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. Kaveh Says:

    @El Dude:

    You on demonoid?

    ^ Negative.

  2. Robear Says:

    yeah fella’s, on ‘Destiny’, half way through xactly

  3. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Kaveh

    You need to get an account then!

  4. Leo Weaver Says:

    @T3PO…it’ll also give me a chance to get my ‘bane. on before I start up the Stashteca 8)

    @dude and verno…yes, great time Saturday night. I was still very sluggish yesterday. We’ll do it again…

    This Maze is crazy…

  5. Kaveh Says:

    I’m behind..but rolling 02.28.03.

  6. jdub Says:

    What a morning for group listens. The Birds to open absolutely shreds and sets the tone. Being my fourth show I looked to my brother at the start of Destiny with a what song is this glare? I had never heard of it. It took him a second and then his jaw drops, he had been around the scene a lot more than me and kindly filled me in on what was going down.

  7. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    see, that’s why I should have stuck with the architecture major. not much approval for baneage living in this cube

  8. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    Destiny Unbound is really a great song. Sort of surprised that they left it on the shelf for so long.

  9. Chuck D Says:

    theres no baneage in this architects’ cube T3… 7 hours, 26 minutes, and coouuuunting.

  10. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    Major crowd roar for … Horn. I’d say that everyone was still caught in the moment that had just happened.

  11. Robear Says:

    no marshall, it’s the people that had no idea re: ‘Destiny’. screaming for ‘Horn’ is their make-up cheer. “see, I know what’s going on too”

  12. ThePigSong Says:

    12.31.98 – just gave the first set a spin. holy-wah!

  13. lastwaltzer Says:

    So a few weeks back I posed the question “The Real Gin vs Murat Gin” and the response I received was “The Went Gin”. I gave it a good listen and while really cool for it unique direction, I still prefer the other two. That being said HOLY DOWN WITH DISEASE BATMAN! The jam smokes, the little classical styled jam at the end is sublime. WHAT A SET OPENER!

  14. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I find Horn to be the perfect “landing” song

  15. Robear Says:

    pig, one of my all-time favorites! no doubt. sublime, candy like playing throughout.

  16. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    I like it when Page gets really weird with the beginning of Gin

  17. bhizzle Says:

    jdub….you and I must have been the same person on 2.28.03, although I was pissing when Birds came on and after I listened to the SBDs I was overly pissed that I had to piss.

  18. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Leo W.

    When we went to the Cajun Queen for dinner we walked back to the hotel was a sleep very shortly after.

    Went to the Philosopher’s Stone for lunch yesterday instead of Jackalope’s. We thought it was very good.

  19. Guyute711 Says:

    Has anyone on here listened to The Flaming Lips album Embryonic?

  20. bhizzle Says:

    The other day when Miner posted his most UN-fav show, fromWalnut Creek, I went home and popped in the Walnut Creek DVD to bring some good back to the venue and the DWD > Mikes….SICK!!!

  21. Guyute711 Says:

    El Dude, P-Stone is hit and miss. Sometimes the food is really good and other times the service and food stink.

  22. Leo Weaver Says:

    Gotta love when an uptight client walks in while I’m blaring the super shreddy part of Maze…at least he had a check!

    @T3PO…being boss and the only one in the office today helps. Only work bane. for me for years was after hours once everyone left.

    @lw…I’ve gotta give the Murat Gin a spin, but for some other gins:
    Riverport Gin = maybe my favorite for a good funkin’ time
    Winston-Salem (’97) Gin = Riverport’s evil twin…working out some demons
    Went Gin = angelic sibling of the two above

  23. Mr. Palmer Says:

    5 min into this Gin, it starts to get really good.

  24. lastwaltzer Says:

    @guyute, I heard and while it was better then the crap that was “Mystics” i still didn’t find it to be that good. I preferred that Lips back before they were an arena rock band.

  25. Leo Weaver Says:

    @dude…what guyute said about P-stone. E and I go there from time to time for lunch. Sometimes it’s really good, sometimes meh. That’s a nice evening walk from Cajun Queen to downtown, especially if you cut through Elizabeth rather than walking right up 7th.

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