Trey Anastasio Band: Review & Interpretation
By Kendra Muecke
Venue: Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater
2 Nights: Monday, August 12 & Tuesday, August 13
Night 1: Monday, August 12, Set 1.
It was like vivid colored passion through the night. I felt, “I must be falling”, so I pushed back and through, changed my perspective to reveal– I am floating in time. A fish after all.
It’s an interesting way to appear back at a venue I hadn’t been to in a distant while. The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, Colorado. Years ago, I found my adolescent self here, prancing on the lawn to the Vail Valley Symphony. Now, I was here seeing one of my favorite artists. Hands on a solid Rocky Top, I gaze up towards the Mid-Vail peak. Who were we all there to see? Trey Anastasio Band lead by the guitarist of the same name, who also fronts relative jam band, Phish. Earlier this year, he graced us with a solid artistic dive into the woodsy sounds of songwriting intermingled on the strings of potential heartbreak found in loss through Ghosts of the Forest. I was excited to see what gumbo he hast cooked up this rarified evening.
The ensemble TAB of talent were present as ever and bouncing left to right. With longtime musical companion, Tony Markellis on the bass. Back up vocals and horn section by Jennifer Hartswick and Natalie Cressman. James Casey on the saxophone. Keys with Ray Paczkowski. Percussions by Cyro Baptista, and Russ Lawton on the drums. Last and best, Trey Anastasio on the guitar and lead vocals. They were steering us through two nights of rockery and the sounding walls of bordered conviction. Night one, Monday, August 12, 2019 — began with Gotta Jiboo. A tale of an individual who recognizes negative spiritual possession in the form of a “Jiboo” and just keeps drinking anyways. Reminiscent of August West, a character from the Grateful Dead song, Wharf Rat, who sees his problems surmount, yet divvies them up to situation and external relations. I mention this, as earlier in the night, I passed by the Phellowship table. Marked with yellow balloons, you can find the group at many rock ’n roll shows in the jam band scene. It is a group that provides camaraderie in the form of sobriety during shows. Known to meet during set breaks and check in with one another, it is a great way to stay aligned with purpose while attending a night of circus and light. Musicians, like I, can relate, and if we are so inclined, change swimming course.
Following this, TAB continues to glide us into the theme of awakening; we have taken off, time to fly away. This is echoed in surprise arrival of the song, Alive Again. To me, this song is a tale of noticing the sound of difference in the air. It begins as intuition and develops into a guide speaking to the person which is to be guided. I hope you can relate to that graceful moment when you hear the calling of something more than whatever your style of “Jiboo” represents. “Quietly you say to me, the time has come for you to be alive again.” It is truly a remark on raising one’s consciousness above sullied crushings. The daily reprisal of soul in self. The song brings in the theme of “Review” as the captain sings, “Summer’s coming and I’d like a review.” If we holdfast, maybe this review will receive the applause it deserves. Trey Anastasio Band will certainly get a standing ovation.
Hot to trot and making of relevance, song three is Cayman Review. It falters in next on stone cold grounds of reveled contention. Allowing for inspection by blueprint of one’s life and structure, we invite the guide to size one up, telling us where in our own reality we stand. Are we pleading with the cause or the effect? See, “The Cabo Wabo’s everywhere, it’s on my skin and in my hair.” Reminds me of Richard Linklater’s film, “A Scanner Darkly”. Tricky thinking, sends my thoughts reeling back to the daze of potential tequila on a beach in the Cayman Islands. I ask myself, “Was it for this my life I sought?”
Pedaling from the lyrics, “I’m feeling kinda funny, think I’m sinking down,” to “my head it starts a spinning, as I stumble to the ground,” we gallop with brief pause into a gullied up Burn that Bridge. It’s melodic and bluesy, time to really see what we are here for. With the burning of choice sliding slyly down the eyes of the beholder, we usher in the relevance of deep seated love with the potential of heavy distortion in form of decision. “But Lord knows I’m a sinner… something tells me you are too, and I’ll pay tomorrow for what I pray we’re about to do”. Thus the formatted decisive edge quakes back and forth amongst leveed circumstance. The rant of one’s own argument, the rebel of one’s own game, burning of bridges to make amends, but we will breach that subject when we get to it. A notion of calculated risks, throw what you do need in your carry-on and leave the rest before you look twice. When one makes the risk with trust in hand, they find each to survive the gasoline and thought to be frightful match. This poetic number is where I, Kendra, begin to dance my bones. The fire is lit; I am ready to boogie. The crowd control tells me they are ready too.
Swaying in the cool, cool, chilly Colorado breeze, excitement meets my moving muscles with the steady breath of No Man in No Man’s Land. Whenever I think about No Man in No Man’s Land, I think of skeletons dancing around a heated light, maybe the sun. It’s a good ole time to feel the similarity between skeletal pals. We become equal in the shared understanding that we are each a filtered tube of our own upbringing [also see: conditioning]. We reflect what we know in the junctured collective hall of societal experience. We are “emblazoned with sunlight keenly aware… we’ve broken free, something has changed.” With the same idea of shadows being cast from skeletons dancing around the sun, we are brought the idea of clouds, birds, and planes projecting the same onto land in Flying Machines.
Together, we create scenes that perfectly flash by. We do this by being on our marks at the right time, we are scripted characters making it up as we go. With the “Ebb and flow of the changing tide”, we feel the pendulum swing back and forth, we stand round circle and toss the hot potato, creating gaps of even time. Being synchronized with our fellow concert-goers, we fully immerse our joy in the essence of Everything’s Right. As a plant is about to burst forth from soil, it wonders will I ever see the light of day. The band plays on, reminding us “Everything’s right, so just hold tight.” It is a feel-good jam. The type of song that stacks positivity on meditative messages, “Focus on today, you’ll find a way. Happiness is how rooting in the now.” When we find ourselves in darkness as the No Man in No Man’s Land, it’s then that lightness gives path. “This world, this world, this crazy world I know, it turns, it turns, and the long night’s over and the sun’s coming up…”
Then there arrives Olivia, an instrumental jazz-inspired number. It has steady presentation from the horns section, and of note is to mention, Olivia is making her first appearance since 2003. Where has she been? Where will she go next? She will go to play in the Sand. Always a good fella I hear yell, “I love this one!” As Trey pulls our parachute into Sand. It’s a groovy song that returns the theme of healing a cause versus the symptoms. We are the ones that create our own existence. If I were to separate responsibility from who I am, “then I would not be able to equate my life with sand”. After all, all we are is dust in the wind. We are mountains in the mist.
Monday, August 12, Set 1: