Jams of Japan

phish-kabuki-99Phish’s Japan tour of 2000 came right on the heels of Big Cypress and Radio City; an incredibly exciting time in Phish history. Still carrying the musical and emotional momentum that crested in the Everglades, Phish took off to the Pacific for their first tour of the Land of the Rising Sun. Greeted by a prepared legion of Japanese heads- with lot shirts, mushrooms, and hash to share- the band and their American fans were happily surprised by the graciousness and enthusiasm of the Japanese Phish culture. Much of the musical focus of this tour has centered on the other-worldly Fukuoka show that transformed into one the strongest LivePhish releases to date. However, the band was on fire all week long, producing more mind-numbing music than most people realize. Although Phish wouldn’t be around by the end of the year, these Japan shows showcased one of their last pre-hiatus bursts of creativity, producing perhaps the most interesting week of Phish2k. Below are three jams that you may or may not be familiar with- all of which absolutely smoke.


Tweezer” 6.9.00, Tokyo II


On Air East - 6.9.00

On Air East, a tiny club hidden up side street in Shibuya, a shopping district of Tokyo hosted Phish’s first show of tour. Making our way through the intricate subway system to the tiny, bright yellow building, every step was surreal; tracking down a show in the middle of Tokyo! And as the second set started in this simple cement room, a dream came true. Wasting no time, Phish unveiled the long-awaited “Tokyo Tweezer”- it even sounded legendary in name. Phish knew as well as we did, that they had a moral imperative to greet the wildly psychedelic city with a blowout “Tweezer”- and this 30 minute introduction was one for the books.

The improv began with a distinctly laid-back feel, as the band got on the same page via some methodical grooves. Subtly building the relaxed rhythms into aggressive textures, led by walls of face-melting guitar dissonance, the band began to fire. A truly perspective-altering segment of music, the overflowing energy and people bounced off the walls and each other in this crowded demonic dungeon. As Trey let up, the band settled themselves, allowing everyone to momentarily gather their shit before delving far deeper.

stub-0609A frightening walk down a mysterious alley morphed into an ambient exploration of a Japanese tea garden, as Phish seemingly incorporated the foreign culture into their improvisational concept. Patiently exploring this delicate realm, the band took their time to lift themselves from the meditative space. But when they did, the band arrived at an incredibly triumphant groove that took us sailing into the Tokyo night, where the future seemed as bright as the thousands of neon lights that flooded our vision.



Down With Disease” 6.15.00, Big Cat

Phish pulled into Osaka for the final two nights of their short, but sweet, run splitting time between two different venues. The first night, the band played a club that was in a multi-level shopping plaza- everyone had to take an elevator up to the floor of Big Cat. The band had tore it up all week long, and when they opened the second set with “Disease,” the madness began all over again. Taking the composed jam into snarling territory, Phish had the pedal to the metal, driving the music with abandon.

phish-osaka-00Peaking the initial segment, the band dropped into a galloping groove led by Mike’s thumping bass lines. Trey layered some rhythm licks atop the pulsing canvas, and the band morphed into a “Crosseyed”-esque jam. Greatly diverging from the opening segment of music, Phish sat into this groove session with a purpose, adding, subtracting, and altering layers along the way.

But the most intriguing section of this “Disease” came last, as the rhythmic patterns transformed into eerie, unclassifiable music, sounding like the soundtrack to a Phishy haunted house. Some of the most original improv of the run, this section likened a musical narration of a ghost story, again led by Mike’s thick patterns. The rest of this piece is defined by spacey psychedelic exploration; some genuinely “other” type of stuff . Click play and take a ride.



Runaway Jim”, Zepp Osaka

Zepp Osaka

Zepp Osaka

The final show of Japan was again centered around the second set opener – this time, “Runaway Jim.” Wasting little time in taking the song away from its character, Page, Mike, and Trey combined in a sublime harmony over Fish’s shuffling beat, instantly bringing majesty to the music. Phish has a way of infusing a bittersweet quality into their final jams of tour, and while this was only the beginning of the set, that emotional feel set in with the band’s complementary tones.

