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”

  1. EL Duderino Says:

    Phil Lesh & Friends

    October 27, 2000

    House of Blues

    Las Vegas, NV

    Source: DSBD > SHN

    Officially released for free trade via


    The files from were not cut on proper sector

    boundries. The boundries were fixed using shntool, therefore

    the md5’s will be slightly different than the ones downloaded

    from The music is the same though… and what

    great music it is 🙂

    Disk 1

    1. Jam

    2. Dear Mr. Fantasy

    3. Deal

    4. Friend of the Devil

    5. Casey Jones

    6. Soulshine

    Disk 2

    1. Foolish Heart

    2. Built to Last

    3. Not Fade Away

    4. Eyes of the World

    5. Strawberry Fields Forever

    6. Doin’ That Rag

    Disk 3

    1. Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad

    2. Scarlet Begonias

    3. Just a Little Light

    4. Sugaree

    5. Cold Rain & Snow

    Phil’s Band:

    Rob Barraco (Keys, Vocals)

    Jimmy Herring (Guitar)

    Warren Haynes (Guitar, Vocals)

    Phil Lesh (Bass, Vocals)

    John Molo (Drums)

  2. fat bastard Says:

    they come to the chicago theater for 3 nights in july too. that’ll prob be my nxt time seeing them. went to see them last year to “forecastle” in louisville but they played both nights. this year they only play one so I’ll prob skip it

  3. bhizzle Says:

    Oh no!!!! Soulshine!!!!!

  4. EL Duderino Says:

    @ FB

    We didn’t go.

    But for the record it wasn’t intentional.

    “Sometimes your the bug and sometimes your the windshield”

  5. EL Duderino Says:

    Reggae Soulshine folks

    Not the regular Soulshine

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Thanks for the link Dude! I’ll grab it later, when i’m home.

  7. EL Duderino Says:

    The Deal is super hot.

    So is the NFA

  8. Josephish Says:

    @type III Jamming Personality Disorder
    more good bands bad albums

  9. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    leo, you ready for this?

    I’ll get a list going. there’s a bunch of them out there. I’m sure others can chime in with some bad recs.

  10. Leo Weaver Says:

    I’m ready…

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    crabs in my stash mouth!

  12. Leo Weaver Says:

    3 – 2 – 1


  13. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Leo

    If I’d known your not familiar with the Orlando show I would have made it for you this past weekend.

    I have the LP archive sbd

  14. Leo Weaver Says:

    I”m using Phishows…hope it doesn’t skip a track or two. It’s been bad about doing that the past couple of days.

  15. Leo Weaver Says:

    We’ll get that little problem taken care of Dude!

  16. EL Duderino Says:

    For those of you who can’t download the Phil Lesh and Friends show now, you can listen/stream it up at the player on the upper left hand side of the page.

  17. bhizzle Says:

    Re: Soulshine……In high school, one of my best friend’s family was a host family for exchange students. One year they hosted a student from Japan. We called him Taz, short for his real name. Well to get to the point I will borrow a quote from his canon:

    “Doesn’t matter dude”.

    One time we brought him with us to the adult book store to get nitrous cartridges. He didn’t want anything to do with them. He dropped $40+ on porn. We corrupted the hell out that cat.

  18. lastwaltzer Says:


    Empire Burlesque – Bob Dylan, probably my favorite bad album. Why you ask? Over the top awful 80’s production with back up singers that manages to ruin some pretty decent tunes. Dylan gets the last laugh though, after nearly an hour of coked out 80’s pop Dylan lays down his first true gem “Dark Eyes” maybe the first acoustic song he laid down since his early 60’s work the song is amazing on its on but following the steaming pile of shit that is the rest of the record the song sounds like the best thing he ever did.

  19. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Leo

    and the DVD with sbd audio

  20. Leo Weaver Says:

    Aaarrrggghhh…and there’s the skip forward to Foam. May have to move to lala

  21. SillyWilly Says:

    Could be the bane this morning…could be my old standard Irish breakfast tea, but do you ever get the feeling Phish shrunk and opened up stage in the middle of your head. Instead of thoughts, the band steers your thinking.

    It’s like if I was going to play a song, I’d play it like THAT

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I’m not seeing it on lala. I’m okay thus far but let me know if you need to abort.

  23. SillyWilly Says:

    Leo and Type III:

    stay on target. stay. on. target.

  24. bhizzle Says:

    using phishows as well. where does it skip to foam?

  25. Leo Weaver Says:

    Back on target…I didn’t see it on lala or yawning drone so went back to phishows for a restart. So far so good…let’s keep our eye on the prize.

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