Trey Anastasio Band, The Fillmore, Silver Spring, MD – 10/24
Another take on a fine show
An adoring fan base has followed Trey Anastasio for just about 30 years now with Phish but what’s important is how effortlessly he’s able to step away from such a huge limelight and get his musical fix on a more intimate scale with his solo band. Trey Anastasio Band (TAB) came to the Fillmore Spring as one of the shows on a small, nine date, tour in support of Trey’s ninth solo studio album, Traveler.
Traveler stands out as one of Anastasio’s most sincere and heartfelt albums. This album has a certain consistency when being played all the way through. Being co-produced by Anastasio and Peter Katis, at Tarquin Studios, in Bridgeport, CT, each track flows well off one another and you can feel a certain wave of emotions and messages being conveyed.
This generation of TAB was a little different than last year’s tour. Russell Remington, founding member of the Giant Country Horns, on tenor saxophone and flute, was unable to participate in this tour so James Casey filled in during his absence. Percussionist Cyro Baptista, was also reunited with Trey and his side project for the first time since 2007. Baptista works with an army of instruments providing rich, full and yet subtle sounds that wrap around the rest of the band. The rest of the lineup was consistent to last year’s tour featuring Jennifer “ J Ha” Hartswick on trumpet and vocals, Ray “The Milkman” Paczkowski on keys, Natalie “Chainsaw” Cressman on trombone and vocals, Russ Lawton on drums and the heart and soul of the band; Tony Markellis on bass (who was actually the first person Anastasio called when originally founding this side project). Needless to say there was a lot of excitement for this show.
The sold out crowd of about 2,000 people were full of high anticipation for the band’s performance. A small buzz was being carried through the air about the new album and it wasn’t uncommon to overhear a multitude of conversations praising Anastasio’s most recent studio effort. Fans were deliberating on which tracks stood out from others, how relaxed and full of fresh inspiration Trey sounded, as well as the interesting aspect to record a studio version of “Clint Eastwood” by Gorillaz, a song that has already been embedded into the band’s live repertoire. The studio cut does give it a little more of a foundation as far as what the fans can expect to hear live and still serves as a perfect platform for Hartswick to open up her vocal talent and rap the lyrics.
The band took the stage promptly at 8 PM to a screaming packed house of fans, which had been waiting patiently outside the venue for doors to open hours before they were scheduled to. The band opened up with “The Land of Nod,” a new track on the album that actually debuted last year in Myrtle Beach. SC. After getting road tested the band seems to view this number as one that will continue to unfold and evolve live. Nicely placed as an opener the crowd was just barley getting ready to hear the rest of the new tunes live. The group then slammed into a familiar crowd favorite, and TAB classic “Cayman Review.” The energy from the crowd sparked a nice extended version of this song and the band was in all smiles. After Anastasio traded licks with his stacked horn section the band went into “Magilla” a nice instrumental piece, originally composed by founding Phish member Page McConnell, that showcases Cressman and her ability to open up on the trombone. Cressman is only 21 years old but she has matured into a well-respected musician and composer over the last three years touring with Trey. She projects this fearless “can do” attitude and it truly reflects through her improvisation.
After the nice change of pace from the instrumental, the band went into the classic Phish tune “Gotta Jibbo,” which is always nice to hear with a horn section and backing vocals. Anastasio has been covering this gem with his solo band since 1999 but it’s no stranger in the rotation and continues to be just as much as a staple as it would be at a Phish show. “Scabbard” surfaced next and was welcomed by a few screams from the front row, as this is one that many people were excited to catch live. “Scabbard” was the first single to be released from the album so it gave fans a nice taste of what was yet to come. After a well-executed rendition of this new song the band went into another TAB classic, “Curlew’s Crawl,” which was originally released on one of the band’s live albums, Plasma.
The band continued to dip into their new catalog as “Frost” surfaced. This is a slow and gorgeous ballad that left the crowd swaying back and forth soaking in all in. “O-o-h Child” was played next as Trey acknowledged a fan’s sign from the front row. Stan Vincent and The Five Stairsteps originally recorded this song, in 1970, but TAB has been covering this song since 1999, so it’s become a well recognized and respected cover. The first set ended with “Simple Twist Up Dave” > “Architect” > “Push On ‘Til the Day.” It was nice to see a new song sandwiched between two classic TAB staples. “Architect” is one of the new songs on the album that has become a gorgeous live piece, with lots of room to continue to evolve.