The Trey Anastasio Trio/SummerStage Central Park at Rumsey Playfield/July 6, 2018
Ernest Anastasio III, known professionally as Trey Anastasio, was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and moved at age three to Princeton, NJ, where he learned to play drums. In his mid-to-late teens, he attended a prep school in Watertown, Conn., where he joined an 11-piece classic rock band called Red Tide as vocalist. In his junior year, seven of the musicians had graduated; Red Tide reformed as Space Antelope and Anastasio became the guitarist. Trey attended university in Burlington, Vermont, where in 1983 he started the band Phish as the lead vocalist and guitarist. He is credited by name as composer of 152 Phish original songs, 140 of them as a solo credit. In addition to his work with Phish, Anastasio has released 11 solo albums and had performed with several symphony orchestras and in countless side bands. Starting in 1998, perhaps the umbrella of these side projects is the Trey Anastasio Band (TAB) (originally known as Eight Foot Fluorescent Tubes), although there have been performances by the Trey Anastasio Trio (TAT) and similar sextets, octets and dectets. Anastasio’s eleventh and most recent solo album is 2015’s Paper Wheels.
Tonight’s concert at SummerStage Central Park at Rumsey Playfield was originally billed as the first tour of the Trey Anastasio Trio since 1999 while keyboardist Ray Paczkowski of the Trey Anastasio Band recuperated from brain tumor surgery. Paczkowski recovered faster than anticipated and joined the band to transform the concerts into theTrey Anastasio Band’s 20th anniversary tour with bassist Tony Markellis and drummer Russ Lawton — the lineup often known as Classic TAB. The band performed two sets plus five songs in the encore. Many of these songs have transitioned back and forth over the years between Phish and Anastasio’s side bands. Except for the three solo acoustic songs performed during the encore, the set consisted of songs where the lyric portion was dwarfed by the extended instrumental jams. In that sense, the concert was very much like a more laid-back Phish concert in a more intimate venue. Anastasio’s guitar work was mesmerizing, very often played as a series of bursts that seemed like links in a chain rather than as a long continuous scales. This was not a Phish concert, but it was a pretty close copy.
Beechwood/Berlin/July 9, 2018
Guitarist Gordon Lawrence and drummer Isa Tineo met through a common hobby, skateboarding, but playing rock music is what solidified the friendship in 2012. Lawrence was born in Manhattan, grew up in Leona, NJ, and now lives in Manhattan again; when he was eight years old his dad taught him a couple of chords on an acoustic guitar and by the time he was 11 he was jamming those two chords on an electric guitar to Ramones albums. Tineo was born in Queens and raised in New Jersey, where he met Lawrence; his father sang in the Beatnuts, and the youth sat at his dad’s drums and learned to keep a rhythm. Bassist Sid Simons was born in Sydney, Australia, and moved to Brooklyn when he was 12. The band Beechwood is named after the street where Lawrence lived and where the band started rehearsing. Beechwood released its third album, Inside the Flesh Hotel, on June 8, 2018.
When Beechwood came on stage at Berlin, Lawrence and Simons looked like androgynous models preparing for a fashion shoot, and Tineo looks like the tattooed guy who was going to steal your car while the others distracted you. Once the trio started rocking, however, Beechwood was all about high-energy rock ‘n’ roll with garage-style simplicity and raw, sweaty bravado, Beechwood carved a sound that was as charming as it was rudely aggressive. At times the songs seemed to start with inspiration from 1960s pop, but by the time they reached the bridge, they transformed into basic, humming chords that hammered the glam start into a gritty groove that borrowed from British punk and shoegaze. Beechwood has a unique, drilling sound that could take the band far.
Radiohead/Madison Square Garden/July 10, 2018
In 1985, several schoolmates formed a band called On a Friday in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England. The name On a Friday referred to the band’s usual rehearsal day in the school’s music room. The music teacher introduced the boys to jazz, film scores, postwar avant-garde music, and 20th-century classical music, all of which influenced what would become the band’s eclectic sound. Upon securing a recording contract, the band became Radiohead, the name taken from the Talking Heads‘ song “Radio Head”. Radiohead went on to sell more than 30 million albums worldwide. The band consists of its original members, Thom Yorke (vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards), brothers Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, keyboards, other instruments) and Colin Greenwood (bass), Ed O’Brien (guitar, backing vocals) and Philip Selway (drums, percussion). After nine studio albums, Radiohead released OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017 on June 23, 2017, a 20th-anniversary remastered version of its best-known album, OK Computer, with bonus B-sides and previously unreleased tracks.
Radiohead sold out four nights in one week at Madison Square Garden, and tonight on the debut of the series, with the addition of touring percussionist Clive Deamer, the repertoire looked back on the band’s entire career, not just OK Computer. Although the choices were not necessarily obscure tracks, they also were not a deliberate “greatest hits” package either — the band rarely performs “Creep” anyway. Overall, the two-hour-plus concert was a very mellow avant garde art-rock performance with flourishes of ambient jazz and progressive rock soundscapes, punctuated periodically with a punchy alternative rocker. Arrangements strayed from familiar standard practices, making them headier and somber. Blindfolded, listeners might say that meaty chunks of the instrumentals were not even rock music. The magic, hence, was in the manner in which the band captured the listeners’ imagination and steered them through both dense riffs and ethereal atmospheres. Radiohead succeeded in delicately balancing the mainstream and the abstract on a tightrope that was as comfortably safe as it was intriguingly risky.
Shadow Age/The Red Party at Mercury Lounge/July 14, 2018
After the 2013 disintegration of his previous group, In Circles, vocalist/guitarist Aaron Tyree formed two bands in Richmond, Va. Nocere became his straight-up synthwave project, and Colony became his cold wave band. Upon learning that several bands have used the name Colony, the band changed its name to Shadow Age. Shadow Age released its second EP, the four-track The Fall, on Oct. 23, 2017. The band currently consists of Tyree, bassist Ben Powell and drummer Evan Recinos.
The Red Party is a monthly gathering at Mercury Lounge for local goths who favor industrial, death rock, post-punk and just about anything that is dark and danceable. Shadow Age, a modern disciple of late-1970s British bands like the Cure, Joy Division and Bauhaus, fit the bill this month. Stage lights were already dim when Shadow Age began the midnight set, but after a few songs, Tyree asked that the stage lights be cut further. This might not be a good idea when an audience wants to be able to see you, but the darkness and Tyree’s lack of eye contact and between-song chatter perhaps added to the eeriness of the band’s fast-paced, synth-driven songs. Throughout most of the 45-minute set, guest keyboardist Frank Deserto‘s synthesizer started and ended songs and Tyree’s disaffected vocals swam through the dreamlike swash to produce a hazy, moody sound that painted both melancholic and poppy hues. Shadow Age and the Red Party provided the perfect excuse to break out the black nail polish again.