Trey Anastasio took the stage at the Macky Auditorium in Boulder to close out his 2018 solo acoustic tour as well as his two-night stand at the gorgeous University of Colorado concert hall. With two notable song choices the night before in “Snowflakes in the Sand”--a song Trey dusted off from his solo acoustic tour in 1999--and “Glide II,” an obscure Phish song the band has only played once, the anticipation for the second night at Macky was high.
So, you know, no pressure or anything for the second night in Phish’s home away from home (Phish played their first shows outside of their native Vermont in Colorado) and the tour closer (Phish has also been closing their summer tours in Colorado for almost a decade). But as usual, Trey delivered an extremely entertaining show complete with amazing anecdotes and acoustic takes on the master composer’s extensive catalog. Here are five reasons to see Trey Anastasio solo acoustic live.
One of the best things about seeing Trey play a solo acoustic show is the possibility of hearing new original tunes, which is exactly how the show got underway. Trey opened with a brand new song dubbed “Sigma Oasis”. After the song, Trey revealed that it was the first time he had ever played the tune live. “I like it as a philosophy,” Trey said. We’ll surely learn more this summer.
Trey also debuted a song called “Sunset Days,” a tender song about growing old with someone you love. Trey seemed to be thinking about his wife all night as the tour came to a close, opening the encore with a song about Susan called “Summer of 89,” which he dedicated to her.
Playing brand new songs brings up another point. As a musician, it’s tough to play new tunes, even to a crowd that feels you can do no wrong. There’s another added vulnerability to being up there all alone, even for someone who sells out 20,000 seat arenas with their band. But being up there by yourself, it doesn’t matter how many sold out shows you have under your belt, when it’s just you, well, it’s just you. This certainly adds a little drama to the performance.
The whole catalog is fair game
Sometimes when artists do stripped-down shows they stick to the “acoustic” songs in their repertoire. Not so with Trey. His whole catalog is fair game, even songs that you wouldn’t think of as conventional acoustic songs. But with Trey conventional flies out the window; the word “conventional" doesn’t fit into Trey’s vocabulary.
A great example of this was the stellar run of “Tube” (which probably contained the coolest jam of the night with Trey using a looper and some sweet sparkly synth sounds), “Gumbo" (watch "Tube" and "Gumbo" in the video below), “Maze” “Carini" and "Mercury." These are all pretty heavy rockers in the Phish canon. But for Trey, everything is on the table. Trey also closed the set with arollickingg “Wilson,” which honestly rocked just as hard as the full band version and gets the audience involved with the Wilson chant.
A glimpse into the craft
Phish fans have seen most of these songs in their full, Phished out glory. But they had to start somewhere. There’s a raw power to a song before it goes through the wash. It’s a treat to see a composer sit down and play a song as it flowed out of their mind and also to see how an arrangement evolves once the band gets ahold of it. But it all starts with Trey and his guitar.
Trey Anastasio is a master storyteller. His anecdotes are conversational but just as important, really funny. The first story of the night, just before “Winterqueen,” Trey talked about how Phish came to Colorado for the first time and how mind blowing it was to see the mountains after driving for hours across the Great Plains. He noted that he was glad they weren’t in a covered wagon but rather in a van piloted by Phish keyboardist Page McConnell with the air conditioning on.
Trey also dusted off a great one about Phish bassist Mike Gordon driving really slow in his trusty old green Volvo and holding up traffic. Trey drove behind him unaware it was Mike until he passed him and saw Mike writing in his journal on the steering wheel. He finished up the anecdote by saying Mike now has a Tesla that can drive itself. Trey told the story before playing the introspective tune “Driver.”
But perhaps the most candid and funny story of the night was about the origins of Kasvot Växt. This past Halloween Phish debuted a set of all original music under the guise of a fictional band, Kasvot Växt. Trey has been playing a number of songs from the album i rokk by Kasvot Växt on tour--he played “We Are Come to Outlive Our Brains” at the Macky on Saturday-- and it has long been speculated on just how they came up with the material, until now. Check out the video above to see how Kasvot Vox’s i rokk came to be.
You can also find a complete setlist below.
Trey Anastasio at the Macky Auditorium Boulder, Colorado 12/15/19:
20 Years Later
Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan
All of These Dreams
We Are Come to Outlive Our Brains
Summer of 89
Inlaw Josie Wales