, attached to 2000-06-10

Review by DemandOpener

DemandOpener Set 1:
With about as little preamble as one would expect from a band with nothing to say and nothing to lose (kind of like this review), Phish kicks off their second night in Tokyo with a monstrous Disease. Like the previous night's Tweezer, this Disease features a long vamp on the main theme (this time only about 12 minutes) before breaking off into 2000-style contemplative space. The space expands and contracts, probing the seabed of Tokyo Bay before triumphantly returning to Disease, similarly (again) to the Tokyo Tweezer's "burn it down" rocking jam segment after about 25 minutes of exploration. This Disease is a bit more successful; Trey's playing is more active and there is clearly more improvisational communication going on between band members. Where the Tokyo Tweezer felt lost at sea, the Tokyo Disease feels more focused and more determined. The evolution of a jam style in real time...very cool.

After a brief, joyful Sample, Piper follows. It collapses into sonic dissonance almost immediately and then finds this kick-ass rocking groove that turns out to be...Trey and Fish steering back into Piper! As quickly as パイパー - さん resurfaces here for air, it departs back beneath the turbulent, type II ocean current. Trey and Page furiously whip up a sonic whirlpool that Mike and Fish punctuate with blasts of percussive debris. For most of it, this Piper is a demented, wild ride...as unsettling as it is intense (and is also a MUST-HEAR jam of this brief Japan tour). Finally though, as a welcome, calming coda, the jam cools off and sits at a low simmer; Mike/Trey empty their pockets of melodic and countermelodic ideas while Fish/Page are content to propel the thing along...obviously satisfied with how the night is proceeding. To close, a soothing outro reminiscent of a lullaby...

Enter Lawn Boy: a perfect call at this juncture. Then Guyute. Unfortunately, Guyute is starting to leave its prime so it's not a super well-executed version (Trey). Its customary intensity caps the set regardless, and we excitedly await Set 2. What could be in store following an extremely memorable set 1...?

Set 2:
After a brief plea to Japanese alternative rock radio (Heavy Things), things get underway with SAND. This is back when Sand was less of a celebratory anthem for the band that got everybody rocking...in 1999-2000, Sand always seemed to be an omen of evil portents to come. The droning guitar and delicate, watery keyboard backed by thumping bass and drums...almost make it sound like Phish's version of trance music. But instead of a bass drop...we get a JAM drop. In only its second appearance post-Big Cypress, this Sand gets trance-y early with whirling siren loops, crazy Page, and nary a fill from Mike nor Fish. I think you either love this type of Sand jam or you don't...and if you don't, you are wrong. The joy is in the subtlety, and thank goodness we had a crowd in this tiny Japanese club that was willing to really pay attention and not chomp all over it (mostly). Trey waits a little too long once the band is out of ideas to pull out of the reverie into the Sand coda, but maybe he was just trying to remember how to play Sparkle, which is next...but he doesn't really remember how to play the intro anyway. Oh well.

Following Sparkle are a bunch more songs, all well played, but nothing too spectacular or out of the box. And...that's kind of it. Perhaps indicative of a band about to take over two years off, 6/10/00 is the second straight show where the quality of the first set eclipses the second, either due to a lack of energy, creativity, or both.

5 stars = All-time, transcendent show (there aren't very many of these)
4 stars = Great show (there are a lot of these)
3 stars = Good show with a few highlights or standout moments (there are a lot of these)
2 stars = Average show (there are a few of these, but Phish usually manages to be a bit better than the "average version of itself)
1 stars = Bad show (there aren't very many of these)

This show is a 3/5. If you love the Tokyo Tweezer, don't miss the Tokyo Disease, and please don't miss the Tokyo Piper regardless. Check out this Sand, too, if you're into those giant early Sands that take a lap around type I and remain dark and slinky all the way through.
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