Phish at Bonnaroo

So unless you’ve been living in a cocoon this week, you have heard the mainstream rumors that Phish will headline Bonnaroo for two of the three nights.  If you have been reading Phish Thoughts for a bit, you’ve known that this would happen for about a month now.  Yet, as the rumor has been virtually substantiated from the powers that be, there has been a lot of backlash in the community about this decision.

bonnaroo_500x400Some think Phish has no place on a multi-band bill, something they avoided for most of their career.  The argument is that Phish shouldn’t be part of something bigger when they can draw the same amount of people themselves.  Some feel that they are being pressured into it by super-manager, Coran Capshaw, who holds a stake in the festival, and other outside business influences.  Bottom line, all of these lines of reasoning are, in my opinion, total crap.  Phish is playing Bonnaroo for one reason and one reason only, they want to!

The Clifford Ball

The Clifford Ball

If you remember back to the late ’90s and early ’00s, Phish, with Great Northern Productions, created the blueprint for the massive Phish festival.  When southern concert promoters Superfly and A.C. Productions teamed up to throw the first jam-rooted Bonnaroo, they looked to the experts, welcoming many members of Great Northern’s team on board to help and to use their model of Phish’s former weekend celebrations.  Yet, due to timing, Phish never got to take part in the festival that they were integral in inspiring.   Soon followed all the other mega-festivals that, trying desperately to draw as many people that Phish drew by themselves.  Bonnaroo and its brethren essentially filled the summer time vacuum for 60,000 to 80,000 fans who could no longer trek to Limestone.  Essentially, Phish’s absence made room for the growth of Bonnaroo, and now the band wants to join in.  Do they need to play it– of course not!  But they want to join the party too!

Consider these factors with the overwhelming nature of Coventry and the effort, coordination, and money it takes to throw their own festival (which they still may do!), and tell me, honestly, that this doesn’t make sense for them.  They pull into a huge festival with no work of their own, tear the place apart for two nights, steal the show, and move on with their tour.  Sound like a plan to me!  With Trey’s affinity, familiarity and previous performances at Bonnaroo, it seems like a very congruent fit.

Trey & Mike at Rothbury (Rolling Stone)

Trey & Mike at Rothbury (Rolling Stone)

When the members of Phish reemerged at last summer’s Rothbury festival in various sit-ins and performances, it seemed like they enjoyed being a part of everything.   Basically every other significant band plays at these festivals, and why would Phish not want to take part in this community celebration of music, art, and fun?  It is not like Phish will be moving from mega-fest to mega-fest– they are gonna’ stop in at one or two, and if you wanna skip ’em, no one will hold a gun to your head.  So why complain?  Why not accept that your personal desires don’t line up with Phish’s desires, and meet your buddies at the next show?

The Lemonwheel - photo Todd Wickersty

The Lemonwheel (T. Wickersty)

In addition, Bonnaroo will automatically expose Phish to an entire new generation of kids who were in middle school at the time of Coventry.  More people who would have never imagined the magic of Phish will get to experience it in bigger-than-life format.  How can this possibly be a bad thing?  If you think that there won’t be a whole new scene of Phish fans whether they play the festival or not, you are sorely mistaken.  Kids who have been incessantly listening to bootlegs and smoking bongs for the past four years, kids who had older siblings that sung the praises of the Phish, kids who never knew Phish existed are all gonna’ be on board.  Welcome to Phish 2009!

And hey, for the fans it’s a deal!  $200 bucks for two shows and two full days of festivities??  Hell, I paid $240 for each night of Hampton, sounds like a deal to me!  And anyone who thinks Phish will step on that stage and not absolutely slaughter their shows forgot who Phish is.  These will be “super-Phish shows.”  Shows whose setlists you will cringe at when you read on the Internet what you missed.  This is Phish’s time to reclaim their throne as the maestros of the live music scene, and if you think most everyone won’t be walking away from Manchester, TN discussing how insane the Phish sets were, I think you’ve got a surprise coming.

The Great Went

The Great Went

Can you even imagine the magnitude of the Bonnaroo “Tweezer?”  Can you fathom the depth of the Mike’s Groove that will overtake the masses’ consciousness?  Inevitably, Phish will also debut new material at the festival, and whether is a twenty-minute transcendent “Light” or a set-opening “Backwards Down the Number Line,” everyone will walk away from Bonnaroo more excited about Phish then when they entered.  Phish’s mission at Bonnaroo will be clear, “tear the roof off the sucka’.”  And I guarantee you, that is exactly what they will do.

The fact is, people are confusing their own desire to attend Bonnaroo with Phish’s “right” to play there.  Understandably, a mega-festival comes with its caveats and clusterfucks, but at the same time, it comes with freedom from ushers, seats, conventional rules, and standard show limitations.  While it is understandable why individuals would not want to attend the event, making the jump to say Phish shouldn’t play the event is purely illogical.  Ready or not, here they come!

