Fukuoka 2000: A Retro-Review

Live Phish 04: 6.14.00, Fukuoka, JP

As some of you may or may not know, I worked with JamBase back when the site sprouted wings around 2000. When Phish toured Japan that year, I served as the their pacific correspondent, writing reviews at the crack of dawn after partying in Japanese clubs all-night. When my friends went to sleep, I routinely headed to the hotel business center to write up a piece to send off to Andy and Ted, keeping stateside fans in the loop. Due to the unedited nature of these reviews, they often rambled, providing more of a play-by-play account of the goings-on in Japan from the front line.

Recently, I’ve revisited these pieces to clean them up for future use, and I thought some of them would make interesting retro-accounts of Phish’s last gasp in 2000. Little did we know at the time, that the band would soon slide downhill. Our last experiences before Japan had been December ’99 > Big Cypress > Radio City; a pretty amazing run of music. In our minds, Phish was flying high on their first legitimate tour of Japan, and we were along for the far eastern adventure. I wrote the following account the night of the now-legendary Fukuoka show – 6.14.00 – after kicking it around the corner from Drum Logos in a club, ironically, called “The Tripp Factory,” which hosted an impromptu post-show affair for Japanese and American fans alike. I’ve edited a bit for tightness, but the review remains largely the same.

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While Phish puts on engaging shows each and every night, sometimes a second set comes around that is united in concept from beginning to end; a set that stands above a mere collection of songs and jams. This type of set is defined by its thematic coherence; a certain direction from the opening to the closing note. These are the musical adventures that define the essence of Phish; the reasons we jive and strive to get to each and every show. Last night at Drum Logos in Fukuoka, Phish threw down what is sure to be one of the best, if not THE best set of the summer – including all shows yet to be played! Relentless grooves fused with spacey psychedelia, as Phish turned the small club into a futuristic dance hall for seventy-five minutes. Let’s get down to business here, you need to know exactly what you missed.

First off, the venue was slightly larger than Club Quattro the night before, boasting a capacity of about 650 people. Upon arriving, fans could barely give their extras away, as 80 tickets were still unsold! The club had a multi-tiered dance floor, with three different levels, and a small balcony hung above, where the tapers and lighting board set up. The overwhelming feel of the room was blackness; the floors, walls, and balcony were all solid black, a potential foreshadowing of the music that would ensue.

In a great first set, opening with “Carini,” “Curtain > Cities” (!?), the improvisational highlights emerged in “Gumbo > 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 go down when Phish took the stage. The second half opened with the most extended version of “Get Back On the Train” to date, as the band stretched out the ending rhythms far longer than usual. Staying well within the structure of the song, the band warmed everyone’s legs with some bluegrass-funk that served as a table setter for the main course.

As “Get Back On the Train” wound down, they sparked the ever-changing intro of “Twist.” A spiced-up beginning, featuring a harder dive into the song, readied the crowd for the sublime improvisation about to unfold. As the jam began, Trey led the band through some “Twist-based” patterns, before fading a bit into the musical background while Mike stepped up to lead. The music progressed into an ambient space, much in the style of the cerebral “Twist” from Big Cypress, but without Trey playing a beautiful melody over top. Instead, Trey colored the music with textures, tonal colors, and waves of sound rather than straight ahead playing. This gave the piece a much more eerie and psychedelic feel, and as the band progressed, the jam continued to get more and more abstract, yet always remaining loosely connected to a groove – albeit some incredibly “out there” grooving. At this point, many people in the crowd were thinking that this would be the second coming of “Twist > 2001,” and as Page brought in his own futuristic sounds, the launch seemed inevitable.

But well into the jam, at its most formless point, the band slowly emerged out of the murky space with the return into the end of “Twist!” As they concluded the song, however, the band picked up right where they left off, amidst a similar spacey groove. This started very quietly, and Mike hinted at a more driving bass line to come. 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 the brief  hint at the song’s melody lasted for only a minute or so.

Drum Logos in the Distance (J.Greene)

At this point, Mike began to lay down some classic Gordeaux lines, as he took responsibility for both the rhythm and melody of the jam, while Trey continued his role providing textures and tonal color. Meticulously, Trey blended his musical thoughts into the mix as the band’s momentum continued to gradually build. As Gordon began throwing down more vicious bass lines, he was virtually soloing while leading the band. Fishman slowly progressed out of his ambient beats, holding down a tight pocket with Mike, and the entire feel of the jam became dark and sinister. From this point forward, this nameless piece of music exists as one of the nastiest Phish groove sessions that has recently gone down in public view – straight-up futuristic funk, all on a tiny island in the Pacific! This evil groove took on a life of its own, as it morphed from an ambient space walk into a psychedelic bass-driven excursion that moved your brain as much as your body. As the band basked in their exploratory session, Mike hinted at “Walk Away,” nudging the band to build the beginning of the old-school, James Gang cover. The crowd soon picked up on this transition and exploded in cheer, congratulating Phish on the epic music that had just ensued.

