Retro-Review: Hibiya Outdoor Theatre – Tokyo

Here is another in my series of Japan 2000 retro-reviews. This story recounts Phish’s daytime show in Tokyo, their third gig in three days. I wrote this later written that evening. Enjoy!


6/11/00 – Phish: Hibiya Outdoor Theatre, Tokyo, Japan

Hibiya Outdoor Theatre - 6.11.00

Hibiya Outdoor Theatre - 6.11.00

Sometimes we experience magic. Sometimes we hold witness to events that far surpass the power in any one of us, and elevate our appreciation of life and all its amazement to the next level. Today was one of these days.

The day began quite rainy as fans flocked to the Hibiya Outdoor Theatre, a miniature amphitheatre within proximity to Tokyo’s Royal Palace in Hibiya Park. Merely twelve hours after the Zepp show ended, many Japanese and American fans, alike, filed into the venue around 1pm. An hour later, the Japanese jam-band, Big Frog, would take the stage. As I entered the grounds everyone seemed to embody positive and mellow states of minds, despite the gloomy weather. As Big Frog played, Japanese and American fans mingled about the park, talking and meeting each other, many for the first time. Everyone shared an excitement for Phish’s upcoming set in this beautiful location, and the collective energy filled the air with an atmosphere of total comfort, friendliness, and camaraderie. Big Frog ended their well-received set at 3pm, as the rain seemed to be letting up.

Phish took the stage about 3:45 pm to the enthusiastic cheers of the crowd of 2,200 predominantly Japanese fans. As soon as they came out, you could see the look in the band’s eyes – they shared the same excitement with the fans, thankful to be playing such a special locale. A huge grin broke out over Trey’s face as he ripped into “First Tube.” The crowd erupted as Phish charged through the opener, while Trey bounced with joy. Phish kept the fast-paced rhythms rolling with “Punch You In the Eye,” and this fierce opening had the crowd going berzerk. The energy exchanged shared between the fans, Japanese and American alike, became palpable, as ear to ear smiles dotted the crowd. After the fiery couplet of the show, the band slowed it down with “Horn.”

More notably, a quick “Ginseng Sullivan,” Trey played the opening riff of “Stash” for the first time since 12.12.99, during Hartford’s first set. Sorely missed from the bands all-night 8 hour millennium concert in Big Cypress, FL and and the Radio City weekend in May, the crowd grew visibly excited to reacquaint with the classic vehicle. The “Stash” jam began as Trey came out of the composed section weaving dark melodies around the bands groove. The piece remained a Trey-led improvisation, culminating with a screeching solo that captivated the audience. “Dirt” served as a cool down from the intense “Stash,” and out of the ending, Phish built the intro to “Possum.” This “Possum” remained anchored to blue-grass-rock rather than the more psychedelic “Possums” of yesteryear, nonetheless, the crowd erupted with each change and chorus.

Hibiya - 6.11.00

I cannot stress enough my amazement at how many Japanese fans knew every change, note, melody, and stop to all of Phish’s songs. These folks are not passive observers, but extremely active listeners and dancers. The excitement of the event continued to build as they dropped only the second “It’s Ice” since Cleveland ’98 (also played at Roseland ‘00). Nailing the intricacies of the song, the “Ice” grooves felt so refreshing after such a continued absence in the setlist. The first half ended with the band’s first performance of “Farmhouse” since the album was released on May 16th. Trey drew out the end of the song with an extended solo before thanking the crowd and taking a bow.

The set break immediately brought the realization that ever since Phish had taken the stage, the rain had stopped entirely! Albeit grey as San Francisco in January, it was dry and cool, making for a nice change of pace from the hot and stuffy Tokyo clubs of the previous two nights. The set break vibes flowed purely positive, as all Americans were at a loss to describe the unbelievable feelings and sheer international ‘Phishiness’ that filled the air. Japanese fans and Americans relaxed together, waiting for the second set with huge anticipation. Humanity was at its best today, as cultural bridges were built through the power of music. The feelings and emotion floating around the colorful atmosphere far outweighed the gloominess of the weather, and all involved seemed completely in tune with what was happening.

Club Quattro - 6.13.00

After a fairly long break, the band retook the stage, still fully immersed in daylight, and jumped into “Birds of a Feather.” This “Birds” showcased some smoking whole-band patterns and particularly hot improvisation by Trey. The version remained within the realms of a “Birds” jam, but fully developed, unlike the shorter “album” versions of Fall ’98. The dark feel of Birds gave way to the opening build of a bombastic “Free.” The band moved through the composed section methodically, launching into the jam with thick, bass-driven grooves that had the crowd completely freaking out. After Trey offered some settling rhythm licks for the first part of the jam, he started playing melodies in a dissonant and sinister tone, building the creeping jam in small increments with sublime lines. This jam featured two separate soloing sections for Trey before slowly building back to the “floating in a blimp a lot….” ending. This is an upper-echelons versions of “Free,” evoking memories of Sandstone ’99.

A powerful “Bug” followed “Beauty of my Dreams,” in the climactic vein of Roseland’s second set closer. The band hit the top of the jam perfectly, and slid into the intro of “David Bowie.” This “Bowie,” was quite similar in style to the last one played at Radio City, with fluid, groove-based improv from start to finish. Featuring silky smooth bass lines, and some outstanding rhythm offerings by Trey, this “Bowie” built to a ridiculous apex and drew an emotional reaction from the audience. This “Bowie” is a keeper for sure, especially for those who favor dancier “Bowies” to the more intricate or abstract ones. Los Lobos’ “When the Circus Come to Town” came next, placed perfectly as a reflective moment on the slew of dark improvisation that typified the set so far.

Hibiya 6.11.2000 (J.Greene)

Phish scripted an idyllic ending with the emotional release of “Harry Hood” As they moved through the composed section, I looked out over the crowd of Japanese folks who seemed to me the happiest people in the world at that point, many moving with each progression of the song. As the jam settled into the most sacred space, the crowd seemed to raise their arms in unison, opening themselves up to the surreal magic that flowed so greatly from the band and fans alike. As the jam began to build, the crowd looked above as the clouds began to break and the first rays of yellow sunlight broke through the late afternoon sky. This scene seemed to be orchestrated by the band and nature alike, and everyone felt the mystical of the rays of light coming from both the sky and the stage. This second consecutive glowstick-less “Hood” built for what seemed like an eternity, as all involved basked in the beauty at hand. A stupendous “Hood” reached amazing levels of melody and harmony, while the anthem provided the absolute perfect ending to this set, and all involved were united in this moment. Pure magic I tell you, pure Phish magic.

The adoring crowd gave the band a large ovation following this long and ultimately triumphant jam. The band stayed off stage briefly and returned for an extended rendition of “Character Zero,” featuring some Hendrix-like wails form Trey. This version ripped hard and midway through, a large rainbow appeared above the stage to the left. Band and crowd alike felt the special intensity of the moment as nobody wanted to leave. The rainbow seemed like an affirmation of the day’s beauty and transcendence by the forces above, and all seemed perfectly in place. Upon finishing the show, Trey exclaimed, “Arrigato!” several times, and took a traditional bow to the adoring sea of Japanese fans.

It’s quite hard to translate all the transcendent energy that existed yesterday through a keyboard, paper, or pen. It’s the stuff dreams are made of, an eye-opening experience for the ages. Sometimes differences in culture and language can be obliterated by the beautiful and unifying language of music. The shared experience of the couple thousand people in attendance today will never be forgotten by a single person, a true venture into the human spirit and a reminder that we are all connected souls traveling through this world. Sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of modern day society, people lose sight of universal realities.  Today reminded everyone of these shared truths that are so often forgotten, and reminded everyone that the life is an  amazing and privileged journey that we are all riding together.


