Friday, May 22, 2009

Trey Anastasio and the BSO

Our friend Brian has turned in his report from last night's Trey concert with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra:

I've had the pleasure of knowing for the last year and a half that there was a plan to have Trey Anastasio perform a concert with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO). One of my best friends and college roommates, Toby, happens to be the facility sales manager at the BSO. Toby and I have seen dozens of Phish shows together and I specifically remember when he originally told me about this idea sometime in 2007. Well, after countless months of planning, he finally pulled it off. The concert took place at the home of the BSO, The Joseph Meyerhof Symphony Hall, near the trendy part of Bolton Hill, just north of downtown Baltimore.

I had been looking forward to this concert for a long time and I knew we were in for a special performance. The hall itself holds about 2000 people and I felt privileged to have such a great seat in a small and intimate venue. I arrived to the venue about 45 minutes early with a familiar anticipation. It almost felt like I was back in the lot passing by shakedown while being offered veggie burritos, hemp necklaces, and a pharmacy of recreational items. Walking into the venue was almost confusing. As I glanced around I saw dreadlocked hippies, preppy yuppies, and folks who probably thought they were there for another night at the symphony. The music of a live bluegrass band filled the background with industry standards and some good pickin'. I headed over to the bar and met some friends as we talked up what the possibilities of the evening were to be. As the lights flashed we headed to our seats and the concert began. Once the orchestra got settled, Trey walked out to an eruption of applause and cheers. You could tell that the orchestra was probably not used to this excitement over guest musicians. The crown was very excited as they shouted out Phish songs amongst other nonsense. With a big smile on his face, he strapped on his guitar and strummed the opening chords to Divided Sky. The orchestra complemented his playing nicely, although I felt the volume on his guitar could have been a bit louder. Fortunately, this balance improved dramatically as the night went on. Once Trey settled in a little bit, it was a flawless performance. The first set consisted of all Phish songs including Brian and Robert, The Inlaw Josie Wales, and an emotional Water in the Sky which Trey dedicated to his sister that recently passed away after a long struggle with brain cancer. One of the high points of the set was an intense version of First Tube. The orchestra was loud behind him and Trey got a chance to turn up the distortion a little bit. You could tell that he was really enjoying being up there.

After a quick intermission we were treated to "Time Turns Elastic", a new arrangement co-written by Trey and arranged specifically for a symphony performance. The movements glided from one section to the next and in addition to the instrumental parts their was some singing too. I wouldn't be surprised if parts of this end up on Phish's new album. The set ended with a familiar version of Guyute that can be heard on one of Trey's solo albums. After coming out for an encore, the show ended with a beautiful version of the Phish ballad If I Could. The song choice seemed appropriate since there is a backing string section on the album version of the song. Once the song ended, Trey came out a few times for some post encore bows, but finally the house lights came up and we knew the concert was over. As I filed out amongst my friends, you could tell that people were impressed and it had been a satisfying scratch for the Phish itch. All I can say is that its only 16 days till I see Phish in Camden, and this was a pretty good warm up to get me in the mood. Congrats to Toby for having such a great vision and being able to finally execute it.

5/21/09 Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Baltimore, MD May 21, 2009

Set One:
The Divided Sky (electric guitar,strings)
Brian and Robert (vocal, electric guitar, strings)
The Inlaw Josie Wales (acoustic guitar, oboe, strings)
Water In The Sky* (vocal, acoustic guitar, winds/strings)
Pebbles and Marbles (electric guitar, orchestra)
First Tube** (electric guitar, orchestra)

Set Two:
Time Turns Elastic (vocal, electric guitar, orchestra)
Let Me Lie (vocal, electric guitar, strings)
Guyute (electric guitar, orchestra)

If I Could (vocal, electric guitar, harp, strings)

* In Memory of Kristy Manning, dedicated to her surviving son Jason.
** First time played


Anonymous said...

It really was an amazing night for me and my husband. I felt privleged to be in such a small venue so close to Trey see how happy he was to be preforming with the BSO. The whole thing but a huge smile on my face.

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Cristy Ponti said...

yea a small venue with Phish must be more pleasant. Up close and personal. I wonder how it felt at their Clifford Ball show. Fuse is airing it tomorrow at 4pm so I guess we'll see! I hope they played golgi apparatus! haha look for the channel here: Fuse Channel Finder

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