Phish Japan Tour 2000 Reviews

by JamBase correspondent Mister Minor

Japan Tour 2000 Setlists

6/16/00 - Zepp Osaka

As people gathered on the waterfront at the outskirts of Osaka, there was a sense of bittersweetness, as this amazing run of shows would be ending after this one. An overall surreal week was coming to a close in the Zepp Club of Osaka, its Tokyo counterpart. The venue, located far outside the main area of Osaka, was designed just like the Zepp Club in Tokyo, yet was a bit smaller in size, and had a carpeted dance floor instead of the hard tile in Tokyo. The carpeting seemed to give the club a bit more intimate of a feel, and the show was far from sold out taboot. With plenty of room to move and dance without any real crowdedness, everyone was quite excited for the tour closer, and was expecting big things to close a week of extremely hot shows. Because the last train back into central Osaka was at 11:38 pm, the band took the stage right around 7pm, the earliest of the week.

As Phish took the stage to thunderous cheers, Trey leaned over and began to sing the openeing of Limb by Limb, which ironically closed the first Zepp show! This one however was in a different league altogether. This Limb was an extremely improvised and much longer than usual, passing through some amazing sections on the way to an intense climax. The uplifting and spiritual feel to the Limb jam set the tone for what would be a very thematic show featuring happier, more uplifting and delicately intricate Phish jams. This Limb was truly bistering and set an improvisational standard for the jams to follow. Following a great rendition of Sample In a Jar, Phish bust out an extremely energetic version of First Tube, which was tight as hell! One of the more climactic versions ever, due to the overwhelming energy level of the room and some amazingly tight grooves, Trey led the band and the crowd alike to the moutaintop, and as he looked over, the band dropped into the beginning of Golgi, juxtaposing one of the more climactic new school songs, with one of the more climactic old school songs. A great combination of these two Phish anthems had the crowd in the palm of Trey's hand as they began an unrecognizeable bluegrass intro.

Within a minute, they began to sing the lyrics of My Sweet One over this groove, and all of a sudden they were involved in the first performance of the song since New Years 1997-98. A short Bowie tease with Fishman beginning the cymbal hits gave way to the beginning of Reba, another classic Phish jam that had not surfaced in this Japan run yet. This Reba was truly amazing, and the Japanese crowd was treated to an outstanding sounding extended Reba improv session. Trey played immaculately over the bands mellow, yet building grooves, as the Reba moved into some seriously dancy territory. The crowd was SO quiet during the duration of the jam, it was a sheer pleasure to experience! (MM note: You American jam disrupters, with the talking and the clapping, should take a lesson from these unbelieveably respectful Japanese heads who realize how privleged they are to be in front of the Phish!)

This Reba was the clear highlight of the set as they even finished the song with the whistling section. A raging and groove based Character Zero closed the set. Watch for the Zeros this summer in America as the band has been really blowing up the last few versions. Check out some real Hendrix-style grooves eminating from Trey's 'doc, and get ready for some full on dance music!

The weather outside at setbreak was beautiful. A cool breeze blew in from the water as people were allowed to leave and re-enter the club during the intermission to have a drink, puff a smoke, or just chill. (Another perk of these international club shows!)

The second set began with a Runaway Jim that stood up to any jam they had played over the past week. Beginning in Jim land, moving out into some very electronic sounding grooves, and then some more abstract grooves, this Jim clocked in somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes and featured some of the most amazing improvisational moments of the week. This Jim is one you will listen to over and over again, the kind of jam where you forget about 15 minutes in what the hell you are listening to because it is so great and out of character! Don't be thinkning about some of the unfocused longer Jim's of yesteryear (a la Worcester 97), but rather a seriously poignant, cohesive and powerful piece of music. As you can imagine, the improvisation continued the uplifting and spiritual theme of the show as Phish was favoring the lighter and more melodic side of their sound rather than the dark psychadelia showcased earlier in the week (especially in Fukuoka.) Don't misread me, this Jim was as groovy and psychadelic as any darker jam, just in a much different way. The depths of this jam even featured a section with Trey leading with some insane mini-keyboard grooves. This is a must hear, and then a must hear again! The Jim slowly oozed out of its murky psychadelia into the opening cymbal hits of Theme From the Bottom.

This Theme was a perfect reflective jam for the last set of tour (a la the last set of summer Tour 1999, 7/26/99 Deer Creek). Yet this Theme didn't end and go back into the lyrics, but instead, the band continued to build the "wall-of-sound"/ My Bloody Valentine-esque climax and went into a more abstract and dark jam before releasing with the beginning of the rarely played mellow favorite Dog-Faced Boy. The Dog-Faced seem to fit right in with the concept of the set, and it provided a bit of rest after a long period of improvisation. Driver continued this theme before Trey spoke into his mug and begain the opening chords to Slave to the Traffic Light. A perfect set ending, and tour ending jam, this Slave was the conceptual peak of this thematic set, and beautifully climaxed the melodic ideas and concepts that had been presented throughout the show. As Slaves are rarer and rarer these days, each one has become more and more special, and has been generally given the full extended treatment. This was no exception as the jam brought the crowd to a heightened state of happiness and awareness of the magic at hand. Trey appeared focused as ever as he built this slowly weaving jam to the heights we have come to love from this piece of music. As the Slave came to a monstrous close, it seemed as though the set might have been over. Yet just when you least expected it, Phish offered the blues-rocky denoument of Julius, which didn't necessarily fit within the realms of the show's aforementioned theme. But Phish does love to showcase Julius at tour closers (again, 7/26/99 Deer Creek). Nonetheless, the Julius featured some cool laid back improv by Trey and shyed from the louder more straight ahead bluesy-rock grooves that are usually prominent in the song. Once again, the show could have ended, but they chose to give the crowd a perfectly placed, emotional Bug to place a reflective and conceptual exclamation point to the show, serving as a perfect end to this exhalting set and tour.

The encore of Bouncin' and Harry Hood could not have been more classic, and left the crowd, Japanese and American alike, on top of the world as Phish took their final bow to the far eastern fans. The Hood was a tremendous closer to a week of magic, and featured some great interaction between Trey and Page as they built the melodic themes of the jam. An uplifting show from start to finish, the band offered a delightful conclusion to one of the best weeks of shows ever.

With 7 shows in 8 days, chock full of amazing Phish jams, the band turned on an entire country to its surreal improvisational talents and their amazingly powerful musical abilities. As Trey said "Arrigato!" to the crowd for one last time and took a respectful Japanese bow, I could not help ponder the global revolution that seemed to be underway. Uniting people and cultures with their music, Phish's sacred artform is beginning to spread globally, changing the lives of their adoring fanbase. Tears welled in my eyes considering the sheer power of this thought as I reflected on the true privlege we Phish fans have as a part of the most amazing musical movement to date. As the power of this musical magic grows uncontainable by national borders, I looked into the future where people across the world will celebrate the beautiful and spiritual moments created by this amazing band and community on a nightly basis. I looked at the stage, and then at my friends, and I smiled.

I Will See You On Tour This Summer in the States!

Stay tuned, Mister Minor -

6/15/00 - Big Cat, Osaka, Japan

As people began to gather on the Osaka sidewalk and the fourth floor of Big Step, the building which houses the club Big Cat, talk centered around the truly epic show from the night before in Fukuoka. Many people had already gotten a chance to listen to it a couple of times and fully digest the ridiculous improvisation that went down in Drum Logos. But as always with this amazing band, each day starts anew, and yesterday was relegated to a special memory. As time neared the 6pm door opening, focus began to shift to the present as people lined up to enter Big Cat, a club slightly bigger that Drum Logos, with a capacity of about 700-800 people.

Upon entering the club, the venue was discovered to be a square room with a dance floor and no sectioned off areas, just one square room, not unlike the first show at On Air East. As the crowd began to file in, a more balanced attack of Americans and Japanese filled the nooks and crannys of the room. Anticipation ran high due to the high octane performance the night before, and lots of Japanese fans began to blow up hundreds of baloons and float them around the room to kill the pre-show time.

As Phish took the stage at about 7:30, the crowd erupted with the ska-like opening chords of NICU. The special part about this Japanese tour is that there are no filler songs, to these Phish tour virgins, and the crowd is as excited to hear NICU as it is to hear a Tweezer, and that bubbling energy is very contaigous, leading to constant high energy experiences! A hot Chalkdust followed, featuring some hints at the Llama theme towards the end of the jam. The AC/DC Bag that ensued next was a slowed down and very groovy version of the song which remained true to its original form. The grooves became more intricate and interesting than just a conventional Bag, yet still built up out of the jam exactly as it was designed to do, petering out at the very end. The crowd was then treated to rare appearances of Uncle Pen and Frankie Says before Trey inititaed his siren loop that could only signify the start of a Ghost! Sure enough, they were dropping a first set Ghost, and trust me, this was quite the highlight of the set.

The improvisation built into disco-like grooves featuring some amazing bass work by Gordon. These disco builds were much in the vein of the beginning grooves of the now famous Radio City Ghost. The room was raging as the band continued to offer some surreal dance music in the middle of the first set. Instead of building the jam into a loud and screechy crescendo, Trey chose to peak the jam more gradually with a circular melodic guitar line which lent a euphoric feeling to the normally nasty Ghost jam, also in the same vein of the Radio City Ghost. This peak continued for some minutes before the band slowly moved back into the heavy Ghost groove and ended the jam. This Ghost could never be sufficiently described with a pen or a keyboard; it was simply amazing! This is one of Mister Minor's favorite Ghosts ever, and is certainly the most relevant jam in the first set. Clearly, it is the one to be highlighted, underlined, and listened to over and over again for joy and upliftment! Seek this one out at all costs!

Directly following this epic jam, the band ripped into the quite rare Divided Sky and moved virtually flawlessly through the compositional masterpiece. The japanese crows were absolutely overwhelmed with excitement to be a part of an increasingly rare Divided Sky. This version didn`t feature the ridiculously drawn out pause of most current American versions, and had some alternate Trey improvisation in the ending section. All in all, this was a beautiful choice for this moment in the set, and it let the crowd relax while following along note for note in an extremely attentive silence. A relatively standard Farmhouse served as the set closer, as the band gets more comfortable with their new title track, it seems to be used more and more in this slot.

The second set started with the bass driven ambient feedback of Down With Disease, which clocking in at about 30 minutes, proved to be the blowout jam of the show. The first part pf the improvistaion featured mostly ripping Phish jamming with Trey getting real loud, wailing on his axe. As he wound down the more conventioanl Disease jamming, he entered into the staight ahead Police-like groove featured most prominently in last fall`s epic Portland Meadows (9/12/99) Ghost and Boise`s outstanding AC/DC Bag (9/14/99). This groove soon morphed into a full-on rhythmic Crosseyed jam with Mike and Fishman pushing the groove forward while Trey and Page wove in and around the rhythmic patterns. This Crosseyed section began to build out of its steady rhythm, and soon the band was involved in some truly surreal abstract grooves which carried on for a while before Trey steered the quieter ending to the beginning of Lizards. This jam is a must hear, and proves that when Phish begins a Disease these days, expect large things from the improv section, as the last three versions (Radio City, Zepp Tokyo) have been completely out of hand and hugely improvisational.

The giddy Japanese crowd was then treated to its first installment of Fishman 2000. As Trey climed onto the drum set, Fish came to center stage and quietly began the lyrics to the Syd Barret classic Bike. The crowd got a large kick out of Fishman's antics and vacuum soloing as most of the Americans were more amused by the Japanese crowd than the large amount of ham being thrown around the stage. Ending in a full on Hold Your Head Up jam, complete with Fishman`s bowing along with the usual running around the stage gimmicks, this Bike served as some comic relief to the intense improvisation that preceeded it. As Trey climbed off the drum kit and strapped the `doc back on, the band dropped into the intro of You Enjoy Myself to the sheer delight of the entire room. This YEM was much more driving and agressive than the extremely laid back encore version from the On Air East. As the crowd exploded with the cliax of the compositional section, YEM grooves proceeded to fill the air for the next 10 to 15 minutes. Progressing from rhythm offerings to searing melodic leads, Trey led the band through the climactic anthem, and had the crowd in an excitable state for the duration of the show. Check out the vocal jam for some serious non-conventional stuff!

Jiboo served as a fun and danceable encore to the four song, seventy six minute set. As the band thanked the crowd for a wonderful evening, smiles were plastered on the faces of all involved, knowing how sacred these small shows are in this day and age. It was a testament to these Phish fans, who realize and appreciate how lucky they all were to all be in this together! One more show to go before Japan 2000 morphs into Summer Tour in the states! Get ready you American Phishys because this band is ripping with reckless abandon and seems to be as happy as ever. If you are ripe with the promise of seeing any Phish in the months to come, get ready for a delightful summer. Check in tomorrow to see how my little Far Eastern adventure ends up before I Head back to JamBase World Headquarters!

Mister Minor -

6/14/00 - Drum Logo, Fukuoka, Japan

While Phish puts on wonderful shows for us each and every night, sometimes a set comes around that is united in concept from beginning to end, and stands above a mere set of songs or even a set of jams. This type of set contains unity within a theme, and a direction from the beginning of the set to the closing note. This is the type of set that makes Phish the planet's greatest musical improvisors. This is the type of set that you pray for, the reason we jive and strive to get to each and every show, filled with constant improvisation and few songs. Last night, Drum Logos, in Fukuoka, Phish threw down what is sure to be one of the best, if not THE best Phish set of the summer (shows not yet played included!) Relentless dance grooves filled the small club as Phish turned Drum Logos into a futuristic dancehall for about seventy-five minutes. Let`s get down to business here, you need to know exactly what you missed.

The club, first off, was slightly larger than the night before, with a capacity of about 650 people. Upon arriving, people could barely give their extra tickets away, as 80 tickets were still unsold! The club had a multi-tiered dance floor, with about three different levels. Above was a balcony where the tapers and lighting board were. The overwhelming feel of the room was blackness, as the floors, walls, and baclcony were all black. A potential foreshadowing of what was to ensue, this blackness.

After a great first set (Carini, Curtain, Cities to open, are you kidding me?), the highlights of which were the great Phish jams in Gumbo through Llama and Split Open and Melt, the second set was primed and ready to explode, yet no one in the room had any idea of what would be actually happening for the next hour plus when Phish would take the stage. The set opened with Get Back On the Train, and this was the most extended version to date as they stretched the grooves out at the end of the song for far longer than usual. Well within the realms of the song, the band warmed everyone's legs with some bluegrassy funk grooves that served as a table setting for what was to come.

As Get Back On the Train wound down, they ripped into the ever-changing intro of Twist. A spiced up beginning featuring a harder dive into the song, warmed the crowd up for the sublime improvisation that was about to occur. As the jam began, Trey led the band through some Twist-like grooves before fading back a bit into the musical background, and letting Mike step up and begin to lead the jam. The music progressed into an ambient space, much in the style of the ambient Twist grooves from Big Cypress without Trey playing a beautiful melody over it. Instead, Trey colored the jam with textures, tonal colors, and waves of sound rather than straight ahead playing. This gave the jam a much darker and psychadelic feel, and as the jam progressed, it continued to get more and more abstract, yet always staying within the realm of groove, albeit some incredibly "out there" grooving. At this point, many people in the crowd were thinking that this was the second coming of Twist -> 2001, and as Page brought in his own futuristic sounds, it seemed ineveitable.

Yet well into the jam, at its most abstract point, the band slowly began to emerge out of the murky ambient space with the return to the end of Twist! As they concluded the song, however, they began to pick up right where they left off, in the middle of the amazingly abstract and groove based jam that they had just left. This started very quietly, and Mike shortly began to quietly hint at a more driving bassline to come, yet proceeding in a very slow pace. As he picked up the volume of his line, many fans recognized this as a very slowed down intro to Ghost. Yet, tonight, Ghost wasn't to be, and this hint at the Ghost melody lasted for only about a minute or so.

At this point, Mike began to improvise on his bass line and began laying down some classic Gordon grooves as he became responsible for both the rhythm and melody of the jam, as Trey continued his role providing the texture and coloring the tone. Intricately careful, Trey blended his musical thoughts quite delicately as the groove continued to build slowly. Gordon began to throw down some more serious bass lines, and he was virtually soloing as he led this groove. Fishman slowly progressed out of his ambient beats and held an amazingly tight groove with Mike, and the tone of the jam became quite dark and sinister. From this point onward, this jam exists as one of the nastiest Phish groove sessions that has ever gone down in the public eye. Straight up futuristic dancehall funk, all on an island out in the Pacific! This dark and evil groove took on a life of its own, as it grew from an ambient space journey to a psychadelic bass driven jam that made your brain move as much as your body. A small bass oriented hint at Walk Away in the earlier half of the jam gave way to a directed, yet exploratory groove session, before the band once again picked up on Mike's hint and slowly built the beginning of the Phishified classic James Gang cover. The crowd soon picked up on this, as they began to explode with cheers congratulating the band on the epic music that had just been produced.

The Walk Away, while a bit slower than normal, was at a perfect pace for this set. Walk Away merged seemlessly with the previous groove, providing the Japanese-dominated crowd with a very Phishy transition. This was the first song that had been played in a long time, and the crowd responded energetically as Page belted out the lyrics.

As Walk Away ended, the band slipped back into a quieter bass groove, returning to the dancehall feel of the set. This groove, again led by Mike, soon settled into a quieter ambience, and as Page and Trey began to add textured sound effects to the musical landscape, the crowd was now ensured of the 2001 that had been alluded to and foreshadowed earlier in the set! As Fishman`s snare hit engaged the space age groove, the crowd exploded as much in motion as in sound, and Drum Logos was now spinning to Japan's second ever 2001 (the follow up to the pristine 7/31/99 2001->Bowie). Mike continued to take the improvisational lead, as Trey began to come in with some shorter rhythm grooves. The first theme came relatively quickly, but the second section was far more drawn out and was jam packed with ripping Trey licks and bulbous Gordon bass lines. For the first time in history, Phish decided to close a set and a show with 2001, an extremely significant exclamation point on one of the greatest sets ever played. With nothing more to say after such a powerful full-on and non-stop performance, the band ended the set with perhaps the highest peak in their reporatoire, and then took a bow.

With a mellower encore of Sleep and Squirming Coil, the band provided some relaxation and reflection, while allowing the set to stand on its own to go down in the annals of Phish history. This was truly one for the ages, just reading the setlist you know you need to hear it to believe it.

Mister Minor -

6/13/00 - Club Quattro, Nagoya, Japan

So just when you thought things couldn`t get any smaller or intimate for Phish in Japan, a club show comes along and makes the thousand person On Air East show look like a large arena! Upon disembarking in the Yubacho subway stop in the Sakae area of Nagoya, one needed only to enter an elevator and ascend 8 floors to reach the lobby of Club Quattro, site of the fourth show of Japan's Summer 2000 Phish installment. Rumors quickly flew around the lobby: "This is the smallest club Phish has ever played!" "This place is half the size of Nectars!" People who had been inside already spoke of the overwhelming intamacy of the club, and how you needed to get in there as soon as the doors opened because it was going to fill up quickly! Tickets were scarce for the few that didn`t have them, and fans began to line up before the 6pm door time, freaking out about what to expect from the apparently tiny room.

As the doors opened at 6pm, and people were let in by their GA ticket number, fans scurried to claim whatever space they could find as they were greeted with a room about half the size of the On Air East, and the smallest club Phish has played in the last 5 years (again with the exception of 2.23.97, Cortemaggiore, Italy). More akin to a bar than a club (yet actually about twice the size of Nectars), Club Quattro had an extremely small wooden dance floor, a small area behind the dance floor, and a small bar area...and that's it! With an official capacity of about 550 people, the room overwhelmed the American fans with its tight size. Predominantly Japanese fans filled the room, and the Americans filled in the gaps between them. Even many Japanese fans who had been in Tokyo made the two hours trip to Nagoya to enjoy more Phish! Sound familiar?

The band filtered out of the back stage room at about 7:20 pm, and the scene was simply surreal as the band was merely feet away form the audience, all but obliterating the normal separation between us and them. The folks in front could easily read Trey`s lips as he spoke into his mug, "Meat!" And so it was, the spacious and methodical funk of Meat opened the show to the delight of the Japanese fans, who had never heard the song performed in their country before. As Meat dwindled down after multiple breaks, the band slid into the intro to Maze. To see Phish rip a Maze in a room this size was extremeley intense, and provided foreshadowing of the darkness yet to come. Trey scowled out at the crowd as he dug into his solo with visciousness. The crowd's energy built right along with his solo, exploding at the top of the jam. As the intensity of this smoking Maze gave way, Trey led the band into another round of the Meat changes, bringing the funk back to the giddy crowd, delighting locals and foreigners alike. The Yamar which ensued next brought light relief to the dark improv of Maze. As they launched into the jam, Mike and Trey shared some amazing musical harmonies, as the audience was treated to a unique sounding Yamar which focused much more on melody and harmony than the previous groove-based version at Roseland. Trey brought the jam down to a very quiet point before hinting at the Yamar chord changes and bringing the band back around. A beautiful and flawless version of the rare and mystical Fast Enough For You was greeted by the silent attentiveness of the Japanese crowd who felt privleged to witness such a beautiful composition.

