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. Jack O Roses Says:

    Ya know. I actually don’t see Wynton. Twitter gave me the wrong info. 🙂

    Anyway, it’s really good!

    Here’s the scoop:


  2. Bobby Caplewood Says:

    Now The Boss really knows who’s BOSS

  3. Frankie Says:

    Thank you very much! Will check it out tonight! 🙂

    Used to listen to them all the time… first time i saw them in Montreal in ’97 changed my life. Walked at the door with some friends of mine and some dude just gave me a ticket. I think they were 12$ canadian so like 9$US. I don’t think they were a jamband though, they were soul stretchers of songs… 🙂 Second set had Van Morrison’s And It Stoned Me, The Meters’s Just Kissed My Baby (w/Night People Rap!) and Tom Waits’s Goin’ Out West… What’s not to love? I CAN’T listen to them with Houser gone though. Too sad… Just like i wouldn’t listen to Phish with a substitute to any of the players…

    Mikey Houser’s Door Harp is a beautiful record!

  4. El Duderino Says:

    Livenation just released more Deer Creek Tix. Get ’em while they’re hot!

  5. Davey Says:

    Yeah, they are lawns which is what I got. I was hoping for some Pav tickets. My first show is going to be a lawner. All I want to hear is the Sloth and I’ll be happy. They haven’t played it yet either. I love the Sloth.

  6. AintNoTele Says:

    Haha. gotta love the lingering lead

  7. Albert Walker Says:

    little buddy

    you have a real pole up your ass
    how is saying Friday and Sunday will be the hot shows not being good family
    if it is the word custy sorry I toured in the nineties and its part of the vanacular
    i’m sure you’ve been bunked too many times and feel like I’m talking to you, but it is not personal

  8. Davey Says:

    If anybody see’s me at Deer Creek say hi. I’ll be wearing a blue Telluride hat and wearing a back pack with my life in it.

  9. Frankie Says:

    Deer Creek is gonna get Fishman singing Elton John’s “Can you feel the love tonight”… no shit!

  10. Albert Walker Says:

    El Dude

    in case you were wondering a custy is the one with the steal your face tatoo on their arm

  11. Al Says:

    @Mitesh – Philly 12/15/95 Trey said, his very first show at the spectrum was Jethro Tull….and now he is playin it

  12. El Duderino Says:


  13. EJ Says:

    Quick question:

    Aside from listening to a few “no-spoiler” pulls, I haven’t dabbled in the AUD recordings from this tour. How have they been?

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    Custy is a real thing. Tour rats who go looking for peeps to rip off are the biggest douches on the lot, but also, some folks come to shows just hoping to buy some drugs and get wasted. They are custies and deserve to get custied. IMO. And any Saturday show is going to bring ’em out in hordes. Honestly the w00k vs. custy battle is amusing as hell and I like that it keeps both groups occupied. It is the natural order of things, custies are the fat, stupid prey, w00ks are the stinky, narrow eyed predators.

    Most of us are neither of course, so no reason to get twisted. But custies are just as real as w00ks.

    @Davey – I hope you get your Sloth, but don’t be disappointed if not!

  15. Little Buddy Says:

    @Al Walker

    Actually it was part of my vernacular (check the dictionary before trying to use words too big for you please) too… When I was 19! Unlike you I figured out what was wrong with make such judgments about people shortly thereafter. Most of the time the people you think look like “custies” have better stuff and get “it” more than a guy like you. Obviously you assume that you’ve been around the block a few times more than I. I’d venture to guess that your wrong, because you still don’t get it. I have no problem with your take on the shows. The problem is with your use of the old vernacular that is at the root of the issues present in the “Phish kid” culture that will sink this ship again if we don’t police it ourselves. I don’t care who you are, what you do, or for the most part what you say. But when you bring it here you can expect to be corrected. So, on behalf of all the adults and the good family, I’m correcting you. It’s 2009 and you’re ten years older. Act like it.


  16. El Duderino Says:

    Open mouth. Insert foot.

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    @little buddy I hear where you’re coming from but I still think Albert was more telling it like it is than anything else. I’m an adult and the epitome of good family but I would appreciate you please not acting as the language police on my behalf. kthxbai

  18. Jack O Roses Says:

    Oh geez.

    Aren’t they just another GD cover band?

    ::ducks, runs::


  19. HarryHood Says:

    Wilson = Wook
    Lizards = Custies

    Clear enough?

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    …and didn’t we have this exact discussion a month or so ago? could we just go back and re-read that thread instead of slogging thru it again?

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    @HarryHood wins the thread! We’re done here, everyone move along plz

  22. HarryHood Says:

    and I thank you……

  23. Little Buddy Says:

    @ Mr. C.

    I hear you and I’ll stop now. I see our point. There is truth there. The whole “custy/wook” thing is just so weak IMO, but I see your point. I’ll step off. Thanks. Sorry for the negativity.

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    Buddy, your heart is in the right place on this thing – don’t think I beleive otherwise

  25. Panic66 Says:

    ok..haven’t posted in months. But gotta say….love the shows i have attended so far. Jones beach (2) was my fav song selection….but GW was FIRE!!! All nite long!
    As always….Great site
    thank you

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