Hinting at the song’s theme as they carved their way beyond it, Phish’s virtuoso communication seemed routine by this point. Trey began to play a completely original melody, leading the band to more dainty pastures. Moving like a four-headed being, the locked-together music seemed to be generated from a single mind.

stub-0616As the band rode this segment of music to its natural conclusion, they soon found themselves in some of the most intriguing music of the week. Peeling away sonic layers, Phish created a sparse palette for creation – an opportunity Fish seized to create a totally different beat.  As the others drifted with him, the band got into a segment of completely original music. With creativity paramount and Trey on keys, this “Jim” evolved into some nouveau Phishtronica, yet another illustration of the outer realms that Phish explored throughout the Far East.  This piece is right up there with their most unique outputs.


Winged music note=====

Jam of the Day:

Piper” 6.10 Zepp Tokyo I


Sticking with the theme of Japan 2000, here is another scorcher.



11.2.96 Coral Sky Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach, FL < Torrent

11.2.96 Coral Sky Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach, FL < Megaupload

11.2.1996 West Palm Beach (J.Awrat)

11.2.1996 West Palm Beach (J.Awrat)

The show that kick-started the second half of Fall ’96, Coral Sky also holds up as one of the best of the entire tour. Plucking “Crosseyed” from their Halloween set for the first time, the band took the cover for an extended ride before everyone had “waited long enough” and the band transitioned into a centerpiece “Antelope.” One of the classic segments of ’96 Phish, “Crosseyed > Antelope” saw the band adapt the percussive style of Remain In Light into their own music. Beginning to embark on a new musical path, Karl Perazzo stayed on for a few to help the boys along. “Yamar” and “Hood” are also standout versions. Included in this fileset is an additional pre-FM SBD of the second set.

I: Ya Mar, Julius, Fee, Cavern, Taste, Stash, Lizards, Free, Johnny B. Goode

II: Crosseyed and Painless > Run Like an Antelope, Waste, Harry Hood, A Day in the Life, Sweet Adeline

E: Funky Bitch*

Karl Perazzo played the entire show. *With Butch Trucks on drums and Fish on Trey’s mini-kit.

Aud Source: Unk / Pre-SM SBD of set II

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255 Responses to “Jams of Japan”

  1. BTB Says:

    You are all forgetting the massive bust-out “secret smile” 10 minute acoustic jam with harpsichord and flute solos by Fishman.

  2. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @miles – don’t be surprised if stuff goes down late at night, it has at every festival. Disco at the Went, playing on back of truck at the wheel, etc.

  3. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    the acoustic set will be a perfect landing pad for whatever ends up happening late night on Halloween. I have to believe they are anticipating exceeding any curfews

    so with the early start on the 1st set for Halloween, are we looking at a big gap or a huuuge 1st set? Unfortunately, I think it is the former…

  4. mike st j Says:

    also, wolfman’s bro from 06/13/00.

  5. Mitch Says:

    That’s one helluva way to start a day at bonnaroo. I try and avoid drinking til late night (sun is up but you know what i mean) to help me fall asleep at that place just because of dehydration and heat. I usually don’t start til afternoon at that place so I can go all night. But if I were there and you were saying “drink this and lets go see buffet” I surely would have been in. Too tempting. p.s. I hate jimmy buffet.

  6. miles raymond Says:

    Nice to see some positive feedback. I think too many woody allen movies coupled with chronic unemployment has had its effect!

  7. beepaphone Says:

    Wow such an exciting announcement I almost forgot I’m getting BASSED tonight

  8. bl68300 Says:

    that was such a wonderful surprise!!! and a huuuge turn out as well. I bet my buddy his days worth of fun if he was right…lucky bastard. why couldnt there be an impromptu set by the big lake or somethin, now that would have been the shit!

  9. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @Type III – I would expect big breaks, at the wheel, there were 2+ hour set breaks. Plenty of time to go back to campsite, etc.

  10. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @mitch – we brought margarita tubs to bonnarroo because of the glass prohibition. Just kind of a coincidence, but once they announced bufett, it became imperative. BTW, he’s not my favorite, but Pirate Looks At 40 and He Went To Paris are both excellent songs.

  11. albert walker Says:

    In homage to the epic 1970 acoustic then electric Dead shows Phish should open up their electric set with a twenty minute Dancin in the Streets Harper College style

    Now that would be epic
    Dreaming here obviously

    California, acoustic set
    We are getting some Dead musical costume clues here

  12. beepaphone Says:

    @ mitch – I agree. At Bonnaroo and similar festivals the real heat comes late. Not to say I won’t day drink for the right show, but a nap must be planned afterwards. I didn’t know about Buffet till it was over.

