As I logged on to Bonnaroo.com at 9pm to confirm what we all expected, the splash page video presented a funky logo with the “Tweezer” melody as the first notes I heard! Yes, folks, after much speculation and arguments both for and against, Phish will, in fact, be playing Bonnaroo. The band will headline the US’s largest summer festival in Manchester, TN, playing three sets over two nights. Sharing a stage with such acts as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, The Beastie Boys, Snoop Dogg, David Byrne, and Nine Inch Nails, Phish will bring their own unique flavor to the colossal festival of over 100,000 people. Weird? Most definitely. Exciting? Hell, yes!
Phish is the only band playing two shows over the four nights, clearly taking the largest spotlight at the festival, even if The Boss is listed before them on the artists page. The festival gave them this nod by opening their 2009 announcement with the freakin’ “Tweezer” melody. The way I see it, with the magnitude of this festival, these shows are going to blow up huge! Phish are the masters of playing to their surroundings. Whether it was The Gorge, a small European club, MSG, or Big Cypress, the band always knew how to match their music to the mood. Now, for a moment, imagine the mood at the massive site of Bonnaroo, overflowing with people of all ages and the biggest names in the music business. With a stage the size of a small island under the dark night sky, Phish will step to the mic and rip the place apart. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, I have a gut feeling that these will be super-sized Phish affairs with massive open-air jams and setlists that you fantasize about. But hey, that’s just one guy’s opinion.
There are divergent schools of thought on these shows. Some propose that Phish will attempt to be more accessible to the mainstream audience by focusing on succinct jamming and playing more “songs” that are palatable to the masses. Phish won’t go too deep in front of an audience that may never have heard them before, this theory goes. Dig into a twenty-minute psychedelic “Stash,” and many teenagers could be heading for the refreshment stand. Play a variety of different songs, mix in a few huge dance jams and everyone will rage. While this is a valid point of view, over the course of a two-set performance and a late night set on different nights, Phish will have plenty of time to cater to everyone. There will be more than a few Phish psychonauts there after all, and the band knows that.
Regardless of what happens on stage, the experience of moving from the intimacy of the mountains in Asheville to the largest clusterfuck east of the Mississippi, then directly into the ornate theatre of The Fabulous Fox will be a surreal week. The overwhelming, yet obvious, thing about Bonnaroo is that it will not be a Phish fest. When the Phish show ends, there will be other bands and DJs playing throughout the night and day. With an incredibly diverse crowd, not limited to the generally like-minded folk that congregate at Phish shows, this will be one of the most bizarre trips yet. Some may be turned off by the less-than-pure Phish environment, however, going into the festival knowing this, I think it will be a fascinating social study in the state of the scene today.
Regardless of whether you think this is the worst decision that Phish has ever made, or the best one, it’s happening. With Knoxville on the 10th and The Fox on the 16th, there are five “off” days for those not wanting to attend Bonnaro0- enough time to check out the Smoky Mountains if you’re on tour; enough time to fly home and back to Deer Creek or Star Lake if you’re not. My point? Don’t complain about Bonnaroo; either go or don’t go, it’s that simple. Suffice it to say, they will be two of the more interesting Phish sets of the summer for so many reasons. And somehow I don’t think the music will disappoint.
PHISH THOUGHTS TICKET EXCHANGE: Big news in the world of Phish Thoughts! With the help of a couple Phish Thoughts community members, “AlexanderK” and “Mitch,” we are about to launch an official web-based ticket trading board! Let me explain.
First, you will be brought to a “Dashboard” where you will click on any show’s tab along the bottom of the page, for example “6/16 Fox.” It will then bring you to a show-specific page that looks like a spread sheet split into two sides: “I Need Tickets” and “I Have Tickets.” You will indicate your “Name,” “Phish Thoughts Screen Name,” “Tickets I Have to Trade/Sell” and preference; “Lawn,” “Pavilion,” or “Any.” This way you can locate the people who have the tickets you need easily without reading down hundreds of posts! You will even have a place to indicate if you need a ride to any show. Today we are in Beta testing, and can accomodate about 50 users. If you want to be one of these first 50 people to have easy access to the tickets you may need, send please email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Beta Request” in the subject line and your Phish Thoughts Screen Name as the text.
There are a few rules that will be re-posted when this goes live. What you do on the site is tracked, and any violation of the following will have you removed and banned- no questions asked:
1) No altering the “Dashboard” except for “Suggestions.”
2) No altering entries from other users. (That includes changing cells and moving entries up and down in the list.)
3) No harassing other users of the site via email.
This should be great community resource, and a much more effcient way of scoring tickets from each other now and into the future. Note: Please only post tickets you are 100% sure that you have, and that you are 100% willing to part with! Also, make sure you enter your information on the correct side of the board corresponding to “Need” or “Have.”
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
With West Coast dates coming at some point not too far off, let’s look at some Bay Area Phish history from the Summer of ’97. Phish played a blistering show at The Grateful Dead’s old home, featuring adventurous jams out of “Runaway Jim” and “Mike’s.” Other highlights include a show-opening “Ghost,” the “YEM” and a “Weekapaug” laced with “Happy Birthday” for Jerry Garcia, himself. Get ready Shoreline, we’re coming back!
I: Ghost > Ya Mar, Dogs Stole Things, Limb By Limb, Dirt, Maze, Glide, I Saw It Again, You Enjoy Myself
II: Runaway Jim > When the Circus Comes, Vultures, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove^
E: Cinnamon Girl
^Trey thanks Bill Graham Productions and the Phish crew, talks about keeping the spirit of Jerry Garcia alive through music, and wishes a Happy Birthday to Jerry Garcia. Jerry’s birthday was the next day.Tags: Summer '09