An excerpt of The Phish Companion, 3rd Edition by Noah Cole
On the first night, Friday, the band soundchecked as a few hundred people waded in the ocean in front of the resort. The gates opened and we were greeted by waiters in tuxedos with trays of margaritas and beer and surprisingly decent food – the “all-inclusive” experience might not have included WiFi or room service at many places, but it did include food and drinks in the venue.
It was hot and humid as Phish took the stage, amidst elaborately decorated palm trees (Fish yarn bombs), sand sculptures, and “Page Side Rage Side” temporarily renamed “Page Side Wave Side” due to the proximity to the Caribbean. A predictable – but perfect choice given the setting – “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” opened this first Mexico Phish show, and gave CK5 his first chance to show the extra lights that lit the ocean. Standard versions of “My Soul,” “Martian Monster,” and “Ya Mar” were followed by a sing-along “Halley’s Comet” and “Fuego.”
Early attempts were made at keeping fans out of the water, but eventually there were dozens of fans wading in the waters, so “The Wedge” was an appropriate choice as the band returned to the water motif established at the beginning of the set. “The Wedge” lyrics had been in my head all day, as many of us lazed away the afternoon bobbing on the surface of the warm and wonderful sea.
I remarked several times that this did not in fact suck – and Trey reminded us of this in the first banter of the show.
In addition to the wrist-banded Phish fans, at least a few chartered boats and catamarans sat offshore, and a few amazing stand-up paddle boarders from CancuÌn surfed the waters. The band was having so much fun watching the paddle boarders that Trey dedicated the really great “Theme” that followed to them. “Theme” lead directly into a soaring “Free.” Everybody wondered how Phish would pay tribute to the recently departed David Bowie, and in the end it was a passionately played version of the song that bears his name, without additional commentary.
Continuing with the water theme, Phish kicked off the second set with an impassioned and rocking “Drowned,” which segued into “What’s the Use?” A blistering “Sand” was next, as the crowd boogied in the sand. Small drops of rain started to fall as the band began “Ghost,” then the skies opened up and it started to pour. Given how hot and humid it was, the crowd welcomed the rain, and it led to an intense “Ghost” jam and impressive work from CK5 that used the massive jungle raindrops as part of the performance. The rain let up a bit during a high energy 2001, and it stayed dry as the band tore through “Wolfman’s,” a fun “Possum,” and then returned for the third cover of the night, “Shine a Light.” This excellent show was capped off by “Rock and Roll” to send us off into the humid Mexican night.
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June 24, 1997
20 years ago
Encore: Loving Cup
 Aborted and scrapped.
 No whistling.
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