Phish hit the beach one final time on Sunday afternoon to round out the band’s 2022 Riviera Maya, Mexico vacation.
A confluence of factors ensured a particular shade of mellow for the evening’s proceedings even before the quartet hit the stage on Sunday. The show’s 5:30 p.m. start time set up set one as a rare “day set.” A delicacy reserved for festivals and special events like this one, something about a Phish show in the afternoon sun sets a uniquely familial tone (good day to you, too, kind sir). Mix that with the settled-in serenity of any run’s final night. Adjust for four-days-at-an-all-inclusive-tropical-beach-resort inflation. Carry the one…
While the stakes surrounding a show sometimes create a sense of urgency, Sunday’s specs set up the inverse of that equation: an all-gravy, clear-minded, feel-good celebration that reflected the environment, just like Holy Blankenstein would have wanted.
The Mexico stage has functioned as a red carpet of sorts this week, with bold wardrobe choices consistently capturing the attention of the crowd tuning in from home. From Jon Fishman‘s technicolor muumuus and Garcia cosplay (his Jerry beard had been conspicuously axed by showtime on Sunday) to Trey Anastasio‘s big David Rose energy on Night 3, the men of Phish have delighted in the sartorial arts all week long. Unsurprisingly, the Phish Day Set beachwear line left streamers with plenty to chat about on Sunday: Fishman in a dapper green with sunny, yellow donuts; Page McConnell repping his ride-or-die, “Sleeping Monkey”, in a flattering teal; Mike Gordon playing the “cool bassist” in chic aviators and a dark “gracias” t-shirt; and Ernesto in cactus-covered burgundy and a pair of vintage flip-up shades from the Spring 1995 Tommy Boy collection.
— Phish: From The Road (@Phish_FTR) February 28, 2022
After taking a beat to address a monitor issue, the Chairman of the Boards led the way into Little Feat‘s “Fat Man In The Bathtub” for the band’s third-ever check-in with that sweet chiquita, Juanita (and first since December 2010, a gap of 386 shows). An old-school “Mike’s Song” > “I Am Hydrogen” > “Weekapaug Groove” flowed in from there. While the “Mike’s” had a rocky start, “Hydrogen” was as gorgeous as ever and “Weekapaug” ballooned to fill the beach thanks to some thrilling interplay between Page and Trey.
Apparently noticing a fan in the water applying sunscreen, Trey borrowed a quip from Buffalo Bill—”it puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again”—and Page dropped in a “Shipwreck” sample before launching into “46 Days”. This laid-back jam meandered along the shoreline for a few minutes of airy improv before making its typically grand exit by way of some soaring Anastasio trills.
A plucky “Rift” and a soothing “If I Could” gave way to the distorted tension of “My Friend, My Friend” before landing in a surprise highlight of the show, the first-ever non-Vegas performance of the Get More Down mission statement, “Clear Your Mind”. As part of Sci-Fi Soldier saga, the song—packed with lyrical homages and “Holy Blankenstein!” howls—was central to the plot: only by clearing our minds and getting more down can Earth save itself from the apocalyptic “Howling“. On a beachside Sunday at sunset, with the complexities of the Halloween gag stripped away, the bouncy new tune struck the same intangible chord as any classic Phish song. Rife with in-jokes, nerdy mythology, and potent quotables, the emergence of “Clear Your Mind” in the live Phish rotation in Riviera Maya proved to be the perfect focal point of this easy, breezy afternoon on the beach.
— Phish: From The Road (@Phish_FTR) February 27, 2022
Not to be outdone by the new kid on the block, the “Split Open and Melt” that followed asserted why it’s still the baddest MFer in town. The last of the sun’s rays slipped from the sky as the band shifted through brooding, mysterious phases, bringing Chris Kuroda‘s towering lights into focus for the first time on the evening. Some tastefully-applied pitch-shifting from Trey took the band through a brief “On Broadway” tease—a nod toward what comes next, perhaps—before Fishman dropped the hammer on a set-closing “Suzy Greenberg” replete with its hair-raising piano theatrics and some beach-focused ad-libs (“It looks like a lot of fun swimming in the ocean,” the drummer crowed, momentarily content with the fact that Suzy had forgotten his name).
After a setbreak soundtracked by the soulful stylings of Neal Francis—both on the air and on the sand—set two got underway with funky “No Men In No Man’s Land” that blazed to a quick peak. Another newer jam vehicle, “Everything’s Right”, kept things light and grooving as Fishman led the charge, yet again preaching the gospel of gratitude.
“Prince Caspian” floated in next upon the “Everything’s Right” wave and proceeded to swell to tsunami-sized sonic breadth as Trey wrestled with the neck of his Languedoc. As the wave crashed and washed back into the ocean in a swirl of ambient sound, Anastasio led the way into another situationally appropriate selection, “Beneath a Sea of Stars, Pt. 1”, and drew that imagery into alignment with TV on the Radio‘s “Golden Age”, its “your arms in the air stir a sea of stars” line resonating more clearly than ever.
The band once again took its time here, milking the slow-build as Fishman and Gordon locked in on a nimble groove. Page and Trey linked up at the twelve-minute mark, chasing each other around with lead riffs like two pups vying for the same chew toy. At seventeen minutes, that playful ambiance percolated into darkness as Kuroda sent pulses of colored light ricocheting across the rig.
After nearly twenty minutes of patient—if somewhat uneventful—”Golden Age” improv, the band washed ashore once again with the quintessential “quarantine Trey” message in a bottle, “Lonely Trip”, now well on its way to setlist staple status. Such a feel-good night deserved a “Harry Hood”, and the lively one that closed set two satiated the craving with some extra build-up dissonance that paid strong dividends on its gorgeous release. The grateful sentiment held strong through the encore as an emotional “A Life Beyond The Dream” set up some final “First Tube” fireworks.
Was this the greatest show ever? No. Was it the best show of the weekend? Probably not. Was it a beach-day love-fest both performed and received with notably clear minds and appreciative disposition, just like they drew it up? Absolutely.
Check out a full gallery of photos from the Sunday performance below courtesy of photographer Peter Wallace.
Setlist: Phish: Riviera Maya | Moon Palace Resort | Cancún, Quintana Roo, MX | 2/27/22
Set One: Fat Man in the Bathtub, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, 46 Days, Rift, If I Could > My Friend, My Friend > Clear Your Mind > Split Open and Melt, Suzy Greenberg
Set Two: No Men In No Man’s Land > Everything’s Right > Prince Caspian > Beneath a Sea of Stars Part 1 > Golden Age > Lonely Trip, Harry Hood
Encore: A Life Beyond The Dream, First Tube
 No “Myfe” ending.