep at times, almost everyone can complete this hike. Plenty of railings to hold onto. It is interesting seeing how they engineered the trail and all the barriers. There are even a couple of footpath bridges which are really cool. Lots of bent railing speak to the ever changing mountain.
Nice hike up the side of the mount with a ton of switchbacks. Its the only reasonable way you can get up there otherwise it is to steep. Once at the top you get some great views of the valley below. The time of day we went the sun was bouncing off the water and it was bright as crap. Still an impressive hike to a really close park. Once we climbed down the mount we continued to the day use park and the boat launch along the water.
During the hike we worked up an appetite and headed to Walking Man Brewing in the near by town of Stevenson. I had been here once before many years ago when visiting. It was just like I remember. Some really good beer and creative food which was all very good. The weather was perfect so we sat outside and had lunch on the patio.
A great hike that is rather close to the house. There is another hike close by that goes up another mountain and offers even better views of the valley. I will have to try this trail next time.