Jam of the Day:

Seven Below > Ghost” 11.28.09 II

This breakthrough highlight of ’09 just doesn’t get old.




5.27.94 The Warfield, San Francisco, CA < Torrent

5.27.94 The Warfield, San Francisco, CA < Megaupload

The Warfield - San Francisco

A classic show from San Franisco’s iconic theatre; this one features the debut of “Simple”

I: Wilson, Runaway Jim, Foam, Bouncing Around the Room, David Bowie, If I Could, Punch You In the Eye, Harry Hood, Golgi Apparatus

II Suzy Greenberg, Peaches en Regalia, My Friend, My Friend, Reba, The Lizards, Julius, Nellie Kane*, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own*, Mike’s Song > Simple** > O Mio Babbino Caro^, Possum

E: Fire

* w/ Morgan Fitcher on fiddle, acoustic, ** debut

^ w/ opera singer Andrea Baker (unmiced)

Source: (FOB) Schoeps CMC5/Mk4 > Sonosax SX-M2 > Apogee AD-500E > Sony D-10 @48 KHz

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643 Responses to “Retro-Review: Hibiya Outdoor Theatre – Tokyo”

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  1. garretc Says:

    Gosh, international Phish sounds like a real real nice time, doesn’t it? You’re a lucky one Miner!

    Also, yay for the Warfield! I love that place!

  2. Exree Hipp Says:

    Great write-up. Always impressed by your dedication to get over to Japan. And boy were you rewarded with these shows.

  3. gavinsdad Says:

    agreed with exree…i couldn’t even get my brain around JPN….was getting married that fall of ’00…most of the focus was on that event…still got shows later in the summer, but much closer to home.

    good looking in on JPN tho…thanks alot Miner.

  4. Luther Justice Says:

    If you haven’t seen some of the DVDs from Japan, do yourself a favor. Good stuff! And now I say to you, good day. Good day.

  5. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    mornin’ all

    every one of these japan reviews makes me more jealous that I wasn’t there. nice recap, Miner!

    and a great JOTD today
    and one of my favorite spring 94 shows for DOTD

    today’s gonna be a good one

    anyone in the Boston area going to see the Infamous Stringdusters in Cambridge tonight?

  6. SillyWilly Says:

    Howdy, all!

    Listened to Selector J’s radio show last night. It was awesome. Played some great dub and turned me on to some music I would have never listened to.

    Next monday night I highly recommend tuning in.

    hope everyone’s morning goes well!

    Thanks for the DotD, Miner. I’ve been trying to collect as many 94 Hoods as possible.

  7. SillyWilly Says:

    and thanks, Mr. Miner, for the advice on how to use my mouse on my mac. I haven’t figured out the corner thing yet.

  8. bhizzle Says:

    Good morning peeps. It’s fuckin snowing this morning! What the what?!?!?! What shows are people striking up this morning?

  9. lastwaltzer Says:

    So last night T3 turned me on to a very special album, a one of a kind. A great morning listen taboot. So grab some coffee, get out a bowl cocoa pebbles, spike some bane sit back and get ready cause your in for a MARATHON!

  10. BTB Says:

    cocoa pebble


  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I not even gonna touch that one, waltzer. 😯 did you listen to Summer Lady yet?!?

    hizz – you can’t go wrong with the DOTD or the article topic show, but I might just have to spin 11.14.95 since lycan brought it up last night. if any of you aren’t familiar with this absolute gem, I recommend going for it post haste.

    Tuesday, 11/14/1995 University of Central Florida Arena, Orlando, FL

    Set 1: Chalk Dust Torture, Foam, Billy Breathes, The Divided Sky, Esther, Free, Julius, I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome, Cavern

    Set 2: Maze, Gumbo, Stash[1] -> Manteca -> Stash[2] -> Dog Faced Boy[3] -> Stash[4], Strange Design, You Enjoy Myself -> Immigrant Song Jam -> You Enjoy Myself[5]

    Encore: The Wedge, Rocky Top

    [1] 25 or 6 to 4 tease.
    [2] Esther tease.
    [3] Performed over a different arrangement than usual.
    [4] Ya Mar quote.
    [5] Low Rider teases.

