Exploring Bonnaroo

Bonaroo 6.12.09 (D.Vann)

Bonaroo 6.12.09 (D.Vann)

Capping Bonnaroo with a full two-set Phish show, the band entertained last nights’ festival audience with creative jams- both old and new- and a guest sit-in for the ages. Using an explosive first frame and an exploratory second, Phish put an exclamation point on Bonnaroo 2009.  And what a show it was.

The first set opened quickly with the old-school combo of “AC/DC Bag” and “NICU” before the band loosened up with the emotive and extended dance-grooves of “Jibboo.”  Ernest jumped right into his guitar acrobatics early on, foreshadowing a big night for himself and the band.  After a a drawn-out, dancy intro, the band nailed “Punch” for the first time since their return, but the real fireworks of the first set got started with “Bathtub Gin.” The band used a spirited and creatively-phrased “type-I” jam to reach the first huge peak of the show, again with Trey taking front and center and leading the way.  The Phishiest segment of the set, however, began with the chunky, open-air “Tweezer” grooves which lead into a “Horse > Silent” interlude, and was capped by a smoking “Antelope,” that stood out as the improvisational highlight of the set.

Phish and Bruce (@seisenstein)

Phish and Bruce (@seisenstein)

Yet when crashing the presumed set-ender to a close, Phish didn’t leave the stage as Trey approached the mic. Telling the anecdote of seeing his first concert at Jadwin Gym in Princeton, NJ, he spoke of a three-hour show that captured his imagination of what a live concert could be. He then welcomed his boyhood hero, co-Bonnaroo Headliner, and subject of his story, Bruce Springsteen, to the stage. With wide-eyed smiles, both guitarists used “Mustang Sally” to acclimate to each other, and to allow Bruce to get a hang of the Phish. After concluding the standard, Bruce said, “Let’s give this a try,” as they entered his 1984 dark-horse song “Bobby Jean” off “Born In The USA.” A gorgeous composition that that “was considered a musical breakthrough for Springsteen during the recording, with its more accented rhythm and near dance groove” (WIki), it was the perfect selection for the collaboration. Capping the set with “the best “Glory Days” ever,” Bruce turned the soloing over to Red who annihilated The Boss’ hit with his signature licks.  It was a completely surreal experience to hear Trey shred amidst Bruce’s hit from our childhood- a total collision of worlds- it was awesome.  As the song ended with a colossal peak, the lights came on rather abruptly- set break. Phew- they were playing two sets! We all began to wonder if the Phish / Springsteen blowout would be the conclusion of the festival- and as good as it was- thank god it wasn’t.

6.12.09 (D.Vann)

6.12.09 (D.Vann)

What came next was one of the most risk-taking jams of the tour as the band took Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll” from a high-octane rock excursion into all-out ambient psychedelia, traveling a most adventurous path along the way.  Delving into some arrhythmic dissonance, the band created the darkest and most ominous portion the show before segueing slowly into “Light.”  I thought before the set that the band would feature a new song as a vehicle for the second set, and this was IT.  While the jam was introduced at Fenway’s tour opener, the band chose largest stage of tour to blowout one of their best new songs.

6.14.09 (@jms6248055)

6.14.09 (@jms6248055)

Embarking in some fast pace improv throughout most of the “Light” jam, the band then slowed down, taking it farther out there, landing in some ending in some “Manteca”-sounding funk.  Emerging out of the experimental”Light,” and capping the exceptional set opening trio, was a slowed-down and dirty “46 Days.”  Not necessarily the song you’d expect at this point, the band killed the festi-sized version; and following the incredible run of improv that had just occurred, the blues-rock served as oddly natural landing point for the first part of the set.  The band took little time to launch into a majestic “Limb by Limb” that served as a congruent soundtrack to the liberating outdoor atmosphere that Bonnaroo provided.  With as much space as anyone could want, Phish threw down an incredibly danceable show, allowing everyone to take full advantage of their vast surroundings.