After a bluegrassy interlude in the form of My Old Home Place, Phish got raw on the crowd for the rest of the set. As Trey played the opening riff to Wilson, the crowd responded, in accent, "Weeeel-san!" They ripped into Wilson jam with a vengence, with Trey laying down some heavier and darker grooves while the audience responded by jumping and bouncing around the room. As Wilson came screeching to a halt, the band entered some dissonance before Trey played the opening lick to Mike's Song, virtually imploding the room and the 8 floors below it! The crowd responded with immediate recognition, and erupted into the largest cheer of the set, and the Mike`s Groove was ON! As they moved through the chorus, you could feel the crowd anticipating the drop into the jam, and as they did, Kuroda (handicapped to an insignificant subpar house lighting system) shut the lights and spun a single white beam around the room as Trey set his loops and Mike and Fishman dove into the dark and bass-driven groove. Trey began his improvisation with some serious rhythm grooves that broke into the darkness with the most satisfying funk! As he moved out of his rhythm licks and into his solo, the band stepped up the intensity as Trey began to build the jam. The audience followed right along dancing furiously to the madness filling the tiny room until the natural break brought the familiar opening melody to Simple.

This transition which brought loud appreciation from the Japanese fans who were in the midst of the second Mike`s Groove ever played in Japan, and the first this year. Simple featured relatively brief jamming as Trey, instead of Mike, began Weekapaug by strumming the chord changes and waiting for the band to drop in with him. The crowd went wild as the second half of the Groove came around. Following some improv along the basic theme of Weekapaug, the band entered into a funkier section of the jam, further enraging the crowd. With the conclusion of Weekapaug came the end of the set, and to be honest, it was all anyone could have hoped for.

In terms of giving another listen, the Maze, Yamar, and the Mike`s Groove are really where its at in this set. Don`t overlook this first set, it is a real gem, and was strewn with smiles and energy by band and audience alike.

The second set opened with the outrageous combo of Jiboo, Wolfman`s, Antelope>Contact, and Sand! This was enough to blow the roof off the place. The Jiboo was on par with the On Air East version, both quite good and relativey drawn out. The Wolfman`s improv transecended the normal Wolfman's funk, and it got extremely dark and deep before Trey led the band back into the theme. This is my vote for jam of the set, check it out with all due promtness!

Upon the ending of Wolfman`s one might expect a cool down after an excessivly hot beginning of the set. So of course, Phish turns it up a notch, beginning the intro to Antelope! This Antelope was very quickly paced and tightly grooving in a club type of way, much like the club-style Antelope at Roseland, but a bit faster. As Trey brought the jam up to a heighetend frenzy, Kuroda triggered the smoke/fog machines, and soon the whole club was engulfed in the misty haze. As jam peaked and all expected the normal transition into the end part of the song, the band coyly slid into the opening melody of Contact, grouping the classic pair of songs together again. This time however, they decided to not go back into Antelope, but rather begin the second Sand in the Far East.

This Sand was much faster paced than the Zepp version, and was probably a bit shorter as well. Yet chock full of improv, this Sand did not dissapoint. As the band allowed the jam to settle unlike the previous couple Sands, Trey hopped on his keyboard to set some textures and loops before picking apart the musical landscape with sublime rhythm grooves and soloing melodies. As his solo progressed, he enetered into a final build of the song featuring what Mister Minor calls "Millenial Trey Sounds", the connected staccato notes played with real resonance and distortion. (Consult the 9.24.99 Austin Sand, or the final bulid of the 9.17.99 Shoreline Sand for examples of said sounds.) This last Sand build was chock full of this millenial style, and came to a loud and searing peak before re-entering the groove section which ends the song. As virtually all second set Sands are, this one was another large highlight of the set. Always well-placed, Roggae proved to be an appropriate reflection upon the crazieness which encompassed the previous 50 minutes to an hour.

Prince Caspian featured a beautiful shrill guitar solo over the methodical grooves of the other three band members, as Trey closed his eyes and dug in. A great Caspian seemed to please all around as large grins encopassed the faces of Japanese and Americans alike. After a Rocky Top, the set ended with a dark and musty Cavern, featuring the alternate lyrics about blades, bitches, and dung! The band seemd quite happy and pleased with their performance as they took a bow and left the stage after about a 90 minute second set.

Brian and Robert juxtaposed with a raging Good Times, Bad Times served as a great double encore allowing fans to reflect and then rage one last time. This GTBT even had the crew members looking out form behind the stage dancing it up in the background!

If I was to describe this show with one word, it would be intensity! Large Phish jams in a very small space, and lots of 'em! T'was quite the experience, as all left drenched and satiated from the massive energy in this miniscule room. This show was two sets full of great Phish improv, and are tapes that should be acquired by all in the upcoming months.

That is all for now, as there is only 3 hours before the doors open for Drum Logos, the second smallest club of the run (or so I`m told)! Its finally sunny here in Fukuoaka after predominatly rainy weather for the whole week so far! Mister Minor is going to go rest for a bit, but I`ll be back with you before you know it...signing off...

