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:

    LOST is a re-run tonight I guess.


  2. voopa Says:

    Agreed Silly. Hard not to love that stuff.

  3. Mr.Palmer Says:

    yes Dude- an enhanced prior episode is how its being phrased.

  4. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Palmer

    WTF does that mean??

  5. SillyWilly Says:

    @Selector J

    no worries if you’ve got stuff to do…I feel like an addict looking for a fix.

    If you enjoy imparting the knowledge, though, I could talk about this stuff all day.

    if you’re busy and rather take your time my email is falkwilt at gmail dot com.

  6. Mr.Palmer Says:

    I’m assuming they do the pop-ups as the episode runs. Gives a little more insight . Since it was an important episode, my feeling is, the writers want to make sure evryone is on the same page coming towards the end.

  7. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Palmer

    That makes sense. I’ll be skipping tonight’s enhanced episode.

  8. Mr.Miner Says:

    tonites LOST is for NooBs who justrstarted watching this year 😉

    download for tomorrow anyone?

  9. guyforget Says:

    Oswego, second day^^ THe day of David Cone’s perfecto.

  10. guyforget Says:

    or was it Wells?

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    “I would add 2/13/70b. to that Dark Star list!”

    Oh the Top 10 Dark Stars Ever list is certainly a different and larger topic. I just meant ones a lot like 12/6/73 – ethereal, abstract ones without much relation to the Dark Star theme.

    2/13/70 is a top 5 for me no question
    Add Veneta and Rotterdam ’72 to the list, and 11/8/69, and you have a pretty good start on the Top 10

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    hey Miner today I learned from that Phil Lesh is a Lost fan, and the music guy from the show is a big ole Deadhead

    shocking I know

  13. William H. Bonney Says:

    Good article by Sowell

  14. Selector J Says:

    This ought to get you well under way to bankrupting your future with record purchases:

    Scientist- World Cup, Curse Of The Vampires
    King Tubby- …Meets The Rockers Uptown, Roots of Dub, Dub From The Roots
    Joe Gibb’s- African Dub All Mighty Series (and anything with The Professionals)
    Mikey Dread- African Anthem, Mikey Dread Show Dubwise
    Yabby U- Dub It To The Top
    Black Ark (i.e. Scratch Perry’s studio with backing band The Upsetters):
    Upsetters- Super Ape, Return Of The Super Ape
    Jr. Murvin- Police and Thieves
    Max Romeo- War Ina Babylon
    Jah Lion- Colombia Collie
    Prince Jazzbo- Ital Corner
    The Heptones- Party Time

    Prince Far I- Under Heavy Manners
    Ras Michael- Rastafari
    Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari- Grounation
    Wailing Souls- Fire House Rock
    Gladiators- At Studio One, Trenchtown Mix-Up
    Abyssinians- Satta Massagana
    Rockers Soundtrack
    Johnny Osbourne- Truths and Rights, Never Stop Fighting
    Don Carlos- Day To Day Living

    Reissue Labels:
    Pressure Sounds (the best in the biz right now)
    Blood and Fire (kinda/sorta defunct but amazing compilations and reissues if you can find them)
    Greensleeves/VP (recently merged. both do classic album reissues all the time)

    This is far from comprehensive but it’s a good start for the mid 70s to early 80s at least.

    Remember: It’s the studio! 90% of the album’s greatness relies on the people NOT singing. So if you find something you really like check the studio/producer/backing band/mixing engineer. Perfect example is the Heart Of The Congos which would lead you back to Black Ark/Scratch/Upsetters/Scratch. Pretty hard to find a bad song with that combination.

  15. joe Says:

    download maybe something from 2.0?

    quick story: I’ve been doing some work the last 2 weeks reviewing resumes for a job postings for my company. Amazing how desperate some people are. Anyway, the job isn’t a high end thing so it’s mostly people with High School educations/GED’s. There is a vocational training school that some people have listed that is based at the Loring Air Force base. Makes me smile everytime I see it.

  16. ChefBradford Says:

    Pressure Sounds and Blood and Fire both still have some free compilations up at Amazon

  17. joe Says:

    but if anyone in the boston area needs a part-time, poor paying job, I’m your man!

  18. Selector J Says:

    oops… add:

    Black Ark:
    The Upsetters- Blackboard Jungle
    Scratch + Upsetters- Roast Fish, Collie Weed and Cornbread

    Buring Spear- Marcus Garvey, Social Living, Man In The Hills, Creation Rebel
    Culture- Two Sevens Clash, International Herb

    …I’m sure I forgot obvious other ones, too.

  19. SillyWilly Says:

    Oh, wow.

    Thanks, Selector J!

    I think you made the point about the studio/producer/backing band/mixing engineer before.

    I know I’ve seen a couple of these albums at my favorite local music shop. They told me they could order anything I wanted for a discount, too. (I’ve kind of become one of their favorite customers because it’s right next door to my favorite coffee shop and I can’t hardly pass it without buying something.)

    Thanks for this list. Looks like I’ve got plenty of listening to do.

    I really love the social awareness that accompanies the music. It seems like every artist has something productive to say.

    It’s a beautiful genre.

  20. Selector J Says:

    yep… I did.

    Mighty Diamonds- Right Time
    Barrington Levy- Robin Hood, Englishman, Poor Man Style, Here I Come

    I’ll seriously stop there. Otherwise I’ll be adding albums all night… this sure got out of control in a hurry. Sorry for the overkill.

  21. Lycanthropist Says:

    i restate 10.17.95 Miner

  22. SillyWilly Says:

    This is exactly what I wanted, Selector J. Thanks a lot.

    Are you gonna make any shows this summer, selector?

    I’d love to repay all your advice with a beer or some bane.

  23. Selector J Says:

    No problem, SW. Anytime. I’ll send you an email if I think of any others.

    The social messages are a big thing, definitely. A big part of the intrigue of reggae for me is the culture and the historical narrative. Within a country on the brink of social collapse, the poorest people with the least amount of opportunity are gonna feel it… and they’re probably gonna say something.

  24. Icculus420 Says:

    hey miner i saw you were wonder what show to post and i was thinking maybe somethin from summer 94

  25. Selector J Says:

    Me, going to shows? Maybe. Probably not, though. Unfortunately, won’t be up in your neck of the woods to see DC and AV this summer but I’m trying to convince Mrs. Selector that we should fly the family to Virginia and visit with my parents… and see Phish at nTelos. 😉

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