Trey Anastasio
Red Rocks Amphitheater | Morrison, CO | June 3 & 4, 2002

Trey Anastasio and his nine-piece band came to town on Monday, bringing wind, cold rain and snow to Red Rocks. There were two days of record highs in the 90s before Trey blew in, followed closely by a nasty cold front that had temps fall below 50. As I drove down the valley towards the park, hail began to pelt my windshield. Bring it on!

The weather and the repetitiveness of last year’s shows kept this year’s from selling out. The 5-6,000 or so that did attend all had their boogie shoes on, ready to fill the space between the giant rocks that serve as bookends for the amphitheater. Right from the get-go, everyone all the way up to the top of the amphitheater was dancing and having fun.

I too was apprehensive about shelling out $40+ per show after seeing a sloppy and mellow tour opener in Seattle, and expecting much of the same as last year’s shows. I had heard great reviews from the rest of the West coast shows and Vegas looked like it was smokin’, so I put my doubts aside and got myself down there early. I was not disappointed.

Trey's band is made up of five horn players: Jennifer (Jenny) Hartswick on trumpet; Andy Moroz on trombone; Peter Apfelbaum on sax, clarinet and flute; Russell Remington and Dave Grippo (both from the Giant Country Horns) on sax. Plus Tony Markellis on bass, Russ Lawton on drums, Cyro Baptista on percussion and Ray Paczkowski on keys.

MONDAY | 06.03.02

Set I
Last Tube
Acting The Devil
Push on 'Til the Day
Cayman Review >
Burlap, Sack and Pumps

Things started off right where Trey left it in Vegas. There, they had played a three song second set followed by a sick "Jiboo" (I'm told); serious jamming. "Last Tube" dropped the audience right into the groove from the first note. The song has a nice build to Trey's ripping solo and had people jumping out of their shoes. After about 40 minutes (seriously) it seemed like he was winding it down, only to stop and start again for five more minutes! That last segment was a lead in to "Acting the Devil" which is an upbeat, horn-driven ditty that features back-up vocals by Jenny (who, by the way, was sporting a sassy multi blue/purple-colored tight sequin top with a classy black skirt. I think Trey liked it because he just kept looking over at her and smiling as he sang his lyrics.) This is a nice song for the rest of the band to wake up to, as Trey walks around conducting and cueing various solos. Ray took a nice organ solo and added some cool effects on the Hammond. Trey was bumping and dancing for most of this song, which lasted for another long stretch of time.

As I said, it was brutal out. It hadn't really started raining, but the wind was blowing so hard that rain drops from clouds we couldn't even see yet were beginning to fall. Trey did his best to keep the rain away, playing with a plethora of energy, and it worked for a while. "Push on ‘Til the Day," an ode to Vegas, had us dancing as hard as any point of the night. This was just the third song and it was already an hour into the show!

I don't remember much about "Discern," other then the margaritas I got while listening to it. After "Discern" Trey commented on how cool it was to hear the wind blowing on the open mics. So for a moment all we listened to was the wind. Trey then realized where he was and said that it was enough. He then said "I love Red Rocks, it's my favorite place to play in the whole world," in the same tone of voice he had when he proclaimed in 1998 that Phish would be back for a five-night run at Red Rocks, on Studio C on KBCO. And does anyone remember what he said at the "Eeeeeeee" center? "I love this place...I'm in LOOOOOVVVVVEEEEE with everyone here." The guy is never straight. What he is, though, is a performer. Seeing Trey on stage again, smiling and putting down his guitar to dance to the band and laugh and conduct and just have a great time is a wonderful sight.

"Cayman Review" seemed to recharge the dancing. This song starts out with a bluesy rift by Trey, but falls right into a groove when Ray starts hitting the keys on his synth, adding a funky beat. The horns come in right on cue and the song gets bumping. "Shake me up, shake me down, shaking that thing all over town," Jenny sings as the whole band bops and moves. "Cayman Review" is another great upbeat funky song that is easy to sing along to and gets everyone smiling.

"Burlap Sack and Pumps" began with the same sort of synth funk keyboards as "Cayman," but was more hurried. The horns come in after just a few notes with simultaneous blast of short quick notes, before the song settles in and gives room to the horns for some leads. There is a nice build-up to a great jam as Tony and Ray lay down the groove. Over all it was a very good first set. “That was the first set?!" a lot of us were wondering in amazement. One girl near me thought it was over and got up to leave. It clocked in at about one hour and 45 minutes!

Set II
Simple Twist Up Dave
Flock Of Words
Sidewalks of San Francisco
Money, Love and Change
Night Speaks to a Woman
E: Sultans of Swing

After a long break, second set began with a little rift by Trey, followed by Tony's bass bomb dropping and shaking the skin on my body. The horns added some nice fill beats and Ray played the funky synth, while Trey was digging out the groove with his Languedoc. "Simple Twist Up Dave" (say it fast) has a really nice groove and is very danceable.

