2000

10 Years Later: Phish in Japan Pt. 3

In June 2000, Phish played their only headlining tour through Japan. A few dozen American travelers joined several hundred newly initiated Japanese phans on a phenomenal seven-night run of intimate venues, resulting in a series of fiery shows, unique cultural exchanges and the birth of the Japanese Meatstick. Longtime fan Stanch had been living and teaching English in Japan for a year when Phish arrived. In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the tour, and with help from a detailed journal and inputs from his traveling companions, he recounts his memories of the tour’s first four shows.

06/10/00 Zepp, Koto-ku, Tokyo

The second show of the 2000 Japan run was actually an add-on – there had originally only been six scheduled shows, but unanticipated interest and hot ticket sales had seen the promoters schedule an additional gig in Odaiba – a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay that was an odd combination of Coney Island and Disney’s Tomorrowland.

[Photo via JohnGreene.org]


Odaiba itself seems more memorable to me than the actual gig. Accessible by a futuristic Sky-Tram, the glow of lights from its many billboards and giant blue Daikanransha Ferris Wheel was visible for the last several minutes of the approach to the island. Once we departed the Tram, we made our way to Zepp, at the time Tokyo’s newest and hottest club. In comparison to some of the other sub-500 capacity venues from the tour, Zepp was a virtual colossus that held 2,700 people. It sure didn’t seem like they squeezed only 2,700 people in there – I still remember the general admission show as uncomfortably packed and topping out at what felt like 110 degrees.

The show itself was solid, though I remember it as the least compelling of the first four nights I saw. The setlist was very standard for 2000, including several oft-played tunes from the newly released Farmhouse. The first set was punctuated by a Disease and Piper that totaled about 50 minutes, 42 of which were quiet and spacey (possibly induced by the dreaded day four jetlag). I am all for folks choosing their own Phish adventure, but that version of Phish is not the one that has had me coming back for the last 17 years, and thus maybe colors my memory of the show. That said, my jaded ho-hum attitude aside, some folks were having an amazing time; the best part of the Zepp show was watching our new Japanese friends enjoy certain parts of the gig so much. READ ON for more from Stanch on Phish’s tour of Japan…

Read More

10 Years Later: Phish in Japan Pt. 1

In June 2000, Phish played their only headlining tour through Japan. A few dozen American travelers joined several hundred newly initiated Japanese phans on a phenomenal seven-night run of intimate venues, resulting in a series of fiery shows, unique cultural exchanges and the birth of the Japanese Meatstick. Longtime fan Stanch had been living and teaching English in Japan for a year when Phish arrived. In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the tour, and with help from a detailed journal and inputs from his traveling companions, he recounts his memories of the tour’s first four shows.

06/09/00 On Air East, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Nestled in the heart of Tokyo, Shibuya personifies Japan’s neon lit glow and lightning-speed pace, and is the heart of its vibrant youth culture. It is literally a place where you are apt to see just about anything on its streets – from magic mushroom vendors to transgendered vampire unicyclists, but even still, I was not possibly ready for what we encountered as we turned up the alley toward one of Tokyo’s hippest small music venues. Moving closer, we saw what you do outside every Phish show in America – fans, scalpers and vendors swarming outside the club, buying and selling wares and tickets, and reuniting with friends. But that is where the similarities ended.

[Photo via FrankZappa.org]


Approaching from the rear, I heard what I thought was Phish playing on a stereo. But then I realized – no, that was live: Phish was still soundchecking, and the doors at the back the venue were open, with music spilling out into the boiling summer afternoon. As I advanced, I saw no security: who has heavy security at a club that holds 500 people? While most fans milled around in the front of the club or waited for the doors to open, a handful twirled and danced in the back outside the wide-open double doors, getting a head start to the evening. Next to them stood Phish LD Chris Kuroda. I thought, why not?

I introduced myself and asked Chris about their experience so far. He very graciously filled me in: the band had been in town for a few days and was having a great time. He mentioned how outrageously expensive it was to lug Phish’s equipment across the globe, and even said the band was blown away at what a hard ticket that night’s show had turned out to be. Even more, they were really excited that most of the crowd seemed to be Japanese. He then motioned over to a Japanese language Phish promotional poster and said he wished he knew what it all said.

READ ON for more from Stanch about Phishing in Japan…

Read More

View posts by year

Recent Posts

New to Glide

Keep up-to-date with Glide

Twitter