On Monday night, Trey Anastasio opened his December solo acoustic run with a performance at the Ikeda Theater at Mesa Arts Center in Mesa, Arizona.
As Trey stepped onstage to a round of applause, fans immediately began to shout out the songs they wanted to hear. Trey mused, “Ah, god, I already heard a request.” He continued, “I wasn’t gonna play this first, but I will” before starting into a “quiet folk version” of one of the newest additions to the Phish repertoire: Kasvot Växt “cover” “Turtle In The Clouds”. As he eased into the song—which marked just its second time played live after its Halloween debut—Trey mused at the tune’s purported origins, noting, “This is, like, a quiet folk version. Which I think is actually the way it was originally written. In the cold, wet, lonely, snowy landscape of…loneliness…”
As he finished “Turtle In The Clouds”, an amused Trey committed to the Kasvot bit, joking, “I didn’t think I was gonna start the show with a cover, but…Thanks, everybody. And thanks to the guy that yelled that out. That’s a good idea. That’s better than what I was gonna play…’Jennifer Dances’ [laughs]…my favorite Phish song.”
The show continued in more conventional fashion from there with “Strange Design” and instrumental chestnut “The Inlaw Josie Wales”. After “Josie”, Trey took a moment to reflect on how Phish used to come through this part of the country frequently in the early 90s…”and what happened?! We never come here anymore! I think you guys stopped inviting us or something,” to which the crowd responded with amused indignation. “Anyway,” he continued, “I’m hoping to change that,” before starting into a sing-along “Sample In A Jar”.
“Theme From The Bottom” was up next, followed by some more amusing banter about the beauty of the room and his beloved old guitar from the ’40s. “I have this theory,” he explained. “It’s probably nonsense, as most of my theories are, but I do have a strange theory, sometimes when I play a new guitar, that, like, it hasn’t accepted the fact that it’s not a tree anymore…New guitars are like, ‘Ugh, Why’re you putting me in this weird shape and trying to make me make these sounds?’ And then what I think happens is…so the tree grows…and when the tree ends its life and becomes a guitar, there’s two things that can happen: One, the tree becomes a log, and the log…haha…the log, in the fire—in my weird mind—is giving back all the energy it soaked up from the sun. That’s what fire is, right? I mean, I’m sure that’s not what fire is, but it makes as much sense as any other theory, you know what I mean? [laughs]. … So my theory is, when the guitar is made out of the log—once the guitar is old enough to accept that fact that it’s now a guitar and no longer a tree, it then gives off its energy that it soaked up from the sun: that’s music. … I want someone in the audience to go *cough* ‘bullshit!’ *cough*…[but] that’s what I think.”
“Heavy Things” followed, with Trey inviting the crowd to fill in the sonic gaps for its closing “woo-hoos” and “wah-ahs.” “That was just a test,” Trey remarked as he finished the song. “But you guys sounded really good. So now you can help me, ‘cus I can’t do both parts at once,” before starting into “Limb By Limb”. The crowd did their part on the Phish favorite, audibly filling in the holes in the round.
“Wolfman’s Brother” came in next, before the first true edition of “Storytime with Trey” of the evening. As Anastasio noted after finishing the song, “You just saw that at the end of that jam, I drooled… [laughs]. The guys in the band said that they were gonna get me a drool cup, because when the jams would get really deep, I’d, like, lose control of my bodily functions…They’d be like ‘man, we gotta get you a drool cup one of these days…’ Also, in the 90s, in that era, there were a couple years where we would warm up for Santana. It was so cool, everyone in the band was so nice, especially Carlos. To this day, I’m astounded. Because we were so young, and we played in so many countries—and areas of this country—where nobody had any idea who we were. We were just starting out. And he would always invite everybody to come up and jam. And I always thought, he had nothing to gain from this. He was putting on a show. It was an incredibly nice gesture, the older I get the more I think about what a nice thing that was because we all learned so much from that. … And the reason I just thought of that was, he also pointed out once to me that I drooled. He thought it was really cool, like ‘hey, that’s great, man,’ doing that Carlos thing that he does [laughs]. … You guys ever drool during the jams? That’s the whole intention. That’s what we say before we come onstage. ‘You think we can make them drool?'”