Lighting master Chris Korda showcased his considerable talents during the second set. He lit up the back rock wall behind the stage, using some crazy multi-colored images that produced an “ohh ahh” response from the audience. CK also turned the lights skyward so we could see the rain drops as they flew in from the swirling wind, and as the wind kicked rain began to turn to snow and went sideways and even rose up above the crowd near the stage. It was a cool effect.

Even the inspired playing and dancing that was going on at Red Rocks wasn't enough to keep the cold front back. Light rain turned steady. Rain gear and $4 "I was rained on at the Rocks" ponchos were pulled back out, but the dancing never stopped. It must have made Trey and the band feel right at home to be playing to a crowd of tough concert goers ready to stick it out. The band was getting as wet as the crowd, as the wind was so strong it blew the rain sideways into the stage area. Big props to the sound crew for the job they did. The sound was amazing. It seemed to be just as loud and clear at the top above the taper area as it was in the fifth row. Sometimes you could hear the wind blow in, but it never seemed to pull the sound away like I've heard at past Red Rocks shows.

"Flock of Words" is a slow love song that again allows Trey to meld with Jenny's wonderful voice. This was a nice tension release after a 25 minute "Simple Twist." Trey then said he'd like to play a new one called "Sidewalks of San Francisco." I only remember that I liked it. I think it was a mid-tempo groove that had some nice horn parts.

The tempo quickly got back to full tilt as the pumping horns and driving drums signaled "Money, Love and Change." Jenny and Trey traded glances and sang in unison. The horns pumped and swayed and Trey took some sick solos way down on the bottom of his fret board. Screaming! The jam had me thinking of a “Tweezer” from 94-95, with some nasty discombobulated breaks and super tight regroups. This was another LONG song that kept building and falling and building again. Trey was jumping all over stage giving hand singles and cue glances. He conducted the horns like they were on a volume knob. He would get them to turn down to a whisper and back up, all on his mark. Then he would signal Russ and Cyro to take drum solos and duets. The jam continued and kept on going, seemingly endless. Having Cyro on percussion really added some nice layers to the drum beats. His solos and use of various exotic percussive toys gave the songs a multi-dimensional feel, especially when Trey added his effects to the jam.

The jam started to morph into something else, and then Trey began the first verse of "Night Speaks to a Woman." I couldn't tell if he had been playing it all along and I missed the first verse or not. After figuring out it was only the first verse, I really went nuts dancing. Trey was on 11 by this point. His guitar was so loud and clear, and Tony's bass lines so steady and grooving, I couldn't have stopped my feet if I wanted. By the start of this song everyone still dancing was soaked to the bone. But as the rain got harder and the band donned towels on their heads, the music matched the intensity. The crowd responded by dancing their asses off. As the rain poured the crowd danced harder and harder. At Red Rocks, the phans can create a vortex of energy between the two huge rocks that rise about five stories at the top and the one large one behind the stage. It gets channeled down the steep grade of bench rows and funneled right on top of the band. Trey ended this song by waving his guitar around and causing various sound pitches to rise and fall as he grabbed the axe by the base and pointed the fret board at the crowd and especially at the hotties in the front row. When he would find a pitch he liked, he would wave it on that spot and make it osculate in a very cool way. (Can anybody explain how that works? It’s really cool.) "Night Speaks" was the highlight of the tour opener, and maybe my favorite song on the album. It has a sick long jam in the middle that was about 25 minutes long. Trey seemed to run out of gas, though, as he quickly tied it up after the jam ended.

For the encore, I knew of course that "Sultans of Swing" was being played, so it wasn't a hard guess. Trey, the master of guitar tone, clued me in with just two notes on his guitar before he began giving directions to the rest of the band. After they got their sheet music ready and tied down from the wind, Trey launched into this classic Dire Strait’s tune. I don't think anyone could do this song the justice that Trey did. He muffed half of one line but made up for it by ripping the solo. The wind was blowing around the cue sheets on stage, but I think he was still recovering from Vegas. A bit of a sloppy ending as the band seemed to run out of energy, but this took nothing away from the show as a whole. While the rest of the horn section had towels on their heads to keep dry, Jenny didn't even seem to flinch. She is a Vermonter, after all. They make ‘em tough up there.

After the show, the question, "see you tomorrow" was rhetorical. NOBODY that could would miss another show at Red Rocks, as we were ALL pretty much blown away.

