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. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    @butter
    You get into any of that quannum? I recommend starting with solesides. It’s the better album, imo.

  2. (Formally Known As) BrandonKayda Says:

    I’m really hoping for that, Gdad. Thanks for the kind words

  3. Lycanthropist Says:

    BK

    Your enthusiasm is incredible.

    I am so glad that you are going to be finally experiencing Phish in person this summer.
    I know that you have been looking forward to this for quite some time.

    Just go with an open mind and you will have a fantastic time.

    Cheers!

  4. Luther Justice Says:

    @flarr
    95 Soldier Field was uneven, like most of 95, but there seemed to be an urgency, if not desperate attempt by Jerry to get some stuff out. Phil often talks about the darkness of that show and how he brought in Box at the end to lift the mood. But even Box, which Phil wrote when his dad died, seemed to point towards an end. Heavy stuff, even when you didn’t know this was the last time you’d see Jerry in human form.

    @gd
    BTB Fest will hopefully inspire some to make the journey out to Hershey. Phish and bad american chocolate? Seems like a no brainer to me.

  5. Lycanthropist Says:

    I hope to one day be able to feed off your energy at one of our shows.

    I mean that seriously.

  6. Luther Justice Says:

    I’ve thought about making the trek to MPP just to witness BK’s first show.

  7. Luther Justice Says:

    And BK, DON’T DO DRUGS.

  8. Lycanthropist Says:

    no doubt Luther..

    I would love to be there for that.

  9. Luther Justice Says:

    @BK
    I hope you’ll have time to post after the show. It will be awesome to read YOUR Phish thoughts.

  10. BingosBrother Says:

    Catching up, in regards to reality.

    None of this is real
    Except the things you feel
    Like the soul I cannot see
    But is inside of me

    Luther Justice = Frances McDormand

  11. (Formally Known As) BrandonKayda Says:

    Seriously you guys, thank you all for the encouragements. June 26th and 27th are two HUGE days on the calender for me, and I will definitely try to meet up with some of you at the show.

    I think that without you guys rooting for me so hard to make it to these shows I wouldn’t be going, so once again, thank you all for the kindness you have been shooting my way lately. I sincerely appreciate it. I think this is an example of pronoia working.

    Move aside all of the pre-show stresses, all of the worries of a “bad show, all of the anxiety of tickets/location, etc

    My general philosophy now is: Once I am in the venue, IT’S ON!

  12. butter Says:

    @T3 – touched on a little of this and a little of that , made for some fresh variety this afternoon, lookin to dive deeper

    @LJ – yes that last GD show is an emotional heart wencher …that’s actually why i haven’t played the dvd you sent me…..although it’s cued and waiting

  13. Luther Justice Says:

    @BK
    I wouldn’t worry about getting a bad show. With two back-to-back nights, you’re bound to get a show to blow your mind (if not two). Part of what has addicted most of us is the chase of THE show.

  14. Gratefulcub Says:

    Just had drinks in grenich (sp?) village with dr p, Mitch, and purplehumpbackwhale.

    1) so freakin cool. Good guys, fun time. Nice to have a network like this.
    2) purple is not purple or humpbacked, very disappointing
    3) bk, don’t do drugs (with your dad)

  15. Gratefulcub Says:

    Bad show? Pfft.

    If it’s your first, and they stink, you won’t realize it for years.

  16. gavinsdad Says:

    holy crap…riding the bane train…this JOTD is outstanding…Trey with those ennio morricone wails…

  17. Luther Justice Says:

    I just got a Grateful Dead board game for my birthday. It is such hard core trivia, I know very few who would have the knowledge to play. Did you create this game Mr. C?

    It’s time to watch the DVD butter. It’s time. Just add some good indica and you’ll enjoy. I’ve heard you have such things in the Golden State.

  18. Gratefulcub Says:

    Backpackman, thanks. Riot going on is fun stuff. Gonna check out the Hathaway next.

  19. Luther Justice Says:

    I’m so baned, I just realized I’ve had American Idol on in the background and didn’t notice.

  20. gavinsdad Says:

    I can’t keep up with the amount of music that gets dropped on this board GCub…nice to see more BB bonds forming.

  21. (Formally Known As) BrandonKayda Says:

    Actually, that’s not what I was saying at all. What I meant was I am not worried about all of those minor anxieties that some show-goers fret over.

    All I need to do at this point is get there (confirmed), and from there I believe things will gel as they are meant to.

    I *will* be posting some sort of review. Of course, that review may simply be something like – “HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!!!!!!!” or something along those lines. Leave it to Miner to come up with the lowdown of the show :)

    Bottom line: I am seeing Phish. For a two-night stand. At MPP

    Bring it on.

  22. Luther Justice Says:

    Speaking of music being dropped, I miss AW’s vinyl drops. Come back AW. Come back.

  23. Gratefulcub Says:

    Walking through manhattan’s hustle and bustle with fluff on the earbuds is fun. I did get a few looks when I :finger in the air spinning around in circles: yelled “fluffy fluffy fluffy fluffy head! Oh yeah!”

  24. KWL Says:

    can someone recommend a smoking hot dead show from the 80s? any year. muchas gracias.

  25. Little Buddy Says:

    KWL –

    I am not an 80′s Dean aficionado by any means, but here it goes…

    It isn’t the 80′s but I’m listening to 3.16.90 after Gavinsdad mentioned the Landover run earlier and it’s pretty smokin’. Although it’s 1990 – it’s a Brent show, so it’s kind of like the 80′s. Buffalo and JFK from July 1989 are pretty nice too – they also happen to be the two most recent Dead DVD releases – I think). Mr. C touted the May 89 Frost show a couple pages back as well as a turning point in 89.

    10.26.89 Miami is a show I go to sometimes because the Dark Start is so freaking out there it’s just crazy.

    Hope that helps. Mr. C or Gavinsdad could probably be more helpful than I.

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