Trey Anastasio Brings Tour To An End In Georgia With Solo Acoustic Debut & Bust Out
On Sunday night Trey Anastasio wrapped his nine-date solo acoustic run with a tour-ending show at The Classic Center in Athens, Georgia. Anastasio was making his return to the college town for the first time since Phish had last played the Georgia Theatre back in November of 1991 – a span of nearly 27 years. The guitarist put an exclamation mark on the well-received outing by sharing stories that had roots in the Georgia city and offered up the first ever solo version of a Phish classic and the bust out of another.
The one set show got underway with “Heavy Things,” a song that originally was debuted during Anastasio’s first ever solo tour back in 1999 when he offered up a solo acoustic set and an electric set backed by bassist Tony Markellis and drummer Russ Lawton. “Farmhouse” and “Dog Faced Boy,” which has only been played a total of five times in this format, followed. Big Red shared his first stories of the night next as he talked about all the memories he was having of being back in Athens. Anastasio mentioned that Phish played Athens numerous times in 1990 and 1991 and wondered aloud about why they stopped coming there. The guitarist than shared the story about sharing bills with Widespread Panic at the Georgia Theatre and bassist Dave Schools bringing him to see Aquarium Rescue Unit for the first time at the 40 Watt Club. Anastasio enthusiastically talked about ARU “slaying it” to a total of five people in the club other than him and Schools, while also mentioning that they later got to tour and become good friends with all the members of the much-beloved band.
Trey also shared one more story as he talked about the late Widespread Panic guitarist Michael Houser. While he said they were never close friends he had hung out with a number of times backstage calling him a “kind, quiet, sweet guy.” Anastasio then talked about how Houser was really shy and would play with his back turned to the audience and had a huge Marshall amp with a note taped to it that said “I Am Not Afraid.” As he wrapped up he mused “you should invite us back more, guys” as he then played the tour staple “More.”
Later in the set “Fee” was trotted out for the second time on this tour, marking the third time that the Junta track had ever been played solo since it was debuted last year. An extended take on “Ghost” segued into “Waste.” Anastasio detoured into his second story of the evening by prefacing it by saying he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed while going on to talk about recently finding out that the atmosphere was fluid. The mini science lesson featured Professor Anastasio explaining how if two fluids rubbed together they make waves, which got a huge response from the audience who were then expecting him to play the complex Round Room closing track which was then immediately shot down. Anastasio then mused that he maybe was getting too deep with his “TED Talk on science” and joked “I blinded me with science” referencing Thomas Dolby’s 1983 hit single. Trey continued to wax poetic about why waves crashing on the beach sound so good before finally delivering a song that alludes to the sound, “Water In The Sky.”
The biggest surprise of the night came at the end of the set as Anastasio offered up the solo acoustic debut of “Slave To The Traffic Light.” The tune, which dates all the way to Phish’s earliest days, had never been performed without a band and as noted by YEMblog it was the first time Anastasio had played “Slave” live on an acoustic guitar since November 14, 1985.
Anastasio brought his brief solo jaunt to a close with a three-song encore. The instrumental “The Inlaw Josie Wales” got things going which was followed by “The Wedge.” Big Red had one more surprise left as he closed things out with “Character Zero,” busting out the tune for the first time at a non-Phish performance since 2005 and playing it for the first time ever by himself. The last time Trey had attempted the Billy Breathes song was with the help of his longtime friend and Phish lyricist Tom Marshall at the McCarter Theater in the pair’s hometown of Princeton, New Jersey.
Stream the entire show here via PanicStream, watch fan-shot video captured by Michael Fortson, including a portion of the debut of “Slave To The Traffic Light” and check out the full setlist below:
Set: Heavy Things, Farmhouse, Dog Faced Boy, More, NICU, Miss You, Fee, Ghost, Waste, Water in the Sky, Sand, Brian & Robert, Bouncing Around The Room, Theme From The Bottom, Strange Design, Lizards, Blaze On, Slave To The Traffic Light
Encore: Inlaw Josie Wales, The Wedge, Character Zero
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