TUESDAY | 06.04.02

Day 2: it pretty much rained all day. I should tell you that Colorado is in a drought this spring. We are already facing the worst forest fire season in recent memory and lake and reservoirs are at scary low levels. We have had maybe two significant rain or snow events in Denver since the beginning of the year. It’s seriously dry. This was the first Red Rocks show I've ever been too that I got soaked at. It might rain here for 20-30 minutes, sometimes in the mid afternoon in the spring and summer, but hardly ever at night. So this was not something anyone who lives here would complain about. We needed and welcomed the rain.

Day two began slowly. I was more excited about this show than I originally thought I would be. But after the night before, who could blame me. My friends and I got to the park round 4:20 and got in line for the 5:30 gate opener. It was great to see so many front range friends before the show started. Since we got there early enough to be among the first 30 in line, we had nice seats about five rows up right in front and to the right of the soundboard. Our section was filled up with about 45 familiar faces that included six guys named Mike. It was the “Michael Section.” The rain stopped and the clouds began to thin. The sun even peeked out for a bit, and by Showtime it was a really nice spring day. The crowd seemed a bit larger than before, or maybe people just spread out a bit more. It looked about 80% full. Walking around pre-show I saw a lot of old Phish phans and phamiliar phaces, lots of really nice people enjoying the early evening. In our section we had a big groove group that went up about seven rows. It was great to see the phans come out in the face of bad weather. I think word about last night’s performance got a lot of people that were on the fence off and into the show.

Set I
At the BBQ
Alive Again
Tube Top Flop
Money, Love and Change
The Way I Feel
First Tube

The show, like the day, started slowly. Trey walked out with a triangle and conductor’s wand: the Maestro. "At the BBQ" is an instrumental that is played perhaps so the horn players can get their lips limbered up? It was short and seemed odd, as the band paused for a moment before launching into "Alive Again," a nice song for the start of summer. This song seems to typify most of what the TAB sound is. It has an upbeat tempo with some world and Latin beats that bop around until Trey takes it higher with wicked solos.

The set really got going when we got our first repeat of the evening. "Money, Love and Change" has a swinging beat that gets the crowd swaying and necks twisting. This version morphed into total Techno Trey. It definitely had that String Cheese trance feel, with Trey tapping foot peddles as fast as he could. He nearly fell on his butt when he did this move to tap one effects peddle with his right foot, then he seemed to not like the result so he did a Twister move, "left foot BLUE," and stretched with his left foot to tap another peddle. He caught himself right before he bit it and sort of smirked at his near fall. This jam went on for over 20 minutes and featured Peter on an extended flute solo. Trey really took time to allow all members of the band to have some solo or lead time. He would call out directions, then sit back and just groove. He put his guitar down two or three times just to dance and clap his hands. At one point some sheet music blew over by Jenny and Trey scampered over to gather it up. There were about 10 guys ready to help, but Trey was so into the band’s playing, he seemed eager to help it go uninterrupted. Too funny, really. The song had an extended ending that faded out very slowly.

"The Way I Feel" has a "Makisupa" reggae beat with a soul groove. The crowd seemed to be swaying in unison as the funky reggae hit to make us all feel OK. Lots of smiles from phans who were unfamiliar with Trey’s new material. I'd guess that maybe half of those around me were somewhat versed in the new Trey. Not bad, and most of the ones who weren't seemed to like the direction he was taking. At least that was the read I got by the crowd’s response to the show. Trey’s shows have that warm familiar feeling, but with a bit of something new. This should be no real surprise to Phish phans. That’s what Phish did, they added a bit of something new to every tour or even every show. I'm not comparing the two, as they are vastly different. I did miss Mike and Page the most, though, during the sickest part of the jams. I could almost hear the void in the jam because as nasty as songs like "Night Speaks" and "Mr. Completely" are, they'd be that much more intense if the boys were playing with Trey. But I digress.

As the jam died out Trey let out a cue lick, and I knew my prediction before the show was right on: "First Tube" closer! The place exploded when Tony laid down the franticly deep bass lines that drive "First Tube," and Trey’s licks rang out loud and high-pitched. From the front row to the back, all you could see was people dancing their hearts out, loving the groove and scream of Trey’s guitar. The groove kept getting deeper and deeper, causing people to dance hunched over as low to the ground as they could be. Finally Trey began to wind things up and went into a total guitar freak-out with all sorts of feed back noise, and the horns wailed right along adding to the screaming wall of sound from the huge rack of speakers. Again, CK was ON IT, adding his signature effects and lighting that seem to match Trey’s vibe for each song. "That’s cool!" was one comment I heard while we were bathed in eye candy. That ending lasted about five-plus minutes until Trey put down his guitar and let it continue to vibrate. Again, another ridiculous first set.

