PHISH: "Japan Relief" - 7/31/99, Field of Heaven, Fuji Rock Festival, Naeba Ski Resort, Niigata, JAPAN

The year 1999 will always be a key year for Phish because of how it ended, with the penultimate millennial celebration at Big Cypress.  However, the band members had an especially busy first half of the year with Trey founding his band with Russ Lawton and Tony Markellis, Mike playing acoustic with Jamie Masefield and Doug Perkins as well as electric with Buddy Cage and Vassar Clements and Fish touring with Jazz Mandolin Project and his band Pork Tornado.  Meanwhile Page put the finishing touches on The Siket Disc – an official collection of Phish jams from Bearsville Studios released in June.  In April, Trey and Page joined Phil Lesh in his Phil and Friends project for three standout shows in San Francisco.  Page and Mike recorded a track with the Gyptians to benefit the New Orleans Musician’s Clinic.  Phish also changed their stage setup during rehearsals and implemented it on summer tour, with Fish now in rear center stage.  This was also the only year that Phish performed two festivals of their own – the mid-summer Camp Oswego and the aforementioned Big Cypress.  Immediately following their U.S. summer tour, the band traveled abroad for their first ever shows in the beautiful country of Japan.  They were also the band’s last shows of summer.

 

Fuji Rock Festival took place on multiple stages and the festival had specially designed the "Field Of Heaven" stage for Phish to play three consecutive nights of complete, two-set headline shows with just a few, local opening acts such as Big Frog and The Boredoms.  Phish also played a daytime set the first day on the festival’s larger Green Stage.  Fuji Rock took place on multiple stages and 1999 headliners were as diverse as ZZ Top and Rage Against The Machine but the Field Of Heaven was a Phish oasis straight out of the early (pre-Clifford Ball) festival tradition of Townshend Family Park, Arrowhead Ranch and Amy’s Farm.  The scenic surroundings included a modest stage bounded by mountains that rose out of a vast green forest.  The stage was dimly lit (Chris Kuroda had a small fraction of his modern lighting gear) and ringed by fresh-cut lavender.  The field itself was flat and open with homespun craft and food vendors in an intimate tent city with room to dance for the few thousand surprisingly savvy Japanese fans who attended all three nights of Phish.

 

Japan Relief features Phish’s entire show from July 31, 1999 – the middle, Saturday night as well as “What’s The Use?” from their soundcheck on July 29th.  The July 31st show crackled with energy, intermingling classic and new material with an exploratory vibe that meshed with the atmosphere of respect and beauty.  Fish performed much of the show wearing a white cowboy hat.  Set one had many high points including standout performances of “My Friend, My Friend”, “Back On The Train”, “Limb By Limb” and “Character Zero”.  Set two started in the stratosphere with a “2001” > “David Bowie” opener that proved the most experimental music played at Fuji Rock transposed against the gentle beauty of “Wading In The Velvet Sea”.  Set two also featured one of the all-time great renditions of “Prince Caspian”, a smoking “Fluffhead” and mystical “Simple”.  The encore provided a chance for friend and fellow musician Nawang Khechog to address the crowd about Tibetan human rights and perform with Fish on vacuum for a meditative jam with Fish and with the whole band on flute for a special “Brian And Robert”.  Japan proved a perfect host for Phish, the Field Of Heaven has survived ever since as part of Fuji Rock Festival and Phish has maintained a strong connection with Japan, weaving Japanese lyrics into “The Meatstick” as recently as New Year’s Eve 2010-2011.  Japan Relief was recorded by Paul Languedoc and mastered by Fred Kevorkian.  All the vendors involved in this release donated their time for the cause. 

 

In response to the recent earthquake and tsunami that the northeastern part of this country has endured we are releasing a download at livephish.com to benefit Peace Winds America http://peacewindsamerica.org.  100% of the funds they collect for disaster relief will go to support operations through their sister organization, Peace Winds Japan. Relief operations began March 15th and are currently underway in Miuyagi Prefecture, where Peace Winds is on the ground providing food, clothing, medicines and temporary shelter to survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.

 

We are taking pre-orders now for "Japan Relief - 7/31/99, Field of Heaven, Fuji Rock Festival, Naeba Ski Resort, Nilgata, JAPAN".

 

Published 23 March 2011 03:46 PM by brad

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