Mr. Minor -

6/11/00 - Hibiya Outdoor Theatre, Tokyo, Japan

Sometimes we experience magic. Sometimes we hold witness to events that far surpass the power in any one of us, and elevate our appreciation of life and all its amazement to the next level. Yesterday was one of these days.

The day began quite rainy as fans flocked to the Hibiya Outdoor Theatre, a small amphitheatre in the middle of Hibiya Park in central Tokyo. Merely half a day after the Zepp show ended, many Japanese and Americans alike began to file into the thatre around 1pm, as the Japanese band Big Frog took the stage at 2pm. What struck me as I entered the grounds, was that despite the rain and gloomy weather that is Tokyo in June, everyone seemed to be in the most positive and mellow states of mind. As Big Frog played, Japanese and American fans mingled about the park and theatre talking and meeting each other, many for the first time. Everyone was so excited for Phish to be playing this beautiful location, and that energy emanated through the air, creating an atmosphere of total comfort, friendliness, and camaraderie. Big Frog ended their set at about 3pm, as the rain seemed to be letting up a bit.

Phish took the stage about 3:45 pm to the enthusiastic cheers of the crowd of about 2200 predominantly Japanese fans! As soon as they took the stage, you could see the look in the band's eyes--they were as excited as everyone else to be playing this special venue. A huge grin broke out over Trey face as he ripped into the opening of First Tube. The crowd erupted with energy as they moved through this exalting opener and Trey bounced up and down with joy. The extremely high octane feel of First Tube was follwed by the equally high paced Punch You In the Eye. This beginnning of the show had the crowd absolutely bumping and going bezerk. The enregy between the fans, Japanese and American alike, was overwhelming. Everyone I could see was sporting the largest smile ever. After the fiery beginning of the show, they slowed it down with an immaculately played Horn, which seemed to be the perfect reflective cool down from the adrenaline rush of the openening jams. After a quick Ginseng, the Trey played the opening riff of Stash for the first time since 12.12.99, during Hartford's first set. Sorely missed from Big Cypress through the Radio City weekend, the crowd was psyched to be reacquainted with Phish's dark classic piece. The Stash improvisation began as Trey came out of the composed section weaving dark melodies around the bands groove and building the jam slowly at first. The jam remained a Trey-led Stash, culminating with a screeching solo and amazing climax that had the audience totally captivated. This Stash did not get excessively abstract, but was an amazingly high quality version, pleasing the extremely attentive and silent crowd. Dirt served as a cool down from the intense Stash improvisation, and as soon as it came to a close, they started to build the intro to Possum. The Possum was in the a more blue-grassy style of improvisation rather than my preferred psychedelic Possums of yesteryear, nonetheless, the crowd erupted with each change and chorus.

I cannot stress enough my amazement at how many Japanese fans know every change, note, melody, and stop to all of Phish's songs. These folks are not passive observers, but extremely active listeners and dancers. The excitement of the event continued to build as they dropped only the 2nd It's Ice since Cleveland '98 (also played at Roseland). The intricacies of the song were nailed perfectly as the Ice grooves were so refreshing to the ears after such a continued absence in the rotation. The set ended with the band's first performance of Farmhouse since the album was released on May 16th. Trey drew out the end of the song with an extended solo before thanking the crowd and taking a bow.

The set break brought the realization that ever since Phish had taken the stage, the rain had stopped entirely! Albeit grey as San Francisco in February, it was dry and cool, making for a nice change of pace from the hotter stuffier clubs. The vibes at setbreak were those of pure positivity and joy as all Americans were clearly at a loss to describe the unbelievable feelings and sheer international Phishiness that was filling the air. Japanese fans and Americans relaxed together as they waited for the second set with huge anticipation. I cannot say enough about the magic in the air today. The feelings and emotion floating around the colorful atmosphere far outweighed the gloominess of the weather, and all seemed completely in tune with what was happening.

After a fairly long break, the band retook the stage, still fully in the daylight, and ripped into a sick Birds of a Feather. This Birds showcased some smoking grooves by the band and particularly hot improvisation by Trey. The Birds definitely stayed within the realms of a Birds jam, but was still fully improvised, unlike the shorter "album" versions from fall '98. The dark feel of Birds gave way to the opening build of what was to be an amazing Free. The band moved through the composed section methodically and slowly, and launched into the jam with thick bass driven grooves that had the crowd completely freaking out. After Trey offered some settling rhythm licks for the first part of the jam, he began to start playing melodies in the an evil, dissonant and sinister tone, building the creeping jam in small increments with some sublime melodies. This jam featured two seperate soloing sections for Trey before slowly but surely building back to the "floating in a blimp a lot...." ending to the improv. This Free is simply amazing and needs to be heard by all. This is in the upper echelons of all versions of Free, a la Sandstone '99. You'll freak on this one, it was simply amazing.

Beauty of my Dreams was next, and was follwed by a powerful Bug in the climactic vein of the Roseland second set Bug closer. The band hit the top of the jam perfectly, and slid into the intro of David Bowie! This Bowie, was quite simliar in style to the last one played at Radio City. The improv was very, very fluid and groove-based from start to finish. Featuring some silky smooth bass lines by Gordeaux, and some amazing Bowie wah and rhythm grooves by Trey, this Bowie grooved to a ridiculous apex and drew a HUGE and emotional reaction from the floored audience. This Bowie is a keeper for sure, especially for those who favor groove-based Bowie's to the more intricate or abstract ones. Circus came next, placed perfectly as a reflective moment on the slew of dark and intense improvisation that typified the entire set so far.

