Trey, Mike & the Duo in Chicago | Eh?

Trey Anastasio & Mike Gordon
w/ the Benevento/Russo Duo

Charter One Pavillion
July 20, 2006
Chicago, IL

I’ll be honest — I really tried to silence and supress all expectations going into Thursday night’s Trey Anastasio & Mike Gordon show. In the end, though, I wasn’t blown away as much as I would have hoped. If that’s the worst thing I can say about it, I guess I still saw a pretty good concert. It just really felt like Phish, Jr. to me — the nostalgia trip is something I’ve had very little tolerance for musically lately — and the moments of greatness were easily attributable to Cactus Gordon and The Duo. The new stuff.

I didn’t end up getting down to the venue until about 7:30pm or so, which unfortunately meant that I missed a pretty big portion of The Duo’s opening set. I did get in time to hear “9×9” and “Soba” to close the set — the end to “Soba” is just fantastic — and we quickly found one of the better spots in the venue.

There wasn’t any challenge to finding a seat, though. The venue wasn’t even close to sold-out, which always sorta depresses me, and it definitely reminded me of the Trey & 70VP show I saw there last year.

The house music drops, GRAB comes out, and a minute or two of feedback later finally reveals the first notes of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” — cleverly referencing the afternoon’s Cubs game that Trey through out the first pitch at — into “Host Across the Potomac.”

Right from the get-go it was clear that it was a Trey-lead show — he usually leads any band he lends his hand to — and it just didn’t sit well with me. The musical moments I enjoyed were the Gordon tunes, The Duo tunes — the moments where Trey had to take a backseat — and it seemed to envoke a similar reaction to the crowd in my direct proximity. Trey’s confidence was through the friggin’ roof and it just seems way too false to me right now. Wailing on a guitar solo during “Drifting” is just not covering new ground — this is not Trey in “classic” form — and it was in these moments where I felt the incredible urge to yawn and pack it up to head home.

Granted, with some new covers under their belt and some setlist switch-ups, they’re keeping the crowd guessing and that’s always good to see.

Maybe I’m on Trey burnout right now, but this is exactly what I did not want to happen when I saw that Trey, Mike and the Duo would be doing shows together. I wanted it to be the Benevento/Russo Duo with Mike Gordon & Trey — not the other way around. Maybe I just like the Duo a lot right now (read: I do). I dunno — it just didn’t do it for me on that night.

I’ll post some tracks once I can get them ripped down (download the torrent here) — the “Suskind Hotel” morphed into a fantastic jam, “Hap-Nappy” was more than fun, “Becky” (with Trey accenting perfectly) was beyond fantastic — but in the meantime you can sample some tracks from a recent GRAB show below. Again, these would be my highlights but you can easily grab the show from the PT forums or bt.etree.org.

I know some of you agree with me and some of you will not, but I just have a pessimistic feeling that this band will not bring back Phish nor that feeling that they gave me. I think I’m just a little “over it.”

Photo 7.20.06 © Trey.com


Setlist (link):

* Take Me Out To The Ballgame*
* Host Across The Potomac
* Hap-Nappy
* Coming Up Roses
* Drifting**
* Suskind Hotel
* Trouble
* Tuesday
* Becky
* Let Me Lie
* Goodbye Head
* You’ve Got Me Floating** >
* More Pretty Girls Than One >
* Poor Heart
* My Sweet One**
* On The Road Again
* Something For Rockets
* Who Are You

*{Encore]*

* Mud City**

Key:

* *performed instrumental with crowd singing along.
* **with “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” teases.

24 COMMENTS

  1. Seriously, I’m super glad that you’ve got good feedback on GRAB and what the music meant for you.

    And that’s the issue that I had — to me, Trey’s confidence was ridiculous. You saw it as a good thing, I saw it as fake.

    Maybe I’ll check out the All Good set.

