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Trey Anastasio Charms with the LA Phil at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Samuel Schulte |
March 12, 2012 | 2:27 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

via Wikimedia
via Wikimedia
On Saturday night, the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed to a new audience: Phish fans, each dressed up for a rare Trey Anastasio orchestral affair.

The Phish front man readied a nearly three-hour set to be played, not with his usual bandmates, but with the prestigious LA Philharmonic, conducted by Scott Dunn (Associate Conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra). In the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Anastasio's music expanded and transformed into textured symphonies, a transformation that left many in awe.

Unjustly criticized as being a "noodler," Trey Anastasio began his songwriting career by crafting intricate epics, drawing on structure and techniques from classical music.

In the acoustically pristine Walt Disney Concert Hall, the LA Phil breathed new life into these songs. Working with longtime arranger Don Hart, Anastasio adapted classics like "First Tube" and "Guyute" into playful numbers, complete with timpani rolls and string flourishes. Throughout the night, Anastasio and Dunn clearly enjoyed the rare experience of hearing his music in this classical language, a vocabulary that helped define his rock grooves.

Even after the rapturous applause between songs, the Philharmonic clearly was not prepared for the audience participation in “Stash.” The engaged crowd accompanied the melody with handclaps, a tradition that made its way into the Concert Hall.

Anastasio opened the second set with “Time Turns Elastic,” a new composition berated by longtime ‘phans’ as a frivolously constructed bathroom break. However, when performed with an orchestra, the near thirty-minute arrangement blossoms into a sweeping, thoughtful number.

However, the peak of the performance came from “You Enjoy Myself,” an essential Phish track that garnered the biggest reactions of the night.

Anastasio re-appropriated the famous vocal trick to wah-wah’d trumpets and a goofy trombone. However, it was Anastasio who truly shone. His guitar tone brightly defined, he used the building accompaniment as a showcase for his love and talent. Holding an epic note, Trey recoiled in ecstasy to the cheers of the crowd. At the bridge, he dropped his guitar and, abandoning the microphone, sung out into the crowd, eyes closed.

Anastasio clearly felt the importance of this night, often pausing to deliver heartfelt and humbling statements, both to honor the musicians and the venue. Awestruck, he proclaimed the Walt Disney Concert Hall to be “the greatest sounding room I’ve ever been in.” The audience, a mix between classical subscribers and Phish heads, reciprocated this feeling of wonderstruck appreciation.

Also, a kid proposed to his girlfriend in the front row. They must really love Phish.

Reach Samuel Schulte here.



 

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