LIVE: Trey Anastasio @ SPAC, 06/18/2021

Trey Anastasio, the lead guitarist and vocalist for the jam band Phish, started his first acoustic show out of a three-night run at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Friday, June 18th. 

Before the Covid-19 restrictions were lifted, the Trey shows at SPAC limited the capacity to a 30% audience with socially distanced pods on the lawn. Guests were treated to a brand new concession stand, bathrooms and pavilion that brought sophistication to the venue as well as a better flow for foot traffic. 

Photo by Jim Gilbert

As the lights came down, the crowd went wild for Trey as he walked onstage to his three acoustic guitars waiting for him. Trey wasted no time and strummed those familiar chords for a  “Wilson” opener much to the crowd’s delight and chanting. A fun surprise was the accompaniment of pianist Jeff Tanski and a 4 piece string quartet, who have become known as the “Rescue Squad Strings” since Trey’s Beacon Jam shows last summer. As the weather starting to bring a light mist to the night, the song “Water in the Sky” felt right in the moment with a slight country twang and slow tempo. 

Photo by Jim Gilbert

One of the best parts about seeing Trey Anastasio acoustically is the increase in his humorous storytelling and playful banter. He was giddy and caught himself in amazement multiple times as he still couldn’t believe we were all together again. He shared jokes about the lockdown, bread, chocolate, and bragging rights of being a plague veteran. Fans were treated to a variety of Phish favorites such as the classic “Fluffhead”, the dark melody of “Split Open and Melt” and a cascading “Harry Hood”. The strings and piano added a romantic flair and airy melody to the evening.  

Photo by Jim Gilbert

The show felt intimate as Trey gently whispered lyrics with care, strumming and plucking those guitars with intense focus.  It became clear that as the show progressed with the set list, fans couldn’t help notice the ongoing theme of a comforting beginning to life after the pandemic. With lyrics such as “the time has come for you to be alive again”, “take off your masks” and “step outside your room”, it was a healthy taste of life moving forward and slowly returning to the joys of concerts. 

Photo by Jim Gilbert

Fans were treated to a double encore of “More” and “First Tube” with a Western vibe and joyous buildup. A nod and final joke of the evening was the walk off song, “Feels like the First Time” by Foreigner. Trey Anastasio earned himself a standing ovation as the crowd buzzed with appreciation and gratitude. Truly a great experience to start off the summer of music at SPAC again. 

Photo by Jim Gilbert

Setlist (from

SET 1Wilson [1], Alive Again[1], Stash [2], Water in the Sky[2], Lost in the Pack[1], Back on the Train[1], Sample in a Jar[1], Sigma Oasis[1], Theme From the Bottom[1], Shade [3], Fluffhead[2], Mercury [4], The Inlaw Josie Wales[2], Turtle in the Clouds[1], Maze[1], Snowflakes in the Sand[1], Everything’s Right [5], Split Open and Melt [6], Joy[2], Harry Hood[2]

ENCOREMore[1], First Tube[4]

[1] Trey on acoustic guitar.
[2] Trey on acoustic guitar; with the Rescue Squad Strings and Jeff Tansky on piano.
[3] Trey on acoustic guitar; with Jeff Tansky on piano.
[4] Trey on acoustic guitar; with the Rescue Squad Strings and Jeff Tansky on piano. First acoustic performance.
[5] Trey on acoustic guitar. Started and stopped before being played in full.
[6] Trey on acoustic guitar; with Jeff Tansky on piano. First acoustic performance.

1 Comment
  1. Astrida says

    Nice photos!

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