Friday, Trey Anastasio returned to The flagship theater for his first of two solo acoustic shows celebrating the unveiling of New York’s historic landmark Sound immersive sphere system. praised by MSG Entertainment as “the world’s most advanced concert audio system”, the setup installed at the Beacon serves as a preview of the larger-scale implementation to be included in the new MSG sphere in Las Vegas.
Given the system’s state-of-the-art 3D audio “beamforming” technology capabilities, a solo acoustic guitar show seemed at first an odd choice for its first outing. MSG Sphere EVP & COO Rich Claffey, however, was certain of Anastasio’s choice as the system’s official guinea pig. “Trey Anastasio is probably the best rock star to debut in this genre,” he confirmed. As Senior Vice President of Advanced Engineering of MSG Entertainment Stuart Elby explained, this type of performance is based on the intimate bond between the performer and the public, on the purity of the sound delivered by the rudimentary instrumentation. Indeed, with a one-man acoustic show, the onus is heavily on the sound system to deliver pure, clear sound to the thousands in attendance.
Related: MSG Sphere Immersive Sound Comes To The Beacon With Help From Trey Anastasio [Photos/Video]
The system seemed to be a resounding success as soon as Trey took the stage. From the ornate entrance hall of the theater at the front of the orchestra to the top of the balcony, every finest element of every acoustic pinch, every pick slide, every fond memory echoed through the theater with a amazing warmth and clarity.
After a mid-run rendition of “Strange Design,” Trey took a moment to wish the song a happy birthday, noting that he only knew his birthday because he wrote it a few days before he was born. his first daughter, Eliza. “I have no idea how old this one is,” he added before moving on to “Theme From The Bottom.”
“Steam” proved particularly lively as the crowd audibly “shuffled” in place of the smoke machines that usually accompany Phish renditions of the song. The first seemed to surprise an amused Anastasio: “Wait your turn,” he joked before resuming the song. “I need it, though. I need it.” Later, when the chorus of “shhhs” came on cue, Trey joked. “Beautiful. Immersive…”
A few funny stories surrounded “Possum” (a favorite of her grandmother, who always thought they were singing “pasta”, not “possum”) before the Trey invited the crowd to “listen while she speaks to you” via beam-like 3D sound on “Water in the Sky”. This song’s line to “the Everglades” caused the funniest moment of the night. Recalling Phish’s recent trip to Bethel Woodthe place on the 1969 site WoodstockAnastasio has registered his official complaint about the long-publicized attendance numbers and the iconic festival.
After seeing the grounds on the compound where the original Woodstock was held, Anastasio was far from convinced that the space could hold hundreds of thousands of people. “Certainly not there was half a million people in there. I’m sorry, like, I do a lot of gigs, I can usually gauge…I’m not trying to be sacrilegious here…sorry. But I just walked up the hill and I felt like there was Nope In hell, there were half a million people in this valley. It’s not that big. It’s like someone’s garden.
He ended up researching online, he explained, and found a blog that used a GPS-based calculation to measure the number of people in a photo of Woodstock. This guy estimated it to be a little over 83,000. Trey, smiling and semi-sarcastic, then proposed that Phish’s turn-of-the-millennium festival, Big Cypresswith attendance north of 70,000, may in fact have had more attendees than Woodstock.
“For the record,” he concluded, “I now officially make Big Cypress bigger than Woodstock. Thanks!”
The show ended with “Everything’s Right”, “Sample in a Jar”, “The Lizards”, and some shout outs to Marc Rebillet and Succession in the quarantine entertainment category. As Trey returned for his encore, the cheeky sass of his Woodstock comments seemed to make him blush slightly. He predicted what Page 6 The title could read on Saturday – “Guy From Phish Calls Bullsh*t On Woodstock” – before closing the evening with “Roll Like A River”, “46 Days” and “More”.
Watch a video of Trey’s Woodstock story and check out the show’s full setlist below. Trey Anastasio returns to the Beacon Theater on Saturday August 20 to complete his brief solo acoustic tour. For a full list of Anastasio’s upcoming tour dates, head here.
Guy From Phish Calls Bullsh*t On Woodstock – 8/19/22
set list [via phish.net]: Trey Anastasio | Beacon Theater | New York, NY | 08/19/22
Ensemble: Blaze On Back on the trainMercyBrian and RobertSigma OasisA bit more time Gin tubheavy thingsFreeSnowflakes in the sandWeird designHappy birthday to you bottom themeSteam > Possumwater in the skyEverything is fineSample in a jarThe Lizards
Again: Roll like a river > 46 daysMore
 Trey acoustic solo.
 Trey solo acoustic; first public performance.
 Trey solo acoustic; first acoustic performance.