The set ended with the perfect release of Harry Hood. As they moved through the composed section, I looked out over the crowd of Japanese folks who seemed to me the happiest people in the world at that point as many moved along with each progression of the song. As the improvisation settled into the most sublime and melodic quiet grooves, the crowd seemed to raise their arms in unison, opening themselves up to the surreal magic that was flowing so greatly from the band and fans alike. As the jam began to build, the crowd looked to the sky as the clouds began to break and the first rays of yellow sunlight broke through the late afternoon sky. This seemed to be orchestrated by the band and nature alike, and all involved felt the magic of the rays of light coming from both the sky and the stage. This second consecutive glowstickless Hood built for what seemed like an eternity as all involved basked in the amazing beauty at hand. This Hood was simply a stupendous jam that reached amazing levels of melody, harmony, and band groove. This was the absolute perfect ending to this set, and all involved were united in this moment. Pure magic I tell you, pure Phish magic.

The adoring crowd gave the band an amazingly large ovation following this long and ultimately trimphant jam. The band stayed off stage briefly and returned for an extended rendition of Character Zero, featuring some shredding Hendrix like grooves form Trey. This version ripped hard, and midway through it, a large rainbow appeared above the stage to the left. Band and crowd alike were freaking out and feeling this special intensity of the moment as they seemed to not want to leave the stage and the group at hand. This was one of the best versions of this song ever (save for 11.26.97 Hartford), and seared into the sunset and early evening. Upon finishing the show, Trey exclaimed "Arrigato!" and took a traditional bow to the adoring sea of Japanese fans that were in front of him.

Its quite hard to translate all the energy and magic that existed yesterday through a keyboard, a paper, or a pen. Its the stuff dreams are made of, an eye-opening experience for the ages. Get these tapes, the show is just amazing, and the music was just half of the story this time.........on to Nagoya!

Mr. Minor -

6/10/00 - Zepp, Tokyo, Japan

Phish's second Japanese performance of Summer Tour 2000 took place in much more of a classic club setting, as opposed to the small room they played the night before. Zepp Tokyo is located across the Sumida-gawa River from the main part of Tokyo, in a newly created waterfront development. The club, itself, was located directly under a huge neon ferris wheel, and next to NeoGio World, a 21st century Tokyo indoor arcade/amusement park, which failed to really live up to its billing. The inside of the club had a reserved balcony section and a general admission dance floor, separated into sections with railings. The crowd of about 2000 was made up of predominantly Japanese fans, and a smattering of Americans. Armed with a huge PA sytem, featuring towering speaker stacks, and a large disco ball, Zepp Tokyo was ready for the Phish!

The first set began with a classic feedback buildup usually heard at the beginning of the second set. Minutes later, Gordon slyly dropped into the bassline of Down Withn Disease. This Disease, hot off the tracks of Radio City's blistering version, held its own up to the NYC Disease, and some thought even surpassed it. This Disease, sounding quite different than the Radio City one, featured many sections and about 20 minutes of great improvisation to open the show. Passing through a classic Disease section, a funkier section with Trey throwing down some rhythm and wah grooves, and into a darker and ambient section, this Disease then built back around to the ending of the song, leaving all in the Zepp club incredibly impressed with the large improvisation offered right off the bat. After a Sample, they launched into what was clearly the jam of the set if not the show with a 20+ minute version of Piper. The mid-verse improvisation raged quite hard, and then, as they have been doing as of late, instead of dropping into the release of the Piper, they built a fiery and full-throttled jam which at one point continued to build in tempo to a mind-boggling point before slowing into a very dark and sinister groove-based section which made up the second section of the jam. Lawnboy and Guyute closed the set. Guyute was a quite a tight version that brought the Japanese Crowd to a frenzy. The first set clocked in at about 1 hour, and chock full of amazing Phish improvisation. Don't overlook this 5 song first set which was equally as sick as the second!

The second set opened with Heavy Things, Sand. The Sand (obviously) was quite amazing, featuring Trey coming out of the composed section taking the lead straight away, more akin to a Trey tour style Sand (see Radio City Sand), than the ones of Fall 99 which the band allowed a long time for the jam to settle before building it. Trey began soloing out of the gates, akin to Radio City, and leaving the settling rhythm grooves behind.

This Sand continued for about 15 minutes, and passed through many different tones by Trey, and building furioiusly throughout. This Sand is ceretainly something you need to hear out of this show! Sparkle, and My Soul made for a relatively disjointed section of the second set before the opening licks of Bathtub Gin began. This Gin, like the Sand, was an amazing version featuring great improvisation which stayed relatively close to the Gin theme / chords most of the time, and built by the end to a heighted pace. This great Gin was follwed up by a murky unrecognizeable intro that morphed into Twist. The Twist improvisation layed in the middle of the Radio City more ambient style Twist and the classic Latin-sounding and more hard groove based twists of 1999. This jam was amazingly tight and served as the perfect follw up to the great Gin that preceeded it. The set passed throwgh a quiter and reflective point with Albequerque and Velvert Sea, and ended with a pretty short yet ripping Loving Cup, which fended off some serious Antelope vibes to close the show.

The encore began with Inlaw Josie Wales, and was follwed by a searing Limb by Limb. As the improvisation began to build in its earlier stage, Kuroda hit the disco ball, illuminating the entire club as the went throough the meat of the jam. This was pretty cool, as we could look up and see the Japanese fans freakin' it and raging to the show with huge smiles. This brought the crowd together at the end of a great night. The disco ball came off as they began to stear towards the ending of the jam. An unexpected, yet great encore.