Following “Limb,” the band slowed things down towards the end of the festival with a strangely placed, yet poignant, “Farmhouse” that wound up working quite well as the set’s cool-down song.  A late-set “Number Line” provided some additional new spice to the mix before Phish turned to a regal “Prince Caspian.”  A quintessential late-set version saw Trey dive into a monstrous solo as the late-night crowd soaked it in.  But instead of rolling into the final guitar chords of the song, the band dropped into a blistering “First Tube” that ended the set in a never-ending blissful peak.

With a “Suzy,” “Reprise,” ending, Phish closed the show on the highest of notes, making every Phish fan who decided to make the trek to Manchester’s massive gathering glad that they did.  After playing to the audience on Friday, Phish decided to do what they do best last night, and they created one of the most improvisational and engaging shows of tour.  On top of their game, Phish was the clear main draw of the weekend- and the only band for which the festival turned off the obnoxiously bright, massive neon “Bonnaroo” sign that graced the top of main stage.  In the end- as the crowd thinned out throughout the last day of the festival- when the second set started, the environment was soley focused on Phish.  And under the wide open Tennessee skies, they provided us with another memory along the yellow brick road of Summer ’09.  Next stop- The Fox!

I: AC/DC Bag, NICU, Gotta Jibboo, Punch You in the Eye, Sparkle, Bathtub Gin, Character Zero, Tweezer > The Horse > Silent In The Morning, Run Like An Antelope, Mustang Sally*, Bobby Jean,*  Glory Days*

II: Rock & Roll > Light > 46 Days, Limb By Limb, Farmhouse, Backwards Down The Number Line, Prince Caspian > First Tube

E: Suzy Greenberg > Tweezer Reprise

* w/ Bruce Springsteen

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459 Responses to “Exploring Bonnaroo”

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  1. Los Says:

    Glad I didnt go

  2. Dub Says:

    Watching the live stream last night, the Rock & Roll jam was sick. That would have awesome to see live.
    Thanks for the review miner. You must never sleep man…

  3. AintNoTele Says:

    no rest for the wicked they say

  4. AintNoTele Says:

    I had a dream i was front row at starlake and miner was next to me, all i remember him saying was, “my name’s tom, quit calling me miner”. Then phish killed it c&p style with a crazy clavi/bass jam

  5. Jon Bailey Says:

    Wow Miner…you rock. It would have taken me two days to write this review.

    I don’t know how you do it.

    Phish and the Boss….Classic

  6. SOAM Says:

    I have never heard of the Bruce Springsteen influence-Little gravy on that turkey-I THINK.

    Still looked like a pretty nice show

  7. Al Says:

    I’m quite dissapointed by the Bonnaroo performances. Miner, what about your “Bonnaroo Tweezer”. Not really what we all expected. The first night had a phantastic KDF and a great Stash. The YEM was a cool sandwich, but really – expectations for night 2 were not reached. At least not for me…

  8. Mr.Miner Says:

    most exploratory show yet….don’t have expectations and you won’t be dissapointed 😉

  9. RobAins Says:

    Seriously. I find it really annoying and somewhat troubling that people always sem to post the day after the show, saying how it didn’t live up to expectations. And the worst is when someone says “well that Hood was good, but nothing compared to Fall ’94.” It’s 2009. Stay at home and listen to bootlegs if you want to hear Phish sounding like 1994.

  10. sandstone Says:

    I hear that. Enough with the expectations of what Phish “should be” or “should have done.” If you want ’97, listen to the tapes. As it is, I’m happy they’re back and playing music that no one else does.

  11. Danny B Says:

    I listened to friday night’s set, which was pretty good. I really liked the jam between KDF and Free, and stash was a highlight for sure. It’s gotta be weird for Phish to play Bonnaroo, do you play to acquire new fans, or do you play to impress the phans? Maybe it will remind them why they always used to have their own festivals. Can’t wait to listen to last nights show. Not a big Springstein fan, but I’m sure it made Trey’s night.

  12. c0wfunk Says:

    Expectations – *yawn* .. Nice to see them put together a big 2nd set in a new way -leaving out the mikes or countless other predictable things they could have done.

    I feel like the new bridge from bdtnl that appeared at jb disappeared in avl – anyone corroborate? Was it there last night?

