Someone over at the Online Phish Tour wrote an article about why the Mike Gordon Band (MGB) is better than the Trey Anastasio Band (TAB). It got to me. I’ve seen both, though I’ve seen TAB many more times. I’ve listened to both enough to know that the general sentiment is wrong. Now, I know I recently wrote a post about the most recent TAB tour. Some issues will be rehashed, but it’s not quite the same. Continue reading TAB vs MGB
I’m sitting here doing absolutely nothing (though this is being published the following day) listening to the acoustic sets from the Trey Anastasio shows that were released on LivePhish (the audience recordings all have too much audience noise to properly hear the acoustic set). Anyway, I attended the Boston show as a very last minute decision (decided a couple hours before the show that I was going and managed to score a ticket for face value). It was a good decision. I have only seen Trey play solo acoustic once at the Newport Folk Festival a couple years ago. This show was different though. He seemed to be having more fun. The whole show was awesome, including the electric set. It was very loose and laid back, and I think it’ll have a good effect on Phish. Continue reading Trey’s Acoustic/Electric Tour
Last weekend, I went to see Trey Anastasio at the House of Blues in Boston. On his current tour, he is playing an acoustic opening set followed by an electric set with the full band. I had a great time. He put on an awesome show to a sold out crowd packed into the tight space. There’s just one thing that really annoyed the crap out of me… the audience. Continue reading Talking During Concerts
On Saturday, I had gone to CT to see Trey and Classic TAB at the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford. Because of a new hookup from my cousin, I had great seats, about 6 rows back. I had seen bands from that close before, but never a Phish-related band. The seats were great.
Upon arrival, there wasn’t a large lot scene that I could see. We had driven by around 6 to meet my cousin at a bar in downtown Wallingford and there was no one at the Oakdale yet. When we go back to the Oakdale around 7:15, the lot was pretty full, but there wasn’t a large scene. So we headed in.
We grabbed a beer and headed to our seats. The Oakdale is a pretty nice theatre, though it was the largest venue scheduled for Trey’s tour. It wasn’t a sold out show, but the vibe inside felt as if it had been sold out. The crowd was excited and Trey was visibly happy to be there. In fact, he had mentioned it was one of his favorite rooms. I could tell why. The sound in the room was perfect. We were low below the speakers and the sound was still excellent. This is a major contrast to the last time I saw TAB at Lupo’s. The sound there tends to be too loud, making it difficult to pick out the different instruments. The Oakdale had a nice warm sound to it.
He opened the show with “Alive Again” and it was clear the show was gonna be a good one. Everyone was playing at the top of their game. The next song was “Shine”. This is a song that I had previously only heard played by 70 Volt Parade. The song was horrible then. It was just way too much of a pop song. The horns added a nice element to it and made the song really sparkle (pun intended). After the new song “All that Almost Was”, he dedicated the next song to Natalie’s (the trombonist) great-grandmother who was in the audience, and they played “Mozambique”. You could tell the band was well rehearsed and didn’t just get on stage and wing it (which was how 70 Volt Parade always sounded). They followed that with my favorite TAB song, “Push On Til The day”. They really played this one strong and jammed it out a bit. Other highlights from the first set were “Sand”, “Alaska”, and “Liquid Time”, which really sounded great with the flute. I can’t wait for Phish to play this one. They closed the set with a song he said he was playing for his friend, Steve Pollack, aka the Dude of Life. He had written the song with Trey, but had never heard it performed. The song was “Show of Life”, which was another great song and could become a great Phish tune as well. It ended a long 90 minute set.
The second set opened with “Cayman Review”, followed by “Gotta Jibboo”. The band was nailing everything. They played “The Birdwatcher”, a barbershop tune from Phish’s Party Time album. They then went to “Love is Freedom” which segued to “Simple Twist-up Dave”, keeping up the energy. After calming things down a bit for “Flock of Words” and the nice groove of “Drifting”, they closed the set with “First Tube”. We knew we’d get a great encore. They came back and Trey explained how curfews worked and why there would sometimes be a three minute encore. He then said that wasn’t going to happen this night and it didn’t. The triple encore included “At the Gazebo”, “Valentine”, and “Dragonfly”.
