Friday 02/23/2024 by phishnet


[We would like to thank John Montague (.net @mazegue) for providing this recap. -Ed.]

How did I get here? I like my Phish a little grimy. I like it indoors, because I like the energy bouncing off the walls. If I could, I’d get teleported to The Colonial Theater in the early '90s, or perhaps pick up some broke and dirty hitchhikers en route to Dane County Coliseum. I want the full Phish experience. I want the parking lot. I want Shakedown Street. I want my dose of American culture at its very best. That said, I am here in Mexico for whatever Gamehendge has in store. Two of my best friends are turning 50 this week, and this is how they want to celebrate. I can’t think of a better reason to be here.

I just saw a good dark and stormy, grimy Phish show in Mexico, in the least grimy of venues. It was a deep show, layered with complexity, light dancing with dark on Black and White night.

© 2024 Phish (Alive Coverage)
© 2024 Phish (Alive Coverage)

One of my friends turned 50 on night 1. He almost had his 50th show on his 50th birthday but couldn’t get to MSG. We’ll call him “Gumbo,” because that is one of his many nicknames. Gumbo is the most diehard fan of our group, and he is living out a dream right now. The other friend saw his first two Phish shows in Dayton last year, and he’s been looking forward to this trip, listening to Phish daily, discussing Phish daily, and doing the deep dive that we do. He’s a dungeon master, and the mythology of Gamehendge really won him over in the Summer of 2023. His chosen name is “Blast.” Then, there’s the third friend. She had A Picture of Nectar on CD in college, and these have been her first two shows. She’s here to hang out with her friends, and we’re here to facilitate her entry into Gamehendge. She has dubbed herself “Noobs.” We got Noobs situated on a blanket at the edge of the beach, and we were off and running.

Tonight’s show had a lot to offer. This wasn’t your average cookie cutter show. This was a show with solid type 2 jams. Jammy, dark, and intense, but also beautiful.

The band came storming out of the gate with "First Tube." Did they just open with a show-stopping encore? I was standing on the edge of the beach, and I was torn between working my way into the crowd or heading straight for the ocean. The groove pushed me out to sea, and I found myself splashing in the water. Eventually, we’d all be pushed out to sea. It was such a clean "First Tube," and a great way to kick off the show.

I went to the sticker exchange before the show, and I kept getting Free-themed stickers. There it is! Splashing in the sea. And what’s this? Fireworks down the beach? Was this orchestrated or just a coincidence? I’m pretty sure the fireworks were for something else, but we piggybacked on the serendipitous moment, and a dance party ensued for “Free.” I worked my way over to Blast, and we shared such an uplifting jam. 50 years. 30 years of friendship. What a great song. What a great way to celebrate life. Every Phish show is an opportunity to celebrate life.

Roggae” was such a good mellow groove, and the right tone for the venue.

Bust outs are treats, and this “Driver” was lovely. For any fan of this song, this was your night. It was a nice, warm embrace. I like this song more now.

About once a show, a song I haven’t really thought much about comes and snatches me up for good. Tonight, it was “hey stranger”. Holy crap. The show took a 90 degree turn. That was a real nice groove, a grimy groove. I danced hard to this song. I danced hard for most of the night. They played it twice last year. I hope it lands in the regular rotation, because it rocks real hard.

Gumbo” was another one of those great beachy tunes. My friend Gumbo was beaming from ear to ear. The crowd got into a nice bounce with it. At this point, the question was begged. What’s brewing here? Trey was going off!? Page was going off!? Were we getting the first-ever 4.10+ rated Moon Palace show? We may never know.

My Soul” cranked up, and I headed back into the ocean for more dancing on the best dance floor Phish has to offer. The whole band hit this song hard. Page was all over the keys. Trey got heavy with it, and it built to a pretty fantastic crescendo at the end there.

Then, “Birds of a Feather” landed, and we got ourselves a tasty Bird. This really set the table for set 2. It was such a wild version, sometimes mellow and other times intense, a real journey. There were a couple of little stumbles in there, but for the most part, everyone on stage was locked in. We had officially launched off the deep end.

“Axilla Part II” instantly threw me back in the ocean, splashing the glassy water, in for a quick and violently jubilant dance. Oh, this was grimy. APII went full-on type 2. You don’t see that often, not at all. Shout out to CK5 for the blackout tease. At this point, it was becoming clear that Moon Palace was getting the full face fuck.

© 2024 Phish (Alive Coverage)
© 2024 Phish (Alive Coverage)

While there was a set break, the band pretty much picked up where they left off. I’ve almost always felt the divide between sets. They are typically 2 separate entities, but on this night, late first set bled right into second set. They also did this on 12.31.23. Is this an impending trend?

I’ll admit it. I’m not a fan of “A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing.” I know people love this song, but the vocals are always a little trying on the old ears. This version was no different, but as soon as the vocals were done, the extended jam that followed pushed the crowd into a trance. Things were about to go off the rails in the best kind of way.

Now, for the main course. Anyone who came to Moon Palace for a streamlined buffet of predictable served up hits was instead carried out to sea, destination unknown. “A Wave of Hope” was here to stay. We had moments when we had to pinch ourselves and wonder if it was still happening. I love it when that happens in shows. At a certain point, I started wondering if they might just play “Wave of Hope” until 2:29A.M. Could this be a Junior Cypress set? Why was “Mercury Enters Pisces” at 2:29am on the event schedule? Would it be a 5 hour Wave of Hope? It was in the back of my mind. I would settle for a secret set at Nizuc, if I could get it. Moon Palace has never been a place for band stunts, but with 2:29 looming, and they’re still playing “A Wave of Hope”! Anything could happen tonight.

After 35 minutes in a psychedelic trance, complete with several movements, our minds were blown. We arrived in “Oblivion.” Welcome to Gamehendge, Noobs. You have arrived. Welcome to 50, Blast and Gumbo. Speaking of Gamehendge, we haven’t had any Gamehendge during this run. The band is giving the legendary show a little space to breathe.

“Oblivion” kept the general tone of the set on course. It was in a tough spot, following that “Wave of Hope,” but it kept the momentum going with more ambient jamming.

Poor “Tweezer.” It likes to dominate the set, but not tonight. It wasn’t bad, but I did take a bathroom break. This was kind of filler. I liked it fine, but it’s not headed for the Hall of Fame of “Tweezer."

If “A Wave of Hope” hadn’t been so epic, I might have dubbed this show “3rd Tube.” The band went and got cute with the setlist. We got "First Tube" out of the gate, and then set 2 got stamped with a "Runaway Jim" + "Tube" sandwich. Mike’s bassline on “Runaway Jim” always gets me into my groove. I was glad to get it, and I was giddy that they came back around to “Tube.” Tubes, tubes, everywhere.

Bug” kicked off the encore. It was an appropriately mellow way to tie up that beautiful and intense journey we took, before hurtling into “Tweezer Reprise.” Rocket ship to the moon for the finish. One last time, dance my pants off. There would be no secret set at the pool party, but the night didn’t need it. I think we might have just cracked our first-ever 4.10 in Mexico, if our moderators would ever let us rate again.

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, comment by CountryFriedCletus
CountryFriedCletus Excellent review – I’ve listened back to the show once and I fell ya! I’m right there with you.

Hopefully they do a Mexico Run next year as it will be my older brothers 50th year and this is what we have decided to do to celebrate him. He’s the one who got me into Phish in the mid 90’s so no better way to celebrate.

Thank you for the review!
, comment by Bogotafee5514
Bogotafee5514 Great review. Enjoyed reading it. Last night gave me winter 2003 vibes. And yup I got me a somewhat legendary Tube show summer of 2015 at the Grand Prairie in Dallas. Was immediately known after as the Texas Tube Step show as it opened with Tube and closed with First Tube (not to be confused with that other GP show from fall 2016 known for and as something completely different and the only time Phish made my friend cry).

Great first set show. Not a bad 2nd either, the summer GP 2015 one. That Chalkdust in the 2nd set does a lot including modulates in barley over 15 minutes to open its 2nd set. Wish they played Guelah Papyrus more. Love that one and a great set closing Squirming Coil.
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