For a certain ilk of artist, boutique destination music festivals in Mexico have become a recent mainstay of the January/February touring cycle (or lack thereof — who wouldn’t want to scuttle off to Mexico for a lost weekend rather than tour in the depths of winter?). Acts like Wilco, Brandi Carlile and an array of others in the indie/jam/rock firmament have been parading down south of the border to the all-inclusive resorts of Riviera Maya. Though Dead & Co.’s plans were thwarted this winter by the Omicron variant in the final hour, many other acts were still able to perform without snafus or health scares. Atop the heap of performers who made their way successfully to Riviera Maya, Mexico this February were My Morning Jacket, Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds, and Phish.
While these bespoke weekend festivals offer a chance to go deep with a given musical act (and, often, their curated lineups of guests), they’re also typically contained experiences unto themselves: four days, then back to reality on a flight home. But Phish’s Trey Anastasio must have really been in need of a much longer Mexican holiday — three weeks, to be precise.
Indeed, Anastasio appeared to extended his stay in Riviera Maya for almost the entire back half of February, and into early March too — acting as a common thread and connective tissue among three of this year’s bespoke on-site festival acts, including those that took place on either end of Phish’s own. In the musical company of Dave Matthews, Tim Reynolds, My Morning Jacket and with his longtime brethren in Phish, Anastasio performed 11 covers in his myriad appearances in Riviera Maya.
Here’s a round-up of Trey’s cover performances from three weekends down south of the border.
Anastasio guested on Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds’ cover of “Waste” by Phish, performed on February 20th in an acoustic trio format. Save for one verse, where Trey takes the vocal in his usual fashion, Anastasio otherwise hands the lead over to Matthews in full, submerging himself in the mix with just some acoustic work and harmony vocals. It’s a unique round-robin arrangement — Dave Matthews covering Phish, with Anastasio as a humble side player.
For the occasion of Phish’s first show at their own festival four days later, Anastasio returned the favor by welcoming Dave to the stage for a pair of encore covers. Anastasio and Phish debuted a version of Dave Matthews’ “So Damn Lucky,” as well as a performance of Daniel Lanois’s “The Maker,” last played live by Phish in 1994 (also with Matthews on guest vocals).
Phish’s first set also featured a version of Frank Zappa’s “Peaches En Regalia” — featuring Anastasio on the song’s knotty guitar lead, and performed by Phish for the first time since 2017. (FYI: A lot of the following video embeds will look similar, but they each should start at the proper song)
Though Anastasio and Phish have covered Son Seals’ “Funky Bitch” over two hundred times live—enough that it might be mistaken for a Phish original—the fiery blues number was trotted out for Phish’s Night 1 set.
On February 25th (Night #2 of Phish’s festival), the band segued into their first-ever cover The Rolling Stones’ “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction).” It seems to take a minute for the band to realize what they’ve gotten themselves into, but the Stones classic ends up making an ideal medley partner to Phish’s “Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.,” itself an exultant hard-rock tune with an undeniable sing-along chorus.
A cover of Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed and Painless,” debuted initially at one of Phish’s full-album-covering Halloween extravaganzas in the ‘90s (where the band performed Remain In Light), followed on Night #3.
Phish’s final festival night included covers of Little Feat’s “Fat Man in a Bathtub” as well as TV on the Radio‘s “Golden Age,” both featuring Anastasio at the helm. “Golden Age” has been longtime staple and jam vehicle for Phish since its debut in 2009 — just one year after TV on the Radio released the song as a lead-off single for their third studio record, Dear Science.
After a few days of beach-going, Anastasio reappeared again in a big way for his third weekend in Riviera Maya at My Morning Jacket’s One Big Holiday festival, joining MMJ for encore covers of The Rolling Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” and Elton John‘s “Rocket Man.” The Stones cover got a bunch of coverage the morning after, and understandably so. But stick around for the Elton John cover too, which feels somehow the more rare of the pair.
And though it’s more of a guest slot vs. a cover, officially speaking (considering Jim James takes the lead in his usual fashion), Anastasio concluded his marathon Mexican vacation by trading guitars on My Morning Jacket’s epic “Mahgeetah.”