Phisharoo: A Sample Platter

Bonnaroo From the Pit (@petergavin)

Bonnaroo From the Pit (@petergavin)

Over the course of a three hour set, Phish threw in a little bit of everything, creating a musical melange specifically designed for the massive and mainstream Bonnaroo audience. Following a snooze-fest of a Beastie Boys show that didn’t translate to the huge stage, Phish introduced themselves at 11 pm with the straight-ahead rock of “Chalk Dust Torture.” Indoctrinating the colossal crowd into the world of Phish, the band followed up their popular opener with “Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan,” “Divided Sky,” and “Possum.”  For those of us that have been on tour, the first quarter of the set seemed a bit boring, featuring songs that have been played multiple times each, but with the onset of “Down With Disease,” a song that was bound to go big after such a tame opening, the show started in earnest. The band tore into the energetic jam that quickly morphed into the first show highlight with a stretched out, dirty segment of improv that remained creatively anchored to the song’s theme.

Bonnaroo (@erichatheway)

Bonnaroo (@erichatheway)

For most of the show, Phish inserted “singles” in between jams to keep the attention of the massive crowd, and one of those jams was a  standout “Stash” that took a psychedelic excursion outside the structure of the song.  Creating a textured jam, the band eased their way from adventurous a type-I+ “Disease” to a more exploratory “Stash,” and would soon enter the most adventurous jamming since their return later in the set.  But before the band launched us into the stratosphere, we were served a healthy dose of swanky funk with the on-point grooves of “Wolfman’s Brother.” Playing meaty versions of some of their classic vehicles, the band eased the audience into their path of improv; a path that would lead to the darkest, most psychedelic adventure yet- ironically stemming from the rock-based “Kill Devil Falls.” Leave it to Phish to create the biggest jam of the night- and one of the most interesting of the 3.0 era- out of the one song that it seemed least likely to stem from. Certainly the type-II highlight of the show- and the tour- Phish was back at IT, creating magic out of thin air under the wide open skies of Tennessee.  If you could only listen to one jam from this show, this would be it- but there was still plenty of excitement to follow.

"YEM" 6.12.09

"YEM" 6.12.09 (@powm)

Segueing out of show’s improvisational highlight, Phish slid into “Free”- a fitting song for the huge open-air setting of the festival.  Mike’s bass leads bellowed across the acres, as fans enjoyed limitless dance space in the over-sized setting of Bonnaroo. A perfect climax to the improvisational odyssey that preceded, “Free” put an exclamation point on Phish’s most “out-there” jam of the tour.  Adding a ballad to diversify their set, and to illustrate the full spectrum of their skills, Phish pulled out a well-placed and poignant rendition of “Wading In a Velvet Sea.” As the band held onto the song’s ending, they once again dropped into the re-focused “Harry Hood.”  Taking ample time to delicately build the jam, Phish crafted yet another patient improvisational journey, taking the audience on a thrilling ride to a soaring peak.  It’s hard to put myself in the mind of someone seeing Phish for the first time- of which there were many- but if anyone had given themselves over to the experience, this “Hood” may have been the piece that hooked them. A gorgeous build of their emotional classic, one would have been hard pressed not to be touched by this improv.  Reminding us of sacred “Hood” experiences under the stars at Phish festivals past, this was another “Wow!-Phish is actually back!” moment, as the confluence of music, memory, and emotion swirled into a colorful ball of bliss.

Bonnaroo (@jaysonmoyer)

Bonnaroo (@jaysonmoyer)

The band collectively turned the last hit of “Hood” into the first beat of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell,” breaking out the cover for the first time since Stuttgart, Germany on 2.26.97.  Showcasing yet another aspect of their game- cover songs- the band busted out a rarity to please the Phishhead and the Bonnaroo contingents.  Not knowing what time it was, this seemed like the fitting end to the festi-set, but upon the final hit of the song, Phish blasted off into the tour’s second “2001”- a wide open funk session that was a perfect match to the larger-than-life surroundings.  A laid back dance-session in the middle of the night was just what the doctor ordered as we bounced through the warm southern air to the bulbous rhythms.  Complete Phish crack, the magnitude of the experience was undeniable as the band took it to the top, then dropped into a set-closing “YEM” that could be seen from a mile away.

"Chalk Dust Torture" 6.12.09 (powm)

"Chalk Dust Torture" (powm)

However, the Phishy smorgasbord wasn’t over just yet.  As Trey and Mike jumped off their trampolines and into the beginning of the “YEM” jam, the band entered some excessively relaxed funk that looked to be the onset of another patient jam.  But as soon as we got acclimated to the grooves, the band seamlessly, and surprisingly, segued into “Wilson,” bringing some audience participation into the mix.  Following a brief, yet fierce, version, the band tore back into the “YEM” jam in cathartic fashion.  While they certainly could have let the “YEM” jam play out a bit longer, they had a curfew to deal with and an encore to play, hence the vocal jam arrived a bit prematurely.  Stamping the show with “A Day in the Life,” Phish played a classy cover in front of such a diverse crowd.

