Archive for the ‘Trey Anastasio’ Category

[ATTENDED: July 21, 2017] Phish [I’ll be attaching some video clips later]

I had imagined going to all 13 shows at MSG.  I knew it would never happen (maybe if I was single and lived closer to NYC).  I saw a number of people who did go to all 13 shows.  Some looked pretty good.  Others looked pretty beat.   Last night I sat next to a guy who went to 10 and a woman who went to 8–she looked much better than he did.

Each night on this run has been pretty spectacular.  The sets have been great, the band has sounded fantastic and their energy never flagged.  There were several shows in the run that in retrospect I would have loved to have been at.  But I assumed first and last night would be a fun way to go.

As soon as I saw that they weren’t repeating any songs, I decided to keep track of what had been played to see what was left.  I don’t normally like to “know” what a band is going to play so I wasn’t trying to guess the setlist, but I wanted to make sure that I was going to get some songs that I wanted to hear.  I joked that if they kept playing my “top rated” songs, the show would be a 45 minute “Minkin” with dips into “No2” and “Riker’s Mailbox” [Phish jokes… nevermind]. (more…)


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[ATTENDED: July 21, 2017] Phish

I really enjoyed the Phish concert I saw last summer.  I knew I wanted to see the guys again, and I was really surprised to hear that they were doing a 13 night residency at Madison Square Garden.  I briefly thought…could I do all 13?…and then reality came crashing down on me.  I took a chance on 4 shows in the Phish lottery and amazingly I got all 4.  But I decided to sell 2 and just go to the first and last nights (making that two shows three weeks apart).

One of my tickets was being delivered to a buyer before the show and I was running late, so I had to hasten to MSG and managed to get to my seat by 7:25 for the promised 7:30 start.  Well, I was kind of annoyed that they didn’t start until 8.  I mean, start at 8, that’s fine, but don’t say you’ll start at 7:30, especially given how stressed you made me.

At any rate, I knew the theme of the show was coconuts, but since it was the first night, I didn’t really know what that meant.  It turned out that they were going to play a few songs that had a coconut theme (and have continued that for each night so far). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 25, 2016] Trey Anastasio

I saw Phish for the first time last summer.  The show was a lot of fun and I understood why people wanted to go to every one of their shows.  I haven’t really listened to as much of Trey Anastasio’s solo music, although I do like his new album Paper Wheels.  But I thought it would be a great opportunity to see the front man in a small place–getting up close in a way I’d never be able to at a Phish show.

The ticket said the show would start at 7:30, I wanted to get there early to get in front.  I arrived later than I wanted to, but the show didn’t go on until 8, so I was a little annoyed.  And yet it also meant that I got to get up pretty close (right behind the front section which appeared to be the dance section of the floor).

I was really surprised at how little pot there was at the show.  I smelled a little, but for the most part it was more drinking than smoking (and there was much drunkenness at the end). (more…)

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boilenSOUNDTRACK: ANGEL OLSEN-Tiny Desk Concert #333 (January 27, 2014).

angelBob Boilen has liked Angel Olsen for some time, so when she did her Tiny Desk and most of us had never heard of her, he was already a fan.

Olsen plays a long set but with four songs.

She sits very still, strumming with her thumb and singing kind of low–not unlike Sharon van Etten.  The first song, “Unfucktheworld” is only two ans a half minutes.  The second song, “Iota,” is a little longer.  She sings in an affected almost falsetto style, although the guitar remains very spare.

Between these songs, she is coy about the title of the new record although she is quick to say the first word of the title “burn.”  Later she admits that the final song contains the title of the album, if we wanted to spend time figuring it out.

I marvelled at how high the chords were that she played on “Enemy,”  She seems to eschew any bass for this song.  This one is five and a half minutes long and is just as slow as the others.

Before the final song they talk about whether this is the most awkward show she has done.  She says everyone is very alert–and indeed you can hear utter silence between songs.  But then they talk about the storm outside (and potential tornado) and how this show may never air if the storm is really bad.

