Review — Trey Anastasio Trio Conjures Ghosts At the Mission Ballroom

Trey Anastasio Trio

On Saturday, Trey Anastasio Trio played the second show of a three-night run at the Mission Ballroom. During the show, which featured many fan favorites and some truly massive jams, the Trio tapped into something beyond the world we see in front of us, channeling spirits that entered the hearts of everyone in the crowd.

Trey Anastasio

The Trio — which consists of Anastasio, Phish drummer John Fishman and bass-playing wizard Dezron Douglas — hit the stage to rapturous applause and wasted absolutely no time before launching into a joyous “I Never Needed You Like This Before.” The song is huge and set a beautiful precedent for the night but ended quickly, giving way to “Spin.” Following the chorus, the band settled into a patient jam that took its time getting to where it was going but became a bright showcase for each member of the Trio once it found its footing.

After returning to the “Spin” chorus, they settled into a decidedly darker, slower and rhythm-led groove. Fishman and Douglas really locked in here, laying a nice foundation for Trey to rip over. This led into the Phish song “Undermind,” the titular track off their 2004 album and a stuttering funk tune that had the crowd spinning.

During this, as they began to hit another jam, Trey asked the venue to “turn this other shit off and let that big ball thing go,” referring to the massive LED disco ball that hangs from the Mission’s ceiling. The stage lights promptly went out as the disco ball illuminated, raining light over the packed Ballroom. As the disco moved and the lights changed, Anastasio attempted to match its changes musically, never taking his eyes off the ball, some pun intended. 

Trey Anastasio Trio

They followed this with “Ghosts of the Forest,” the title track off Anastasio’s 2019 album, written to help him cope with the passing of a friend. The version they played was noticeably subdued, an exercise in restraint. The song signaled a slower portion of the set as they followed it with “The Endless Dream,” the quiet and introspective “Mercy” and “On Pillow Jets.” There were extended jams throughout this run of songs but they felt softer than what had come before.

Turns out, they were just giving the crowd a bit of a breather before launching into an absolutely monstrous “46 Days,” a Phish phan favorite. The jam was transportive, trance-inducing at times, the Trio fully locked in with each other. It was a great example of “yes, and?” jamming, a concept adopted from improv comedy. It’s the idea of the band setting up lines for each other and fully exploring wherever they may go. After diving into some pretty deep and dark depths, the band pulled themselves from the chasm to absolutely shred before the set came to a close.

Trey Anastasio Trio

Throughout the show, the crowd was incredibly focused, hanging on every single note with very little chatter between songs. It was interesting to see such a notoriously rowdy fanbase lock in completely, enthralled with these artists and the music they immersed the crowd in.

If the first set felt quieter and more restrained, the second set was another animal altogether. They kicked it off with “Outside the Lines,” launching almost immediately into a fat jam that showed the crowd the Trio was not fucking around. This led into a soaring “Ruby Waves,” which again showcased how in tune the Trio is with each other. The huge jam featured a moment where Fishman started hitting some super intense breakbeats as if playing a thrash metal song and Douglas followed along seamlessly, laying heavy bass over the percussion.

Trey Anastasio Trio

After such a big and masterful jam, they slowed it down once again to play “Machine,” an undeniably pretty tune that hits the listener right in the soul. This led into yet another favorite “About to Run,” a bluesy, shreddy song that allowed Anastasio to show why he’s considered one of the greatest guitar players ever.

The Trio then launched into “The Moma Dance,” a beloved Phish tune and notorious jam vehicle, and the crowd went into an absolute frenzy. With Fishman taking over vocals, they didn’t disappoint with another beast of a jam that showed each member firing on all cylinders. It didn’t end there, however, as the jam began to take another shape, twisting and forming into another Phish favorite, “Twist.” The jam became bright and hopeful, breaking through the ceiling of the Mission and soaring out into the heavens. As the song came to a close, so did the set.Trey Anastasio Trio

It wasn’t over yet, though. The band took a brief break before returning for a mind-melting, kaiju-sized monster of an encore. It began as a version of “A Wave of Hope” but quickly became something else entirely. Douglas put his bass through some kind of distortion pedal, Fishman was rolling and playing with time, hanging below the beat in a beautifully jarring way, and Trey did what he does best: melting the fucking faces off every single person in the crowd. It eventually came to a close and the crowd gathered their spirits and carried them off to wherever they call home.

All Photography by David Cohn

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