  13. PBS Says:

    Re: the PDX Trey interview…

    I thought the interview was relatively earnest and well conducted. They asked some straight forward questions about his recovery, it’s impact on the band, his life, etc. He replied with a metaphor about the backstage guest list at Coventry, totaling 3500 peeps – basically saying that they were worn out and the scene had become too much about partying and too little about the music. Contrasted by the Hampton shows, where he said they invited 10 folks backstage, 7 of which were under the age of 14.

    They asked some questions about the Philharmonic event, specifically what it was like to perform with such high caliber musicians. He told a little anecdote about the conductor and pianist were transposing scores on the fly, and how amazed he was by their level of talent – like nothing he’d ever seen. He then went on to say that the experience has brought a new light to his ability to listen and be part of the whole rather than stepping on the other players. Finally, they asked what he thought they’d play for the Halloween set, and he reprised the Spears Circus joke to defuse the question, which led to a discussion about Miley Cirus and the music his girls listen to around the house. That was the least interesting portion of the interview. Of course, it would be great if true Phish fans were interviewing him, but all-in-all I found the interview engaging and enjoyable. He closed by saying he was looking forward to coming back to Portland, which I tried not to get excited about…

  14. Chalkdustin Says:

    I’m very excited for this acoustic set. With such a great setting, getting in some organic Phish tunes after a raging night will be really refreshing.

    WOTC anyone?

  15. bhizzle Says:

    Just finished listening to that YouTube interview and eeeeekkkk…she is a horrendous interviewer, cutting Trey off as he gets excited talking about his girls and what they listen to and forcing him to sing Brittney Spears and driving him nuts regarding the musical costume. I must say good for trey tho when it comes to not looking at the internet any longer regarding the band or his music. He must have looked at the Green Board.

  16. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    OH Boy this announcement is news! I like overstating the obvious.

    All sorts of options for the acoustic set. I wonder if they’ll give us some new acoustic works. Sleep to open the set with coffe and doughtnuts.

    Heads up: DST end 10-31-09 Spring forward, Fall back.

    Conceiveably we could get an extra hour of curfew time given back to us.

    I am getting excited!

    Love this Tweezer!

  17. bhizzle Says:

    How crazy would it be bumping into Trey at a Kanye concert?

  18. PBS Says:

    First, you’d have to examine why you were at a Kanye concert.

  19. Robear Says:

    and I’m on my long journey home..

  20. sumodie Says:

    “Note: this is me being more neurotic than anything!”

    I’m never neurotic about Phish -just ask my tour mates 8)

    It was only BC that blew the roof off of time expectations, setting our expectations impossibly high forevermore. But every festival has had a musical surprise set, and I’m sure this one will too (there was a musical surprise planned for Coventry but the mud canceled that one -remember the big wooden wagon on wheels? The band was going to ride around in that and jam).

  21. bhizzle Says:

    @PBS…word, but it’d prolly be because I too have nothing but daughters.

  22. sumodie Says:

    “vaguely reminiscent of Bonnaroo this year. After flipping my lid to Phish on Friday and finally crawling into bed at 6am, I woke up at 10am and started slamming margaritas to get psyched for Jimmy Bufett at noon”

    This happened to me too, though I had a bloody mary instead and missed Jimmy’s opening tune. Actually, I went to bed after 6am because I first decided I had to have a shower to calm my weary dirty body.

  23. sumodie Says:

    “Wow such an exciting announcement I almost forgot I’m getting BASSED tonight”

    Does Mike have an opening act tonight? Because I’ve read that Mike has been expanding to two sets on those dates without an opening act. I wish the Somerville MA show had been two sets…

  24. posternutbag Says:

    Completely off topic, but just listened to Scents and Subtle Sounds from Camden ’03, and my mind exploded.

    Really hope this comes out at the festy!

  25. PBS Says:

    Ok, that’s a reasonable excuse. My daughter is only 3 months old, but hopefully I can mold her musical tastes in the same way I’ve molded my son’s, who is 3 – so time will tell. To date, she loves going to sleep to the Phish. The boy listens to classical music all night every night, but when he wants to get down, his fave is the Old Crow Medicine Show. He simply can’t get enough. I love it. Sometimes being a parent is super rewarding.

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