*****The 8 Foot Flourescent Tubes at Higher Ground, in Winooski, VT.*****

(Trey Anastasio, Tom Lawson of The Pants, Heloise Williams of Viperhouse, Tony
Markellis former bassist from The Unknown Blues Band, and Boston based drummer
Russel Lawyton of Rhythmo Loco).

     This was like nothing else I have ever seen.  I have lived in Burlington
for years, and have seen members of Phish sit in with various bands literally
dozens of times, and it's always cool, but tonight was something truly
     Trey wrote all new songs for the show, and they were all really
 The music reminded me of old Talking Heads.  Lots of cool percussion with
synthasizer and vocal harmonies laid on top.  Very modern, electronic
 There was also a serious P-Funk aspect, and a couple of the tunes just
flat-out rocked.  The music was extremely technical, not just improv, so the
band must have spent a long time practicing to get it right.  It really
reminded me of how impressed I was when I saw Phish do Remain in Light so
flawlessly.  I hate to say it, and I love Phish, but Trey hasn't written songs
this innovative for them in years.  He was David fucking Byrne tonight!!  In
all seriousness, this was not just some cool rock concert.  It was very
complex, very impressive music, played to perfection.  Every single person in
that room was just blown away, because no one was expecting what we got!  I
no idea Trey had it in him to write music like this, and am very impressed
he and the band learned it so well.  The other band members were amazing.
by no means ran the show!!!  If anything, I was more impressed by the other 4
band members.  Trey really knew something when he picked these people to be in
the band!
      In addition to the music, the entire show had theatrics.  There were
costume changes, 1980's dancers, people getting hoisted up on cables and
swinging 8 foot fourescent lightbulbs, etc, etc, etc.  It was like a broadway
play, and the music matched perfectly with all the vuisual stuff.  It was not
cheezy or dumb at all.  At one point Mike even walked out on stage and leaned
some big cactus cut-outs on the keyboards for when they did a song with a
country/western sounding intro.
     They played for about an hour, without a single dull moment.  Then Trey
says that there are a lot of musicians in the house, so they were going to
a beak then have a jam session.  The original "Tubes" band played, along with
Grippo on sax, Fishman for a few tunes, some other guest singer, James Harvey
on trombone for a few tunes, and the singer of Lambsbread (a local raggae
band), who lead a big raggae section of the show.  It was hot, really hot! 
They even played Magilla.  This part, however, was just good musicians jamming
some pretty standard rock instrumentals and covers.  Very different from the
first half of the night.
    Get this tape, as you have never heard Trey be a part of anything like

Steve Nissman

Subject: Trey at Higher Ground From: Lerdawg Date: Sat, Apr 18, 1998 18:52 EDT Message-id: <6hbarl$htd$1@agate.berkeley.edu> Hey all! I am slowly recovering from last night's incredible show with Trey and other Burlington-based musicians at Higher Ground. I have never witnessed anything before like what occurred at last night's show. The show was billed as "8 Foot Fluorescent Tubes", which consisted of Trey on guitar, Russ Lawton of the Boston-based group Rythmo Loco on drums (or "hypnotic beats of insanity" if you will); Heloise Williams, from the Burlington-based group viperHouse, on vocals, keyboards, guitar, flute and wearing costumes (one was a horse!) Tom Lawson from The Pants on vocals, guitar and the "crazy synthesizer patch" as Trey described; and Tony Markellis, A.K.A. "Tony the Meat Man", on bass guitar. Many other musicians came on and off stage throughout the course of the evening, so I will try to name them as I review the show. This epic event was not for the faint of heart, as during the night the musicians mixed together sounds of rock, jazz, latin, hip-hop, funk, reggae, blues, calypso, new wave, trance, techno, punk and grunge in combination with a theatrical framework which heightened and enhanced the conceptual aspects of the performance. This was a true conceptual experience, no doubt about it! From the beginning, when a white curtain hung over the edge of the stage, masking the opening sounds of Burlington's brand-new formation, and throughout the event, as dancers and artists participated in a audio/visual display which was more than "live music", the conceptual framework provided ample guidance for the viewer. It was as if Burlington's entire musical past was being showcased, from the early formative days up through the glory years of the 80's and today's current diverse scene. Not one segment of music which has been hosted by this city's clubs was missed during the performance. By the end, it was clear which club in town would now serve as the proper stomping ground for locals desiring to capture performances by talented area musicians. The first set of the night featured the lineup as earlier described for the 8 Foot Fluorescent Tubes, where all new music written and composed by Trey Anastasio was debuted to a sold-out crowd. The hour-plus long set included a collaborative effort from costumed dancers, artists working with props and a lighting production. The new songs to this listener were influenced by the music of bands like the Talking Heads, Sex Pistols, Stevie Wonder and new wave and punk groups. The music was original, though, not just a clone of already performed material. The fresh, innovative composition served well the cast on stage, eager to bring out from behind closed doors their new sound. The interaction between members of the group was significant, because frequently the performance casted in a new direction. There was very little hesitiation invloved as the music guided the crowd through the production. Songs in the first set included "Silicone Fairy", a B-52's/Clapton hybird rocker with stunning guitar work from Trey and a catchy chorus filled in by the backup vocals. There also was a song (possibly titled "In The Mood") in which Trey and Heloise Williams matched lyrics about a husband/wife relationship. Other titles were elusive, characterized more by the props being placed on stage while being played, such as when Mike Gordon set cactus props alongside the edge of the stage. The 80's theme maintained primary focus this set, best identified by a fast-paced post-disco era song (may be titled "Naturally Too Lame"). Twice, 80's dancers wearing new wave costumes lept on stage and as the band jammed along, framed the musicians with huge, illuminated fluorescent bulbs. Another song (which may be named "Rebound") included a prop of a horse that Williams rode up toward the stage, before turning into a Western number with all the band members donning cowboy hats. Most songs yielded to Trey for solo work, accompanied only by Russ Lawton's snare and Tony the Meat Man's solid bass. The final song, played as confetti rained down upon the band, was Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground", sung in honor of the new establishment. The set concluded with Trey thanking the audience and inviting them to stay for the second set, which would be a funky jam session. The second set of the evening began with Anastasio taking the stage beside his friend Dave Grippo on saxaphone, launching into the Page McConnell song, "Magilla". Grippo led the way through a jazz jam before a number of other musicians joined the duo for songs including "Crossroads", "Stir It Up", James Brown's "Ants in My Pants", and more. A number of musicians joined the original Tubes members during this set, showcasing everything from the rasta chants and hip-hop stylings by the frontman of the Burlington-based reggae outfit Lamb's Bread; the trombone playing of James Harvery from Burlington-based Operation Anxiety; and the guitar playing of Pistol Pete from The Pants. Later, Jon Fishman took over on drums, and quickly got busy keeping the beat. A funk jam, complete with a James Brown-esque "drop into D" key change, capped the night's well-orchestrated entertainment. As patrons shuffled out of Higher Ground, the overall vibe was postive. They appeared faithfully ready to usher in this new era for Burlington's music scene. Lerdawg@aol.com Michael Lerman
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