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…