Trey was visibly excited to be there throughout the whole show and didn’t seem to want the night to end. But, as with all good things, the night had come to an end. It was a very strong show and reminded me why I love Trey and TAB so much. This smaller incarnation of the band is really what he needs to stick with. Things started to get out of hand with the 10 piece band. It was almost too much going on to really get it. It’s also nice that he’s able to play the smaller venues. I had seen his bigger band at Great Woods during Phish’s hiatus. While it made sense that he played a venue that big, the music and the band really weren’t fit for such a large venue. For a band that’s full of just fun music, they need a smaller venue where they can be closer to the whole audience.
Unfortunately, the scene outside after the show was pretty bad. There were nitrous tanks and balloons everywhere. We made our way to the car and headed out.
Following Coventry, I continued listening to Phish for a while, but eventually decided to branch out a bit. My concert attendance had decreased in general. I started listening to moe. a bit more and some newer music, including Ryan Adams. I kept going back to Phish every now and then, but it was few and far between. As I had a lot more time on my hands and found myself single and living in a city where I didn’t know a whole lot of people other than those I worked with or who worked for me, I started meeting some people on Craigslist. Eventually, I met the woman who would eventually become my wife. She, unfortunately, was not a fan of Phish, but that wasn’t a problem.
We had gone to a moe. show together in Worcester. We had a good time, but the sound sucked. And honestly, after listening to many recordings of moe. shows, they need a better sound guy. They sound muffled in all the recordings, and they sounded muffled at the show itself. It didn’t help that we were near a bunch of people who talked throughout the entire show, but the sound was still horrible. The Palladium is not a very large venue. It’s about the size of the current Lupo’s in Providence. I have seen bands at Lupo’s and the sound was not a problem. The was the first and only time I have seen moe. Don’t get me wrong, I love their music. I just haven’t gone to see them again (though if they come to Providence, as they should, I’ll be there).
Trey started up another band, 70 Volt Parade, with some of the members of the old 10 piece TAB. This band was more of a rock band. Susan and I went to see them in Boston one summer with Matisyahu opening for them. I really enjoyed Matisyahu, but Trey just wasn’t that good. In fact, his 10 piece band was much better. Sure, the show had its high points, but overall, it wasn’t anything special. I had gone to the show very hopeful, but left wanting more. He released his album Shine, which was full of catchy pop songs, but wasn’t musically interesting.
Phil Lesh and Friends came through Providence to play two nights at Lupo’s. I went to one of them and finally got the music that I needed. The band was solid. The show was fun and musically awesome. While they gave it a folksy/country sound, it was just what I needed. Phil Lesh and Friends was like the anti-Trey. Phil had put all his drug and alcohol problems behind him and concentrated on his family, his friends, and his music. They were just plain awesome and very tight.
I had seen Trey on two other occasions. The first was opening for Tom Petty on his 30th anniversary tour. He was with 70 Volt Parade. Again, he was good, but his set was nothing special. I love Tom Petty as well, and had seen him on another occasion (which may have been during the hiatus with Bob Dylan opening). This Petty show wasn’t as fun. It seemed to be more about the show than his music. The worst part of the show was when he brought out Stevie Nicks, whom I despise. I enjoy Fleetwood Mac, but I can’t stand her. At the previous show, Petty made it a lot of fun. This one lacked the fun. The one high point was when they “went back to their roots” and played some British blues rock. That part of the show was great.
The other time I saw Trey was opening for Phil Lesh and Friends. The only difference was that this time there were two openers. First was the Benevento Russo Duo followed by the addition of Trey and Mike. This show was interesting. Trey was pushed by the solid playing of the others, but you could tell something was still “off” about him. Phil and Friends were awesome as usual, though Susan wasn’t overly impressed (she just doesn’t like jamming).
I had also started listening to The Breakfast a bit more. I grew up with guitarist Tim Palmieri. I had a lot of fun at the shows I attended. I haven’t seen them in a few years, but they’re definitely worth checking out. I’m hoping now that the Century Lounge has re-opened in Providence they’ll come back here instead of just going to South County.
Time went on and Trey had released some more solo albums. Page and Mike both released solo albums as well, which were extremely solid and well received. In fact, those two albums are far better than anything Trey did without Phish. Everything came to a head when Trey was arrested in New York for drug possession. More hatred and rumors started flying around the message boards. I decided to just step away from it all and ignore it. I didn’t really care. It was Trey’s personal issues to deal with on his own.