  2. Well, no one will probably ever read this as the last post was 19 days ago..But, here’s what I thought and felt:
    First of all, I already feel a difference in my reaction to the music on CD vs when I was there. Probably ‘cuz I can skip a couple tunes, Coming Up Roses was pushing up daisies on arrival, and Let Me Lie had me thinking Let Me Die.
    I thought the vocals were so sub-professional that I was embarrased for the whole band. At least with TAB/70V “” you had backup singers and maybe some horn backup to bolster the vocal melody lines. Here you have Mike and Trey harmonizing and each of them being off-key and out of breath. If you have vocals in your band, they have to bring something. I’ve never thought these guys were great singers, but in the past they were skilled enough to have chemistry and it worked, plus their pitches used to be dead on. Now it’s not so good, at least not on the 20th of July. I’ve heard some other stuff from the tour that was much better, so maybe they were just tired that way. I think the whole band should have waited longer until they had more tunes that they wrote together and really utilized all 4 musicians more. Suskind Hotel was the perfect song from them on this night. The breakdown and jamming on Dragonfly is really cool, and Goodbye Head is good for letting this band have its identity. Also the jamming on Drifting was starting to have a prescence of its own different than TAB or 70V Parade. I liked Host on the Potomac less in the moment than I do now, because after a few listens I can pick out more lyrics and get a better feel for all the f***ing parts in it, but starting off the show with a seemingly convoluted and confusing arrangement was kind of annoying, though the jam at the end of this was decent too and indicated that Trey was going to have a good night on the Languedoc.
    Hapnappy is a brutal piece of crap and only a Camel Walk rip off jam made it worthwhile. This had to be the nadir of the vocals for the night.
    I loved the Duo’s opening set and I liked hearing GRAB play a couple of the Duo tunes, especially when Trey soloed at the end. I’m very impressed how he can learn so many chord progressions well enough to solo over them the way he does. From my guitar-playing experience, this is NOT easy.

    The acoustic breakdown as so cathartic for me. Hearing the two of them play Poor Heart and part of My Sweet One was awesome, though they left out my favorite part “I’ll buy you a ewe”
    Trey and Mike have so much sonic chemistry, and hearing them play together really made me realize, IMO, that those two were the main sonic identity of Phish. Noone that Trey has played with since sounds ANYTHING like Mike, because those guys jamming together are Phish, and in a way, shouldn’t play together unless Phish comes back, or they take on more of the identity of the other musicians they would play with.
    My one bone to pick with Trey is that he keeps changing bands and sounds before any one of them ever gets completely developed. Starting in spring ’05, No horns and no backup vocals. That would have been OK if they had written more material to fit the project, but they were still playing old TAB tunes that sounded naked. So they added a little for the summer shows. Jenny and Christine. Then they started playing more Shine songs and some TAB songs and they had no sonic identity to speak of. No cohesive vibe from start to finish. What is this band? Then in the fall they added some horns and were playing the whole catalog and at least had the flexibility to do a lot of stuff well. Trey and Les were playing really well together at this point and everything up through NYE was kicking ass ( I should say that late NOV and DEC stuff was very enjoyable.
    Then they play two shows in April and it’s not 70V Parade any more, and everything sounds naked again and those shows were f***ing boring. Unless I’m mistaken, I don’t believe the shows for Petty tour had horns, so that s*** has to be naked. The Aspen show on 6-25-06 was boring as hell, and they’re playing tunes from the sessions with Mike and the Duo. No sonic idenity. Then there’s Oysterhead with no new tunes and a very uninspired, rehashed-for-no-good-reason performance.

    Trey needs to pick a sound and stay with it for A WHILE!! TAB had that and the s*** was pretty damn good by summer ’03

    I miss Les Hall on guitar a lot now, as I really liked the winter ’05 stuff, and I think the songs from Bar 17 that they played back then really utilized a two guitar format really well. Two axes jamming the same riff sometimes is not a bad thing. That rocks! Night Speaks, Money Love…,Low, almost all the songs on Shine, Dark and Down, 18 Steps…all these tunes could rock live and if it’s just Trey, I will not pay to see it.
    That’s about it. I liked downloading and listening to the Duo era for Trey, but pick a band, God-Damnit and stay with it!!

