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. ChefBradford Says:

    ^Somebody SHOULD release

  2. Robear Says:

    skyballs, do you have the matrix copy of that show? tis a dandy!

  3. Stupendous Says:

    Add Crowd Control and The Connection to the that list flarr
    Undermind just blew chunks, with the exception of S&SS, Access Me, Nothing,
    Maggie’s Farm (which is supposedly an excerpt from the headphones jam, i just don’t hear it)

  4. Selector J Says:

    re: Dub Trio
    I take the “sans reggae” thing back. Just found a nice roots skank called Jog On. I like.

  5. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    the sound on the Live 1969 albums is decent but there is a bit of hiss, iirc. needs a kp remaster!

  6. flarrdogg Says:

    I don’t dislike many Phish songs. In fact, many songs that are frequently hated on I actually quite like. (Never understood the dislike for Caspian? Placed right, that tune is a heavyweight IMO) However, Secret Smile is lameness in its purest form and Two Versions (especially 7-15-03) is equally painful.

  7. ChefBradford Says:

    Low grade decent, maybe. Definitely needs a re-re-re-master

    I love Heroin. Yep

    I liked the name of the Japanese jam band Miner mentioned in today’s show review (Big Frog), so I’m now going to check them out on lala

  8. Stupendous Says:

    Yeah Selecta
    they were mostly dub at first, then started mixing in the Rock..
    I can see how it could ruin a reggae playlist, but they do have some sick just reggae tracks that I throw in on my reggae mixes..
    another sound is dying is my least favorite album, it made the transition to just metal dub, although theres one reggae dub track that is siiick…
    Check out their first two albums… an Ep and the one titled New Heavy…

    the amazing thing is how they do dub live!!!
    Both bass and guitar player control the delays/effects for the drummer when needed. Ive never seen anything quite like it. Live Dub!

    They do rock out on heavier mathy type rock, which is not my fav
    but I can hang…

    I hear that they are Matisyahu’s backing band now, That could be the beggining of their end… but from my understanding those 3 guys have been
    studio “personnel” for a long ass time, playing in the records of many many famous and succesful artists, the Dub trio is their own thing…

  9. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    “we don’t play heroin anymore”

    gee, lou, why is that?

  10. Skyballs Saxscraper Says:

    Anything But Me got the star treatment at SPAC last year. Absolutely beautiful playing in that one, it is a must-hear IMNSHO

  11. garretc Says:

    Aight fellas, if anyone wants it, just uploaded the Cowboy Junkies album to my mediafire (click my name). Great chill out music…

  12. angryjoggerz Says:

    Interesting to see the Santana talk on here. From the minute I first got into Phish I always thought that they had a lot to do with Santana and lots and lots of similarities, though without the heavy percussion and latin influences. “Welcome” is by far my favorite Santana album, though I love “Love Devotion Surrender” and “Caravanassi” as well.

  13. flarrdogg Says:

    Bottom line- The band was wildly inconsistent in 2.0. Some greatness mixed with some awful. Same can be said for new tunes that surfaced during this time. For every ASIHTOS, there is Secret Smile.

  14. angryjoggerz Says:

    “the amazing thing is how they do dub live!!!
    Both bass and guitar player control the delays/effects for the drummer when needed. Ive never seen anything quite like it. Live Dub!”

    If you ever get a chance, check out Mad Professor live. Killllllls it.

  15. Stupendous Says:

    I hear that angry, but im talking about playing live instruments on stage while
    tweaking with dub effects…

  16. Selector J Says:

    okay… I don’t know what I’m talking about with Dub Trio at all… I thought I was listening to one track and another track was playing somewhere else entirely… Turns out ‘Jog On’ is a kinda metal song.

    I’ll stick to opining on the JA stuff…

    re: No Man Is An Island
    Check this out for a nice little history of the song and for a listen of the 11 year old Dennis “The Crown Prince” Brown just destroying it.

  17. flarrdogg Says:

    Is Lou Reed really as much of a cock as he comes of as in interviews, etc.., or is it part of the “image”?

  18. Stupendous Says:

    Just think of it as Metal Dub, at least for that particular album…

    New Heavy is more 50-50 Dub and ska-ish/punk hard rock…

    The Ep is mostly dub…

    also check out Cool Out and Coexist (this is their live release)

    The drummer is sick, he’s got all the riddims down.

  19. Stupendous Says:

    I forgot to add ASIHTOS to my list of undermind songs that dont suck…
    as well as the title track (nowadays, didnt really care for the studio arrangement)

  20. Selector J Says:

    Right on, stu. I’ll give those other albums a whirl. I did like the reggae they were putting down on my LaLa player.

    Sounds like they put a little tweak on the live dub thing. I’ll have to check them out sometime.

    I’m friends with a guy here in Austin that goes by McPullish that does live dub with his own twist. He plays and records all the instruments at his home studio and then brings his laptop, giant mixing board and several FX gadgets on stage and starts twisting knobs and fading channels in and out with the stuff being played through the different channels via his laptop. Intellectually, it’s pretty cool but live it’s deceptively undramatic.

  21. Selector J Says:

    oops… No Man Is An Island link.

    Pull it together, Selector!

  22. Stupendous Says:

    Yeah I remember checking out Mcpullish when I first met you (on here)
    pretty cool…

  23. Selector J Says:

    11 year old Dennis Brown sounds 27. Crazy.

  24. Selector J Says:

    11 year old Selector sounded 8.

  25. Lycanthropist Says:

    would you guys be stoked to hear a “Faht” breakout?

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