Phish Riviera Maya Mexico Night Three: Setlist & The Skinny

By Scott Bernstein Jan 17, 2016 8:17 pm PST

Phish completed Riviera Maya, a three-night destination event at the Barcelo Maya Resort in Mexico Sunday night. The quartet finished their first-ever set of performances in Mexico with a wild show featuring a varied setlist, a handful of standout improvisational moments and the debut of a Led Zeppelin classic as the encore. Guitarist Trey Anastasio also caused a bit of a stir with banter about the short-term future of the band.

Besides “David Bowie,” the other original that was a lock for the run was “Mexican Cousin.” The Round Room rarity opened the Phish Riviera Maya finale as the song made its 13th appearance ever and first since November 2, 2014 in Las Vegas. Phish continued a run of originals that went unplayed in 2015 with “The Curtain With,” which returned to action after a 48 show layoff. The lyric “follow the lines going south” held extra meaning on this night just as it did at the band’s millennium shows in Big Cypress, Florida 16 years ago. Guitarist Trey Anastasio shined during the “With” solo/jam by knotting together soaring leads propelled by the contributions of keyboardist Page McConnell. The foursome then went back to first set staples for “Sample In A Jar.”

Following “Sample” Trey took a moment to ask the crowd if they liked Mike Gordon’s bass sound and pointed out bass tech Mike Burns. Mike Gordon was having struggles with his rig which he mentioned was due to the frequencies of his wireless equipment conflicting with the wireless signals of drones collecting photos of the event. Anastasio also noted the band won’t be playing shows anytime soon as they focus on recording new material in the studio and thanked the crew. The bassist then took a turn in the spotlight to lead the foursome on “Yarmouth Road.” A debate ensued after Trey’s comments about whether there will be an elongated break before Phish returns or if the band will tour this summer following a few months in the studio. Watch the guitarist’s banter and judge for yourself:

Back in September the biggest bust out of 2015 came at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver, where the band dusted off the instrumental “The Landlady” for the first time since 1994. The return of the A Picture Of Nectar gem wasn’t a one-and-done affair as Phish played “The Landlady” again on Sunday night. Page then had his chance to lead the band on his own “Army Of One.” A shredding, straight-forward “Kill Devil Falls” was up next and followed by “Bathtub Gin.” The Vermonters didn’t vary from the typical “Bathtub Gin” progression during the intensely-peaked jam. After two performances in Mexico filled with covers Phish stuck to originals for the bulk of Sunday’s first set as “Funky Bitch” broke a string of eight originals to open the show. The career-spanning set rolled on with an unusually late “The Moma Dance.” “Moma” was also unusual in that it contained a bit of a vocal jam initiated by drummer Jon Fishman and more rhythms than leads from Anastasio during his solo. The wacky, rhythm-based “Moma” solo/jam was the perfect base for the group to complete a transition into a set closing “Saw It Again” that featured the band members screaming throughout. Sunday was the first time “Saw It Again” ended a set.

Phish opened the final set of their Mexican adventure with a 20-minute “Down With Disease.” McConnell hopped on electric piano as the “Disease” jam quickly moved beyond the song’s usual boundaries towards a blissful major key segment. Page then triggered the sound effects for Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House track “Shipwreck,” one of the few songs from the Halloween ’14 musical costume yet to be performed since its debut. However the foursome continued with the pretty chord structure they had landed on prior to Page overlaying the samples and patiently worked it over before Anastasio led them to a memorable climax. The “Disease” was a true Team Phish affair with all four members of the band making impressive contributions to one of the weekend’s improvisational highlights. Eventually the jam petered out and “Roggae” began.

While “Roggae” gave fans a breather, a cover of Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed And Painless” brought the energy right back up. Trey utilized the MuTron effect he first employed at last summer’s Fare Thee Well shows at various points in Mexico, but the guitarist put it to particularly good use on “Crosseyed.” Jon Fishman starred on the Talking Heads cover as he switched tempos with ease throughout the jam. Just as it seemed the improv was bubbling to a conclusion, McConnell threw more “Shipwreck” samples into the mix giving the jam new life. The standout second section of “Crosseyed” exploration had a distinctly spooky feel thanks in the part to the continued “Shipwreck” samples and Mike Gordon utilizing his drill and banging on his fight bell with drumsticks. The roller coaster of a set moved forward with the ballad “Farmhouse,” a rocking “Mike’s Song” and slow-burning “Bug.” “Mike’s” > “Bug” led into the expected “Weekapaug Groove.” The Mexican “Weekapaug” featured more “Shipwreck” samples and a short-but-sweet Trey solo. Phish closed out the second set with a typically powerful “Slave To The Traffic Light.” Phish said farewell to Mexico with the event’s lone cover debut – Led Zeppelin’s “The Ocean.” McConnell handled lead vocals on the track off 1973’s Houses Of The Holy which they once teased in “You Enjoy Myself” on February 17, 1990 and in “YEM’s” vocal jam on October 26, 1991. In addition, Anastasio and Gordon performed the song with their GRAB project on July 17, 2006 in Toronto. The quartet seemed to practice the debut as they nailed it.

The band has no future performances currently on the books, though bassist Mike Gordon heads out on a Winter Tour with his five-piece next week. As Trey mentioned from stage, Phish will soon head into the studio to start work on their thirteenth official studio album.

The Skinny

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The Setlist

The Venue

Barcelo Maya Resort [See upcoming shows]

2 shows — 01/15/2016, 01/16/2016

The Music

11 songs / 7:37 pm to 8:56 pm (79 minutes)

9 songs / 9:31 pm to 11:04 pm (93 minutes)

20 songs / 17 originals / 3 covers


11.79 [Gap chart]

The Ocean (Led Zeppelin)


The Curtain With - LTP 08/31/2014 (48 Show Gap)

Down With Disease - 19:48

Army Of One - 4:25

Junta - 0, Lawn Boy - 1, A Picture of Nectar - 1, Rift - 0, Hoist - 2, Billy Breathes - 0, The Story of the Ghost - 2, Farmhouse - 2, Round Room - 1, Undermind - 1, Joy - 1, Fuego - 0, Misc. - 6, Covers - 3

The Rest

67° and Partly Cloudy

Koa 2 / Languedoc G2 #4

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Photos By Dave DeCrescente

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