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.

==========

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.

=====

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.

=====

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

Tags: ,

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

  1. Mr. Completely Says:

    maybe it’s just me, I’m particular like that

  2. flarrdogg Says:

    Mr C- I saw Crimson, White, and Indigo the other night in the theatre up here. A+ on the production and editing. A really beautiful film to watch. So nice, also, to put the pictures to a show that I know so well and love so much. Did you get a chance to see it? Were you at this show?

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    much to the annoyance of myself and one of the producers, its not playing in a PDX theater. I hear the transfer is fantastic, they went all the way back to the HD masters to make the transfer for theater.

    I do have the DVD and have watched it. This was an important show in a lot of ways, socially speaking. First of all I know more people that “got it” at this show than any other, for whatever reason, with the possible exception of Roanoke ’87.

    Second, it was part of my own person re-entry into authentic dead-head-ness. I had become a “business hippie” – I was there to keep my eye on some financial interests I had, and the music was secondary. For me the Spring ’89 shows I saw had been very disappointing, kind of a nail in the coffin of my enthusiasm. But I was blown away by these shows, first at Foxboro where they opened a scorching day with Playin > Crazy Fingers, you could tell right away things were different…then the great Buffalo show, then this one…

    by the time I got to Alpine I was a full-on rabid freak deadhead again, was heartbroken to miss Shoreline, caught almost every show from Hampton til Brent died…

    so yeah a lot of memories for my friends and I around this one. The music holds up I think as well, particularly the Scarlet > Fire transition jam and Fire solos.

  4. Willowed Says:

    Good evening boys and girls
    Let’s go
    B-R-U-I-N-S

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    and yes the editing is superb especially compared to some of the other videos

    hey, we’ll actually show whichever musician is doing the most interesting thing at any given time

    pretty radical concept apparently

  6. Mdawg Says:

    re: Phish3D reviews

    Go see it in 3d. The boy’s instruments looked amazing and I am totally pumped up for summer tour now! There was not a lot of “scene” footage to give you a full impression of what Fest8 felt like and CK5 is not represented well (palm trees, etc). The music rocked and you really feel like you are hovering over the stage and floating around. Overall it is worth viewing on the BIG SCREEN.

  7. flarrdogg Says:

    Mr. C- Great stuff. I too know what it feels like when the music stops becoming the primary reason that you’re there. Not very cool to have that realization, but great to be self aware enough to catch yourself and try to change that. I did not have the skills to do that when it happened for me (fall ’99 Phish).

    One thing I was reminded of in the film that doesn’t translate well onto the tape is what a show stopper this Standing On The Moon was. Yikes. Also, Blow Away. Brent was ‘on’ this night. I love Buffalo 7-4, but am now compelled to dig deeper into spring ’89.

  8. flarrdogg Says:

    ^By ‘show stopper’ I mean the absolute fire. Soul food. Hair blown back.

  9. ChefBradford Says:

    http://www.thewrap.com/blog-entry/phish-great-band-godawful-3d-movie-experience-16505

  10. Little Buddy Says:

    Mr. C and Flarr –

    Just checking in and wanted to weight in on Crimson White and Indigo. I’m glad that you mentioned the Blow Away, Flarr. Because it totally blew me away. I never saw the Dead with Brent, but I’ve always been a fan anyway. However, this Blow Away with the incredible camera work put Brent into a whole new sphere of ‘special’ for me. Really powerful stuff (even if he had some fuel running through his veins).

    Very interesting story re: you ’89 Dead experience Mr. C. I’ve heard you reference the drastic difference between Spring and Summer ’89 before. My listening has always focused more up through ’74, but I’m getting into the hot yours of the 80’s and early 90’s a bit more now. Just kind of finding my way though since I don’t really know where to look.

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    not Spring, man. I’ve been back through Spring ’89, wondering if the problem was in my head. it wasn’t. They caught fire more or less at those May shows at the Frost, 5-6-89 or whatever that is.

    The rest of summer is pretty good to great. Alpine and Greek were personal highlights and the Shorelines I missed had the first of the big bustouts.

    that was definitely the first great Standing on the Moon I know of…unquestionably it was the moment when fan reaction to that song went from “oh that’s kind of nice, maybe a little better than Black Muddy River” to “oh I get it, it’s the next great Jerry ballad, ok.”

    and yeah, I distinctly remember a sequence of very uncomfortable looking-in-the-mirror moments over the course of those shows. “oh wait, I’ve kind of turned into an asshole.”

  12. flarrdogg Says:

    Little B- So great how they had that camera positioned right next to Brent stage right. Made us (the viewer) able to see the back and forth between him and Jerry. I’ve always heard that he was such a great foil and that he pushed Jerry to new heights in his playing and believe that notion to be true through my own listening experience. It was so cool to actually ‘be in their bubble’ and see the conversation taking place. How about the camera set up behind Billy that had the diagonal downward view of Jerry?!?! Sick. I had a great experience and was reminded once again of the awesome power of that band.

