New York City
Trey. NYC. Unexpected show due to a cancellation. Plenty of anticipation while on the cusp of the Phish Reunion 3.0. Yeah, Trey headed down to New York City to kick off his Northern Exposure tour at one of my least favorite venues in the city. I knew about the liabilities of the venue going into the show so I didn't let it affect my overall experience. I was simply happy to see Trey and even more excited to see Phish next March.
After Phish broke up in 2004, going to see a Trey Anastasio Band concert was sort of like methadone compared to full blown smack. Yes, I used the Phish as a metaphor for heroin. However, with Phish's return on the horizon, Trey's NYC show was more like a delicious appetizer to kick off a scrumptious meal. Now that the apps are over, where's my fuckin' steak?
I did not see Trey play this summer when he hit the festival circuit out in Rothbury or Newport. I missed the Brooklyn show and Liberty State park due to work reasons. The last time I saw Trey was for two shows in 2007. He played a late show in Ft. Lauderdale that was above average and the next night he played a weak set at Langerado. I was sort of disappointed with Big Red after that show. And we'd all find out several months later that Trey had been wrestling with some intense demons of addiction which obviously affected his play.
Since the last time I saw TAB... Trey got arrested, went to trial, got convicted, forced into rehab, spent a night in jail, and is now a free man. That experience was no doubt the driving force behind the band getting back together. The immediate result? Fun happy Trey without the deviant Oxycontin-jams that plagued Phish 2.0.
I have seen over thirty Trey Anastasio solo gigs (not counting GRAB or Oysterhead) dating as far back as 1999 which is now known as Classic Trey Anastasio Band with included Russ Lawton and Tony Markellis (also known as the Trio). I've seen several incarnations since then with the horns and Jen Hartswick, otherwise known as the Sextet, which in my opinion was my favorite grouping that Trey has played with. They were a notch above the Trio and that's only because horns make everything sound better. Ah, then there was the 70 Volt Parade which at times was slammin' (when Les and Skeeto were locked in) but other times they fizzled out. Trey tried to capture that old magic with the Undectet. They had their moments but I always thought something was missing from that lineup. And now, Trey decided to go old school. He brought back Russ Lawton and Tony Markellis and added Ray Paczkowski on keys.
10/16/08 Trey Anastasio Band, Roseland Ballroom, NY, NYAlthough I scored two tickets, they were not cheap. I had to pay over face value. I tried not to let the high value of the price of admission affect my expectations of the show. I went with my buddy Bruce and this was sort of a birthday celebration for him. We arrived around 7:30ish. No line to get in but I was hassled by a Nazi security guard who gave me a more than thorough pat down. He put his hands down the front and back of my pants! He grabbed my junk (thank God it was from the outside) and he was particularly interested in my socks. He made me take everything out of my pockets. He got suspicious when he found my mini-Bic lighter.
Set I: Sand, Cayman Review, Let Me Lie, Gotta Jibboo, Dragonfly, First Tube
Set II: Alaska, Last Tube, Sweet Dreams Melinda, Valentine, Drifting, Brian & Robert **, Chalkdust Torture **, The Way I Feel, Spin
E: Heavy Things, Burlap Sack and Pumps
** solo acoustic
"Why do you have a lighter and no cigarettes?"
Here's where playing a ton of poker comes in handy. I looked him right in the eye and bluffed. I smiled and then flat out lied.
"This is a non-smoking venue. I finished my last cigarette before coming in. I'll buy a new pack when the show is over."
He didn't find anything incriminating on me even though I sensed he was looking for trouble meaning he was on a power trip and getting off by busting hippies. He let me go because I hide things very well. This ain't my first rodeo.
A friend of mine handed me a pill last week. "Merry Christmas!" he said as realized it was one 15 mg oxy. I thought it was fitting that I was going to see Trey. I bit off a sliver before I went in the show. I was faded the entire night.
Bruce and I grabbed $6 cans of Becks and hung out on the side. I went down to the bathroom and the entire stairs smells like puke. Boot and rally. Someone was already all fired up. Once the crowd started filling up the floor, we headed to the front of the soundboard. Show time was scheduled for 8pm. Trey went on late in true rock star fashion. The lights went down around 8:23pm. Smoking commenced as the crowd got a little more than excited than your average Trey show.
Trey threw all the Phisheads a bone when he opened the show with Sand. It was originally written and performed by Classic TAB. Sand was a song in regular rotation by Phish both pre-hiatus and post-hiatus. It was kinda cool to hear the original guys play it. My notes for Sand were, "Sand started out mellow. Trey noodled a lot in the middle. Build to jam loud & intense. Trey mouth open."
Trey elevated things a bit with a funky-boogie-reggae version of Cayman Review. That fired up the Phishy chick standing next to me. It was tightly packed with very little room to move let alone dance. That did not deter her from letting loose. She was all over the place and kept jumping up and down and landing on my right foot. During the middle of the song she was grinding up against me. I didn't mind too much. After all, I have to pay women $20 a song in Las Vegas to rub me that much. It felt good to get a free lapdance during a Trey show from a spun-out hippie chick. I'd prefer that to the coke whores at the Rhino with fake tits the size of watermelons.
