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. Dave Says:

    Just to add my $.02, the LivePhish SBDs have sounded like garbage to me. The mix doesn’t fee right. I have gone to listening to AUDs and man what a difference. Save yourself the money and legal dealings and get AUDs for this tour.

  2. ColonelJoy Says:


    I would have to agree. The sound has been spotty on the downloads. Roo downloads are pretty good quality, but in earlier shows Page’s piano really sounded off…like a little Fisher Price toy keyboard.

  3. SOAM Says:

    iT’S ME Dave-I got the stuff


    It’s me man, Dave-I got the stuff




  4. elihu Says:

    no spoiler auds have been sounding AWEsome

  5. SOAM Says:

    it’s me dave

  6. Col4bin Says:

    @ woo

    this is a good spot with the no spoiler auds and they are broken down by song. thank you tmwsiy!


  7. msbjivein Says:

    Dave’s not here!

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    I would really really love lossless versions of the No Spoilers auds, which are great – but I don’t ever like any AUD that’s been compressed – the fact that they come out sounding OK means that the original source must be really amazing, so kudos there!

    Agree on the boards. Not the heat. Lacking in Mike and Page. Not horrible, but will certainly be trumped by a tight AUD.

    @SOAM – I know what you meant, I was foolin with ya, son

    yer too short, the fast ones go right over yer head! /foghorn leghorn

  9. Jason Waite Says:



  10. msbjivein Says:

    Fox Predictions=Long Journey Home and It’s Ice………………………….

  11. BC Says:

    Rift tonight.

  12. voopa Says:

    Fox Prediction -> Lotsa rock!

  13. Jason Waite Says:

    @ voopa: Fox Prediction > “lotsa rock!” = I actually think it could be a soft, less exploratory show, that emphasizes more of the story ,,,,

  14. SOAM Says:

    My prediction-lots of cock no poontang but a fat gig is coming for all the swords-this is the type of gig where tix are scare and you leave the ho at home


  15. Walfredo Says:

    Love the link- downloading my first AUDS from this tour. I grew up on AUDS and sbd’s were always a treat… Well know w/ LivePhish been listening to all SBD’s and the AUDs are a treat. Nothing sounds more like being in the building. Think the mix is a little cleaner smoother- but the SBD’s have less noise and can crank w/out hiss a lot better. I think I’m 6 one way- half of a dozen of the other- but these AUD’s do sound incredible. What a ways technology has come to be able to access free 1st Gen Aud’s on-line during a tour!

  16. Brimley Says:

    Leave the exploring for Saturday night Alpine…

  17. Jason Waite Says:

    actually deer creek will be the big explosion

  18. Selector J Says:

    Walfredo: A lot of ’03 recommendations without mentioning Cincy, yet. The whole weekend was solid. The Tube and Gin from 2nd night are THE highlights but everything was slayed, to my ears.

    @Wax: Dinosaurs only existed in one era, the Mesozoic. The Mesozoic consists of three periods: Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous. So may I suggest classifying Phish into three periods and then subdivide those into the appropriate epochs. 😉 [All of your groans of disapproval are warranted.]

  19. msbjivein Says:

    Did you know Phish has played Antelope every year they’ve been at Deer Creek. Hmmmmmm I wonder what they’ll do on the anniversary of their 1st Deer Creek show???

  20. gho2it Says:

    SBD’s = Home stereo/car stereo crankage

    AUD’s = Headphone party

    In fact, SBD’s are how I got my girl liking Phish…..much easier on her ears

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    depends on the AUD.

    a good SBD – which these barely are – is better than most AUDs (for me) since I will trade the feeling of the room for much greater depth in the bass and clarity in the highs. The lack of bass in these boards is therefore a serious flaw.

    But the best AUDs are exponentially greater than any SBD. Most AUDs that are claimed to be at this level really aren’t – but some are.

    cf. 7-2-98 D.Greg FOB


    Street Sweeper Social Club, despite the extra stupid name, is a better album than reviewers are reporting. It has some duds, usually where Morello tries to do too much and gets in the way, but it’s basically a really fucking dope album. Boots Riley is one of the greatest MCs ever.

    And Stanton Moore is phenomenal on every track. Yes, that Stanton Moore. Cool to hear him play super heavy.

  22. c0wfunk Says:

    have you guys heard of the band “gentle giant” .. just got turned on to them via their 1975 album free hand .. the title track has a section that sounds very much like Trey’s digi-delay loop jams from 95 or so (exemplified in the 12-31-95 mike’s outro) .. and the album overall is very phishy sounding at moments – lots of zappa and maybe even jethro tull influence. Sounds like prog rock meets medeival tropes at some points too..

  23. Selector J Says:

    @Cowfunk: I saw people posting on that other site about Gentle Giant with, if I understood correctly, some allegations of Trey ripping off one of their songs for TTE. FWIW, I listened to the track and didn’t hear it. I don’t know anythng else about them though.

    Also, Cowfunk, do you know the guys in Speedsquare? They stayed at my house on their cross country busking tour.

  24. Dave Says:

    I feel like the SBDs feel TOO compressed…like I am missing out on a TON of frequencies that were in older SBDs, even the Hampton SBDs were awesome. Right now when in my car I can barely feel the bass and kick drum. The No Spoiler AUDs have much more vibrancy IMO.

    And no, I am not here man…

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    yep…I would gladly do the work creating torrents and tracked filesets for FLAC versions of the NS sources if they were made available. Not in a next-day timeframe or anything, but fast enough for you.

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