After Wednesday’s single-set fiesta de bienvenidaPhish once again hit the beach in Mexico on Thursday for the first of three two-set performances as part of 2024’s Phish: Riviera Maya destination event. Whereas Trey AnastasioJon Fishman, Page McConnell, and Mike Gordon largely spent night one getting comfortable on the beach, night two saw the band push beyond its comfort zone and into the ocean depths for a number of creative, textural improv journeys on thematically appropriate song selections—including the longest jam the band has ever played in Mexico.

The band set a lively tone early with the first show-opening “First Tube” since Dick’s 2022 before floating out of the song’s closing feedback loop and into “Free”. After a light and airy “Roggae” to match the breezy beach evening atmosphere, the band dusted off rare nursery rhyme-style rarity “Driver” for the first time since the summer of 2021.

The set seemed to move from light and breezy into “down to business” with the fourth-ever live rendition of “hey stranger”, the moody vamp from Anastasio’s quarantine-era Lonely Trip LP, ahead of brief blasts of piano rock on “Gumbo” and “My Soul” gave the Chairman of the Boards a chance to stretch out an limber up for a long night of exploration to come.

Although many people will likely be talking about this show’s second set today, the dark horse high point of the show may have been the stellar “Birds of the Feather” that followed. Stretching to more than 20 minutes in length, this rendition barreled through hair-raising sustain, waded in shallow pools of whirring effects, and toiled in the undertow before rocketing to a rocking climax. While the band could have taken set break there without much pushback, Trey, Mike, Page, and Fish instead channeled the momentum of the “Birds” jam into a tension-and-release “Axilla (Part II)” featuring well-placed Chilling, Thrilling Sounds “Shipwreck” samples to round out the opening frame.

When the four musicians took the stage for set two, the serene tropical setting and the easy-going vacation vibes were clearly on their minds. The opening pair of aquatic jam vehicles, “A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing” and “A Wave of Hope”, offered a combined 52 minutes of dark, probing improv that cycled through textural synth effects, nimble rhythmic tangents, and more. Not quite aimless but certainly not in a hurry to go anywhere in particular, Phish spent much of that time percolating in the ocean spray and sliding between various enveloping moods, content to test the limits of its sonic breadth rather than move toward any particular destination. Of note, the 35-minute “A Wave of Hope” marked the lengthiest single jam in Phish: Riviera Maya history.

Phish – “A Wave Of Hope” [Pro-Shot] – 2/22/24

The seamless set moved from there into another newer tune, “Oblivion”, which continued to come into its own in its ninth Phish appearance. While Trey struggled with his singing parts at times during the show, he delivered this song’s stylized vocal runs and yodel-like “woo-hoos” with gusto. This one, too, dipped its toes into low-end grinds and grumbles from McConnell’s synth rig before taking a left turn into “Tweezer”.

It’s rare that a 15-minute, second-set “Tweezer” fades into the background of any show, but by the time this one echoed across the beach, it felt something like an afterthought. That’s not to say it didn’t touch on some interesting waters, though, as it flirted with the pretty, flowing ambiance of a Grateful Dead “Lost Sailor” jam and wound up at a howling, wind-whipping climax. The band still had a few tricks in store for the show’s last few songs, launching into “Tube” and taking a novel detour through rocker “Runaway Jim”—a quick window to come up from the dark, dank depths of the ocean and fire off a little major-key, peaking rock—before returning to “Tube” to cap a stupendous second frame. An encore featuring a feel-good “Bug” and an emphatic “Tweezer Reprise” rounded out the night.

Phish: Riviera Maya 2024 continues on Friday night with another two-set performance on the beach. Order your webcasts for the remainder of the run here to tune in from home. Stream audio of this show and every Phish show since 2003 by signing up for LivePhish+ here. Check Live For Live Music throughout the week/weekend for coverage of the Phish fiesta down in Mexico.

Related: How To Watch The Phish: Riviera Maya, Mexico 2024 Webcast

Scroll down to view the full setlist from Thursday night and view a gallery of beautiful photos via Peter Wallace.

Setlist [via]: Phish Phish | Moon Palace | Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico | 2/22/24

Set One: First Tube > Free, Roggae, Driver, hey stranger, Gumbo > My Soul, Birds of a Feather, Axilla (Part II)

Set Two: A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing > A Wave of Hope > Oblivion > Tweezer > Tube -> Runaway Jim > Tube

Encore: Bug > Tweezer Reprise

Notes: Driver was performed for the first time since July 30, 2021 (131 shows). Shipwreck was quoted in Axilla (Part II).