Happy Holidaze from Trey Anastasio!
Whether it came from the “Waldos” or if “The Bebe” is the mastermind, there is still much discussion around who should take credit for coining the phrase “420” in reference to the the pot smoking generation that blossomed from the late 60s into the 70s. Whether it came out of a time set to meet up after school to smoke or an impression of Abe Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address,” one thing for certain is San Rafael, CA was ground zero for the movement now known as 420.
47 years after the origination of 4/20, Charlotte welcomed The Trey Anastasio Band to the Fillmore. Trey, having led Phish for many years, is no stranger to the 420 movement himself and probably could share many stories; of course, the show was sold out. As soon as you entered through the large red doors made your way into the hall, you felt the chill in the air. You could also smell the chill in the air too. I mean it was 420 after all.
Large crowds and good music always lead to a great night, although the dancing didn’t wait until Trey came on stage. I met a couple who had driven down from Upstate, NY and had been following the band on its first leg on the tour. Having come down from outside the Utica area, they had been enjoying the Southern sun and I could tell they were a little sunburned. They were both dancing and we had a chance to chat before the show since the band was running a little behind the scheduled start time; but don’t worry, they would make that up to the crowd later on. They gave me the rundown on how the prior shows had been and got a chance to hear about how they planned on following him on down to Atlanta the next night.
As I was waiting in the photo pit, I felt a little naked in there. It was only me and one of my new friends who works at the Fillmore, Katie. Normally, I am in there fighting for a decent spot and moving into strange shapes to get my shots. That night it was me in a 15 minute one on one with Trey and the band.
As soon as the lights dimmed, the crowd went nuts. It was showtime. Eyes closed, hands went up, and the bodies started grooving with the sounds. Trey ripped through a 12 song set that left the crowd wanting more.
The sound of the band was something I haven’t heard in a long time. I have to give kudos to the sound guy. I could hear every instrument and every vocal.
The volume was perfect and it was a pleasure to be able to pick out the trumpet, the trombone, the keys, the drums, the sax, the vocals, and of course Trey’s guitar work. It was like I was in the studio and I was in control over each channel.
The band was amazing. Jennifer, Natalie, and James are one bad ass horn section, they absolutely destroyed it all night. Russ and Cyro smashing down the percussion section with Tony and Ray holding down the bass and tickling the keys, kept everyone bouncing all night long. At the end of the first set, Trey jumped down into the pit area and picked out this little boy who was front row right in next to me and gave him a guitar pick. I am not sure the little guy really appreciated what happened yet. One day he will look back and say “dang, that was pretty cool!” I thought it was really cool that Trey did that for him though.
After a break, the band returned and gave us 11 more songs in their second set. It didn’t take long for the crowd, who got a much needed breather, to get going again. I was getting beat up all night from people dancing around me. I woke up a little sore and was trying to figure out what happened. Oh yea! Bodies were hurling themselves up against me all night long like I was in the middle of a mosh pit. Who knew music reporting was the newest full contact sport? Another great set by the band. They closed the night with a four song encore that left the crowd wanting more. As I mentioned earlier, they made up for the late start and played us out until 11:40 pm.
I have seen Trey with Phish in the past. I must admit, I have a limited appreciation for their style so, I came into this show a little skeptical about what I may feel about it. I was extremely surprised. I was really feeling what the band was doing. The musicianship and tightness of the band really shined. Even if you don’t know his music, this is a show that you can go to and it doesn’t matter. Open your mind, and you just fall right into the groove. That’s when you know you are hearing great music.
The other thing that was amazing was the interaction between the crowd and Trey. Seeing him in a smaller venue like that allowed me to get up close and personal. Seeing the smile on his face. Seeing the smile on the fans faces. Seeing them dance and seeing him bounce with them was a treat. I can say Trey gave it all. He didn’t hold back. His skill on his custom Languedoc Guitars was really something else to see.
From my spot I could see every finger movement and string bend. I get hypnotized watching someone gifted exhibit expertise. I knew he could play, but seeing him play with this band gave me a whole new appreciation of his skills. It’s a give and take is what I always hear from artists. Give it to the bands and you will get it back. On 420 in Charlotte, the crowd gave all night and Trey gave it right back to them.
Check out a full gallery of the show here!