Phish Closes Out Riviera Maya
After opening the first two nights of Riviera Maya with the long-awaited bust of Spock’s Brain on Thursday and following that up with the rare YEM opener on Night 2, Phish kept with the theme to open the final night by slotting The Curtain (With) in the leadoff spot. The compositional song from Rift ventured near the 15-minute mark before a brief pause set up Punch You In the Eye. PYIE started with Trey laughing at the struggled mouthful of lyrics but ended with solid piano work from Page that immediately fired back up in Blaze On. The sing-a-long seemed to loosen up the band as they dove immediately out the melody for a quick spacey jam that faded out to Destiny Unbound.
The tight raucous take on Destiny Unbound saw the first fiery improv licks from Trey, but he mostly relented to Page to continue his super piano and keyboard playing that led into Most Events Aren’t Planned. This was a fitting song selection considering the command Page had over the first set, and he did not disappoint in Events — leaning on the clavinet for a majority of the tune, egging on Trey with furious funk riffs while Trey obliged and helped carry the song to multiple peaks. A fairly standard but well-executed take on Divided Sky and a dark and heavy Steam preceded the set-closing Chalk Dust Torture. Trey wasted no time pulling the band out of the song’s typical structure in the Chalk Dust jam, but quickly built the loose jam into a frenetic climax to end set 1.
The final set of the Riviera Maya weekend opened with First Tube. First Tube – whether played by TAB or Phish – has always been a favorite of mine, due as much to the pure joy Trey clearly gets from playing the song as to the climactic passages and jams the song always brings. This version was no exception as Trey literally hit the deck while bouncing around on stage gleefully in the opening minutes of the song, before engaging his trademark delay/distortion combination to kick off the first fierce jam of Set 2.
What followed next was a Mike’s Song > Weekapaug Groove that was 20+ years in the making- the transition between the two was a bit of Face Plant Into Rock, but they made up for it quickly in Weekapaug’s clavinet-heavy jam progressions. The melodious jamming seemed to tease at the missing I am Hydrogen a couple times before Weekapaug cuts out in favor of the typical stretched out 2nd set Fuego. Trey built a pleasing jam around Fuego’s refrain melody that was cut short as Trey pushed on into Tweezer. Much like the Chalk Dust Torture in Set 1, the Tweezer jam veered directly off the typical song’s course from the beginning as Trey picked out arpeggios and the band fell into a softer-than-usual sequence. Trey and his loop pedal brought the jam to a crescendo that could have happily been the cap on a stellar weekend, but Trey’s Carini chord progression kept the energy going. The Carini jam, once again, immediately went to a major chord progression unrecognizable from the dissonant Carini. But the synthy jam brought upon a series of events that was one of the weekend’s highlights- a mashup of Weekapaug Groove and Tweezer that landed in the opening chords of Ghost.
The Kasvot Vaxt “cover” of Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S. quickly took over after just 4 minutes of Ghost, but brought the crowd into a fever pitch to end the final set of the weekend. S.A.N.T.O.S. achieves the Suzy Greenberg-esque level of energy that makes it a welcome addition to the rotation, and Trey, Page, Mike, and Fish bowed their way off stage after an atypical but powerful finishing set.
Simple’s opening notes were met with the realization that the weekend’s fireworks didn’s end with Set 2. Simple stretched its legs for a couple minutes of blissful Type II jamming before another abrupt transition led to Martian Monster. Picking up on the mashups from the end of Set 2, Trey harkened back to Night 1 of Riviera and revived a verse and chorus of Spanish Moon and a Kung all within Martian Monster. An absolutely bonkers rendition of Big Fat Furry Creature From Mars — filled with the expected Martian Monster samples — brought one last chance to laugh and dance. A bittersweet Sleeping Monkey gave Trey and Page the opportunity to thank the festival producers and more, while Tweezer Reprise brought the night and weekend to a fitting close.
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