“White Fire” is an 8 minute story song.  She does use the whole guitar for this one, which has many many verses.   Since I don’t really know Olsen’s stuff that well, I don’t know if this was a good example of her show or a fun treat to hear her in such an intimate way.

[READ: May 10, 2016] Your Song Changed My Life

This site is all about music and books, but you may be surprised to know that I don’t really like books about music all that much.  I have read a number of them—biographies, autobiography or whatever, and I don’t love them wholesale. Some are fine, but in general musicians aren’t really as interesting as they may seem.

What I do like however, is hearing a decent interview with musicians to find out some details about them–something that will flesh out my interest in them or perhaps make me interested in someone I previously wasn’t.  Not a whole book, maybe just an article, I guess.

I also really like Bob Boilen. I think he’s a great advocate of music and new bands.  I have been listening to his shows on NPR for years and obvious I have been talking about hundreds of the Tiny Desk Concerts that he originated.  I also really like his taste in music.  So I was pretty psyched when Sarah got me this book for my birthday.

I read it really quickly–just devoured the whole thing.  And it was really enjoyable. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 28, 2016] Phish limb

phishA friend of mine in college first got me to listen to Phish (circa 1992), but it wasn’t until the LivePhish releases starting in 2001 that I really got into them.  [Incidentally, if you bought those discs and kept them in that plastic liner thing, check your discs because those plastic things have eaten away most of the whatever is on them that allows a player to play music.  Most of my discs have sections that are totally see-through and register an error.  I don’t think anything can be done about it DIY and I’m quite sure that Elektra isn’t about to give us new copies or anything.]

I had never gone to a Phish show for a couple of reasons.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to dive into the “culture” of the shows, which seemed intimidating at best.  And, once I decided I wanted to see them, I could never actually get tickets.  Well, the Phish lottery came through and I scored a ticket to this show at the Mann Center.

A word about Phish now.  I knew that people were devoted to the band, but I never knew how much the band reciprocated.  In order to let fans have a fair shot at getting tickets to their shows, they have set up a lottery.  All ticket prices are the same and you either get tickets or you don’t (you can later by them on Ticketmaster or whatever).  If you get tickets, your seat could be front row or lawn or anywhere in between.  And the price ($49 face value for all) is quite cheap, I think.  Well, I won a lottery ticket, and my ticket came all psychedelic instead of a standard Ticketmaster type ticket.  Which is cool.  But not only that, your ticket gets you a free download of that night’s show when it becomes available on the LivePhish website.  And that’s usually within a few hours of the end of the show.  The shows are normally around $10 to download, but if you bought a ticket you get a free one.  That’s super cool.

Also, every once in a while (12 times now) the LivePhish site has released free compilations of live songs from various shows throughout the band’s history.  Most of these downloads are 3 hours or more.  That’s a ton of free music.  Nice.  So I’ve listened to these collections a lot and I know most of the songs they play very well.

Back to the Mann.  (more…)

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nov3SOUNDTRACK: OYSTERHEAD-The Grand Pecking Order (2001).

oysterheadThis is a really fun album.  Despite the three big personalities here–Trey Anastasio, Steward Copeland, Les Claypool, they work so well together.  Some songs feel like Phish songs (Trey has a song or two that is just him), some feel like Les songs (ditto for Claypool), but you never feel like they are trying to outdo each other.  And of course Stewart Copeland plays his great drums all the way through.

Les and Trey share vocals on “Little Face” which features Phish sound effects and some great Les wild bass.  “Oz is Ever Floating” has jam feel–lots of soloing.  Unlike some of Les’ projects though, on many of the songs, like this one, his bass fits right in.  And the vocal harmonies from all three sound great in the chorus.

“Mr. Oysterhead” is a fun song with Les’ wild bass sounds.  This one feels kind of Primus like but with very different guitar sounds coming along.  This even has a big ol’ bass solo.  “Shadow of a Man is very Primus sounding–it was written entirely by Claypool and is primarily bass with some smattering of (wicked) guitars).  While “Radon Balloon” is a pretty acoustic number from Trey.  He sings gently (and if Les’ bass is there, it’s very subtle).

“Army’s on Ecstasy” has Les’ more cartoony voices, but some interesting jazz guitars and drums.  “Rubberneck Lions” is a fantastic song, one of the most Phish like songs on the disc (even if Les sings the first verse–it’s the chorus that screams Phish).  It’s got a rocking ending with great drums.  “Polka Dot Rose” has some fun group vocals at the end of the song.

“Birthday Boys” is another very Phish seeming song–very Trey influenced–some great guitar picking and subtle work from the other two guys.  It has a great chorus.  “Wield the Spade” seems like a goofy song that might be short (Trey repeating a few words as the song opens), but it proves to be one of the longer songs on the disc.  I gather it is about Ceausescu, and has Stewart Copeland doing all the lead vocal talking/shouting).

“Pseudo Suicide” has a big wild Primusy bass riff.  There’s a great jamming section in the middle, when Trey takes over vocals.  “Grand Pecking Order” is kind of a goofy Primus stomp while “Owner of the World” is a kind of catchy sing along to end this disc.

 There’s some really good songs on this disc and it works for fans of Phish and Primus.

[READ: January 20, 2014] “Picnic in the Yard”

This week’s issue of the New Yorker was its semi-annual food issue.  As such there were four food-related essays by writers who I’ve written about before.  The section was called “Rations.”

The final was by Jaime Joyce (there’s a name with literary aspirations, eh?).  The three essays so far have talked about food in medical school, the army and college. This one is about food in prison. (more…)

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nov3SOUNDTRACK: TREY ANASTASIO-Tiny Desk Concert #414 (January 5, 2015).

treyI’m introducing this delightful little Tiny Desk Concert here because Trey Anastasio joined up with Les Claypool and Stewart Copeland for the band Oysterhead, coming up next.

Anastasio is the lead singer and guitarist of Phish (and several side projects).  Because I tend to hear him amid the noise and jamming of Phish, it’s easy to forget that Trey has a very nice, delicate voice.  It’s also easy to forget amid all of his jamming guitar solos that he plays a lovely acoustic guitar as well.

He plays 3 songs in 12 minutes and is as affable as ever.

“Sleep Again” is a really pretty song.  In introducing the second song he says that he and his wife lived in a farmhouse in Vermont and listened to NPR all the time–the radio was tuned to Vermont Public Radio 24 hours a day.  And he says that NPR entertained his family for so many years that it’s an honor to do something for them.  This song, “Summer of ’89”  is a tribute to his 20th anniversary of being married to his wife Sue.  It’s quite lovely and moving.

He ends with a sweet version of “Backwards Down the Number Line,” one of my favorite new Phish songs.  I don’t think I ever quite realized what the lyrics were before.  I prefer the album version (mostly because of the gorgeous backing vocals) but this is a really nice version.

As they say in the write up, it’s interesting to hear him in this very quiet setting rather than in big arenas or in collaboration.

Check it out here.

[READ: January 20, 2014] “Immovable Feast”

This week’s issue of the New Yorker was its semi-annual food issue.  As such there were four food-related essays by writers who I’ve written about before.  The section was called “Rations.”

The third was by Chang-Rae Lee.

Lee talks about eating in the dorms at Phillips Exeter and how the food was universally disgusting.  [When I was in school there were rumors that the meals were consistently labelled Grade D But Edible (this from our food provider: ARA (which we named American Retards of America–such is the cleverness of college)).  Of course, now that I work at Princeton, I can report that the food here is outstanding.]

He offers one of my favorite quotes about dining ever: “You could fix yourself a basic salad or a bowl of cornflakes, but I always wanted hot food for dinner, and still do.  A cold supper for me is like being dipped in a melancholy sauce.” (more…)

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