On Wednesday night, Trey Anastasio played the second show of his late-2018 acoustic solo tour at Santa Barbara, CA’s The Granada Theatre. The Santa Barbara show continued in the same vein as the entertaining tour opener in Arizona on Monday—which featured Kasvot Växt acoustic debuts and entertaining stories from years past—as Trey further tested his audience’s familiarity with “Norwegian pop” and told genial, off-the-cuff tales from years past.
After kicking off with “Cavern”, Trey moved into the rare, beautiful Tom Marshall collaboration “Sleep”, followed by easy-going runs through “Farmhouse” and “Water In The Sky”. As Trey began to reflect on the origins of the Story Of The Ghost ditty he’d just finished, a particularly vocal fan shouted for “Shade” from the audience. Quickly snapping out of his nostalgic tangent, Trey replied, “OK!” before adjusting his capo and obliging the request—affirming the long-held maxim that he’ll take your song requests, but only if he wants to play them. “I like when people request songs that I like,” he mused.
Following some banter about horse legs, Trey moved into instrumental “The Inlaw Josie Wales” for the second time in as many shows. As he finished the tune, he began to laugh, admitting “Sorry, I started thinking about another horse thing. I won’t keep talking about horses all night.” But he couldn’t help himself, continuing, “If a horse breaks his leg in the Kentucky Derby, he gets shot…[audience laughs]…I think that’s what happens! And if the horse wins, he gets to fornicate [shrugs]. You guys think I’m making this up again. … If the horse falls and breaks his leg, he gets shot. And if he wins, he gets to fornicate. True? It’s tough. It’s a tough race.”
Moving on, he got a little more serious, paying tribute to his friend “Captain Kevin,” a “member of our [Phish] family” who recently lost his father with a rendition of “Miss You”. After picking up the pace with “Back On The Train”, Anastasio started into Kasvot Växt fan-favorite “We Are Come To Outlive Our Brains”. A clearly elated Trey expressed his gratitude to the audience as they tentatively began to sing along with the song’s chorus. “Thank you,” he smiled. “You guys are familiar with, uh, Norwegian pop music.”
The show continued with 3.0-vintage tunes “Steam”, “Light” (featuring more banter about Trey’s songwriting “addiction”), and “Joy” before digging further back in the Phish catalog with “Dog Faced Boy”. Next, Trey dusted off A Picture of Nectar classic “Guelah Papyrus” for just its third time in the acoustic setting. While many selections in the acoustic Trey repertoire don’t deviate too significantly from their original Phish versions, “Guelah” sounded transformed—like a wistful lament from a Medieval romantic—making for one of the evening’s musical high points.
Trey continued his musings about writing songs with old friends, noting, “I realized I’m in the home state of my friend, Dave. … I had a very interesting upbringing in the sense that my group of friends from grammar and middle school … songwriting was our social life. … One of them was Tom Marshall, who’s written so many songs with me. But Tom and I had a group of other friends … and their names appear in a lot of songs. For instance, my friends Rog and Pete, from the song ‘Wilson’, where it says ‘Rog and Pete the same.’ They were two of the people we wrote with. But Dave shows up in a lot of songs. He’s in ‘McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters’—’he looks too much like Dave’—and this [last] song, ‘Guelah Papyrus’… ‘Guelah’ is Dave’s mother. We used to sit in the bedroom … [laughs]I felt bad about this … The line says ‘and through the bedroom door intrude, a fretful frown and spoil the mood. And though I’d never really stand that tall. She’d tilt my frame, she’d watch me fall. This is the work of Guelah Papyrus.'”
He continued, “What the song was, we would sit inside each others bedrooms—this particular song was written in Dave’s bedroom … It’s almost like Where The Wild Things Are … we would go off in these 15-, 16-year-old lands, and we’d be lost in these crazy songs, like the one i just sang. Then all of a sudden—Knock knock knock…’Turn it down!’ … ‘And through the bedroom door intrudes, a fretful frown and spoil the mood’ … But the reason I feel bad about it is because one day, Dave’s mom approached me and said [frowning], ‘I don’t have a fretful frown.’ I felt really terrible! [laughs]. Anyway, I’m talking about Dave a lot… Dave is an amazing guy. In high school, we were really a band of misfits…bespectacled gingers…and Dave was a math geek.” Trey went on to gush about how proud he is of Dave, who went on to help create the widely-used orchestral composing program Finale before being headhunted by Apple.
“So Dave,” he finished, “thank you for programming my phone. Except that I hate it. It’s ruining my life…a guilt machine. But if you touch it in the right place, a pizza appears at your door—amazing.” Realizing he had gone way out on a tangent, Trey brought the show back to the music, explaining, “I’m gonna sing one now about Dave’s dad—Dave’s dad was named Elihu” before starting into “Sample In A Jar”.
“Backwards Down The Number Line” came next, followed by the instrumental “Till We Meet Again”. As he began to move into “Shine”, Trey explained, “I wrote this song like a month after Coventry. Such a mixed-up time. This is a weirdly optimistic song. I was flying down to Atlanta … I was taking off in the plane … you start to see the lines on the ground, how insignificant and small everything is [on the ground], you sort of get a dose of perspective for a minute. The first line of this song was trying to address, straight-on, the problem that me and like everyone in the scene were having at that time, which had been completely taken over by ‘the dark side.’ We had been trying to fix that for a couple years and it was really hard to fix, so we were basically stopping trying to address it. But I still had this massive amount of hope—even after Coventry and when we stopped, I just knew that I loved my friends and that we were gonna get over this somehow, it wasn’t gonna be easy, but… That turned out to be true, but … I couldn’t really anticipate the backlash-y feelings that … you know, it was pretty intense for a couple years. But as I was taking off on this plane, I wrote this song very quickly … I think now that there’s some time that’s gone by, it’s kind of easier to play it. Now that I’ve said this, maybe some of the references of the lines on the ground and going through water and surfing through the air might make a little more sense.”
From there, Trey stuck to his guitar for the remainder of the night, working through Phish favorites “Ghost”, “My Friend, My Friend”, and a set-closing “Chalk Dust Torture” > “Harry Hood” > “Chalk Dust Torture” sandwich. Finally. Trey returned for an encore mix of old and new: Kasvot tune “Turtle In The Clouds” (among the newest batch of Phish songs) and “The Lizards”, a staple of Trey’s earliest work, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday.
“Water In The Sky”
STORY > “Miss You”
“We Are Come To Outlive Our Brains”
STORY > “Sample In A Jar”
STORY > “Shine”
“Chalkdust Torture” > “Harry Hood”
“Turtle In The Clouds”
Trey Anastasio’s solo acoustic tour continues on Friday, December 7th with a performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, CA. For a full list of upcoming dates, head here.
Setlist: Trey Anastasio (Solo Acoustic) | The Granada Theatre | Santa Barbara, CA | 12/5/18
SET 1: Cavern , Sleep, Farmhouse, Water in the Sky, Shade, The Inlaw Josie Wales, Miss You, Back on the Train, We Are Come to Outlive Our Brains , Steam, Light, Joy, Dog Faced Boy, Guelah Papyrus, Sample in a Jar, Backwards Down the Number Line, Till We Meet Again, Shine, Ghost, My Friend, My Friend, Chalk Dust Torture > Harry Hood > Chalk Dust Torture
ENCORE: Turtle in the Clouds, The Lizards
 Trey solo acoustic.
 Trey solo acoustic; first acoustic performance by Trey.