For an artist used to fronting a funk or rock band, going “acoustic solo” represents a huge change in context. You’re expected to tell stories, engage the audience, create the feeling of your living room or home studio while simultaneously whittling songs down to their skeletal form. After nearly three decades of Phish, a dozen Trey Anastasio band tours, playing acoustic with both a string quartet and an orchestra, the solo acoustic Trey Anastasio show raised the expectations bar very, very high.
Trey’s usual inter-song banter is limited to gentle expressions of appreciation, or sometimes a one-line quip about stage antics. Thursday night he sat us down in his living room and explained where various lyrics came from, gave us glimpses into the green room, and shared his abundantly optimistic view of life with us. Musically, favorite TAB and Phish songs were distilled into basic chords, letting us hear not the typical layered and composed structure but the real intent of the song. Using a looping pedal, a few delays and an electronic drum to keep time, Trey was able to scat sing, solo over chord changes, and recreate minimalist Phish solo dynamics. It’s rare to see any of the band members with a seated audience, in a room quiet enough to hear people unwrapping their snacks ten rows behind you, but that’s what was created with 1,300 fans, two guitars, and one amazing musician. It was intimate, it was immediate and it was delightful.