Sometime after his arrest he started doing some interviews saying how he wanted nothing more than to play the old Phish tunes again. He was booked for a solo acoustic gig at the Newport Folk Festival last summer. I was lucky enough to go. Obviously, he was a highlight for me. He played a bunch of Phish tunes and some of his solo work to a crowd that stayed through the rain to watch him. People were chanting to “Wilson” and singing the lines to “Bathtub Gin”. Everyone had a great time and Trey seemed super excited to be back. He looked healthy and happy. Other worthwhile performances were the Cowboy Junkies, Willy Mason, the Black Crowes, Jakob Dylan, and the American Babies. Trey also brought back his original solo band, dubbed Classic TAB, and went on a small tour. I was lucky enough to catch him in Providence. The band was on fire from start to finish. It was very obvious that Trey was back and clean. They ripped through some solo Trey songs, some new songs, and a bunch of Phish tunes. For the encore, they were joined on stage by Scott Murawski of Max Creek, Bill Kreutzman of the Dead, and Oteil Burbridge of the Aquarian Rescue Unit and more recently the Allman Bros. They all tore it up for a packed crowd. Trey was definitely back and on top of his game once again. He was clean and sober and, more importantly, healthy and happy.
Rumblings of Phish’s return were getting louder and louder over the next couple months when they announced by video that they were reuniting for three shows at the Hampton Coliseum in Virginia. Everyone was ecstatic, though there were still many naysayers, particularly those who still held a grudge from Coventry.
The next post in this series will cover the reunion at Hampton and the summer tour. I have not decided if I should wait until the first leg of the tour has ended towards the end of the month or if I will write it after Great Woods.
The following article is part 2 of a multi-part series on my life as a Phishhead. I would recommend starting at Part 1.
The hiatus brought with it a lot of time to reflect on Phish and a lot of time to seek out new bands. While the members of Phish had went about to work on their own side projects, I spread my musical roots and went on listening to new music. One of the first jambands I had gotten into while listening to Phish was the String Cheese Incident (SCI). I started listening to them around 1998 when the album ‘Round the Wheel was released. They had won some Jammy awards and I figured they were worth a listen. I really enjoyed what I heard. I bought some other albums and downloaded some shows and got into them, though nowhere near the way I was with Phish. I had also gotten into Trey’s solo work with the Trey Anastasio Band (TAB). The band had grown into a 10 piece group by that point. While these bands are quite different, they are related in my musical growth during the hiatus.
I had gone to see TAB at Great Woods in the summer of 2001 with my then girlfriend (different girl from either of those in Part 1). The scene was similar to a Phish show, but slightly different. People weren’t quite as into it as they were Phish, but it was still a whole lot of fun with all the weirdness that surrounds a Phish show. We had a blast. The Phish community was still pretty intact. Everyone was still friends. The show, while musically not as interesting as a Phish show, was good (though I think David “ZZYZX” Steinberg said it best when he said that TAB would have been better playing 6-8 minute long songs rather than 10-15 minute songs).
I had also, through this girlfriend who was seriously into music, gone to see many other bands during this time. Martin Sexton was one I saw twice. He’s got a great voice and can put on a great show, though, at the time, I felt he needed to mature a bit as a performer. There seemed to be a kind of disconnect between him and the audience.
I had also seen Crosby Stills Nash and Young and Paul McCartney. Both of those shows were really good, but they obviously weren’t the same because they were basically nostalgia acts.
When I found out SCI was coming to Radio City Music Hall in 2002, I had to go. So we went. I didn’t really know what to expect. At the time, the band seemed to be trying to fill the hole that Phish left when then went on hiatus. They were worth checking out. I was excited because I liked their music and I loved the venue. The show started off pretty strong, but went downhill pretty quickly. It had a couple other high parts, but, in general, I was not impressed. The jams all sounded the same. There was no dark/light contrast throughout the show at all. It was all “happy” music. Worst of all, Michael Kang, the lead electric guitarist, sounded as if he was trying to imitate a cross between Trey and Jerry Garcia rather than create his own sound. This bothered me quite a bit as a huge Phishhead and not-so-huge Deadhead. As I said, there were high points. Whenever they played a bluegrass tune and kept it mostly acoustic (Kang also played either fiddle and mandolin), they were spot on and they kicked ass. They also played a cover of the Talking Heads’ Burning Down the House, which could have burned down Radio City it was so good. Unfortunately, though, the majority of what they played was this electric jazzy funky stuff that went nowhere and it all sounded the same. I left extremely disappointed and have since stopped listening to SCI. Every now and then I throw in a CD and try to listen to them. When I do, I’m reminded of how amateurish they really are (again, the exception being the bluegrass). If you have something, build upon it. Don’t try to be what you’re not. That’s the moral of SCI.
In addition to branching out during the hiatus, I also really got into trading and downloading shows. I had lived on campus my last summer at UConn (summer of 2001) and setup an FTP server to allow people to download shows. I discovered Bit Torrent and how people started using that to trade shows. At the time, Bit Torrent wasn’t huge and was mainly used for legitimate purposes, such as trading taper-friendly concert recordings and distributing Linux distributions. During this time, I was more active in an online community called People for a Clearer Phish (PCP). I had discovered them before the hiatus had started. They are a group that got started to get away from trading the analog cassettes that I had mentioned in my previous post. The problem with the cassettes is that they have generational quality issues. Each time you record one, it creates a new generation as you go down the line, slowly degrading the quality. PCP was a group of pioneers who use a file format called Shorten (.shn) to compress the audio and trade it. Shorten is a lossless audio compression scheme, unlike mp3, which will loses data during the compression. The files were huge, about 1 GB per show. When I first got involved, I had no CD burner and could only do a blanks and postage (B&P) type trade. I would send someone the blank CD-R’s and a self addressed stamped envelope and they burned the discs and sent them back to me. Once I got my own burner, I was more actively trading and sending shows to people and helping people out. Once more people had broadband internet connections, this type of snail mail trading died off in favor of FTP hosting and eventually Bit Torrent. PCP became eTree, which started bt.etree.org, a Bit Torrent site full of shows from taper-friendly artists. PCP remained as an email discussion list for Phish. I had many great discussions with many awesome people, including PCP founder Patrick Marshall and ZZYZX, who happened to be a member of the group (there were others who are more well-known Phishheads as well).
Soon enough, rumors started floating around about Phish coming back and a new album. Sure enough, the band was coming back. They quickly recorded their album Round Room, which is about as raw in the studio as you can get (you can hear Trey cough during “Friday” on the album). They also announced their comeback show would be on New Year’s Eve 2002 at Madison Square Garden, followed by a short run at the Hampton Coliseum in early January 2003 and a short 12 date winter tour in February. The hiatus had ended. Phish was back with a new album of new material released before we saw them perform the songs live. This was not normal for Phish. They tended to introduce new songs live before the album was released. No one cared much. Their beloved band had returned. All was right in the world… or was it?
The next article in this series will be about my experience with what will become known as post-hiatus Phish, or later Phish 2.0.
My ears are still ringing. I’m fresh out of the Trey Anastasio show at Lupo’s. The only thing I heard from him prior to this show was his solo acoustic set at the Newport Folk Fest and the show they did in Brooklyn in August. Both were great. I got an email from my 2nd-cousin-in-law saying how great the CT show was a few days ago. Then I read a review of that show, which said it was pretty mellow.
Tonight was anything but mellow. I can’t even remember what they played, but they played for a good 3 hours. The first set was about 90 minutes. Highlights from that set were “Alaska,” “Sand,” “Ooh Child,” and I’m sure there were others that I can’t remember right now.
The second set was a little shorter. He came back with a killer “Push On Til the Day,” followed by a great “Gotta Jibboo.” He did a great “A Case of Ice and Snow,” which was slowed way down, but it gave it this great depth that the album version lacks. During the second set, the band left and he grabbed his acoustic for “Water in the Sky,” “Brian and Robert,” and “Get Back on the Train,” which he jammed out. The band came back and they played a few more songs, ending the second set with “Tuesday.”
The encore was pretty predictable. I haven’t seen him play with his solo bands in quite some time without playing “First Tube.” However, this one was special. In the middle of the song, some dude starts playing percussion and then takes over for Russ on the drums. Tony gets up from his bass and some other dude steps in. Finally, as the jam is getting insane, Scott Murawski, from Max Creek, comes out with what looks like another of Trey’s guitars and they trade licks throughout the remainder of the song.
I really think Trey was happy to be in a small club. It showed. He was into it, the crowd was into it, and the tunes just flowed (with some minor downtime). Trey is back at the top of his game. You can tell he’s clean. You can tell his heart is 100% back in this. Not only is his guitar work a million times better, his voice sounds more in tune (even moreso than it did in the 90’s, and he’s never been known for having a great voice). All I have to say for all of you going to Hampton, enjoy. Assuming the 4 guys from Phish rehearse enough together, those shows will be nothing short of epic.
Disclaimer: I don’t remember the setlist exactly. Some of those songs might be out of order. In fact, I’m sure they are. I also couldn’t hear Trey when he was announcing his guests. I thought he said Jamie Masefield on drums, but he’s not a drummer. It looked a little like Bill Kreutzman from the Dead. I couldn’t tell at all who the other bassist was. I’m sure a setlist will be posted overnight. The ringing is starting to go away and I’m just about ready to pass out. Until the next time…
Update: I’m good. It was Bill Kreutzman on drums and my first inclination about the bassist was correct. It was Oteil Burbridge, of Allman Bros. fame. The setlist is now up at Phantasy Tour.
Overall, the Folk Festival was a ton of fun and definitely worth attending. I do think the ticket prices were a bit steep. Supposedly, at least according to the Boston Globe, there were only 8,000 people on Saturday and 7,500 on Sunday. I find that hard to believe as there seemed to be a whole lot more people there than that (and I’m not including the boats). Regardless of how many people were in attendance, the festival was a great time. I got to see a lot of new artists and a lot of current favorites. A lot of people were upset by the fact that it wasn’t folk music. However, the vast majority of the performers were influenced, at least in part, by folk music. Some were folkier than others, but most of them definitely had a noticeable connection to folk music.
There was a little shopping area with lots of vendor tents selling their wares. I wish they had invited more local artists rather than people from other states. This would have been a great opportunity to showcase some of RI’s own artists who sell their stuff at the Providence Open Market and other local events. The event was mostly corporate-free, though the whole VIP thing kind of bugged me. There’s nothing worse than a bunch of yuppies showing up in their nice clothes hanging out in a special section. Or having a section roped off in front of the soundboard that remains mostly empty because the VIP’s don’t care about the performers on the stage (though it was full for Buffett, and only Buffett). I understand the need to support the festival and selling super expensive VIP tickets is one way to do it (and avoid seriously corporatizing the event), it’s not cool to prevent the real fans from being able to have the good seats by roping off a special VIP section. It was empty with the exception of about 2 people during the Black Crowes set. It’s that kind of thing that pisses me off. Music has become too corporatized, even the most revered events, such as the Newport Folk Festival. I did get a laugh out of people ruining their $300 shoes (no exaggeration) in the mud trying to escape while the true music lovers were enjoying the music and having an all-around good time regardless of what the weather brought.
Other than that, it was a good time. I would definitely go again so long as the lineup is just as good. I have also decided that I don’t care if I ever see Jimmy Buffett again. This was a great show because of the opportunity to do things differently and collaborate, but it was too similar to the show I saw last summer. I can understand the people who go every year to have a great time, but it’s not worth the price of his tickets. I was able to get a 2 day ticket for the festival for just $50 more than the ticket to the Buffett show at Gilette (though I didn’t get the cheap tickets for his show because I wanted to have some chance at seeing the stage).
My favorite performances of the weekend (in no particular order):
- Willy Mason
- Cowboy Junkies
- Brandi Carlile
- The Levon Helm Band
- Trey Anastasio
- Richard Julian
- The Black Crowes
You should check them out if you haven’t already.
As anyone who reads my tweets knows, I attended the Newport Folk Festival this past weekend. I skipped the opening night on Friday with Brian Wilson, but attended both Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately, I was not able to see all the performances, but I did catch a lot of them. Please excuse the fact that I can’t remember setlists or any real details for many of the performances as I took in a lot of music over the course of the 2 days, in addition to lots of rain and sun. I’m writing this review in 3 parts. The first will be a general review of Saturday, the second will be of Sunday, and the third will be of my overall impression and any other thoughts
We arrived a little late on Saturday, arriving at the gates at 11:35, 5 minutes into the Cowboy Junkies set on the main stage, one I wanted to see (not having known anything about them other than that they’re supposed to be pretty good). I was very impressed by them and plan on buying some of their albums. The music was more rock-ish, though kind of an alt-folk/alt-country sound. The lead singer has a killer voice. We setup our chairs and settled in at the main stage where most of the performances I wanted to see would be held.
Following their set, we went over to the Harbor stage to check out Jakob Dylan. Unfortunately, his set started late (as we had wanted to see half of his and half of Richie Havens). His voice has come a long way since the first Wallflowers album. He sounds more like his father, though with a more melodic voice. He was awesome and the crowd seemed to love him. I didn’t recognize anything but “Three Marlenas” and a Bob Dylan tune, to which I can’t remember the name.
Headed over to the main stage to catch Richie Havens. We got there just as he was finishing up his set with “Freedom,” the Woodstock staple. Luckily, he came back to play an encore, which was a medley of something I can’t remember and “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. Richie Havens is a staple of folk fests and an absolutely enthralling performer. I managed to get his autograph on his latest album and my picture taken with him.
Following his set, we decided to find some food and wandered around and ended up at the Greek stand to get gyros, while we waited for Trey to come on. He came on and got the crowd going. Read my tweets for my version of the setlist (which isn’t completely accurate, but close). My favorites from his set were the Phish tunes. I’m not very impressed by a lot of his solo stuff. It’s just not quite as good. The best tunes were “Bathtub Gin,” “Wilson” (which had everyone chanting), “Sample in a Jar,” and “Chalkdust Torture”. He seemed to be having a great time, but didn’t really get things going until halfway through his set. He played a new song called “Peggy” and an old one he write with Tom Marshall many years ago that had never been performed called “If I Could Be a Sailor”. He said he had to sing it because of all the boats he was staring at from the stage.
During his set, it began to rain a bit and following his set, it was a torrential downpour with lots of heavy wind and lightning. Susan and I decided that we would stay (it was actually my decision), but would grab our stuff and bring it to the car to stay dry (didn’t want my camera, phone, or wallet to be soaked). We walked it to the car because the line for the shuttle was long. Dropped it off and just as we got there, the shuttle was just getting to the lot. We took it back and enjoyed the rest of the day. The Marleys were supposed to be on next, but their bus got stuck on the bridge and the brought the American Babies up on stage. I really enjoyed the couple songs I heard from them, kind of a rootsy rock. When the Marleys made it, the rain had started to die off and eventually it was nice again. By the time The Black Crowes took the stage late, the sun was out. Unfortunately, they couldn’t play an encore, but their set was awesome.
We walked back to the car, having dried of a bit, but our feet were sore and wet. We decided to go out to dinner and went to Coddington Brewing in Middletown. I’ll give that its own post.
The schedule was posted for the Newport Folk Festival. I now have to figure out who I want to see. Perhaps some of you readers know some of the acts and can point me in the right direction.
I plan on seeing the Cowboy Junkies, Trey (if he plays Runaway Jim, I will cream in my pants), and the Black Crowes on the first day. I want to see both Richie Havens and Jakob Dylan, so I’ll likely watch half of each.
The second day is more confusing… I know I’m going to check out Levon Helm (The Band is probably my favorite group ever, aside from Phish, of course), though I will check out the first half of the Son Volt set, and I know we’ll end up at the Buffett set, completely skipping the Avett Brothers to hopefully scout out a good seat for Jimmy (pun intended).
This is my first music festival ever. I wish they had set times the same for each stage, and no overlapping sets (though I guess that’s so they don’t end up with set breaks on all 3 stages at the same times). If any of you readers wouldn’t mind taking a look at the schedule and give your suggestions in the comments, I’d greatly appreciate it. When I have the time, I plan on looking up each of the artists and figuring out who sounds the most interesting.
I suppose I should also print out a copy of the schedule to bring with me so I know who it is I’m watching. Anyway, thanks in advance for the suggestions (Jenny, I’m hoping you actually read this and make some suggestions).