Phish’s Trey Anastasio brightened Friday evenings for fans in October and November with “The Beacon Jams,” an eight-week virtual residency livestreamed from Manhattan’s Beacon Theatre.
Now, fans can relive the shows – and get a peek behind the curtain – with “What Calls You Home,” a 16-minute mini-documentary released Thursday chronicling the gigs.
“‘Beacon,’ if you look it up in the dictionary, is a beam of light that is sent out to a sailor who is lost at sea,” Anastasio says in the clip. “My head blew up, when I thought of that. It was like, ‘Oh my god, that’s exactly what this is, but sonically.’ Everybody’s lost at sea. They’re out in the fog. A beacon is what calls you home.'”
Just blocks away from Anastasio’s home on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the Beacon provided a space for him to get back to creating music, offer fans solace during a difficult time and, perhaps most significantly, to raise money for the Divided Sky Fund, which was established through Phish’s longstanding nonprofit the WaterWheel Foundation and will finance a new addiction rehabilitation center in Vermont.
Donations generated from the eight shows, which were livestreamed on Twitch, totaled more than $1 million.
“What Calls You Home” offers a glimpse of the extensive rehearsals that went into the gigs, and also unpacks some of the general creative process behind them.
“I can’t face the empty Beacon,” Anastasio recalls telling his lighting director in the new clip. “I’ve played here so many times. It’s just going to be way too depressing.”
The conversation yielded one of the most novel aspects of Anastasio’s Beacon residency: His decision to play facing the back wall, with the theater’s seats as his backdrop.
In addition to interviews with Anastasio, the clip features insights from MSG Live executive vice president Darren Pfeffer, director Trey Kerr, lighting and production designer Marc Janowitz and associate music director Jeff Tanski.
Anastasio’s highlights at the Beacon include a sold-out two-night December 2014 stand, where he moved 5,540 tickets and grossed $223,320, and another sold-out show in October 2012, where he moved 2,788 tickets and grossed $115,846.
And Phish’s relationship with MSG Entertainment extends beyond the Beacon specifically: Prior to 2020, Phish had closed the last five years with four-night New Year’s runs at Madison Square Garden; the band’s four sold-out shows at the arena that closed 2019 grossed $6.7 million. The band also posted gaudy numbers with its 13-show “Baker’s Dozen” residency at the Garden in summer 2017, selling 227,385 tickets and grossing $15 million.