Combining straight rock and roll, funk, bluegreass, compositions, covers, and sublime improvisation, Phish created an ideal sampling of what they are all about; a formal introduction to the greater masses. In one of the more unique slots ever played by the band, they pieced together a set that pleased just about everyone in attendance.  Closing out the main stages for the day, Phish left their indelible mark on Bonnaroo 2009- an imprint that will only become greater with their festival closing two-setter on Sunday night.  Despite all the clusterfucks involved with this festival, once you arrived in the open field- with all the room you could ever imagine- under the sky and the all-mighty power of the Phish- things couldn’t have been better.

Chalk Dust Torture, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, The Divided Sky, Possum, Down With Disease, Alaska, Stash, Golgi Appartus, Wolfman’s Brother, Poor Heart, Kill Devil Falls > Free, Wading In The Velvet Sea, Harry Hood, Highway To Hell > 2001 > You Enjoy Myself > Wilson > You Enjoy Myself

E: A Day in the Life

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356 Responses to “Phisharoo: A Sample Platter”

  1. guyforget Says:

    that’s the superbowl man, it’s a spectacle…not a concert. better seats at home for the superbowl halftime shows…i was saw tom petty at the SB two years ago and you can’t even here the music. the whole show is directed at TV audience. go see bruce in an arena 🙂

  2. BingosBrother Says:

    I’m heading over to Wal Mart right now to get Bruce’s new disc.

  3. ColonelJoy Says:

    I called Antelope>set break

    I guess I’m back to being a failure of a man

  4. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    lol i meant on TV and i was joking but still he did kind of make a fool out of himself

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    @c0w – autzen 93 – a couple harp tunes in the second set, i was having a hard time really enjoying dead shows at that time, but those were good for the era. my 2nd to last set of shows.

  6. ColonelJoy Says:

    Bruce sold out like six consecutive nights at Giant’s Stadium….that is either impressive, or Jersey-ites are pathetic….I’ll err on calling it impressive….

  7. BingosBrother Says:

    I’m pretty sure you called it right, Colonel.

  8. guyforget Says:

    we all loved it when Tom Marshall sang born to run, but hate on Bruce when he joins the band on stage. Hilarious. On a plane to St. Lousis in 12 hours for my first summer show….bing bong.

  9. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    phish played with byrne at the superjam

  10. nonoyolker Says:

    The Boss couldn’t buff Dylan’s shoes. Not sure exactly what that means, but the point being, bruce is trying to be the next american poet/songwriter and is failing miserably. Now if you don’t mind, i have some dancing in the dark to attend to.

  11. guyforget Says:

    Nice’s all good, and that’s quite funny you were referring to seeing it on TV!!

  12. BingosBrother Says:

    My brothers band opened for Bon Jovi at Soldiers Field 2 years ago. I stuck around for the BJ show and it was…..pathetic. Like a jazzercise class.

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    for about a week I have been calling a bruce sit-in, but only if they build it up as an appearance by Tom Marshall, “Jersey’s Favorite Son” or whatever

  14. guyforget Says:

    @colonel – 12 nights at Giants Stadium, and like 10 at MSG. definitley impressive.

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    “phish played with byrne at the superjam”


  16. voopa Says:

    Great first set! Chill out peeps…

  17. guyforget Says:

    there was no way it wasn’t going to happen. can’t wait to hear a good AUD

  18. BingosBrother Says:

    @Guy : have fun bro!
    @DFool : how was the superjam?

  19. William H. Bonney Says:

    I don’t Bruce ever tried to be dylan or anything close to that. Give the guy a break…

  20. ColonelJoy Says:

    Ah, I didn’t realize there was a superjam….any reports on how that went down?

  21. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i was just making that up because no one will answer my question of waht happened at the superjam

  22. William H. Bonney Says:

    SuperJam? St. Stephen>The Eleven

  23. c0wfunk Says:

    super jam? For real? anyone ?

    autzen 93 that’s it ..8/22? I had the other night too 8/21 I think, or maybe the other way around- the one with a great h>s>f opener, broken arrow and days between i think .. always a favorite of the later shows!

    off to bed no spoilers for set 2..

  24. guyforget Says:

    dylan is only bruce’s biggest idol. i think he’s be honored to be in the same sentence anytime. by the way, have you heard/seen dylan lately. i’ll take geriatric bruce over geriatric dylan anyday.

  25. bryant Says:

    please stop this crap … the boss and the band do a lot of the same stuff, with 4 hour shows and news twists and segs for each and every song … the setlist are always mixed up. Trey and Page grew up maybe 40 miles from Asbury Park … Their fan bases are just as loyal an rabid. Listen, this is about 2 garage bands of different eras, who just jam for the fans. They are both members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as that goes w/o saying … Seriously this is pretty unique, and you’ll hear from all the boys after the show how much fun they had and were honored to be on stage with Bruce … from my heart, here in South Jersey that was a beautiful moment with my two favorite bands … You hate Jersey right, but we’ve all been in love with essentially a Jersey band. Except for Mike, and Jon was born in Philly and Tom and other writers are Jersey boys, so wake up cause Jersey is something far greater and inspiring than most of the states your from. Stop it now please!!!

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