    I’m out

  3. Well, no one will probably ever read this as the last post was 19 days ago..But, here’s what I thought and felt:
    First of all, I already feel a difference in my reaction to the music on CD vs when I was there. Probably ‘cuz I can skip a couple tunes, Coming Up Roses was pushing up daisies on arrival, and Let Me Lie had me thinking Let Me Die.
    I thought the vocals were so sub-professional that I was embarrased for the whole band. At least with TAB/70V “” you had backup singers and maybe some horn backup to bolster the vocal melody lines. Here you have Mike and Trey harmonizing and each of them being off-key and out of breath. If you have vocals in your band, they have to bring something. I’ve never thought these guys were great singers, but in the past they were skilled enough to have chemistry and it worked, plus their pitches used to be dead on. Now it’s not so good, at least not on the 20th of July. I’ve heard some other stuff from the tour that was much better, so maybe they were just tired that way. I think the whole band should have waited longer until they had more tunes that they wrote together and really utilized all 4 musicians more. Suskind Hotel was the perfect song from them on this night. The breakdown and jamming on Dragonfly is really cool, and Goodbye Head is good for letting this band have its identity. Also the jamming on Drifting was starting to have a prescence of its own different than TAB or 70V Parade. I liked Host on the Potomac less in the moment than I do now, because after a few listens I can pick out more lyrics and get a better feel for all the f***ing parts in it, but starting off the show with a seemingly convoluted and confusing arrangement was kind of annoying, though the jam at the end of this was decent too and indicated that Trey was going to have a good night on the Languedoc.
    Hapnappy is a brutal piece of crap and only a Camel Walk rip off jam made it worthwhile. This had to be the nadir of the vocals for the night.
    I loved the Duo’s opening set and I liked hearing GRAB play a couple of the Duo tunes, especially when Trey soloed at the end. I’m very impressed how he can learn so many chord progressions well enough to solo over them the way he does. From my guitar-playing experience, this is NOT easy.

    The acoustic breakdown as so cathartic for me. Hearing the two of them play Poor Heart and part of My Sweet One was awesome, though they left out my favorite part “I’ll buy you a ewe”
    Trey and Mike have so much sonic chemistry, and hearing them play together really made me realize, IMO, that those two were the main sonic identity of Phish. Noone that Trey has played with since sounds ANYTHING like Mike, because those guys jamming together are Phish, and in a way, shouldn’t play together unless Phish comes back, or they take on more of the identity of the other musicians they would play with.
    My one bone to pick with Trey is that he keeps changing bands and sounds before any one of them ever gets completely developed. Starting in spring ’05, No horns and no backup vocals. That would have been OK if they had written more material to fit the project, but they were still playing old TAB tunes that sounded naked. So they added a little for the summer shows. Jenny and Christine. Then they started playing more Shine songs and some TAB songs and they had no sonic identity to speak of. No cohesive vibe from start to finish. What is this band? Then in the fall they added some horns and were playing the whole catalog and at least had the flexibility to do a lot of stuff well. Trey and Les were playing really well together at this point and everything up through NYE was kicking ass ( I should say that late NOV and DEC stuff was very enjoyable.
    Then they play two shows in April and it’s not 70V Parade any more, and everything sounds naked again and those shows were f***ing boring. Unless I’m mistaken, I don’t believe the shows for Petty tour had horns, so that s*** has to be naked. The Aspen show on 6-25-06 was boring as hell, and they’re playing tunes from the sessions with Mike and the Duo. No sonic idenity. Then there’s Oysterhead with no new tunes and a very uninspired, rehashed-for-no-good-reason performance.

    Trey needs to pick a sound and stay with it for A WHILE!! TAB had that and the s*** was pretty damn good by summer ’03

    I miss Les Hall on guitar a lot now, as I really liked the winter ’05 stuff, and I think the songs from Bar 17 that they played back then really utilized a two guitar format really well. Two axes jamming the same riff sometimes is not a bad thing. That rocks! Night Speaks, Money Love…,Low, almost all the songs on Shine, Dark and Down, 18 Steps…all these tunes could rock live and if it’s just Trey, I will not pay to see it.
    That’s about it. I liked downloading and listening to the Duo era for Trey, but pick a band, God-Damnit and stay with it!!

    I’m out

  4. ill agree, when i saw grab i was hoping it wouldn't be too trey heavy. and it was. but again, just like the second incarnation of 70 volt parade, the potential is there. it had its moments. yeah, the jams are a little too similar to another band (i won't point fingers), but thats not too surprising. they only played together for 20 years. if nothing else, these little glimpses give me some hope of things to come. good things come to those who wait…

Comments are closed.