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”

  1. verno329 Says:

    I was saying Booo…urns


  2. Mr. Completely Says:


  3. Woo Says:

    Can someone put up the link for the SBD download for the Bonnaroo sets?

  4. Woo Says:


  5. snigglebeach Says:

    I see a lot of posts about Fishman being “uncomfortable” and think this was somehow because of the sometimes un-interested crowd….

    I think the stage was just so big he could not always hear everyone else.

    a few times he was just a beat off and i don’t think he could hear everyone else good enough to find the beat. The most obv. example of that was the during one of the Bruce songs. Fish was behind, and Bruce just counted off 1234 , and bam, eveyone was back on track. (by the way, that was a great example of Bruce being a true Band Leader).

    Also, off topic, but i think the talk of not enough girls at shows that was circulating after Hampton, can be dismissed. I have seen more insanely hot women in the last 2 weeks, than in the previous 4 years. As much as i hate the heat in the south, Sure helped the Ladies put on quite a show of their own.

  6. msbjivein Says:

    We can only post AUD recordings here. No stealing Sound board links aloud here. Just a heads up. Sorry but I have no link for AUD recordings for roo. Someone will probably post one before to long.

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    yea I was about to say, pretty sure Miner has discouraged posting sbd links here

  8. DaNcInG fOoL Says:


  9. Woo Says:

    oh. OK. Not a problem… I thought people were posting them earlier.

  10. verno329 Says:

    http://bt.etree.org/details.php?id=525938 Sunday

    http://bt.etree.org/details.php?id=525933 Sunday as well. Love this source! Haven’t listened to the first one yet

    http://bt.etree.org/details.php?id=525871 late night Friday/Sat

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    approx. one billion auds from first part of tour up on etree now, gotta be some fatties

  12. HarryHood Says:

    Sorry, a bit late on this one, but someone mentioned the ’03 Worchester show. I ended up 10th row for that one and it’s right up there in my book. At one point I looked at my friend Colleen and said, “Is that fuckin Low Rider???” I loved how they threw in a song from each of their solo acts as well. They really need to get Drifting in the rotation again. What a great song…….

  13. HarryHood Says:

    Correction: Drifting was never actually in a rotation so I guess they can’t put it in “again”. They have actually only played it once.

  14. SOAM Says:

    I Worcesterite and the 3 shows in 98 are the best they have ever been there-the 03 first set was kinda like the first set in mansfield last week-it never congealed and achieved pure liftoff

    but beaver at shows–no way-maybe at roo

  15. Mugician Says:

    I was just on a month long road trip and haven’t been able to read up much on Phishthoughts, but I’m curious about the SOUND of Phish 3.0. How does their mix sound with their new guy?

  16. sloth Says:

    reading phishthoughts is inspirational. i have turned on a few phriends over the last few weeks to this blog. thanks for the good vibes and positive phish love. even if the notes aren’t 100% perfect all of the time, the community that has come together in the last few months over phish’s return is awesome! i’ve been wearing my melt sweatshirt all over brooklyn for 2 years, getting a few comments here and there, especially since there is a restaurant called “melt” in the hood. last week i must have got 10 people noticing the true intention of the SOAM reference. one woman even asked where she could buy the hoody. yeah, phish is back in phull phorce and i’m lovin’ the ride…

  17. Jay Says:

    Sound was tight in Asheville and more surprisingly in Knoxville!. I was up in the private suite/box way up in the 300s (nosebleed) and was loving the sound.

  18. SOAM Says:

    get naked and rock out with cock out


  19. msbjivein Says:

    Phish’s sound has been different then Hampton for sure. Not as consistant but that’s no surprise. The main difference is Page isn’t as up front in the mix as he was in Hampton. Which I loved. Maybe now that Trey’s back to Jedi form Mr. Brown has decided to bring him to the front of the Mix. But I thought it was more of a “Paul” kinda mix at the shows I’ve attended. Phenway the sound wasn’t good. That’s because it’s a BB park and not an ampitheatre.

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    @SOAM don’t compare too much to Woosta 98 or everything will be a letdown

  21. HarryHood Says:

    Did anyone catch the late night STS9 show around the corner from the Centrum after the ’03 Worchester show?

  22. msbjivein Says:

    “Paul Mix” meaning lots of Trey………..

  23. ColonelJoy Says:

    Hmm, even the sound guy has to deal with the Ghosts…

  24. Elihu Says:

    I can’t help feeling they overreached on Bonaroo and it turned into a detour… Here’s hoping they pick IT up again tonight in the Great Hall!

  25. SOAM Says:

    I was talkin 98 vs 03 dad

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