Trey Anastasio Band, The Fillmore, Silver Spring, MD – 10/24
Photo by Bill Kelly
Where can you see a woman named Chainsaw playing a trombone, a percussionist with a fuzzy hat and scuba flippers for hands, and a little dog with a glow-in-the-dark necklace being pushed around in a stroller? Trey Anastasio Band at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, MD, had all of this, plus free cupcakes!
The Fillmore, now a Live Nation music franchise — you may have noticed the rebranding of several preexisting clubs springing up across the land — recently moved to Silver Spring, MD, and has only been open for about a year (hence the symbolic cupcakes). Despite its corporate parent, this quadruple-chandeliered VIP-balconied venue is a great space in the Fillmore tradition of dance halls, a 2,000-capacity room, which on Wednesday night felt like about 3,000.
The backdrop on the TAB tour stage is a blow-up of the Micah Lidberg lithograph from the Traveler album cover — the waves with their foamy fingers slightly resembling those of The Great Wave by Hokusai. With this tour’s new additions of percussionist, Cyro Baptista, and saxophonist, James Casey, of Lettuce, I was dying to get a last minute ticket to this sold out show, and luckily the tour gods were generous — I caught that wave and made it inside just before the Land of Nod opener.
The first set featured an “O-o-h Child” cover – an optimistic song by a band named The Five Stairsteps (thank you, Internet), which I’d only known from that scene in Boyz in the Hood with Laurence Fishburne (whose son in the movie was coincidentally named Trey). Like most covers Trey chooses, he made this one his own, building to a satisfying guitar jam. That’s what he does, and he does it well. Raise a glass to the Architect.
“Push on ‘til the Day” was the high energy first set closer — one of those jams that climbs higher and higher, always reaching for another level. Trey was jumping up and down and spinning around during this one, and it was loads of fun.
It’s great to see Trey having such a good time. He was looking all around the room, checking people out, communicating with his band. He really seems to look at the crowd and talk more at these shows.
The second set featured “Sand,” which as usual offered some dueling clav and guitar. The effect here was nasty, sort of like a lion that Trey and Ray Paczkowski, a.k.a. The Milkman, tamed (or milked?). Cyro was keeping busy with an array of percussion instruments that I won’t even pretend to know the names of. I recognize the gourd thing with the beads on it (shekere – thank you again, Internet), but he was also using a mouth harp at one point, and as I mentioned, clapping scuba flippers usually meant for swimming, but which he wore on his hands — a humorous fluid slapping good trick.
“Liquid Time” featured an acoustic intro, but switched to electric, finding its way gradually to that beautiful flute and guitar melody line in the outro. Also got to see Trey play a Fender Jaguar during this set! “Let Me Lie” had more kick to it than it did last tour, reflecting the changes it went through in the studio. The subtlety of the last tour’s version isn’t completely lost, but it is more rockin’, favoring the full kit over just ride and high-hat, and with more interesting vocal harmonies to boot.
The second set peeked on Tuesday, another optimistic bounce-athon, and the patient kid on the balcony holding the “Sultans of Swing” sign got his request in the form of an encore cover, which was followed by a “First Tube” with its 007-like horn lines. Gotta love the way the horns creep up during that jam, injecting some mystery, a sense of the unknown and unexpected. Speaking of which, where that dog in a stroller came from remains a mystery to me, but he was wearing a glow-in-the-dark necklace, so maybe he’s on tour.