Archive for June, 2015

Here’s to 25 more!

Taking a quick break from the Japan stuff to wish myself a happy 25th Phishiversary!  Also just learned today is the anny of this blog too.  Anyway, I already wrote  about my first show way back when ( but wanted to give it another shout out today.  I’ll be back today or tomorrow with the rest of the Japan 2000 stuff, but until then, peep the glorious Weekapaug from my maiden voyage:

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Day three in Tokyo and after two spectacular shows, we were anxious to see what was next.  This show was a daytime show, and I believe, a Sunday.  Hibiya Outdoor Theatre is an amazing amphitheater smack in the middle of downtown Tokyo, surrounded by skyscrapers. It was raining as we walked up to the show but it didn’t seem to damper spirits too much.  The venue was too unreal for anyone not to be stoked out.  There were food vendors set up at top and to this day this is the only show I have been to where you could by fried octopus balls.  It was a GA show and we entered at the top of the venue and headed down to secure a spot.  As you entered the venue they handed out Phish “Farmhouse” promo Japanese fans.  They were sweet, but not really needed due to the rain.  Also due to the rain, not a ton of these survived.  I have one in good shape and one that got sopped.

Big Frog opened the show and they were good.  We knew the Big Frog folks and all their peeps from the ’99 shows at Fuji Rock Fest and they are awesome people.  I’ve mentioned in the previous posts how good the music was on this tour, but really it was the Japanese heads that made it so great.  The locals made us feel so welcome and at home and the energy they gave off at the shows was incredible to be a part of.

I always thought this show was the weakest of the run musically.  In listening back for this post, I realized it’s still a very good show:

Set 1First Tube >  Punch You In the Eye,  Horn >  Ginseng Sullivan,  Stash,  DirtPossum >  It’s Ice,  Farmhouse

Set 2Birds of a Feather,  Free >  Beauty of My Dreams,  Bug >  David Bowie,  When the Circus Comes,  Back on the Train >  Harry Hood

EncoreCharacter Zero

It doesn’t have the huge 25 minute versions of the previous two shows but it’s all well played. The first set closes with particularly strong executions of Dirt, Possum, and It’s Ice.  The breakdown section of It’s Ice is money. They cap it off with a decent Farmhouse.  As Farmhouse was the new album, we were hearing it everywhere in Japan this week.  Heavy Things was the single and we heard in our hotel lobby, on the radio in the taxi and while shopping in stores.  It was like we couldn’t escape it.

The second set started off with a solid Birds, and picks up steam with a very good Bug>Bowie.  I love 2000 Bugs, and this one is no exception.  While this Bowie doesn’t reach the heights of the Japan ’99 Bowie, it has a similar feel and is a show highlight for sure.  The two biggest highlights for me though are the set 2 closing Hood and the Character Zero encore.  As the band came out for the encore, the rain finally let up, the skies cleared and a giant rainbow stretched from one end of the stage to the other.  You can hear the whole crowd going nuts during the beginning of the song.  It was unforgettable.  Well played version too.  While this isn’t typically the show I reach for when I want to hear Japan 2000, I’m glad I gave it another spin, it’s got some good stuff.  Thanks for reading, stay tuned for the next show, which is my favorite of the tour.

The Harry Hood is smoking and well worth a listen or three….so good:

And I never get tired of the crowd reaction when the rainbow appears over the stage after they start up Character Zero:

Parts of the show was also broadcast on Japanese TV and it’s up on YouTube:

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So I missed getting this post up yesterday because I was staying in a hotel with suck wifi.  If anyone is heading to the Bend shows next month, and you’re staying at the Shilo Inn, make sure you get your important computing done first.  I tried and tried to figure out a way but no dice.  As such, I’m a day behind, but what’s new?  Also swung by Les Schwab Amphitheater.  FYI, I didn’t see any of the rail riders in line yet, but I guess it’s little early.  You never know though.

Anyway, after a solid show the night before to open the tour, we were treated to another Tokyo show.  After the length of time it took to get to Japan in the first place, it was nice to stay put for a while.  We sat in the hotel the night after the first show and played the Tweezer and Japanese Meatstick over and over.  Zepp was located in a giant entertainment complex called Pallet Town located near the harbor in Tokyo.  Pretty far removed from anything.  Besides the venue, there was a giant mall, a huge ferris wheel with small amusement park and a killer arcade.  Before the show, we were all goofing around in the arcade.  Dance Dance Revolution was a huge thing in Japan at this time and the locals were killing it.  We tried it and it was laughable. They also had an arcade version of Guitar Hero and who steps up to play but our own guitar hero, Big Red.  We all got a big laugh when the rating at the end of his turn was the Japanese version of “novice.”  If we thought for one second that poor performance would translate to the actual show, Trey showed that game who was boss when it came to show time.  As for the venue, it was bigger than the previous night, with a huge wrap-around balcony.  If I was to compare it to anything, I would say it’s almost a dead ringer for Irving Plaza.  The venue photo above is not from the actual Phish show, but it gives you an idea of the space.  The show itself is a banger:

Set 1Down with Disease,  Sample in a Jar,  Piper,  Lawn Boy[1],  Guyute

Set 2Heavy Things,  Sand,  Sparkle >  My Soul,  Bathtub Gin >  Twist,  AlbuquerqueWading in the Velvet Sea >  Loving Cup

EncoreThe Inlaw Josie Wales,  Limb By Limb

The show started out with a huge Disease opener that is a tour highlight for sure.  Along with a 24 minute Piper that in itself is worth the admission price, the first set had people picking their jaws up off the floor.  Both the Disease and the Piper ensured I would continue to wear the same socks, again, through the next show.  The second set was equally solid with standout versions of Sand, Bathtub Gin and Twist.  As mentioned in my previous post though, it was never more apparent than during this tour that it just didn’t matter what they played.  It all sounded good and the band was clearly inspired by being in Japan.  The whole show is worth checking out, but here are a couple of must-hears:

The show opening Down with Disease is a great way to spend 25 minutes:

The Fukuoka Twist gets all the love, but the Tokyo Twist is certainly no slouch:

After the show, we all went next door to the amusement park to ride the roller coaster.  The theme of the roller coaster was New York Jail, complete with booking, finger printing and cell time.  Basically, instead of waiting in line, they had all these fake cops pushing you around and taking your mug shot.  Believe me, when you are in the head space we were coming out of the show, this was the wrong choice of post show activity.  The roller coaster was actually pretty fun, but I was bugging out during the “booking process” lol.  Japan is so weird.  The show the next day was a daytime show, so we all started the 45 minute journey back to central Tokyo, glad we weren’t actually in a weird New York/Tokyo jail.


While 2000 is not exactly olden times for Phish, which is (was) the primary focus of this blog, it is the 15 year anniversary of this tour and since it was so sick from start to finish, I’ve decided to do a little spotlight on it.  Maybe 15 years is the olden times threshold? I dunno.  Either way, this is what I feel like writing about so here goes….  I’m going to attempt to do a short post for each show on this tour and highlight one or two tracks that I feel are worth checking out in honor of the 15 anniversary.  Going to try for a new post for each respective date.  Based on my recent track record though, I’m not holding my breath.

I had attended the Japan shows in 1999 at the Fuji Rock Festival and the whole experience was mind blowing.  When the 2000 shows were announced, there was no question we would head back there again.  The Duck, Mrs. Caravan, and myself headed to STA Travel (student travel agency) next to Grand Central Station and told them we were college students looking for a flight to Japan. My wife told them she went to Bennington, I think I said I went to Yale.  We batted around a few itineraries and decided we would fly to Japan, see the Phish shows, then fly to Thailand for 10 days and back to USA and catch up with the Summer 2000 tour in Hartford.  $650 each, and we were booked.

We were still (literally) riding high from the then-hometown shows at Radio City Music Hall and Roseland when we boarded the flights for Tokyo.  We landed, checked into our hotel, and arrived at the first venue, On Air East in what seemed like a giant blur of a day.   It was so surreal to see so many familiar faces already in line at a venue so far from home.  The crowd was a mix of Americans and Japanese heads, though it seemed like there were more Americans this time around than in ’99.  Still, the crowd was 85% locals.  This show was sold out in advance and some people were looking for tickets but all in all, the scene outside was very mellow.

We all filed into the venue, and I can’t remember it too much , mostly because it was pretty non-descript.  Just a rectangular-ish club, no balcony, bar in the hallway, basic black-walled club.  The stage and room were very small by Phish 2000 standards and I would guess the capacity of the venue to be 700-800. Maybe a little smaller even.  It started to fill up and we smoked out some Japanese heads that had never even had actual pot.  They were so stoked.  They just kept saying “skunk! skunk!” and bowing.  At this point in time (maybe it has since changed), there were zero nuggets in Japan so they were so happy.  But enough blabbing on my part.  The show was the real dope:

Set 1Axilla >  Taste,  Billy Breathes,  Poor Heart >  Golgi Apparatus >  Funky Bitch,  The Moma Dance >  First Tube >  Chalk Dust Torture

Set 2Tweezer,  Bouncing Around the Room,  The Mango Song,  The Squirming Coil > Gotta Jibboo >  Meatstick >  Tweezer Reprise

EncoreYou Enjoy Myself

This wasn’t my favorite show of the Japan 2000 tour, but that said, every second of every minute of every set played during this entire tour was an absolute treat.  Whether the playing was top shelf or not (most of it is), the experience of seeing shows in this environment put every moment over the top.  Easily the strongest, most consistently well played block of shows (consecutive) that I ever got to see with even the most common songs having that extra punch that made them impossible not to like. While not my fave of this tour,  any show that opens with Axilla and ends with YEM is a winner in my book.   The Tweezer is obviously the highlight.  It’s a monster 30 minute set opener that rivals just about any Tweeze out there.  It was so good it made me superstitious enough to not want to change my socks for the whole tour.  My traveling companions weren’t too stoked on it but the shows kept getting better and better so they put up with it. Somehow I had it in my mind that my socks were fueling the shows. Don’t eat the brown acid, kids.  Or do. Whatever.

While the Tweezer is the highlight and is essential listening for anyone who likes music, the rest of the show is super solid and is fun to listen to.

The first set is hot with a very high-energy version of Golgi (!) and great stretched out versions of Funky Bitch and Moma Dance, but it’s the First Tube that really deserves some focused listening in my opinion.  Check it:

One of the highlights for me from this show (and honestly from the tour) was the post-Tweeze Bouncing Around the Room.  This is a song that 9.93 times out of 10 has me heading to get some water or a bathroom break, but I am glad I stuck around for this one.  Possibly the result of a slight flub, this Bouncing actually contains a small jam.  Unlike hundreds of times before, instead of the standard outro lick, we are treated to 15 seconds of glorious improv.  It’s short, and it starts to lose steam at the end,  but for a brief moment, this Bouncing goes where none has gone before.  I flipping love it.   It’s such a short snippet, so it’s really no big deal, but regardless of how long it is, I will never forget that element of surprise, and that’s what always keeps me coming back.   I would love for them to take this song out for an actual walk some time.  I mean, they did it with Fee, right?  Anyway, here it is, it’s short but sweet: