The Phunky Fox Diary via Mexico: Welcome Set Vibes

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This year Phish in Mexico was at a different resort from the previous years. Another new addition to the run is the “Welcome Set”, a one set show before the three day run begins. No one knew what to expect for this set. As we walked into this venue, no one had been into before, the energy was indescribable. To get to the stage, we walked through rainbow string installations, inflatable flamingos, murals and statues. A colorful explosion of art lead the way.

My crew and I took our spot Page side wave side on the sand right beside the crashing waves. The band took the stage, Fishman rocking his Mexico moo moo, with purple and green donuts. Trey picked up his guitar and the ocean breeze was blowing through his hair. It was all happening. We made it to Mexico and Phish was about to play this mysterious one set welcome, on the beach. The anticipation was through the roof and then they bust out in “Torn and Frayed”? What a way to kick off the set.

This was the 8th time Phish covered the song ever and it hadn’t been played in 8 years. Then a funky “Ghost”, which was when I fully immersed myself into the ocean, not just my feet. “Ghost” was followed with “Free”, and we all literally “splashed in the sea”. During that line, was when the splashing was happening most, water flying high in the sky, and you could see it in the CK5 lights. It was a sight like no other. All the splashing enticed many more people to join in the ocean, and it felt so relieving to be splashing all together like that. It was literally freeing!

In the “Free” jam they teased the “are you too near the shore with its crashing surf and jagged rocks?”, hearing that in the middle of free was surely chilling and thrilling! Next was the second ever, “Shake Your Coconuts”! That was the song that opened the Bakers Dozen run, so having it in the opening night of this run meant a lot to many of us. They changed the lyrics to “its Phish in Mexico time!” Next they played the Mike Gordon Band original “Victim”, they have played it before but it was my first time hearing Phish play it, I thought it was awesome  and hope they play it much more! Then a real funky “Moma Dance”. As they sand the lyrics “pushing me further from shore” I was literally dancing out of the ocean to wear the waves hit the sand. “Gotta Jibboo” next, followed by a nice light spacey jam into the song “Shade”, which is such a special song to hear here, as we are all south of the border and over the moon. Then into “The Landlady” which marked the 5th time they played it in 3.0, and the second time they’ve played it in Mexico! That went right into “Destiny Unbound”, it was so rocking and surged a jolt of awesome energy through us! Next was “Steam”, and wow did they heat us up! In the mist of the steam jam they took us hard and fast into an insane “Crosseyed and Painless”. We may have lost our ship but we did not act causal!

After that it felt like they had to end soon, since they played such an insane special show already, but they weren’t done yet. It went right into “Run like an Antelope”. Antelope is my most favorite song in the whole world, so hearing those opening notes I dropped to the floor in excitement and went absolutely crazy. It was my first time hearing it in Mexico, so I knew I had to get in the ocean for some of it, but I needed some solid ground so I could run and jump in place all out of control. I went into the ocean for the jam, then I did something I would never ever do, but the moment felt right.

There was space, and I danced my way up to the rail for the end of antelope. Right in front of the band I jumped so high, setting the highest gearshift imaginable! Being right there and coming out of nowhere the band also saw my swimsuit, I saw Trey get closer and laugh. I created a swimsuit with my photos from the New Year’s Eve gag! So they could see themselves on me, sending in the clones. This also reminds me that while wearing it, before a show a friend said “hey, it would be perfect if they did a rescue squad reprise” I laughed in agreement, and noted this is why I wore it, since phish hasn’t played since that show, and this would be the show for it! It turns out they did. I don’t remember what song it was, I will have to listen again, but somewhere in this mix of awesome there was a rescue squad tease. So after antelope ended, I turned around thanked everyone and quickly left. I didn’t bump anyone or take any space, I was there less than a minute, had my moment and left. Since I was leaving right away no one who waited minded. I think it would’ve been different if I stayed a whole song or more, but people knew how special this all was to me. I was in and out before they could even realize I was there.

All of that was truly one of the best moments of life, as it always is hearing that song. Being in all those different places made it all so unique. As I danced back to my ocean spot they slammed into a filthy cavern. In the ocean splashing around shouting “whatever you do take care of your shoes”.

Then they went into “Beneath a Sea of Stars”, which was the most magical surprise. That song means a lot of things to a lot of people. I was truly elated to get to hear this song in the ocean. I laid down and floated on my back fully in the water and stared at the dark and hazy horizon, where the stage lights shined and the bright clouds moved. I was truly immersed “Beneath a Sea of Stars”, and I felt transported to another dimension. That song, like many Ghost of the Forest songs, is able to illicit deep repressed memories and feelings, since it is music inspired by loss, it soothes the pain of loss like no other. In that moment, we were really free of time, it was like it just stopped. That song is what a dream feels like. The jam got dark, spacey, and weird. It took me so many places in my mind. As I stared into the night sky, I actually saw a shooting star. I couldn’t believe it all, I was frozen in that moment, truly struck by wonder. It was such a beautiful experience. That was the first Ghost of the Forest song played in Mexico, and that was the perfect one to do first. It was pure magic.

Toward the end, my boyfriend whispered to me “sounds like a YEM coming” the song continued few more minutes in true blissful perfection. Then went into “Say it to me S.A.N.T.O.S” a great song transition, and we were all up dancing splashing around again. The white light shining on us all, we will surely always remember where we were. What a way to end that set.

Then they came back out for an encore, and there was that YEM! An incredible YEM, so neat to see them on the trampolines, while we are on a beach. The show exceeded everyone’s expectations, and set the bar high for what’s going to unfold to be an insanely special run. Leaving that show, so many emotions and feeling so alive we joked at the fact that, that was just a welcome set because it felt like a whole show. We as Phish fans are the luckiest people in the world to have a band that never stops blowing our minds. What a welcome. Let’s see what happens next!

Phish, Free 2.20.2020
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