The Scene: The crowd outside the Fox was a bit different than the crowd at Twist and Shout the previous night. The dirty hippie element was in effect but didn’t overtake the vibe which was nice. We pulled up at about 8:20 and went straight into the main room that was already about two-thirds full. We found a good spot right in the middle about 15 feet in front of the sound board where the sound is pretty much perfect (not there it sounds bad anywhere in the venue).
Average age of the crowd was around 30 and the underage side of the room was full of over 21’s who choose not to drink in favor of getting a better spot to stand and maybe even a seat. There were a few older folks who were grooving to the music all night and that was great to see. The crowd was well behaved and it wasn’t even too bad getting back to your spot after a trip to the bathroom.
Trey Anastasio: This show was a rager! Three songs into the first set I glanced at my watch and he had been playing for 50 minutes. Three songs into the second set it had been over an hour. Anastasio was on fire and he and his band looked like they had finally gelled a bit. Over the last few years it has been disappointing to see Trey Band play because they never seemed in step with each other and Trey was calling all the shots. It was different at the Fox. The band seemed to be playing as a band. The rhythm section of Tony Hall and Jeff Sipe layed down a complex lower end. Hall was all over his five string and Sipe kept good time from behind a kit that was largely in the dark for much of the show. Don’t get me wrong Trey was running this show but he seemed to be enjoying it and all the musians were feeding off each other in a way I have seen out of an incarnation of Trey Band.
The packed house erupted when Trey and company walked at 10 minutes after 9. After a moment or two of tuning/noodling they launched into a fairly lackluster “Spin” but from there things took off. They blew the dust off with a short jam at the tail end of “Spin” but “Push on til the Day” was were we started to see what this band is capable of as the 20 plus minute jam featured vintage Trey. Next we were treated to more vintage Trey in the form of “Gotta Jibboo.” The crowd was comprised of a lot of old Phish fans and this song took them back to their days on tour. Again topping out at more than 20 minutes the jams peaked at frenzied heights and sank to dank and dirty lows. Trey leaned in toward Tony Hall and got into some fierce battles as they locked eyes and made crazy faces.
The set slowed down a bit as the band bounced through “Drifting” before whipping things up again for “Mr. Completely.” Trey was positively belowing into the mic as Jennifer Hartswick and Christina Durfee bolstered the song with their backup singing. After an average “Goodbye Head,” “Come As Melody” brought the house down as the first set closer.
All night long the lights were top notch. I think they were just using the house rig at The Fox but that rig is better than many bands touring rigs. The lights were timed very well with the music and definately helped the crowd get into the music. Props to whoever was working the lights.
As the lights came up long time phans were looking at each other in near disbelief. Yes there have been rumors going that this band was different but we had just experienced a great first set and there was still 90 minutes to come!
I spent the set break talking with Paul Murin (who “plays Trey” in the tribute band Phix) and he said more than once that he hadn’t seen Trey play like this in years. As he said “I wonder what craziness he will bring in the second set.”
After a relatively brief setbreak of 30 minutes the band took the stage for an over the top 80 minute second set comprised of 4 songs. The old Trey Band song “Money Love and Change” led the way and set the stage for some outstanding jams. There was distorted trumpet, ’round the horn jams that included Trey calling for audience participation, a completely sick piano solo by the incomprable Ray Paczkowski where he seemed to seize control of a jam when Trey and Tony were about to steer it in a different direction. Trey looked at him as it to “ok, if you want it that bad you can have it.” It was the one moment in the show when Trey seemed to have lost control of the band, in a very, very, good way!
He did regain control to guide the band through the structured beginings of The Way I feel, Night Speaks to a Woman and What’s Done but the vocals seemed an aside as the songs were basically vehicles for the incindiary jams that continued to rage right up until the band left the stage.
They could have been done right then and there an no one who have complained one bit but after about 5 minutes the band emerged and busted into a rocking version of “Mud City.” The blistering guitar work fanned the flames that were dying down after the second set and when they finally left the stage at 12:20 the capacity crowd was looking pretty happy.
Set One: Spin, Push on til the Day, Gotta Jibboo, Drifting, Mr. Completely, Goodbye Head, Come As Melody
Set Two: Money Love and Change, The Way I Feel, Night Speaks to a Woman, What’s Done
Encore: Mud City
Stage Presence: A
Set/Light Show: A