“Walk Away’s” pace, while a bit slower than normal, fit the set perfectly. Emerging seamlessly from the previous groove, Phish treated the Japanese-dominated crowd with a very slick 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.

Fukuoka Heads (P.McGuire)

As “Walk Away” ended, the band slipped back into a quieter bass pattern, returning to the space-aged feel of the set. This groove, again led by Mike, soon settled into a shimmering ambiance, 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 foreshadowed earlier in the set. As Fishman’s snare hit engaged the infectious rhythm, the crowd exploded – as much in motion as in sound – and Drum Logos now was spinning to Japan’s second ever “2001.” Mike continued to take the improvisational lead, as Trey chopped into play with some shorter rhythm licks. The first theme came relatively quickly, but the second section became far more drawn out and chock full of signature Trey licks and bulbous bass lines. For the first time in history, Phish decided to close a set, and a show, with “2001,” a significant exclamation point on one of the greatest sets in years. 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 repertoire. And then they took a bow.

With a mellower encore of “Sleep” and “Squirming Coil,” the band provided some relaxation and reflection, allowing the set to stand on its own in the annals of Phish history. This was truly one for the ages; you’ll need to hear it to believe.

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Jam of the Day:

Stash” 9.9.99 I

Everyone knows of the big second set that opened Fall ’99, but this nugget of psychedelia jam came amidst a typically discombobulated opening set of tour.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

7.12.99 Great Woods, Mansfield, MA < Torrent

7.12.99 Great Woods, Mansfield, MA < Megaupload

Great Woods '09 (G.Lucas)

The first night of Great Woods ’99. After the five-year bust-out of “Foreplay/Longtime,” check out the first set combo of “What’s the Use?,”  “Split” under a blood-red sunset.

I: Foreplay/Long Time > Down with Disease, Back on the Train, What’s the Use?, Split Open and Melt, Water in the Sky, Character Zero

II: Twist, The Moma Dance, Makisupa Policeman > David Bowie, The Lizards, Guyute

E: Rock and Roll

Source: Unknown

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593 Responses to “Fukuoka 2000: A Retro-Review”

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  1. Exree Hipp Says:

    Spent last night listening to a few of the Fall 2000 shows I attended, and it’s true that their coherence had taken a dive at that point. I’m still floored every time I listen to Fukuoka though. That second set would easily make my top ten of all time.

    This link has a great sounding SBD/AUD matrix of the 9/12/2000 Great Woods show if anyone’s interested. I had a great time last night listening to the DWD from that show, definitely a standout Mike-driven version.

    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=p8WKkpP-TKpO1VnQgcff6EQ&gid=21

  2. Matso Says:

    Great review and great DOTD, although the brief summary fails to point out the superb Bowie in the second set. It doesn’t go into clear type II and isn’t especially dark, but it features some absolutely fantastic and subtle interplay between the whole band, who were clearly listening very closely to one another throughout this set (the Twist, Moma, Maki combo is also very tight and the Maki has a great little 99-sound Trey solo).I’ve harped on about this version in the past (including when Miner didn’t include it in his Summer 99 picks…) but I really think its a great version.

  3. Willowed Says:

    Morning boys and girls.
    Thanks for the DOTD. I was 10 rows back Page side for this one. When they opened up with forelplay/longtime I almost fell over!!
    It set the tone for the entire show!

  4. c0wfunk Says:

    re: dotd – not just a 5 year bustout of longtime foreplay – that’s the first (and only?) electric version. much different than the bluegrass thing from 5 years before. I also was pretty close in the pavilion for this one and really enjoyed the show!

    love the retro reviews. Nice to see a swing back to the light. Checked in yesterday and quickly hit the exits. I was at the raleigh 00 show too and it was certainly not the best I’ve seen (I remember trey half heartedly hitting the slave peak and then bolting for the exits with therest of the band still looking around) but what’s really the point of a “my worst show ever” post I wonder? If you have nothing nice to say….

  5. c0wfunk Says:

    wondering why that japanese ticket has the words “smash” “space” “shower” and “tv”

  6. Angryjoggerz Says:

    Anyone catch 3D last night? I did. Twas alright, though it lacked something… I think mostly it lacked a sense of narrative or some sort of context for what was happening; def not for people who are not already into the band. Song selection was also a little strange imo. Lastly, it really did not need to be in 3D; there was no “yes!” 3D moment and never did they let the CK5 lights go mental in 3D. Very strange. Sounds like I did not like it, but I did, but it just was surprising in some ways.

