WOW… That’s something that I said often during this weekend in DC, and especially speaking about The Anthem. A basically brand new (October) state of the art venue in the newly renovated Wharf district. This venue is one of the nicest and best ones I have ever been too, and quickly has become a favorite of mine. When Greensky announced this run with Billy Strings, I was first thinking about how 930 Club multiple night runs may go by the wayside, but then I realized that they both will absolutely tear the roof off of The Anthem. With much more space, and people to enjoy the music, this was easily one of the best places possible to see these two. Also noted, the largest indoor venue either of these artists have played, and one of the largest venues played period not including festivals. With the presale tickets being just over 5000, it meant that these two nearly sold the show out before it even started, still was close to a sell out. Something that Greensky and Billy have to be extremely proud of, as many other “mainstream” artists have not even come close to this feat at the exact same venue. Bluegrass is alive and well!
Opening the show was Billy Strings, who started off with two shorter songs being “Slow Train” and “These Old Blues” which were no shortage of fast pickin’ and fire from his guitar and band. Next was a monster “Dust in a Baggie” clocking at just over 12 minutes with another “Meet Meet at the Creek” at 14 minutes shortly after this. With a few thousand people in attendance, Billy definitely pleased older fans who have heard him before, and most importantly wowed anyone new who had not heard him before, and that is what it is all about. A new era of fans who will now seek him out and see his shows; so much talent for someone so young and on the rise in the industry! So glad to be a part of this.
Greensky followed the mood set for the night with a very unique pairing of them a cappella singing the “Star Spangled Banner” followed by “We’re An American Band>Burn Them”. Easily one of the most cool starts to any show I’ve seen. The National Anthem was played before the band’s surprise performance at the Washington Capitals game the next day singing this very tune. Super cool! The set continued with so many fan favorites such as “The Four,” “Handguns”, “Demons”, “Wings for Wheels”, Kerosene” and “Jaywalking into Living Over”. Hitting a lot of older and newer material and playing them with such precision and passion. The set seemed to flow so nicely with moments of peace through ballads, and pure intensity and jamming back to back.
Second set was just as tremendous with so many favorite songs as well, but greatly enough was the return of Cris Jacobs’ “Bone Digger” giving a nod to the Baltimore local musician who has shared the stage with them many times in the past. The only thing that would have made this awesome song better, was if he was up playing with them; luckily this has become such a fan favorite as well in their repertoire for rarer occasions. Also joining them once again was Billy Strings, as this was his final night of tour with Greensky on the east coast. He came up for “Little Maggie” and “I’d Probably Kill You” with so much back and forth jamming between him and Dave Bruzza and Anders Beck on the end. So great to see the talent onstage from him and Greensky as well. Ending this fantastic night of music in DC was “In Control” to a monster “Leap Year” followed by the always great “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath. This set and show showed their range in musical influence and their entire catalog of shows that have shaped them as musicians alike.
Always sad to see this weekend go, but glad there will be many more to come. It was the first time either band had played the beautiful Anthem in DC, but this was clearly an indication that it won’t be the last one! Let’s do it again the same time next year, but this time sell it out, maybe twice even for good measure! So much love for this music and fans.
“Don’t watch the music play,
Listen to the music play!”