    Notes: Dog Faced Boy was performed over a different arrangement than usual. This fantastic Stash included Esther, Ya Mar and 25 or 6 to 4 teases and quotes. YEM included Low Rider teases.

    you’ll never think of Stash the same after that one

  12. bhizzle Says:

    I started listening to the JotW in particular the 12.31.94 Mike’s>Buffalo Bill>Mike’s. It sounded like they were about to go into Simple. Were they not doing the 1-2 punch at that time? I remember Miner doing an write up on it awhile ago, but just dont have that good of memory or ambition to go back and search. Also, was that the show where they did the Candlebox tune? Cuz it sounded like Trey was teasing some candlebox or another one of those bands, Collective Soul or something. They all look the same to me.

  13. jdub Says:

    Great review Miner, sounds like it was quite the sureal experience.

    The boys don’t jump around between songs and back again like they used. It was generally the stamp of a wildly creative show like the 11/14 mentioned today. ADD Phish at its’ best. Wish I could join in the listen today. I’ll have to wait until tonight.

  14. neemor Says:

    “Humanity was at its best today, as cultural bridges were built through the power of music.”
    ^ Good stuff, Miner.
    I love these retro articles, especially from Japan. I tried to think about where I saw the band next 6.28-7.1.00 and how this journey halfway around the earth translated to the music of Phish.
    The brought back the fire, the energy and enthusiasm that obviously had it’s basis in Japan.
    Like the poster pictured above states so eloquently:
    Phish:Hot Stuff.
    Hot stuff indeed, Mr. Sparkle!

    11.14.95 is one of the DVD’s I just got from verno about a month ago.
    So many highlights, but yes…the Stashteca is a lard-injected monster.
    Enjoy it.

  15. lastwaltzer Says:

    @TIII, I just took the plunge, without coffee. There are portions (mainly Santana’s guitar work and the scratching sounds and the breaks towards the end. Like you said, lots of coke, lots of aqua net, dance bitch.

  16. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    okay, at least I’m not crazy there, waltzer. thanks for sacrificing your ears for a few minutes to help me out. now let’s dive into some phish to cleanse the palette.

  17. halcyon Says:

    Good Morning Everyone!

    I remember I had a chance to go to Japan in 2000, was pulled in another direction and ended up in Alaska for the second time that summer. Didn’t go to Japan until 2003, and when I was there I tried imagining seeing them there. I remember walking down the streets of Harajuku, and we went to a vintage US clothing store and as we enter there were these huge posters of the Rift album cover, and the Hoist Assface poster.

    Ahh memories

    Have a great day. Make it a great one.

  18. Leo Weaver Says:

    I’m in on the 11.14.95. Lycan’s comments last night have me curious to hear one that I’ve obviously overlooked for far too long. What time are we starting?

    @silly…didn’t catch it last night, but I listen in to Selector J’s show when I can. Always top-notch dub n stuff…

  19. SillyWilly Says:


    yeah. it was a great block of music.

    I was pretty pumped when he gave me and gus a shout-out on air

  20. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I’m game whenever you are. shall we say 10am to let some of the midwestern pholk and early bird westies to try to hop on?

  21. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Good Morning folks!

    I’ll jump on the 11.14.95 for a while. Start time?

    I think when Robear rises from the left coast we were going to try and run through 2.28.03 as well.

  22. neemor Says:

    About the 21 minute mark, the peak that Trey hits, makes this entire JOTD worth while.

  23. neemor Says:

    ^ in Ghost

  24. lastwaltzer Says:

    No problem T3, I think I may start listening to one bad record a month, just to help put things in perspective.

  25. Leo Weaver Says:

    10 a.m. sound like a swell time for liftoff.

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