Trey Anastasio waded into the waters of The Beacon Jams on Friday night for the first of eight weekly live streams from New York’s storied Beacon Theatre. We’ve already said plenty about the significance and scenarios surrounding this unprecedented virtual residency, so we’ll get right to it here with a rundown of the action at The Beacon Jams Night 1.

Heading in, we had essentially no idea what to expect. Very quickly, a few things stood out. First—the band. Prior to the camera panning down from the chandelier to start the show, it wasn’t clear who would be on the stage. Quickly, viewers tuning in via Twitch were shown a horn-less version of the current Trey Anastasio Band lineup, with Russ Lawton on drums, Tony Markellis on bass, Ray Paczkowski on keys, and Cyro Baptista on all sorts of percussion. The other immediate take-away was the stage setup: rather than facing out toward the non-existent crowd as they usually would, the band set up facing backstage, allowing the viewers at home to take in the show with the Beacon in all her majesty as the backdrop. For whatever reason, this simple but powerful distinction didn’t dawn on this writer until that first shot came into frame, and seeing the ornate venue adorned by extra lights planted in strategic seats in the house was a “eureka” moment out of the gate. Of course! Score one for The Beacon Jams.

Another thing that quickly stood out was the relaxed vibe of the band and the pauses between the songs. It sure is eerie hearing TAB rip a fantastic “Blaze On” only to finish to total silence. It’s a wrinkle that all parties—both inside the venue and outside tuning in—will adjust and adapt to over the course of the next several weeks of Beacon Jams. However, this unusual aspect also revealed a fun new layer for this run of “virtual” shows: The band appears to be facing a screen that displays the Twitch comment section, allowing Trey to interact with fans tuning in in real time. He spent a fair amount of time during the one-set, two-and-a-half-hour show responding to commenters. However you may have felt about the frequent chat tangents, this feels like a fun new development, and we’re excited to see how that interaction evolves as the run goes on.

The set continued in the same stop-start fashion with a mix of live debuts from Trey’s quarantine record, Lonely Trip (like “I Never Left Home”, “A Wave of Hope”, and “If I Could See The World”) and go-to live TAB songs (like “Soul Planet”, “Dark and Down”, and “Sand”). Early on, we got our first “special guest” of the residency when Trey’s frequent theatrical collaborator Jeff Tanski, a Queens, NY resident, joined Ray on keys for a lovely rendition of Phish‘s Sigma Oasis ballad, “Shade”.

Perhaps the most unusual musical segment of the evening was a jazzy performance of Phish classic “Stash” by the trio of Trey (guitar/vocals), Tanski (piano), and Baptista (clapping/beat-boxing). A clear deviation from the norm for the song, this version is worth a listen sheerly based in its unique arrangement. That is, if we can re-listen. Surely this content will surface at some point, but who knows when—tomorrow morning? At the end of the residency? As an archival release years down the road? On Twitch, there’s no “going back,” so we’ll have to wait and see if the show, whether in chunks or in full, makes its way to LivePhish or YouTube. As with many of the details for The Beacon Jams, it seems we’re going to have to keep making our best guesses as we go. Game on. [Update 10/10/20: The first night of The Beacon Jams is now available on LivePhish]. [Update 10/14/20: Trey Anastasio has shared a video of “Everything’s Right” > “…And Flew Away” from Night 1 of The Beacon Jams. Watch it below].

Trey Anastasio – “Everything’s Right” > “…And Flew Away” [Pro-Shot] – The Beacon Jams Night 1 – 10/9/20

[Video: Trey Anastasio]

After “Stash”, the rest of the band made their exit as Trey pulled up a chair for an acoustic take on quarantine tune “When The Words Go Away”. Rather than performing an extended acoustic “set,” however, the band quickly returned for a hot and heavy “Everything’s Right”, which moved into quarantune “…And Flew Away”. Trey once again grabbed his acoustic for “The Inlaw Josie Wales” and “Sunset Days”, and paused to express his gratitude for all the parties involved in making The Beacon Jams a reality before closing out Night 1 with a rocking “46 Days”.

With that, the camera panned back up to the chandelier and the credits rolled. Night 1 of the Trey Anastasio Beacon Jams is in the books. In case you were wondering, they gave no indication as to what was to come next week. We have a strong suspicion that this is how it will go every week: Until the camera pans down from the Beacon ceiling on Friday night, what you’re about to see will be a mystery. Trey has already confirmed that the band lineups will change from week to week, so your guess is as good as anyone’s. We did, however, take it upon ourselves to drum up some educated guesses of our own. You can dive into them here.

Either way, everyone, this is exciting. Live Trey, every Friday, with inherent surprise and intrigue built in. We’re all in. Catch you in the chat next Friday.

Setlist: Trey Anastasio | The Beacon Jams Night 1 | Beacon Theatre | New York, NY | 10/9/20

SET 1: Corona > Blaze On, I Never Left Home [1], Soul Planet, Shade [2], Dark and Down, A Wave of Hope[1], If I Could See The World[1] > Sand, Stash [3], When the Words Go Away [4], Everything’s Right > …And Flew Away[1], The Inlaw Josie Wales [5], Sunset Days [6], 46 Days

[1] Debut.
[2] Jeff Tanski on piano.
[3] Only Trey, Jeff Tanski on piano, and Cyro clapping.
[4] Debut; Trey solo acoustic.
[5] Only Trey on acoustic and Jeff Tanski on piano.
[6] Trey solo acoustic.

This performance was part of the Beacon Jams series and featured the debuts of I Never Left Home, A Wave of Hope, If I Could See The World, When the Words Go Away, and …And Flew Away. Trey quoted Windora Bug after Soul Planet. Shade featured Jeff Tanski on piano. Stash was performed by Trey, Jeff on piano, and Cyro clapping. When the Words Go Away and Sunset Days were performed by Trey solo acoustic. The Inlaw Josie Wales was performed by just Trey on acoustic and Jeff Tanski on piano.

 

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The Beacon Jams – Night 1 October 9, 2020 @beacontheatre New York, NY 📸: @jakesilco

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