Trey Anastasio brought his side project, the Trey Anastasio Band, to the Westville Music Bowl for the first time, along with the largest crowd the venue has seen since opening in May 2021. This high energy, jam rock meets big band ensemble brought many familiar qualities to the show, as well as new directions, including band members and song selection. The weather cooperated for this outside event, with summer-like weather conditions that only elevated an incredible night of music.
As with all things, change is the only constant. Last night's line up included many familiar faces that fans enjoy seeing show after show, along with two new members. Most notably, the line up was missing the original bassist Tony Markelis, who passed away last May. In his place was Dezron Douglas, a brand new face to fans, but has been collaborating with Trey Anastasio and other band members for years. Another recent line up change was the addition of saxophonist Cochemea “Cheme” Gastelum, who is siting in this tour for James Casey while he battles colon cancer. Russ Lawton (drums), Ray Paczkowski (keywords), Jennifer Hartswick (trumpet/vocals), Natalie Cressman (trombone), and Cyro Baptista (percussion) rounded out the the rest of this all star squad.
Another change last night was the lack of pod style seating arrangements. At past Westville shows this season, the floor was filled with groups of chairs spaced apart to maintain social distancing. Last night, there were no chairs and about 2000 people packed together on the floor. The lower bowl section with seating was estimated at about 3000 people in attendance, while the upper bowl section was closed off. This marks the largest crowd at the Westville thus far, though despite this statistic, there was still plenty of room for everyone as the venue holds approximately 10000.
The show began as the sun dropped down on the Western horizon with a familiar tune by Anastasio's other band Phish, "Set Your Soul Free." When the Trey Anastasio Band formed in 1999, they played originals and rarely covered Phish songs. That has all changed as the years roll on, especially after Anastasio's residency at the Beacon Theatre last fall.TAB original "Olivia" was up next, and was followed by "...And Flew Away," a new song that had been played only once prior, during the Beacon Jams last year. The highlight of the first set was certainly "Alive Again" > "Ghost," another song from Phish's catalog, with a sweet segue between the two. "Liquid Time" was proceeded by "I Never Left Home," the second song played only once prior to this tour during the Beacon Jams. The set closed out with Hartswick adding her deep vocals to the classic jam vehicle, "Night Speaks."
After a quick set break, the band took the stage earlier than expected as the evening chill was making an appearance. The set kicked off with "In Rounds," another staple from the TAB collection. The funky Phish tune "Camel Walk" was up next, and had everyone moving and grooving. The feeling of familiarity elevated with the quintessential "Sand," from their Alive Again album. The next sequence was the highlight of the evening, and included innovative jams as well as songs old and new. This began with "Curlew's Call," from Plasma, and transitioned into "Quantegy," which was last performed in front of a live audience at the Township Auditorium on May 3rd, 2005. The jam sandwich continued with TAB requisite "Drifting" and "Traveler," another less frequent tune that was last seen at the Capitol Theater on January 11, 2020. "Traveler" included Gastelum on the flute, who showed his multi-instrumental skills. The set wrapped up with dark tones of "Mr. Completely," and included a solid build up at the end. Paczkowski and Anastasio connected flawlessly with Baptista, yielding a delicious synth heavy jam to end the set. The band returned to play the mellow "Ether Sunday" followed by the best song to close a TAB show with: "First Tube." The audience exited the show with delight after an incredible evening of tasty jams at the premiere outdoor concert venue in the Northeast.
Last night proved the age old saying to be true: Change is like a holiday. The new band members and songs, combined with Phish favorites, along with the outstanding staff and ambience at the Westville Music Bowl was the perfect bittersweet goodbye to the summer concert season. The good news is that the Trey Anastasio Band has just begun their fall tour, and have many more stops to deliver their exploratory jams. Tomorrow night, the band will grace The Met, an ornate and storied venue in Philadelphia, Pa, for a sold out crowd. Head on over to Trey's website for more details about this show, live streams and other dates.
Set Your Soul Free, Olivia, …And Flew Away, Alive Again > Ghost, Liquid Time, I Never Left Home, Night Speaks to a Woman
In Rounds, Camel Walk, Sand, Curlew’s Call > Quantegy > Drifting > Traveler, Mr. Completely
Ether Sunday, First Tube