Last night, Phish opened up the second addition of their destination concert event in Riviera Maya, Mexico, playing the first of three nights situated on Barceló Maya Beach and delivering a two-set performance that frequently nodded to both the surroundings and last year’s musical offerings, plus a second set that took several live staples to impressive improvisational depths.
The night kicked off with “Free,” which got the festivities off to a joyous beginning and featured some water-testing leads from Trey Anastasio’s guitar and Mike Gordon’s bass. Drummer Jon Fishman was in the south-of-the-border spirit, coming on stage in a a custom luchador mask of the Mexican Lucha libre wrestling tradition, whose pattern matched his iconic blue and orange donut dress. Fishman would don the mask throughout the first set before removing it for the second. Also notable in the opening setup was the absence of the LED screens backing the band that lighting designer Chris Kuroda used throughout 2016.
The first set was then taken over by Gordon for “Yarmouth Road” before the band brought out the first direct nod to the beach setting in “Sand,” which featured some solid work from Anastasio and funky keys from Page McConnell. “Theme From the Bottom” continued some ocean-themed lyrics, and Gordon once again lead the way in a cover of Son Seals’ “Funky Bitch”. Anastasio and McConnell again highlighted the ensuing “Undermind” before the quartet rounded out the set with “NICU,” “Horn” and a stellar, energetic “Wolfman’s Brother.”
After a first set that featured several callbacks to last year’s Riviera Maya opening night, Phish continued the trend with the appropriately named “A Song I heard the Ocean Sing” to open up the second frame. The tune was the first one played in last year’s Mexico kickoff. The song was followed by “The Wedge,” and then the band dug into the real meat of the show, starting with “Fuego.” The live staple, which nodded to the Spanish-speaking surroundings, stretched to nearly 20 minutes and featured each member of the band showing some improvisational prowess in multiple peaks of jamming before Anastasio lead the way into “Prince Caspian,” which continued the improvisational spirit, albeit for a shorter span of time.
“Twist” came next and saw the band have some fun with teases, as the rendition included a quote of The Champs’ “Tequila.” The free playing and onstage chemistry continued to shine through on “Seven Below” before the set closed out with “Golgi Apparatus” and a typically rocking “Run Like an Antelope.” The band would then return for a two-song encore of “Contact,” its first appearance in 33 shows, and “Bug,” which was punctuated with languid guitar work from Anastasio.
Phish return to their beachside stage in Riviera Maya tonight for round two of three. See the opening songs to each set below.
Barcelo Maya Beach Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo , Mexico
Set I: Free, Yarmouth Road, Sand, Theme From the Bottom > Funky Bitch, Undermind, NICU, Horn, Wolfman’s Brother
Set II: A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing > The Wedge > Fuego > Prince Caspian > Twist > Seven Below > Golgi Apparatus > Run Like an Antelope
Enc: Contact, Bug