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”

  1. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah Miner I have had that argument with so-called “realists” who think that they know what the world “Actually Is” that I can pretty much recite the whole thing in my sleep…though it has lost its appeal…

  2. gavinsdad Says:

    Dont miss Buffalo 90 if we’re talking GD. that show was heat rocks.

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    for sure, C.

  4. Little Buddy Says:

    I really wish I was born 5 yrs earlier so I could have seen more Dead.

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    /MrC is still pissed he missed the Shoreline Death Don’t bustout

    only the greatest Jerry solo of like the last 15 years of his life, no big deal or anything…mumble grumble bitch gripe moan

    it’s very interesting to me, @gdad, that though we were “offset” by about 2 years, we had almost the exact same timing, as it were – 2 years after my first show (85 to 87) was how long it took me to go from casual fan to ready-to-do-it-but-don’t-know-how wannabe deadhead to serious tour kid.

    but bottom line man, being a head of my generation had always been a little sad cause we knew the best days were gone

    by midsummer ’89 it seemed like all things were possible again

    what a feeling!

  6. gavinsdad Says:

    echoing Mr Palmer on the “easy to love you”….i take Brent in all forms…landover 1990 we got some sweetness….pick and choose during that run….revolution, loose lucy, easy to love you, black throated…everyone got a piece…hallways were sweaty as hell….i dare a phish hallway to get that psychedelically charged this Fall.

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    that Shoreline “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” is in Zipfile #4 of the “High Time volume 2” compilation in http://tinyurl.com/completely-dead and is my go-to when people assert Jerry couldn’t bring the true fire late in life

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    spring ’90 is my favorite tour I personally saw hands down no question

    I caught breakouts of songs like Ripple and Dark Star and the Loose Lucy bustout is my favorite memory of all

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    trying to figure out WTF the new words Bobby was singing to Black Throated was a weird psychedelic experience, too

    “hey wait was that him changing that, or my brain…?”

  10. Elihu Says:

    Hey has anyone heard any more rumors about ACL? 3-day passes sold out already (didn’t manage to score any)

  11. gavinsdad Says:

    here’s something to ponder that i like about phish fans and dead fans that maybe someone can vibe on. to mr c’s point, when we knew deep down that JG was a goner…that he was really having some tough times…we pulled for him, i don’t know how to put it into words but we sent the love his way….i remember being very high’ed up, as my friends used to say, and felt the whole crowd coaxing the High Time out of Jer at Buffalo 90….in 94/95 it was just like this big seance…all of us watching Garcia play his demons out, his sweetness, his grace…you catch a Visions of Johanna back then in 95 (tampa) and you know what I’m talking about.

    i feel like even tho we all speculated and ruminated and wrung hands over Trey in 03/04 (and even earlier!) i think we were all pulling for the dude…i think the feeling i get from some people on this site is kind of what i’m alluding too…it’s nice to know that we wanted the best for our guitar heroes….unfortunately JG had to walk his path off this Earth…but with Trey we know we have something special, and i think at our core we are so rooting for him to keep taking care of himself. there are elements of selfishness, yes. i would love to keep seeing phish and keep getting my mind blown. but at the very same time i feel that i know that the band wants to keep communing with us, to keep going to “that place”, to ride that spaceship as Mike G would say…and i love that i can be a part of it. wiht Garcia, i knew he was down with disease….i’m not seeing that right now with Trey, and i’m digging it.

    you guys have me pumped up.

  12. flarrdogg Says:

    Gavin’s Dad- Great stuff. Love hearing those memories. Buckeye Lake ’93 was my first show- and by first show I mean first show that my I went to without being ‘dragged’ by my parents, who were big heads “back in the day”. Junior year in high school. Graduated high school ’94 and promptly went on tour. Totally hooked, but even at the time, I knew that I had missed the last peak. Didn’t matter one bit to 18 year old flarrdogg. I was open to life changing experiences and that is EXACTLY what I got that summer. I love the history of the thing and first hand accounts.

    On that note, thanks again for the great Fukoka review, Miner.

    “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.” I love this piece of improv.

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    preach it @gd

    I’m with you 100%

    your description brings chills

    getting through Box, Black Peter and especially the Last Time at my final shows was an ordeal, I knew they were all true songs those nights

  14. flarrdogg Says:

    I have a hard time with Brent in “all forms”. Still can’t handle Far From Me.

  15. gavinsdad Says:

    @flarr: all good things. music fiends are we. doesn’t matter when you get in or get it…just as long as our ears and minds are open good things happen.

  16. Little Buddy Says:

    Nice, Gavins Dad!

    Flarr – I too graduated H.S. in ’94, but only saw 6 shows in ’94 and ’95. I wish I knew then what I knew a couple years later.

  17. flarrdogg Says:

    Mr. C, Little Buddy, Gavin’s Dad, Palmer- Great to rap with you fellows. Great thoughts here. I am out.

    PEACE

  18. Little Buddy Says:

    Peace, Flarr.

  19. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Great post @GD- I got on the Dead train late as well. 1st show was Cap Centre ’92 freshmen year at college (also happen to be my 1st dose). The whole experience changed me profoundly and I haven’t been the same since. “It” sent me on this path. It’s been quite a ride. Hard to put into words for me.

  20. VoidBoy Says:

    Interesting article on Gerry Garcia today… good read. I can totally relate to where he is coming from. Really provides the “human” aspect we sometimes forget about with out guitar heroes.

  21. Elihu Says:

    Sorry for interrupting this deep Dead convo…
    First last and only show: Tampa 5/95. Had no idea what to expect. Got IT during drums/space. Will never forget that beautiful Days Between. So thankful I got to see that show.

  22. Little Buddy Says:

    Nice, Elihu. No need to apologize. Crazy how even at the end, when the band was often dragging a bit, we were still able to get IT and be turned on. Even toward the end Jerry was still “Captain Trips” in his own way.

  23. Little Buddy Says:

    I’ve gotta be more productive. Good night, boys. It’s been real.

    Peace.

  24. gus Says:

    ok guys… i know you all shit on hanson for ‘mmmbop’, but…

    you should hear their new single/music video, it’s really catchy and i actually really like it

    http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=104317949

    they’ve put out some good stuff in the past few years

  25. Willowed Says:

    Is it wrong that I keep starrig at Mr. C’s junk?

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