After some additional banter about Phish’s last time in Mesa in 1994, Trey’s memory was challenged by the local crowd. “2000? I don’t remember 2000. What the hell happened in 2000?! Once we got offstage at Big Cypress, it’s all just a [blur] ’til 2009…” He also took a moment to remember a show at Phoenix’s Celebrity Theatre in 1993, and how it reminded him of his fiercely independent grandmother who, after being left by two husbands and finding success as an ad executive, found love at the age of 70. “It was, without question, the first and only time she was in love in her life. So when we played at the Celebrity Theatre, [grandma’s third husband] Harry got up onstage and sang a song for the Phish crowd. They had a sort of theme song. This is the song, but you gotta bear with me ‘cus I learned this like six seconds before I got onstage. … Song’s called ‘You Gotta See Mama Every Night (Or You Can’t See Mama At All)'”.
Following the quick reading of “You Gotta See Mama Every Night” for his grandma, Trey moved into “Brian and Robert”, “Mountains in the Mist”, “Everything’s Right”, “The Wedge”, and “All of These Dreams”. Next, Trey transitioned to a moving rendition of “Till We Meet Again”, the instrumental he penned for his dearly departed friend Chris Cottrell (a.k.a. C. Cott), before answering another crowd request with “Let Me Lie”.
Quintessential Phish acoustic favorite “Waste” followed, with Trey taking a moment to talk about “The Problem” with the next song—namely, that it’s hard to remember all your songs when you have more than 300 of them—before making a (solid) attempt at an acoustic “Pebbles and Marbles”. “Free” flowed in from there, followed by “Bouncing Around The Room” and, finally, a set-closing “Wilson”.
After a very brief encore break due to time constraints (“You guys in a rush to get out of here?”), Trey got the bright idea to open his encore with Oysterhead‘s “Rubberneck Lions”. With time for a couple more, Trey broke out his most impressive display of musicianship on the night, kicking into “Ghost” before taking a detour into the second Kasvot Växt song of the evening, “Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.”. After a “S.A.N.T.O.S.” refrain, Trey seamlessly returned to “Ghost” for another verse before once again shifting into “Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.”, adding that there was an additional verse which he initially “forgot when we were ‘covering’ this song”. Finally, following the ghostly “S.A.N.T.O.S.” medley, Trey closed out the performance with upbeat Big Boat anthem “More”.
The Trey Anastasio acoustic solo tour has just started, and we’ve already gotten amusing stories, Phish fan-favorites, rare bust-outs, and a healthy helping of “Faceplant Into Rock”. After such an entertaining opener, you can be sure that this run will be one worth following.
Trey Anastasio’s solo acoustic tour continues on Wednesday, December 5th at The Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara, CA. For a full list of upcoming Trey Anastasio solo dates, head here.
You can view a gallery of photos (courtesy of photographer Lindsay McHenry) and check out full audio and a selection of videos from the performance below:
Trey Anastasio (Solo Acoustic) – 12/3/18 – Full Audio
[Audio: firstname.lastname@example.org via Jam Buzz]
“Turtle In The Clouds”
“Rubberneck Lions”, “Ghost” > “Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.” > “Ghost” > “Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.”
Setlist: Trey Anastasio (Solo Acoustic) | Ikeda Theater at Mesa Arts Center | Mesa, AZ | 12/3/18
Set:: Turtle in the Clouds , Strange Design , The Inlaw Josie Wales, Sample in a Jar, Theme From the Bottom, Heavy Things, Limb By Limb, Wolfman’s Brother, You Gotta See Mama Every Night, Brian and Robert, Mountains in the Mist, Everything’s Right, The Wedge, All of These Dreams, Till We Meet Again, Let Me Lie, Waste, Pebbles and Marbles, Free, Bouncing Around the Room, Wilson
Encore: Rubberneck Lions, Ghost > Say it to Me S.A.N.T.O.S. > Ghost > Say it to Me S.A.N.T.O.S., More
 Trey Anastasio solo acoustic; first acoustic performance by Trey.
 Trey Anastasio solo acoustic.