January 14th, 2017 began when m’lady and I roused ourselves from our plush king-sized comfort at the splendid Barcelo resort in Mexico’s Riviera Maya and found ourselves some breakfast and some coffees and some more coffees. It was show day and I opted not to spend it in line waiting to buy a poster (what is wrong with people – you only have to do it because you all do it) – heck, I had probably slept past my window of opportunity anyhow – and instead tried to cram in as much relaxation time as possible.
I ended up rocking a game of poolside BINGO while sipping on daiquiris with a few friends and for my efforts I won a dolphin experience. I had been inspired when the winner of the first game won a half-hour massage in the spa so I got a card and BINGOed pretty hard. I was pretty disillusioned with my prize though and I spent a chunk of the afternoon debating whether or not to even use it. Fortunately, before I could waste too much time pondering things it was time to go to the show.
Which at Barcelo Maya means grabbing a final drink from the bar and simply walking barefoot (if you choose, as I did) along the beach for a spell where staff welcomes you at the gate with trays full of margaritas and tequila shots.
Inside the venue the powdery sand sifted between my toes as I scampered gleefully along the beach in search of friends, the ocean lapping to my left and the stage looming straight ahead. Friends were easily located, drinks were delivered with hearty and steadfast consistency by the attentive staff and in no time at all Phish took the stage for night two of their three-night Mexico run.
Nevermind that the first set included a semi-rare favourite of mine (Poor Heart) and closed with a blistering Chalkdust Torture, the surroundings were just so outrageously fantastic that I was virtually guaranteed an epic concert experience regardless of the actual music being performed. Alternating between grooving under a canopy of crochet-coozied palm trees pulsating with light, communing with pockets of ecstatically happy friends among the easily navigateable crowd, and standing waist-deep in the psychedelically-lit ocean surrounded by throngs of dreadlocked hippies frolicking in the surf – and all of it accompanied by an endless stream of food and drinks – well, the fact that the band opened the second set with Crosseyed & Painless and went on to weave the song into every single jam of the rest of the set was really just a bonus.
But a pretty wicked-awesome bonus, really.
And then after the encore it was again just a matter of grabbing a final drink or three and casually tumbling along the beach in search of the closest and highest-quality afterparty, of which there were legion. The evening would inevitably include a visit to Strikers, the all-night sports bar/bowling alley/snack emporium in the resort’s main atrium, a spot that was always teeming with good people looking for good times.
People like us tend to gather at places like Strikers.
And of course the day ended where it began – back in that plush king-sized comfort – only a day and a thousand pleasures later.