Phish eased into the first set tonight during night two of their Mexico run as the group worked in breezy, tame offerings of tunes before ramping up the energy later on.
Among the highlights, a notable opening “The Curtain With” making just its third appearance since 2014 and it showed, as the quartet stumbled through some of the changes before settling into the “With” section nicely. The Big Boat tune “Breath and Burning” was as appropriate a selection as it gets, as the tune inspired by Phish’s first trip to Mexico references dancing on the beach at seemingly every turn.
From there, the mood mellowed considerably as “Poor Heart” gave way to a steady dose of patient, down-tempo Phish as Page McConnell led the band on “Halfway to the Moon” before _Fuego_‘s “The Line” led into _Big Boat_‘s obscure, Mike Gordon-led “Waking Up Dead.”
After the meat of the set took a slow turn, the energy would soon return with a “Tube” that veered from its standard modern-era form, albeit briefly. Trey Anastasio experimented with some different, darker riffs to accent Page McConnell’s funk-driven playing as the stage lights were turned off, illuminating the palm trees that live behind the stage. The Rift standout “Fast Enough for You” proved to be a pleasant surprise, notching just one play in 2016 before “Ocelot” gave way to the set’s centerpiece, an extensive “Chalk Dust Torture” that saw the band dip their toes in the improvisational water for the first time as Anastasio grabbed control of the jam, taking it deep before returning to the song’s finale.
The second set would pick up where the first let off, as the quartet launched into a blistering “Crosseyed & Painless” that, while sticking to the song’s structure, included a fiery solo from Anastasio before the guitarist called for “Blaze On,” played in a straightforward manner and followed by a playful “Meatstick,” which proved to be one of the surprises of the set. Phish worked in “Crosseyed” teases to a rare “Meatstick” jam as the group played off of the slow, bouncy groove before slowing things down with “Winterqueen,” another Fuego cut on the evening.
Another pleasant surprise on the night came with the Big Boat outcast “Mercury,” which continued its slow comeback to the rotation last night (notching three plays on the 2016 Fall Tour) with a tight, confident version seemingly redeeming themselves for the missteps in “The Curtain With” earlier in the night. Out of the ambient fuzz of “Mercury” emerged the charged-up chords of “Light” as the band set off on yet another improvisational adventure, this time exploring “Light” with impressive full-band interplay in one of their most focused and decisive moments of the night. A rare set-closing “Wading in the Velvet Sea” brought the set to a close.
While “Wading” was placed in an unusual spot, The Who’s “Drowned” kicked off the encore, marking the first time ever that the tune has made it into the encore. Once again, the band had some fun with the song, piping in “still waiting” chants as a nod to the “Crosseyed” earlier on in the night. An equally playful “Rocky Top” brought the night to a close as the group sang about Tennessee in Mexico.
Phish will conclude their run tonight.
Here’s a look at the setlist:
Barcelo Maya Beach Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo , Mexico
Set I: The Curtain With, AC/DC Bag > Breath and Burning, Poor Heart, Halfway to the Moon, The Line, Waking Up Dead, Tube > Fast Enough for You, Ocelot > Chalk Dust Torture
Set II: Crosseyed and Painless > Blaze On > Meatstick > Winterqueen, Mercury > Light > Wading in the Velvet Sea
Enc: Drowned, Rocky Top