    The only rule is it begins….

  13. Frankie Says:

    They are playing with such confidence right now… you guys goin’ to the Fox are the most lucky people in the whole world right now… enjoy it!!

    Rock’n’Roll > Light (WOW!!)

  14. Kaveh Says:

    If this helps: http://bt.etree.org/details.php?id=525933

    The show is somewhere to download.

  15. voopa Says:

    I’m glad you didn’t go either, douchenozzle.

  16. Shafty Says:

    Are the boys only playing a set list of about 100 songs? Bonarroo on paper looks like a repeat of what happened in the northeast. Do people expect a similar event going down in DC-Alpine?

  17. ColonelJoy Says:

    I think at this point in 3.0, and it is still early, the band went for solid instead of exploratory. It was, to say the least, conservative, Cheneyesque, if you will. Asheville certainly blows it away…without question, but that was an exceptional show.

    I haven’t listened to the the second set yet….The Bruce stuff isn’t bad at all, imo. So far, though, Friday had more dank in it, but the RockN’Roll and Light await….

  18. ColonelJoy Says:

    @Shafty, they’ve played over 125 different songs on this tour so far….I’d say that’s pretty good.

  19. Kaveh Says:

    Can’t wait to listen to this show either, on the drive down to St. Louis today from Minneapolis. See you at the Fox!

  20. ColonelJoy Says:

    My best friend…whom I’ve known since I was 5…..he got me into Zeppelin probably when I was 12 or so….

    He’s never been to a Phish show….almost had him at the Went, but he had to go to a wedding. I think he is primed to go to his first show, though. He’s listened to several shows on this tour.

    On the phone the other night he said, “that Ghost from Asheville is my favorite…”

    So, even the complete noobs…utter virgins….they know what the honey jams are when they hear them. You don’t have to be trained.

  21. Jack O Roses Says:

    I’ve gotta again give props to wigman, Josephus, and bonnaboobs for the streams. Technology is so amazing! Many moons ago, I started out doing the Maxell XL- II thing. Heck, I still have a bootleg LP of GD 12-5-71. Loving hippies with technology!

    Haven’t had a chance to listen today, but last night I was loving the Caspian -> First Tube. The jam in 1st Tube was great! The Jam out of Rock and Roll was sick too. BDTNL is probably my favorite new song. This one started to take off. Yummy jams in Tweezer and Antelope, too.

    Bruce: Gotta say a pretty cool sit in. Especially at a festival such as Roo. He’s a great song writer too. That being said, I usually like my Phish plain, with out guests, thank you very much. 🙂

    My call: Springsteen cover at Fox or Star Lake. Born 2 Run.

  22. Twiggy Says:

    Wonder if there was any discussion on ticket sales between The Boss and The Boys?

  23. sumodie Says:

    id say mr miners review is dead on.from my position in the pit the sound was incredibly crisp -the roo main stage pumped the sound ive in a long time.to see trey in 7th heaven was a sublime moment ill never forget (i was at homdel,nj when they said was here and it tom m instead,one of their best stunts). so pre roo i thought havin the actually appear would mind blowing-and it was.i entered roo a non springsteen fan and now i leave a true believer after seeing the boss on sat n sun.i probably never see him again either. whether you like or dislike bruce,our hero trey got to play with his hero.priceless!i can only imagine how happy trey must feel today.
    as for expectations,mine were so misplced that fridays show didnt sit well with in spite of the highlights.sunday i was dialed in right,and the boys delivered all the way.wow.
    im still st roo now finishing my coffee.while phenway & gw had great moments,kudos to the band for camden,ashe,knox,and 2nd roo.everyone a spectacular show in their own way. cant to pick tour again at rr.phish 3.0:the best investment ive made in several years.have fun out there!

  24. sumodie Says:

    whoops,sorry for so many word omissions.guess its time to the farm for the back to woosta,ma.ciao!

  25. ColonelJoy Says:

    @ Jack O Roses,

    The other day I was thinking, “I miss that feeling”

    The feeling you got when the tapes you traded for or were sent as charity…finally made it to you in the mail….

    Technology has stolen that. Just a thought….

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