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    was it full songs or clips? I felt like the it movie is really poorly edited by someone with a very small attention span. Both in the audio and the video.. I’m hoping this one is better done than that at least.

  8. pagesidehighschool Says:

    willow, i must have been standing right next to you, closest ive ever been was rock n roll encore right on the rail in front of page

  9. Willowed Says:

    I am sure we brushed shoulders pageside!
    I wonder how many of us have crossed paths at shows without even knowing it!

  10. lawnboy Says:

    its so great to your first show ever posted on the DOTD!!!
    after that it was 12/15/99 then Cypress. that got me pretty well hooked

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    @sumo (if you are up and at it yet)
    sorry I missed you last night. I am pretty sure I saw you right as the lights were going down though my phone was off so I didn’t see your message until we were already headed home. another great phishy experience for us all!

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Were people partying in the theatre last night? Phish 3D attendees,

  13. BTB Says:

    Japanesse Heads!!

    And I said, Hey Fukuoka Policeman, Policeman came to my House…

  14. Jake in san antonio Says:

    6.14.00 is my favorite piece of music ever played. The squirming coil encore is just the cherry on top. A show like this cannot be duplicated. Perfection

  15. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    @Palmer
    the vibe in Revere was pretty fun. They didn’t have the sound up fully to start so things were a little quiet until they cranked it up, but people were hooting and cheering for a variety of scenes/songs. There was one spinner chick but people otherwise stayed in their seats for the most part. And yes, somebody was actually selling balloons post “show”. Kind of sad, really.

  16. MrMurph Says:

    This show is a personal favorite. The twist>2001 is superb.
    Phish 3d last night was ok. Starting getting a little bored during it but the Suzy was very cool. Wish they played mcgrupp 🙁

  17. nonoyolker Says:

    Morning All!

    What was the song selection like for 3D?

    Had to work ass late last night. It was very un-420. Stupid adulthood… Scooped the new Dead dvd though, which helped to ease the pain of the daily grind. The Scarlet>Fire segment is sublime and I still get choked up during SOTM. Run scoop that.

    Nice retro post Miner! Going to spin the whole show in honor. 2nd set – not much more can be said.

    Have a great one all!

  18. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    now that is a soupy, psychedelic Stash. good way to ease into my morning!

  19. willowed Says:

    Mr. P.
    My SPAC plans have been thrown a curve ball. I will only be attending the Sunday Night show!
    My friend who goes to all the shows with me found out last night he is going to be a dad (yay Pavel). So he came to the decision that SPAC weekend is out! I look at this as fate. I was skipping a wedding that my wife and I had to attend to rage in SPAC Sat. night (she was not happy but was going to allow). Once I got the call that my buddy was out, I made the decision to bail on Saturday. No worries though, I will be at SPAC bright and early Sunday a.m. to rage with you and crew at the Downtowner! I will be pounding on your hotel door bright an early so you better be ready to rage! SPAC Fathers day is on!
    My apologies!
    I had lawn seats anyway for Sat. so it stings but it doesn’t hurt….sort of.

  20. SillyWilly Says:

    I just listened to this show (6-14-200) last night before bed. Thanks a lot for the review, Miner!

    One of my top 5 shows to listen to, no question.

  21. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Too bad, Willowed. Get you a few brownie points with the old lady perhaps. Sat. my wife is planing on joining me anyway. I may potentially be starting a new job in June as well. So, playing everything by ear now anyway.

  22. BTB Says:

    Willowed – you get ‘skip wedding’ privileges?? Nice

  23. neemor Says:

    Morning, all!
    Good stuff, Miner.
    I went back recently and checked these out (pre-edit) and it made my heart hurt to have not been in attendance.

    Then you soothed my pain with the grand memories of my favorite two-night stand ever:
    GreatWoods ’99.

    There will probably never in my life be another moment like running up those oversized rough-hewn stairs on the way up to the lawn to the opening sounds of Foreplay>Longtime.
    Spectacular.
    There were so many gems and highlights from 7.12, 7.13.99…

    Well done, Miner.

  24. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Willowed, talk to jdub about your room saturday night then

  25. willowed Says:

    New jobs always throw a wrench into the mix. If they make you an offer just tell them that there are a few dates in June that you had already scheduled to be away.
    That’s what I did last year when I started this new career.
    We need to have our Father’s Day “cry” when we are all gooned out on L.

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