Most American fans present cruised over to NeoGio World to enjoy some games and rides, featuring a small indoor roller coaster. After the show before taking the train back into the main part of the city. Not much time here before the next show, which is a mid-afternoon performace at the Hibiya Outdoor Theatre in a downtown park in Tokyo. Big Frog will be opening, a Japanese improvisational rock band. Should be interestiing for sure. And oh yeah, it will probably be raining, it does that quite a bit during June in Tokyo!

That's All for now folks. Stay tuned.......

Mr. Minor -

6/9/2000 - On Air East, Tokyo, Japan

So Japan Tour has begun, and in a large fashion indeed! Phish has commenced the madness that will soon come to be known as Japan Tour 2000. I am here to bring you what you need to know about everything that you would never hear about elsewhere. As a disclaimer, becasue I know that Phish can be a touchy subject for many of you, I will be highlighting particularly fantastic portions of shows for you without trying to over-analyze the music at all. Consider my column as a sign pointing those of you who couldn't be there in the right direction of the epic Phish jams, ones you might want to attempt to get a hold of and hear for yourself. Take it for what you will, and please do not get offended by anything I am writing as I am trying to do the community a service of letting you know what's going down while you're not around.

The On Air East, from the outside, is a relatively small yellow building convieniently located across the street from an AM/PM Mart, just up the small, yet club-filled and bustling side street of Dogenzaka in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. Quite unassuming, the outside of the club made one wonder how small the room would actually be. Yet, this line of thought was not so prevalent because of the scarcity of tickets for the many Americans who had made the journey without tickets to the first, and most quickly-sold-out, opening gig in Tokyo. Most all found a way into the club, but word had it that a group of about 25 people gathered on the at the back door of the venue unable to gain admission. A mixed group of Japnaese and American heads began gathering early on the street and surrounding area in anticipation of the night to come. There were even some Tweezer Reprize shirts designed in the Thrasher Skateboards logo by some Japanese heads, and being hawked for 25,000 Yen, or about 25 dollars. Very cool indeed!

Upon entering the club, the intimacy of the room was overwhelming. The On Air East is the smallest cllub that Phish has played in recent years, with the possible exception of the Markthalle in Germany, now famous for Slip, Stitch And Pass (and the Fillmore in Cortemaggiore, Italy). The room looked more like my basement than a venue. Packed excessively full with a crowd of about 1000, the anticipation came to a head at about 7:30 pm when Phish took the stage.

The first set opened with the relatively strange combination of Axilla, Taste, Billy Breathes, Golgi. The Taste was the only standout version to note in this run, With the next songs, the meat of the set began. Funky Bitch was drawn out in a very quiet and laid back lampin' club-funk groove. They continued the dancy theme with a sick, and heavily improvised Moma Dance, featuring many Funky Bitch licks from Trey. The funk gave way to the more driven First Tube which reached searing levels of energy from the band and crowd alike.

The second set began with a 30 minute experimental Tweezer, which was the clearly the most amazing point of the show. Beginning with a tweeked out composed section and some teases of a seventies rock song (Joe Walsh?). The improvisation launched into a slowly buliding jam which stayed within the Tweezer theme, as Trey build the jam with his raw lead licks rather than offering any rhythm licks. This section reaches an amazing climax, at which point Trey hopped on his keyboard, and then the Tweezer settled down into a quieter section. Led by Trey's keyboard groove oriented melodies, the pass through a very Far-Eastern sounding section of grooves before building into rather amorphous improvisation with each member coherently pulling the music in different directions. They then come together into and hit a groove that would build this section with triumphant improvisation. Reaching a height greater than the first climax, the club exploded with roars of excitement and celebration with each chord progression. The denoument of this climax featured some a few classic Trey licks before fading into Bouncin'. (Note that the crowd was completely silent and respectful during the quiet improvisation, Americans can feel free to emulate this on US Summer Tour). Basically the Tweezer is what needs to be heard by all near and far. Exploratory and multi-faceted, this Tweezer is the blow out jam that a show is built on. Listen to it and see how Phish imploded their first Tokyo club.

The rest of the set featured a hot version of Mango and a tightly grooving Jiboo that precluded a Japanese rendition of Meatstick which saw the band singing the lyrics in Japanese and yet in rhythm with the song. This was enough to make you keel over laughing and then stare in jaw dropping amazement as they continued to rip the Japanese lyrics as Mike and Trey taught Tokyo the Meatsick dance. The Meatstick is going international, baby! And there ain't nothing you griping anti-Stick heads can do about it!!

Expecting a short encore after a blistering show, Phish came out and dropped a YEM, throwing you the left hook you never saw coming. As they always do.

That's about it from here for now, as the Zepp Club awaits Phish's musical adventures tonight! Stay tuned to Andy's Phish Page for all the juice, as there is much more to come on Japan Tour 2000. Same bat time; same bat channel!

Mr. Minor -

Mr. Minor is a mega Phish freak, always taking it to the next level, having seen hundreds of consecutive shows, over the course of many years. He gets down so, so hard. Look for his Phish column on JamBase during this summer tour. When he's not seeing Phish, he actually works as a miner, mining for gold at JamBase World Headquarters!
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