Set II
Windora Bug
Mr. Completely
Burlap Sack and Pumps
Ether Sunday
E: At the Gazebo
Push On 'Til the Day

After another long set break, the band came back to a round of applause and an audience eager for more grooves. They opened with "Windora Bug." Three phans in the front were wearing t-shirts that read: "Wind," "ora" and "Bug.” Cute. Cute song too, but nothing to get me that excited. That would change, and quickly.

"Mr. Completely" has no build up. It just jumps right into a disjointed jam with screaming vocals that sound more like something from the early grunge/late 80s prog rock than jamband. CK’s lights and some ferocious drumming make this song a sweet second set/take-it-higher song. This version went on for a good long time before melting into "Burlap, Sack and Pumps."

I thought it was a nice segue. The band seemed tighter than in previous shows I’ve seen. Perhaps the cool Colorado rain washed away some of the grim leftover from Vegas. Again, Jenny was bopping around the stage along with the rest of the horn section and adding some nice back-up vocals. I really dig her voice with Trey’s.

So, that was two repeats thus far. My “over-under” was four repeats, so we were sitting pretty as far as the under was concerned. I have a challenge for all you Trey doubters out there that say, "I don't want to go to see Trey, he repeats songs." Well, I challenge you to come up with even five nationally touring bands that don't repeat most of their songs from one night to the next or over the course of a three or four day run. Phil doesn’t count because the Dead invented this format, or at least perfected it. I'll give you two: WSP and SCI. Even with Phil that only makes three. Trey has been playing with this band for about three years and he already seems to have it down, so he keeps the repeats to a minimum for at least two shows in a row. You can't come up with three more, can you? (Don't say Galactic, because they repeat a lot of songs over a three or four day run.) We’re just spoiled by the bands we love, and we expect too much. When those sort of expectations are lowered, you find that you have a seriously great band led by a seriously great performer. That alone is worth $45, even on a rainy Monday!

After merging voices with Jenny on "Burlap Sack," Trey continued singing to her with the nice light "Ether Sunday." I was in the front row at this point and I could see Trey scanning the crowd. He seemed to be singing to the crowd, “It’s True!” I like "Ether Sunday" as it had a nice upbeat, make-you-feel-good vibe, though it’s slower paced than most of his other songs. After the last two jammed-out songs, it was a welcomed, relaxing, make-you-smile song.

My friend Jen was hoping for a "Sand" second set opener, but the closer was worth the wait! Another Tony-driven bass line song, "Sand" was an original Trey tour song that Phish played to perfection. Trey and his band took it pretty high as well. The horns add so much to the jam, and Russ and Grippo have been playing with Trey for so long it really seems like they know exactly when to hit it. I don't think I've danced as hard as I did during "Sand" since the last Vegas Phish shows, seriously. People were jumping, as was Trey. He and the rest of the band LOVED seeing the crowd go bonkers and freak out. Being in the front row, Ray side, I felt the overwhelming energy being sent down the stands to the stage below. There were just one or two glow necklaces in the crowd, but this jam seemed to light up the entire audience in neon, as if it were a glow stick war at the Went.

"At the Gazebo" sounds like high school band song, as one phan put it. But instead of walking off and leaving a bad taste in our feet by ending with that, the band leapt right into "Mozambique," a nice instrumental that allows Trey and the horns to both play as one and play off each other with various sax and trumpet solos. The horn section seemed pumped and played with all the wind they could muster. No cold rain on this night, just warm dancing everywhere.

Trey wasn't done yet. "Push on ‘Til the Day," the third and last repeat, took the crowd even higher then "Mozambique." Maybe this is Trey’s favorite place to play? A three song encore?! This version was tight. Trey loves Vegas too, we all know that, and this song does it a fair amount of justice. It really grooves and is very danceable. The horns add to Trey’s vocals and his guitar licks are somewhat compact in relation to most of the other jams. Tony and Ray produce some funky bass grooves at the bridge of the song that gets people bending at the knee. Trey's voice did crack during the first few lines of the song. This was probably due to how much he was enjoying Colorado after the previous night, or maybe the rain got to his voice a bit. Regardless, the song still grooved.

No one wanted it to end. It was a clear night, after all. But it did end. The familiar phrase from the ushers "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here" got everyone moving after we all said our good-byes. In speaking with many phans after the show, I was surprised to hear how many people in Vegas thought it was the best Trey show ever. A few said the same thing after this show.

The night ended as we left the park and descended down buzz-kill hill to our waiting car. It was a beautiful clear night and I was filled with that phamiliar pheeling of just having witnessed a great show.

Go see Trey. Don't miss his shows! You won’t be disappointed!

Mir Ali | Photos
JamBase | Colorado
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[Published on: 6/12/02]

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