Deep in the jungles of Brooklyn, a sound roared and echoed through Flatbush Avenue, sending shivers down the spines of everyone in the vicinity of the recently-revived Kings Theatre. This sonic reverberation came from the wailing of the Trey Anastasio Band as they concluded the last set of their residency at the prestigious theatre with a rendition of Jack Holmes’ “Dazed and Confused,” made famous by the mighty Led Zeppelin.

To those unfamiliar with Trey Anastasio, he is the genius behind the seminal jam band, Phish, and has even filled the shoes of the late Jerry Garcia during the final Grateful Dead shows this past summer. After a decade of touring with Phish, Anastasio decided to form a solo project dubbed the Trey Anastasio Band in 1998 featuring a trio, now a septet, of proficient musicians just as his late mentor, Garcia, did in 1975.

Today, the band travels around the country, selling out every tour stop with the reputation of Anastasio supporting the stature of the band. While Phish continues to be the primary project of Anastasio, he still finds time to record solo records and tour with TAB. However, for fall 2015, Anastasio has taken a break from Phish until their New Year’s Eve run at Madison Square Garden and has undertaken a TAB fall tour which includes a pair of Las Vegas Halloween shows and even a return to the famed Depot in Salt Lake City.

To the excitement of Anastasio’s fan base, the guitar god is also preparing to release his first solo composition since 2012’s “Traveler,” “Paper Wheels.” The album is comprised of 12 funky ballads that allow anyone to take a glimpse at the softer side of Anastasio.

While not officially out until Oct. 30, Anastasio has released various singles from the new album including “Cartwheels,” which beautifully harkens to the likes of 2005’s “Shine.” Also released was “Sometime After Sunset,” which opened the show of the last night at Kings Theatre with its catchy grooves and catastrophic ending that mixes a heightening tempo and Anastasio’s signature howl with his trusty companion, the Languedoc G2 guitar.

Fortunately, a copy of “Paper Wheels” came my way; a sort of early Christmas present. Anastasio brings his signature flare to this record without compromising his artistic style, blending a mix of folk ballad with his eclectic taste for complexity. Evidence of this is “Lever Boy,” which becomes a somewhat psychedelic trip as the track progresses and Anastasio draws you in with confounding lyrics like “a torrent of syllables all swirl around / as I try to decode a particular sound / that will serve as a lamp post, a signal or a flame / to dispel the impression of more of the same.”

Notable of this effort is that Anastasio brought his whole touring crew into the studio to bust out this timely record, which drips in tantalizing vigor. In “Bounce,” Anastasio lays down a bluesy progression that is supported by the vocal harmonization of trumpeter Jennifer Hartswick, trombonist Natalie Cressman and saxophonist James Casey, but eventually transforms itself into a Phish-esque jam session that calls upon their University of Vermont roots (interesting since “Paper Wheels” was recorded in Vermont.)

While often feeling slower than previous efforts, Anastasio makes up for the slack by leaving surprises in each piece such as “The Song,” which is strangely reminiscent of a Weezer progression and feel that makes anyone double take to make sure they haven’t plugged in “The Blue Album.” Even if you fancy Anastasio’s break-neck Phish material, it’s hard not to love the emotional toll Anastasio takes on his audience with this evanescent album of surprising proportions.

To test this new material out with his enormous fan base, Anastasio and TAB traveled to Brooklyn to kick off their fall tour. This was one of only two shows in New England before Anastasio and his crew head west to Las Vegas. The crowd was beyond thrilled to catch their favorite guitarist, who were converted from Dead Heads by Anastasio’s downright inhuman performance with the Grateful Dead during the Fare Thee Well shows this summer.

The theatre itself was immaculately beautiful with early 20th century decor varnishing all sides of my periphery. But no matter how ornate the theatre was, it couldn’t hold a flame to the sheer brilliance exhibited by TAB that fateful Saturday night. Being my fifth time catching Anastasio, there were certainly expectations to be held, but all were blown as Anastasio blistered through one of the best first sets that I’ve listened to in a while. The highlight of the set being a wild rendition of Anastasio’s “Tuesday,” which ended with a jam session for the ages as Anastasio cued each member as to when to commence their audible assault, almost like a commander in battle. “Cayman Review,” a fan favorite, was funky as always with Anastasio even sneaking in a little tease of “Streets of Cairo,” something he often did this past summer on tour with Phish.

The covers, however, blew everyone’s mind, with covers in the first ranging from The Wailers’ deep cut, “Small Axe,” and the TAB debut of the late George Harrison’s 1970 anthem, “What Is Life,” which allowed Anastasio to have his time of momentary bliss as a member of the Fab Four. By far, the best cover of the first wasn’t sung by Anastasio but rather Cressman, who seductively took a stab at Ana Tijoux’s “1977,” which was completely sung in Spanish and featured some deep grooves between Anastasio and drummer Russ Lawton. Anastasio also busted back out “O-o-h Child,” the 70s ballad that allowed the raspy Anastasio to trade licks with bassist Tony Markellis. By the end of the set, the audience was on their feet with jaws glued to the floor and an eerie quietness that was somehow understood by all.

For the second set, Anastasio chose to simplify himself with a string of ballads that simmered the audience down from their energy high. “Goodbye Head,” Anastasio’s 2006 creation, sounded perfected live with the horn section that added a flair to the bridge and placed emphasis in all the right places. “Shine” was as melodic as it could get for the group as they harmonized for the chorus and blistered through the song like tissue paper while never missing a beat.

However, Anastasio wasn’t afraid to go at the audience’s jugulars, especially with “Simple Twist Up Dave,” which brought the funk down on the house with its heightened intensity and Anastasio’s weaving in and out of scales to add a sort of apocalyptic atmosphere throughout the venue. “Architect” an odd-folk composition that sounds like 90s Beck at points, had everyone in the audience rising up from their seats from a string of slow ballads and onto the dancefloor of your labeled row.

The highlight of the second set and of the whole show was the closing number, a rendition of “Dazed and Confused,” done Zeppelin-style, of whom Anastasio usually covers to close out many TAB shows. Hartswick took on the vocals with grandeur and belted out the number out of its 12-year live hiatus. Her vocals were on par, if not better, than Robert Plant’s and was matched by Anastasio’s vibrato-laced guitar playing that could give Jimmy Page a run for his money. With show two closed in the books, it can be assumed that Anastasio and TAB have their work cut out for them as they continue onward to a Halloween run in Las Vegas.


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