The Best Streamed Performances of the Stay-at-Home Era

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and millions remain quarantined around the globe, more and more musicians have joined the streaming trend — performing live from their couches, kitchens, and even bathrooms — while consoling fans. Even classic bands like the Grateful Dead are streaming archival concerts, reminding listeners of a time when we weren’t so full of uncertainty and fear. From David Gilmour to Residente, here’s a new list of the best streamed performances from the stay-at-home era.

Grateful Dead

Starting Friday, the Dead will kick off a weekly streaming series on their YouTube channel, appropriately titled Shakedown Stream. They’ll begin with Truckin’ Up to Buffalo, a full set from their Fourth of July show from July 4th, 1989 at New York’s Rich Stadium. Dead archivist David Lemieux, who will broadcast a live show beforehand, claimed the Buffalo show was chosen due to the fact that the tri-state area is the epicenter of the pandemic. “To all of the Dead Heads in New York State and beyond, this one’s for you,” he said. — Angie Martoccio

Metallica

Metallica are posting full concerts from throughout their career every week for the foreseeable future for what they’ve dubbed #MetallicaMondays. Recent shows have included performances in Ireland and France from their most recent tours, but they dug a little deeper for this week’s concert, a 2009 performance in Copenhagen when the band was promoting its Death Magnetic album. The sound and video quality are predictably high — you can see how the lasers flay behind James Hetfield on set opener “That Was Just Your Life” — and they keep the energy high with a career-spanning collection of hits (“Enter Sandman,” “Master of Puppets”), deep cuts (“Trapped Under Ice,” “Damage, Inc.”), and the odd killer Queen cover (“Stone Cold Crazy”). The band is also asking fans with means to donate to their All Within My Hands charity, which helps fight hunger and helps people with COVID-19. — Kory Grow

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Jesse Malin

For the past two Saturdays, Jesse Malin has been performing full two-hour concerts from his Manhattan apartment, each with their own theme. Dubbed “The Fine Art of Self-Distancing” (a play on the title of his 2003 debut, The Fine Art of Self-Destruction), the intimate gigs touch on songs from throughout his career, along with covers by Neil Young, Squeeze, and his old band D Generation. He also does a goofy show-and-tell routine and offers his recommendations for staying sane during quarantine: books by Alan Ginsberg and Debbie Harry, a doc on the Bad Brains, and what he calls Scorsese’s last great film, The King of Comedy. But it’s Malin’s stories — told by a guy who literally grew up in and around the New York punk scene — that are the rare gems, like one in which Joey Ramone tells off Lorne Michaels for never booking the Ramones on SNL. — Joseph Hudak

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Residente

From the shelter of his home in Puerto Rico, the Grammy-winning MC Residente has passed the time in quarantine by reviving his most enduring hit songs via a series of YouTube jam sessions. Among them is a rootsy performance of his 2010 fight song, “Latinoamérica,” starring instrumentalists from all over the Americas: from Afro-Boricua vocalist Kianí Medina to the Oscar-winning Argentine composer Gustavo Santaolalla, who appears strumming a ronroco. “From the smallest of the Greater Antilles, I’m dedicating this song to everybody around the world,” says Residente in Spanish. — Suzy Exposito 

David Gilmour, Polly Samson, and Romany Gilmour

Pink Floyd singer-songwriter David Gilmour recently joined his wife and longtime collaborator, author Polly Samson, for a livestream marking the release of her new novel, A Theatre for Dreamers, which includes Leonard Cohen and his muse, Marianne, as characters. During the livestream, Samson answered questions about her book and Gilmour performed two Cohen numbers — “Bird on a Wire” and “So Long, Marianne” — and made them his own with his breathy, deep voice and distinctive guitar playing. “Marianne” was especially effecting since Gilmour and Samson’s daughter, Romany, beautifully sings the song’s high parts. Gilmour and Samson will host a series of events in the U.K., dubbed “Theatre for Dreamers – An Evening of Words and Music With Polly Samson and David Gilmour,” that will take place in September. In the meantime, they have another livestream planned for Thursday at 3:30 p.m. ET. — K. Grow

Julien Baker

The singer-songwriter and boygenius member performed a livestream set for Isol-Aid’s Lunch Without Borders on Tuesday night. Clocking in at 17 minutes, Baker tore through a heartbreaking rendition of Big Star’s “Thirteen” and unveiled a new song, “Mercy.” “It’s not newly written, but it’s not on a record or anywhere,” she said. “And it’s a song about other people showing you how to be a better person by being better people than you, which is an important and necessary lesson, and probably one of many that we’re all learning.” — A. Martoccio

Wynton Marsalis and Friends: “Skain’s Domain”

“When people pass away, in our tradition, the old folks used to say that people sit with ’em,” Wynton Marsalis said near the beginning of a recent Jazz at Lincoln Center livestream dedicated to the memory of his father, Ellis, a brilliant pianist and educator who died last week due to complications from COVID-19.

For the next 90 minutes, that’s what Wynton and various friends and admirers of the elder Marsalis — patriarch of a famed musical family and mentor to countless New Orleans musicians — did, gathering via Zoom to swap stories, tributes, reminiscences, and laughter.

Tuning in was like sitting in on a wake that was more about celebration than mourning. There was Late Show bandleader Jon Batiste, talking about meeting the pianist when he was 13 and grasping for the first time what it meant to devote your life to music; trumpeter Terence Blanchard, recalling how Ellis had passed him LPs by Miles Davis and Clifford Brown, who would become his two key influences; or 16-year-old pianist Joey Alexander, discussing how there was “something mesmerizing” about hearing Ellis on an album by another musician he’d mentored, Harry Connick Jr. For those of us more familiar with his sons and disciples than Ellis himself, it was a chance to get to know a man who, as Wynton put it, “embraced the higher part of our humanity all the time.” — Hank Shteamer 

Megadeth

Slipknot have been teasing their annual touring Knotfest outings — which are set to resume on May 30th in Syracuse, New York — with streams of some of their highlights every Friday, starting at 3 p.m. ET. The most recent one is a raging 2018 performance by Megadeth at Spain’s Resurrection Fest. It starts off with frontman Dave Mustaine introducing it from wherever he’s self-quarantining — some verdant, palatial park or maybe his backyard — wishing his fans well and saying that the show “was a fun one” and that he hopes headbangers enjoy it. The band played a career-spanning set list, including “Hangar 18,” “Symphony of Destruction,” and the rarely played “The Conjuring,” and judging from the nodding heads and banging fists, the spell they cast over the crowd worked. — K. Grow 

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