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. yamar83 Says:

    Is there a guide to explain what type I, type I+, etc… jams mean? I have been searching the site and haven’t found anything to describe them. Is it in the pharmer’s almanac or is this just a term used here on this site? Thanks for your help!

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    …just goes to show the range of musical tastes that Phish fans have…”prog rock meets medieval” is very close to my idea of musical hell :o)

    to each their own and YMMV! vive le difference!

  3. c0wfunk Says:

    I don’t know the speed square guys but I think I’ve seen them around and I believe are friends of a friend -> small town.. I didn’t see that trey ripped them off conversation but he certainly took some influence from these guys .. worth a listen I’d say.

    Another recent pickup was gota yashiki some groovy acid jazz. some recommended discs on another site .. good stuff! I was starting to get a little phish overload and decided to put off listening to knoxville and bonnaroo2 .. Probably no phishtube from the fox eh?

  4. Exree Hipp Says:

    Not sure if this was posted yet, but here is a link with both of the Bonnaroo archive shows, includes an SBD of the Radio City Ghost among many other tasty bits.


  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    @c0wfunk I also reached burnout and am listening to other stuff as a Phish reset, to get ready for home stretch – rolling DANGERDOOM “Mouse and the Mask” right now, still fucking hilarious

  6. c0wfunk Says:

    mr. c was it you I was talking about floyd’s the man and his journey with? Did you get a chance to listen to that?

  7. voopa Says:

    “Probably no phishtube from the fox eh?”

    What? Why? Nooooooo

  8. Davey Says:

    First show in 3 days. BAHHHHHHH

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    c0w – yeah you mentioned it and I looked it up. FWIW I found a nice recording of it off a podcast, definitely a SBD.

    It’s super interesting. Musically very cool in places and obviously a key point in their musical history. Seems like the bridge between their earlier material and the 70s albums – its basically older material with bridging sections, yeah? The ambient bits and bridging material really point forward to their later albums but have an old 60s Floyd feel.

    I had never really heard anything like this from them. Sounds like some real interesting performances they were putting on in that time…

    The performance-art aspect of it is totally classic. “Tea Time” – HILARIOUS!

  10. Davey Says:

    My buddy and I found a ride from the Indianapolis airport and to Alpine with a nice girl named Tess. That’s a load off my back.

  11. FriedSallyFried Says:

    Listening to the “Bruce” set now. Two conclusions: Mustang Sally is not a good song and Bruce should stick to rhythm guitar especially when sharing the stage with instrumental superior.

    Another observation, the keyboard player’s name is Page. If you plan on “bossing” musicians around, gotta stress that you should call them by name.

  12. fromthetub Says:

    @voopa – try dog-stream over on ustream. The guy said he’s going to stream the show tonight. Fingers crossed.

  13. Twiggy Says:

    throw out the Roo setlists. AC/DC Bag for Roger!

  14. Frankie Says:

    That’s good news Davey!! Have fun buddy! This is gonna be a fun run! 🙂

  15. mattp2112 Says:

    @ c0w – Gentle Giant is a great prog band, check out their album Octopus. Also check out a band called Camel and their album Mirage. I am big prog head, thats what turned me onto to Phish in the first place. It was their compositions that got me into them. Then I started to understand the ‘jam’ aspect and then I was completely blown away. Thats why – for me – I love a great jam but its important to nail those composition parts.

  16. voopa Says:

    @fromthetub – Thanks! I’ll check it out…

  17. TheDropper Says:

    is there gonna be a phishtube tonight

  18. Twiggy Says:

    I see ustream, but what is dog-stream?

  19. TheDropper Says:

    just went live…he is saying it’s pretty shady

  20. Jack O Roses Says:

    4 of the known streams are here:


  21. TheDropper Says:

    annnnnd…its off

  22. Pence Says:

    if you see a stream of fox please post it here.

  23. snigglebeach Says:

    Calling for a Curtain with opener. they have been saving it for a show like this. So jealous of those in attendance tonight. I have regretted selling my Fox tiks since the day i deposited Mr. Miner’s check. Hope he has fun tonight.

  24. fromthetub Says:

    @Pence – check out the link that Jack posted. If there’s a stream tonight, it will be one of those.

  25. Jack O Roses Says:

    This just makes me smile. Trey having so much fun:


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