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Published: 2004/04/29
by Benjy Eisen

Live at the Warfield with special guest Carlos Santana- Trey Anastasio

There were many opening paragraphs I considered using for this review of Trey Anastasio’s Live at the Warfield DVD, but in the end I decided that I didn’t even want to write a review of this disc. It is so sick, you really just need to purchase it and shit your own pants.
Live at the Warfield was filmed during Anastasio’s May 31, 2003 concert at the legendary San Francisco venue. That night, Carlos Santana sat in for two songs during the first set and returned for all of Set II. Santana’s appearance was unplanned and unrehearsed and likewise his entire performance was improvised. Live at the Warfield is the complete four-song second set, plus a bonus track (also with Santana) from the first set.
We already knew that the music from this particular show was devastating it was nominated for a Jammy Award for "Live Performance of the Year." But perhaps we just didn’t know exactly how devastating it lost.
Along comes the DVD. Using video as a tour guide to the music, these jams come ferociously alive; the interplay between Trey Anastasio and Carlos Santana is sexier and more titillating than that of Paris Hilton and what’s-his-name. It’s like watching lovers dance, dogs fight, and gods haggle. It is simply impossible to take your eyes off the two of them as they alternate between aggressive toe-stepping and generous hand-feeding. The electricity between the two guitar superheroes is contagious. You can hear it on the tapes but you can’t fully grasp it until you’ve seen it for yourself. So while the Live Phish release of this audio was great, this is beyond great. This is all-time classic.
From the opening of "Mr. Completely," Mr Anastasio conducts his big band as usual, signaling for soloists, creating real-time arrangements, and establishing plans so that he can run off with his friend Carlos and know that dinner will be ready when he returns. Santana obeys Trey’s orders and trusts his direction while simultaneously challenging every note Trey plays with one of his own. And by the end of the set, Santana even gives a few conductive orders himself.
But it would be entirely wrong to assume that this is just about the Trey & Carlos Experience. Anastasio’s band (which is a band that really deserves a capital "B" by now) is equally unforgiving. I mean it man; they will absolutely crush you with this performance. There are times, most notably on a rendition of Duke Ellington’s "Caravan" and on their own "Night Speaks to a Woman," where various band members get a chance to lead the expedition. These moments are usually at Anastasio’s prompting and come with the entire group’s support, including Santana’s, who enthusiastically observes and encourages and listens to the individual members of the ensemble as much as they do him.

It’s still curious why only one song from the first set is included. The entire show could’ve fit here and if for some reason the material wasn’t deemed worthy of release, perhaps some footage from another Trey show should’ve been tacked on. Not that this disc feels incomplete, it’s just that when it’s over, you’ll be shell-shocked with instant withdrawal. Flip on the 17-minute bonus song, "The Way I Feel," where Santana takes one of Anastasio’s mood pieces and turns it into a blues inferno and when that ends, again, you’ll be still be hungry for more despite 84 minutes of dense consumption. My solution for this was to just replay the entire thing again. (The other curiosity, which may or may not be limited to my copy I can’t rewind or pause the feature while it is playing. An inconvenience for sure.)
As for the supposed experimental technology from MX Entertainment, it’s nothing that hasn’t been outdone before with the option turned on, you can switch between the director’s cut and a stagnate wide-angle shot of the entire stage at any time. This comes in handy occasionally but would’ve been much more useful if you could switch to close-ups of Anastasio and Santana at will.
Whatever. None of that makes a difference. This film will still soil your pants. Skeet, skeet, skeet, skeet, skeet!!

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