I got a half-chubby during Cayman Review. I couldn't tell if it was caused by the chick grinding up against me or if I was really that excited about the Phish reunion at Hampton.
Trey calmed things down with Let Me Lie. Slow songs always get the Phishy chicks wet. I dug the solo acoustic versions from this summer, but it sounded much better than the version I caught when Trey played shows supporting that Bar 17 mishap of a album.
Gotta Jibboo was the highlight of the set and possibly the show. It started out ordinary and then Trey took command. I sent a text that said, "Trey tearin' it up in Jibboo jam." And then it got even hotter and even more badass. Nothing more to say. Just listen for yourself.
Since the jam out of Jibboo shot me out into deep space, the result was just an average Dragonfly. The entire time it played I kept thinking, "Whoaaaaa that Jibboo was fuckin' sick. Can't wait to hear Phish play that again!"
They closed the first set with First Tube. I was expecting it to close the second set, so Trey threw a curve ball. Solid version but it seemed a bit rushed at the end and lacked spontaneity. The first set was short with six songs for about an hour of total playing time. I graded Set 1 as a B-.
Bruce and I battled the lines in the bathroom as I tried to get a score in the Rays/Red Sox game. I battled the beer lines and Bruce decided to hang out in the back where there was more space to move. I wanted to join him, but everyone was talking in the back. That was the catch-22. No space but good sound, or lots of space with too many chatty hipsters.
The second set opened with Alaska. The crowd was singing along. They obviously heard the tapes. Could be a fun Phish song, eh? When it was over Trey blurted out, "Just so you know, I wrote that song before she (Sarah Palin) came along." He paused for a second while everyone cheered before he continued, "And I did not have sex with that woman!"
Funny Trey. Even he is cracking Palin jokes. Bring back Fishman and the prison joke.
The beer, weed, and oxy all kicked in at the same time... during Alaska. I was a puddle the rest of the show. I kept spacing out on song names. I'd hear a few notes and then send a text only to discover three minutes later that I was totally wrong. That happened with Last Tube. It was a solid version but my area was more concerned with the stench of feces. Yeah, someone walked by and busted some serious ass. I really thought someone shit themselves. I sent a tweet that said, "Smells like total assexplosion. Or someone smuggled a tourbaby inside. Diaper needs changing."
The wook factor was low at the show so the aroma of patchouli was absent and did not mask the smell of busted ass.
Sweet Dreams Melinda was mellow which meant that everyone around me started talking at once. It took me more than half the song to find a better spot that did not have chatty folks.
Next up was a new song called Valentine. I heard it from the Brooklyn show but I forgot the title at the time. My notes included something like Trey was singing about circles and walking the straight line. Again, it was super tough to hear because a new Trey song gave everyone a chance to yap nonstop.
I really felt that the lyrics were alluding to Trey's turn around post-rehab. I wrote in my notes, "No more oxyjams. More happy shit."
I'm always a fan of Drifting. Solid version. After the completion of the song, everyone left the stage and Trey grabbed an acoustic guitar. He played two Phish songs in Brian and Robert and Chalkdust Torture. I flubbed the title and tested Roggae. I always get those songs from Story of the Ghost mixed up.
Before Trey started Chalkdust he mentioned, "We've been practicing this one."
He was alluding to Phish. Wow, I'm even more excited that they have been practicing... now. I figured they would start in January and play intensely for two months before they hit the road. Good signs that Phish has been practicing five-months before their Hampton shows.
After two songs, the band returned. The one song I liked during the 70 Volt days was called The Way I Feel. It used to be a bit darker due to Trey's headspace. Ah, this was a bit softer version but just as intense. It was a highlight for me in the second set. When I first heard Spin a couple of years ago it was an immediate sign that Trey was losing the battle with the pills. I thought it was pretty obvious what he was trying to say. Singing those lyrics now must be therapeutic. I couldn't tell if the song ended and they segued into a different song. The Joker said it was just a post-Spin jam. Trey was cajoling the rock Gods. As I wrote in my notes, "Trey showing off orgasm faces. Russ stepping it up."
Trey played two encore songs. The first was Heavy Things. When it was over, Trey mentioned that, "Some of these songs were written by Russ and Tony including Sand and First Tube." He went on to explain that their buddy Kevin helped write another song which they were going to play. That was Burlap Sack and Pumps. It was warm, affectionate, funky, and plenty of fun. Trey looked like he was having the time of his life. When Trey has a good time, we all have a good time.
I graded Set 2 as a B. Overall, I gave the show a B. There were a few lowlights which had more to due with the sound quality and the rust factor. Of course, there were plenty of highlights and moments of purity like Gotta Jibboo and The Way I Feel.
I'm super excited to see Trey next week in Rhode Island. By them they will have a few shows under their belt. Maybe I'll get see Windora Bug then?
Editor's Note: This originally appeared on Coventry.