The music of the Trey Anastasio Band is rejuvenation. It is a particular sensation that is achieved through some of the tightest music I have ever witnessed live and in person, all at the conducting hand of the enthusiastic Trey Anastasio, whose band came through to Showbox SoDo on Tuesday, November 10th. The undeniably and steadily outstanding rhythm section, the three colorful and dynamic horn players/back up singers, the entrancing keyboardist, whose talent is beyond my explanation, and of course the man himself, Trey Anastasio: an impeccable blend of gifted, humble, human, and brilliant.
The first trait I had noticed of Trey Anastasio‘s was that he smiled. Here is this 51-year-old rock star, clad in jeans and a sweatshirt, in a room filled with people waiting just to see him and his band. Most people I have seen in this position don’t smile. They walk onto the stage, say hello, and start playing their music. Mr. Anastasio had this air about him, as if this were the first time a massive crowd had greeted him with thunderous applause. He smiled, as if thinking, “I can’t believe this is happening to me.” And for all I know, this may very well have been what he was thinking. I had never seen an artist so appreciative of the love he was receiving, and his cult following makes so much more sense after witnessing his humility. He even exchanged a few words with some of his fans in the first row.
The band fixed their individual instruments on, waited for their fearless commander to signal the strike, and introduced themselves on the strong attack of their opener, “Curlew’s Call”. The samba-like beat invited the crowd to start dancing and to release their endorphins collectively. I don’t pride myself on being much of a dancer—I’ve been known to throw a Sprinkler move or a Carleton twist here and there, though to no graceful measures—but I challenge any human with a soul not to groove to this music, when seeing it live. The beat just becomes internalized; the bass line is too driving, the horns are too precisely placed, and the overall mix is too conjoined not allow it to possess your movements.
I have never seen Phish perform in person, but from what I have gathered, the Trey Anastasio Band allows the front man more of a chance to compose music, rather than carry out the jamming and shredding styles that he is notorious of. However, the band did perform a few Phish songs, to maximize the satisfaction rate of the already satisfied audience. These songs include “Sand”, “Gotta Jibboo“, “Magilla”, and “Frist Tube”, all of which induced monstrous cheers from the crowd, and most of which came to and end after ten-minute jams. The majority of songs came from Trey’s personal catalog, with some like “The Song” and “Speak to Me” that are on his most recent release Paper Wheels.
Along with the classic Phish and the new Trey Anastasio Band tunes, the group executed a number of cover songs that took me by surprise. The one that I feel is the most worth mentioning is the bands insanely hype rendition of “Clint Eastwood” by The Gorrilaz. That familiar melody came blaring through the speakers, making the venue bump and squirm in accordance. When the song entered into the verse, the band’s trumpet player Jennifer Hartswick stepped up to her mic, and whaled the rap like nothing I had expected. “Finally someone let me out of my cage” was how she introduced her vocals, and it was so fitting. She rapped it flawlessly, and the crowd’s reaction was a supernova. The whole time, Trey was smiling.
And why shouldn’t he be?
Instead of having an opening act the band played two sets with an encore, so there were parts of the show that dragged on a bit; however, these instances were quickly followed by a funky wake-up call. The band concluded its set with the Phish tune “First Tube”. As the jam reached its climax, Trey Anastasio was a mad conductor, manipulating his guitar to go further and further and further into that piercing zone that’s worked so well for him over the years. Strobe lights were insanely flashing in every direction, and the man looked and sounded like a deity. The band played their final notes, the lights returned to normal, and just like that, I was back on Earth and out of the trance I hadn’t realized I’d gone into.
Out of all my expectations for the evening, I hadn’t planned on being that astounded. The music just increases you dopamine like a drug, and I believe that is why so many people are addicted. I look forward to seeing Phish next time they are touring together, so I can get my groovy fix again.
JASON McCUE | Chill Collins | KXSU Reporter