Howling At The Moon Palace: Phish’s Fantastic Riviera Maya 2024 Finale – Setlist, Recap & Skinny

The band busted out “Chalk Dust Torture Reprise” for the first time since 2019.

By Andy Kahn Feb 25, 2024 8:52 am PST

Phish’s 2024 destination event in Riviera Maya concluded on Saturday with the final two sets of the weekend in Mexico. The previous two shows at the Moon Palace saw monster jams within their second sets, a 35-minute “A Wave Of Hope” on Thursday and a 40-minute “Chalk Dust Torture” on Friday, but it was Saturday’s first set that packed the evening’s biggest jams, while the second half had plenty of inspired improvisation as well.

“Simple” was called upon to open Saturday’s concert, which started a bit earlier than the previous two shows. “Simple” debuted in 1994 and made its 200th setlist on Saturday, while opening a show for only the seventh time, having last been played first at Dick’s in 2017.

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The opener would span 18-minutes of delicious jamming, led by guitarist Trey Anastasio’s inventiveness and bassist Mike Gordon’s playing that was equal parts melodic and rhythmic. The lengthy jam out of “Simple” eventually spilled into “Sanity” fulfilling a somewhat unexpected second slot placement. As “Sanity” was ending, Trey commented that it is what happens when you don’t have a stylist.

A bust out of “Chalk Dust Torture Reprise” — an early rock ‘n’ roll arrangement of “Chalk Dust Torture” that surfaces every few years — came next, having last been played 142 shows earlier on December 28, 2019. Trey added in, “Here comes another 40-minute ‘Chalk Dust Torture!’” during the playful bust out.

With a beautiful sunset in sight, Trey then spoke to the audience, commenting how he normally can’t see faces in the crowd. He also asked keyboardist Page McConnell to confirm that a full moon would occur later that night. Trey seemingly called out a moon-centric song, but then said he was saving it for when it was dark, ahead of launching into “Wolfman’s Brother.”

A delightful jam developed from the “Wolfman’s,” which began silky smooth as a fitting soundtrack to the chill beach sunset vibes. Drummer Jon Fishman’s deep pocket let the others push a funky and familiar groove, leading to a reggae-flavored sequence. Soon the jam shifted to where it felt like the band members were collectively hitting the happy button over and over, with one joyful peak after another.

The next two songs provided a drastic contrast in form and presentation. First was the tender “mercy,” a quiet song that served as the title track to Trey’s 2022 pandemic album. The calm tune was followed by the frantic antics of “Rift,” whose intricate interplay between the four musicians was in stark contrast to the straight-ahead “mercy” that preceded.

The longest jam of the night was the 20-minute “Bathtub Gin,” which was the penultimate song of the first set. Saturday’s “Bathtub Gin” jam was a well constructed soundscape, as the band became fully immersed in a singular unifying effort. Trey working in varying effects, Fish laying down a foundation like a machine, Page giving a tour of his keyboard arsenal and Mike bridging it all together. Terrific improvisation that focused on coalescing around a persistent theme rather than jumping all over the map.

With the sun fully set and the full moon on the rise, “Cavern” brought the impressive opening half to a rambunctious conclusion.

Read on after The Skinny for the rest of the recap and more.

The Skinny

The Setlist

Set 1: Simple -> Sanity, Chalk Dust Torture Reprise, Wolfman's Brother, mercy, Rift, Bathtub Gin -> Cavern

Set 2: The Howling > No Men In No Man's Land > Ruby Waves -> Golden Age -> Ruby Waves > Ether Edge, Twist, A Life Beyond The Dream, Possum

Encore: More > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Slave to the Traffic Light

Chalk Dust Torture Reprise was performed for the first time since December 28, 2019 (142 shows). Mike teased Sundown in Bathtub Gin.

The Venue

Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort [See upcoming shows]

15 shows
2/20/2020, 2/21/2020, 2/22/2020, 2/23/2020, 2/24/2022, 2/25/2022, 2/26/2022, 2/27/2022, 2/23/2023, 2/24/2023, 2/25/2023, 2/26/2023, 2/21/2024, 2/22/2024, 2/23/2024

The Music

8 songs / 6:28 pm to 7:45 pm (77 minutes)

11 songs / 8:18 pm to 10:16 pm (118 minutes)

19 songs
17 originals / 2 covers

2002

13.63 [Gap chart]

None

All

Chalk Dust Torture Reprise LTP 12/28/2019 (142 Show Gap)

Bathtub Gin 20:50

Ruby Waves 1:03

Lawn Boy - 1, A Picture of Nectar - 1, Rift - 1, Hoist - 1, Farmhouse - 1, Big Boat - 2, Sigma Oasis - 1, Sci-Fi Soldier - 1, Misc. - 8, Covers - 2

The Rest

79° and Fair at Showtime

Koa 1

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When Phish returned for the second set, the full moon was shown on the large video screens flanking both sides of the stage. Fans began howling at the image and Phish answered by launching into “The Howling.” The song from Phish’s 2021 Sci-Fi Soldier led to a brief, but funky, jam — Page layering in wild synth hits — as the audience howled and bopped along.

Phish kept a similar vibe going as they slipped into the propulsive “No Men In No Man’s Land,” aggressively charging head on into a energized jam. For all of the incredible sounds Page can conjure with his keyboards, within the “NMINML” jam his piano playing cut through the mix and took the improvisation to another level.

With ocean waves crashing on the nearby shore, Phish dropped into “Ruby Waves.” A song that’s been the gateway to massive jams in the past was kept to a tame 16-minutes on Saturday. The band kept the mood of the jam dark and subdued, settling into a hypnotic passage ahead of Trey taking an assertive stance and identifying himself as the leader while Page once again complemented with dynamic piano playing.

Fish altered the tempo, pushing it up and then pulling it back, mimicking the movements of the others. There was then a collective shift to a spacey, ambient context, sounds seemingly oozing off the stage and emphasised by Mike’s several fight bell hits.

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“Golden Age” emerged out the swirling ambience and ushered in plenty of bouncing and swaying referenced in lyrics to the TV On The Radio cover. Trey surveyed a variety of effects during the ensuing jam, blending in with the synthesized timbre of Page and Mike, while Fish dynamically shifted rhythms. A short return to “Ruby Waves” came at the point the “Golden Age” jam was dissolving.

Making its fifth setlist since debuting last year, “Ether Edge” was a fitting next choice given its “As the moon begins to rise,” lyric. The second set continued with the band spinning up “Twist.” A gorgeous, quiet, patient jam grew out of “Twist,” an impressive feat to pull off on a beach in Mexico in front of thousands of people. The minimalist improvisation was like ambient jazz until Trey ripped into a biting solo and took off toward a soaring peak.

“A Life Beyond the Dream” followed the intense ending of the “Twist” jam. The song first introduced by Trey’s Ghosts Of The Forest project added a sentimental tone as the penultimate song of the set. Surefire rocker “Possum” played the roll of set closer, putting a high-octane stamp on the second half.

After seven sets over four days, there was still a little more left for the final night as Phish capped the weekend with a three-song encore. The hopeful anthem “More” got the encore off to an emphatic start. One of the rare covers played over the weekend, “2001” came next and it became apparent Phish had not hit their improvisational limit, giving the danceable instrumental an extended turn to tee up the finale. The classic original “Slave To The Traffic Light,” with its subtle poignancy, made for a fitting final statement.

Phish will perform next when they make their debut at the Las Vegas Sphere in April. The four-show run is sold-out.

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