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Sunday, December 7

Review & Photos: Trey Anastasio Band - Stage AE - Pittsburgh,PA - 11/29/14

Being Steeler fans, my wife and I make it out to Pittsburgh once a year to catch a game at Heinz Field.  A couple of years ago as we looked out over the main parking lot from the stadium, we noticed a new structure had appeared on the Allegheny River next to the Jerome Bettis Grille 36.  It was a concert venue called Stage AE, and the first thing that popped into my mind was how much it resembled the “Storage Unit” from Phish’s Super Ball IX.  Since we travel somewhat of a far distance from Connecticut, we discussed wouldn't it be great if a band we like played here the same weekend as a Steeler game?  Well, it didn't take long and a band came to town that we not only like, but that we love.
The Fall Tour schedule for the Trey Anastasio Band was released and immediately we looked at the football schedule.  Seeing as the New Orleans Saints were traveling to play the Steelers the day following the Stage AE concert it didn’t take us long to book our flights and grab a hotel.  All of this occurring over Thanksgiving holiday taboot!  This indeed was going to be a surefire action-packed weekend.
The venue filled in quickly.  It was a Saturday night in late November and temperatures started to climb to a somewhat unseasonably warm comfort level.  Plenty of happy faces all around coming off Thanksgiving feeling good about visiting their families, enjoying lots of food and drink or whatever the case may be.  Positive energy certainly filled the room.  The only thing missing were the Terrible Towels.
A solid setlist would soon ensue.  After a sweet “Corona” opening to keep us on our toes , “Sand” belted out to unsurprisingly high levels early.  In my experience it’s pretty rare to get that song early in the show, but it was perfectly placed because as soon as the lights went down this city was ready to rock.  Night Speaks to a Woman always gets the crowd moving and grooving and this version did not disappoint.  “Bounce” -- a new song that made its debut this past summer and will no doubt make its way onto the new upcoming album  (Paper Wheels to be released in early 2015) -- tested the waters in the first set.  In my experience this poppy in your face energizer bunny of a song is a definite crowd pleaser.  One other song to note in the first set was the welcomed resurrection of “Come as Melody” which was last played on December 29, 2006 at the Palace in Albany, NY back in the 70 Volt Parade Days. 
Set two started out with additional new songs including “The Song” and the debut of “Speak to Me” and the latter truly lived up to its name.  It has a nice deep and dark edge to it and keeps you entrenched.  This one certainly has potential for expansion – look for it.  Now, it was time to tilt those glasses with “Gotta Jibboo” where Trey pours his soul into heartfelt guitar licks.  Skip ahead to the few and far between “Last Tube,” which is always welcome in any setting.  The crowd never gets sick of this one.  Next up, “Plasma,” which I always love.  While I miss the days of the elongated versions with ridiculous power build ups that go on for miles, this one put us all into a surrendering hypnotic trance.  “Clint Eastwood” always brings an ear-to-ear grin with Miss Hartswick giving it her all like it ain’t no thang.  We’ll continue through Eastwood with an extended version of band introductions where our good friend James Casey (Mugs) was apparently feeling the Pittsburgh love and couldn’t get enough of it.  While completely enamored with the beautiful women of the Steel City, there were apparently a few in front of him that especially caught his eye.  James didn’t want the grove to end and twice Trey cued up the band for a quick Looney Tunes “Thaaaat’s all Folks” seemingly in an attempt to stifle Mr. Casey’s wishes – nope, it didn’t work.  We love you too James.   Then onto the icing on the cake crowd favorite “First Tube” and a solid encore of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” because we all know once Clint Eastwood comes out we all need a little more J-Ha!
A perfect show on a perfect evening in Pittsburgh.  The only thing missing were the Terrible Towels.  Thank you Trey, Tony, Russ, Ray, James, Natalie and Jennifer.  Let’s do it again real soon!

 Words: Chris Warren 
Photos: Craig Casgar
 ©Grateful Music LLC