On Monday night, Trey Anastasio continued his February 2018 solo acoustic run with a performance at Pittsburgh, PA’s Byham Theater. As Trey approaches the halfway point of the tour, a rough formula for the shows has taken shape: It’s part Phish favorites and Trey Anastasio Band staples performed campfire-style; part story time, with a relaxed and amused Anastasio pausing periodically to chat, tell stories, and offer pearls of wisdom like “Do you guys ever think about faking early-onset dementia…sorry…I do think about it though, because you can, kinda…do whatever you want [laughs].”
The Pittsburgh show would prove to follow the same thoroughly entertaining structure. After beginning with a haunting arrangement of “Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan” (the first of the tour) followed by a sing-along “Sample In A Jar”, Trey addressed the audience for the first time. After spilling his glass and joking about not crying over spilled milk–”or whiskey”–he quickly backtracked to assure everyone that it wasn’t, in fact, whiskey (Trey has been notably sober for years). “Man, I always get into trouble in this town. See, it’s already started.” Trey went on to tell a story about a time in the “crazy ’90’s,” when he got into an awkward physical altercation with an overzealous parking garage security guard who opposed Trey’s rollerblading on his domain, and the ongoing guilt he feels about breaking the guard’s walkie-talkie all those years ago. Watch Trey tell the story below:
Trey Anastasio – Rollerblading Story – Pittsburgh, PA – 2/12/18
[Video: Alex Bieger]
Next, responding to an audible request from the crowd, Trey acquiesces to trying “Fee”, which he nailed for just its second-ever solo acoustic performance, and its first this tour. At Trey’s invitation, the audience helped enthusiastically when each chorus came around.
The newly-introduced acoustic arrangement of “Everything’s Right” came next and featured a fun loop-assisted jam, followed by another tour debut, “Water In The Sky”. A run of acoustic go-to’s including “The Inlaw Josie Wales”, “Strange Design”, and “Limb By Limb” followed.
Trey took another suggestion from the audience next–”If I Could”–and asked the audience to do an “imaginary harmony” to help him out. As he explained before starting the Hoist track, “I don’t usually play this song [solo] because the best thing about it is the harmony. He then told a story of the recording’s origins:
Some time, probably in the early or mid-eighties sometime, Mike [Gordon] and I went to the Flynn Theatre in Burlington, and saw a concert called the “Masters of the Folk Violin”… A really cool concert with a lot of great American folk violinists. And the last [people] to come out, as kind of the finale, was a 90-year-old jazz violinist and a 16 or 17-year old young girl who was a long bow fiddle champion…named Alison Krauss [pauses for cheers].
We’d never heard of her, nobody had…She came out and played some amazing fiddle, and all of a sudden, at one point, she opened her mouth and started to sing…Both me and Mike like fell on the ground, like, “oh my God!” We became obsessed and saw her play many times in the 80’s.
He went on to explain how he and Mike saw the still-unsigned artist in L.A. when they were recording Hoist, and went and met her at the stage door after her show, introduced themselves, explained they were in a band (she had never heard of them), and asked if she’d sing on their album. She said yes, as we know from her eventual appearance on the album.
Phish – “If I Could” ft. Alison Krauss
Even more impressively, as Trey explained, after laying down her first vocal take for “If I Could”–which through impressed the entire team–she came out of the booth with a dismissive “that sucked,” which Trey affected with his best (worst) southern drawl. He finally dedicated the performance of “If I Could” to Alison. You can watch the Alison Krauss story and the rendition of “If I Could” that followed below:
Trey Anastasio – Alison Krauss/”If I Could” Story – Pittsburgh, PA – 2/12/18
The set continued with acoustic go-to’s “Heavy Things” and “Ghost”, followed by the first acoustic “Harry Hood” since Trey unplugged to play it at his 02/26/2011 gig with TAB. Another acoustic rarity, “Piper”, came next, and flowed freely into “Chalkdust Torture”. From there, fan-favorite Phish ballad “Dirt” got the crowd whistling along.
Trey then took a pause to reflect on the origins of the uncommon acoustic arrangement of “Harry Hood” he had just played:
When I was 19, Fish [Jon Fishman] and I, we were buskers in Europe. We played street music in Europe. We met when we were 18 up in Vermont, and hit it off immediately. We cooked up this idea to go play street music. We painted houses in New Jersey…it always takes so much longer then you think it’s gonna take…The cheapest way we could do it is we rented a car, a little Ford Fiesta, and slept in that all summer, never a bed. We played street music in Paris, and Munich, and Italy, and eventually we ended up in Greece and we slept on the beach for three weeks, and that’s where I wrote that song [“Harry Hood”], on the beach on an acoustic guitar.
As Trey mused, sentimentally, “That was really fun…Fish is a fun guy to do that with, because he talks a lot…it was a really, really nice summer.” He then made his way back to music, offering a version of Fuego track “Wingsuit”, just its second acoustic appearance. Watch the Trey’s “Harry Hood” origin story and “Wingsuit” below:
Trey Anastasio – Harry Hood Story, “Wingsuit” – Pittsburgh, PA – 2/12/18
Ahead of the set’s final song, “More”, Trey expressed his gratitude toward the audience and made yet another “look on the bright side” nature analogy (“Can you tell I just watched Planet Earth?” he joked). For the encore, Trey began by debuting a never-before-played tune, “Empty House” (“I feel like playing this song, I don’t know if I’ve ever played this,” Trey wondered), which was recorded for his 2006 Bar 17 , before running his newly-rechristened ode to friends past, “Til’ We Meet Again”,
Trey Anastasio – “Empty House” – Pittsburgh, PA – 2/12/18
Trey Anastasio – “Til’ We Meet Again” – Pittsburgh, PA – 2/12/18
SETLIST: Trey Anastasio (Solo Acoustic) | Byham Theater | Pittsburgh, PA | 2/12/18
SET 1: Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Sample in a Jar, Fee, Everything’s Right, Water in the Sky, The Inlaw Josie Wales, Strange Design, Limb By Limb, If I Could , Heavy Things, Ghost, Harry Hood, Piper > Chalk Dust Torture, Dirt, Wingsuit, More
ENCORE: Empty House , Till We Meet Again, Wilson
 Trey solo acoustic debut.
Trey’s solo acoustic tour hits its mid-point tonight in Wilmington, DE. For more information on the tour, head here. See below for a list of upcoming shows.
Trey Anastasio Upcoming Solo Acoustic Dates
Feb. 13 – Wilmington, DE – Grand Opera House
Feb. 14 – Washington, DC – Sixth and I
Feb. 16 – Durham, NC – Carolina Theatre
Feb. 17 – Charlotte, NC – Knight Theatre
Feb. 18 – Athens, GA – Classic Center
[Cover photo: Instagram user @4run2]