  13. Mr.Palmer Says:

    I like pretty much every Brent tune. Even the so-called cheezy ones. Give me an Easy to Love You over a Samba in the Rain any day of the week and twice on Sundays. One man’s opinion.

  14. Little Buddy Says:

    Those camera angles really did it for me. Seeing the interplay between Jer and Brent up close like that is pretty incredible. They’d lock eyes and just take it to the next level. Pretty cool stuff.

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    @buddy you can start with the two “High Time” mixes here http://tinyurl.com/completely-dead and just let me know what you like

    the fast summary version is that the highlights – totally subjective of course – are:
    Fall ’79- spring ’80

    Spring and Summer ’85 and parts of Fall are wild. Jerry was whacked out of his gourd so the shows are VERY uneven and sloppy at times but the highs are quite, well, high

    I think ’87 is underrated heavily but the setlist rotation is short and there’s no open jamming so you don’t need a large number of shows

    ’88 -spring ’89 is a falloff year IMO, obviously with exceptions. for some reason ’88 Bird Songs are epic as hell.

    Summer ’89 through the first half of Summer ’90 is the Last Great Peak.

    Then the Hornsby era shows especially the end of Spring ’91 and the start of Summer were kind of an encore.

  16. flarrdogg Says:

    Summer ’89 is what I meant to say. I have a lot of those shows on tape. Where is the best place to access them digitally? Still Archive or is there somewhere else that I’m not hip to. I am no longer hip.

  17. Little Buddy Says:

    Nice! Thanks, Mr. C. I’ve copied and pasted that onto a sticky so I can get on some listening this weekend. I’m at the office now. I pretty much just hit up the archive.org streams while at the office. Actually listening to a decent show from ’92 I hadn’t heard before – 6.22.1992 Start Lake. Nice Scarlet>Fire 2nd set opener. All sorts of interesting midi in the Scarlet.

    I def appreciate all you insight into the Dead. I have a pretty big collection of early years, but not much from the latter half. I’ve probably gained as much insight into the band from reading your posts as from all the books I’ve read.

  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    archive just for listening, or dowloading Auds – for instance no SBD of Foxboro has surfaced that I know of – or hacky-downloading SBD mp3s if you want to take the time to fuck with it.

    otherwise bt.etree.org and Workingman’s Tracker torrent sites are the way to go

  19. Mr.Miner Says:

    Mr C, who’s the new logo?

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    to be clear, there are (depending on your taste and pickiness) good-to-great shows in the eras that I left out, and bad shows in the eras I focused on

    for instance I’m not really a fan of most of the early 80s but I just listened to a matrix of 7-4-81 Austin, TX and loved the second set pretty much top to bottom

    and I love fall ’89 but the first Miami show is nothing to spend time on

    etc, and YMMV

    thanks for the kind words!

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    http://pix.motivatedphotos.com/2009/1/10/633671721978931844-Zardoz.jpg

  22. flarrdogg Says:

    Thanks C and I echo what Little Buddy had to say. I grew up around it and it was a huge part of my formative years and think I have a bit of knowledge on me, but your ability to describe it is uncanny. ALWAYS appreciate the insight.

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

    hallucination vs. real, the distinction becomes purely academic

    ^ exactly…ive tried to explain this, hallucinatory realms are as real as non-hallucinatory realms. How do I know? because I’ve lived them both…

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ I’m catching up here clearly

  25. gavinsdad Says:

    jumping on here with Flarr and C….didn’t get to see CWandI yet but i was at that Philly show…for me it was transitional as i was transferring from a small college in Dover, DE to a large university in Ft Collins CO. that summer i found out I got into CSU…for a Jersey boy CO was the Mecca….the indica mecca….I jest….but I was all of 19, fully fully engaged in the Dead scene even if it’d only been seeing shows for the prev 2 years and 89 started to cement some good times..

    Spring 89 was more about the tactical mischief….Greensboro, where i got my first SOTM and my first door pop….Pittsburgh, where the riots went down and the i bribed the turnstile guards and drank my first Anchor Porter (plus a Built to Last)…then Cinci, where I got escorted off the walkway around the venue by a cop, then to Louisville to eat dosed bread, sell dollar Bud cans, skate, and get a Louie Louie and a Roses…I was getting into it….

    by the time summer hit….like C said….that seething mass of people on the floor at Foxboro was nothing but good times…JFK was a “local” show and that Blow Away killed it….i remember walking to the back of the floor to the sweet strains of Jer’s leads during Heaven’s Door…then the trek to Alpine (althea!). what amazing formative times…wasn’t yet where C was in the business chain…that came a little later…i think i was a touch more JV than Mr. C…but 89 was pure bliss…once I hit Colorado and got out to Shorline in Fall of 89 there was no stopping me and my friends…pure fun…like everyone has felt along the way…

    i really have to get to see this movie!

Leave a Reply