What are your opinions on Phish headlining Bonnaroo for two nights?  Respond in Comments below!


rumorSUMMER ’09 RUMOR MILL: As Bonnaroo is all but confirmed, a few more nuggets of info have been passed my way.  From a solid source, Phish has two nights scheduled for Camden in mid-June, seemingly part of their initial early-summer tour.  I’ve heard potential Red Rocks dates to be 7.29-8.2.  I’ve heard some grumbling about NOLA Jazzfest, but nothing firm at this point.  I wouldn’t forget about those other weekends in March either.  It’s almost 2009, we should know soon.  That’s all I’ve got for now folks!  Enjoy the weekend.



12.28.97 USAir Arena Landover, MD < LINK

1997-12-28moWe are sticking with the New Year’s Run theme today, featuring the dark-horse show of 1997.  Finishing the run with three nights at MSG– two of them being legendary– this show actually can hold its own.  With two exciting sets, the “Cities > Curtain > Sample” combo early on got the run started after a warm up “Julius.”  The second set was highlighted by the “Ghost > Drowned” and “Halley’s > Slave” segments.  This one has also been requested by a number of folks.  Enjoy!

I: Julius, Cities > The Curtain > Sample in a Jar, The Old Home Place, Runaway Jim, Farmhouse, Funky Bitch, Split Open and Melt, Bouncing Around the Room, Character Zero

II: Axilla* > Simple**, Ghost > Drowned > Scent of a Mule, Halley’s Comet > Slave to the Traffic Light, Rocky Top, Cavern

E: Bold as Love

*With Axilla (Part 2) ending.**Trey’s guitar experienced feedback coming out of Simple, causing Trey to pause and talk about ghosts in the machine…they then paused and went into “Ghost.”

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82 Responses to “Phish at Bonnaroo”

  1. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^^ you may be in for a nice surprise 🙂 Rumor has it, they will hit up Rotnbury as well

  2. Jacob Says:

    OK, I’ve thought some more about it. Let’s compromise. If Phish wants to play Bonnaroo, OK, Manchester, here I come. But, they are going to have to play Fenway Park to fulfill the dream I had about this a few years ago. So, interesting tour schedule: Bonnaroo, Deer Creek, Alpine Valley, Red Rocks, Shoreline, The Gorge and Fenway Pahk! Let’s do it!!

  3. bhizzle Says:

    I said it before and I’ll say it again – stadium tour. RFK, or if you will FedEx Field, Meadowlands, Rich Stadium. My biggest concern is not what festival they will or will not play. It is can I get a ticket and, if so, not have to pay through the nose.

  4. Jeff Says:

    I’ve been to Bonnaroo 3 times. 02,05, and 06. VIP in 05,06. I love that festival, they get GREAT bands and have diversity, and provide the best they can given that it’s a rock n roll festival with 50-80,000 people. Bonnaroo happened thanks to Phish, no questions about it. Phish playing it is an honor and they will rock it out and depending on what happens with them playing Rothbury and/or Red Rocks, I’ll be at the Roo. I for the life of me cannot understand how people are complaining about them playing anywhere?! They are playing. Period!!!! Additionally, It’s going to be like the first Roo, which was the best, because Phish fans will buy up most of the tickets meaning it will basically be like a Phish festival but us phans can run around and check out other cool bands before we get our groove on. that’s the way I see it at least. i salivate at the possible sit ins. Could Buckethead finally shred with Trey, Les can make an appearence. Flaming Lips and Phish..together??! The Boss side by side with Big Red doing Born To Run??? How could anybody complain about that?

  5. waiting for full tour announcement Says:

    I guess its just cool that they will be playing anywhere again. I for one, will never go back to bonnaroo. Maybe its just me, but i’ve grown out of the whole paying lots of money to be utterly uncomfortable for 4 days era of my life. Its a shame that it took 8 years for phish to be able to play bonnaroo. If they could have played the first 3 years of the fest it would have been amazing. Over the last few years the Roo has been getting worse and worse. I stopped going in 2006 when it became obvious that people were going not for the music, but for the far darker aspects of the scene. It changed from a mainly heady event to an annual get as wasted as you can fest. Just not my scene anymore. Mr. minor, i’m glad you are going to hampton, but i still can’t allow myslef to be taken advantage of by the scalpers who basically ruined a good thing for thousands of people. Paying that much, just for one show (even phish) just is not cool. If i could have gotten that 3 day pass for the base price of $150, I would be there in a heartbeat. But paying over $900 bucks for three shows just isn’t something a sane person would do. Even for phish. I hope that they understand the hurtfulness of the system they have in place now and go back to old school mail order where everyone has the exact same chance of getting tickets for the amount they should normally pay for them.

  6. G-Man Says:

    Ok Jeff wins. You guys who are “Phish at Roo” supporters, have the big picture correct. Phish playing is awesome, they deserve to conquer the Roo, and bringing in a new generation of Phans is a positive thing.

    I guess I just want to have my cake and eat it too. I want all those things but without so many of the “people who are only there for the party” latching on. The reality is that Phish can’t really ever be an underground phenomena again.

  7. BingosBrother Says:

    I am with WFFTA on this. While I am happy that you will be going to Hampton and would be honored to share any show with you Mr. Miner, I wouldn’t exactly be broadcasting the fact that you paid $240 a show to some leech who will take your extra money to steal tix to other shows that people into other bands may want to purchase. And on and on until we collectively make sacrifices to put these scumbags out of business. That being said, I agree with you that the main reason they may do this(God please no)is because they want to. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t not want them to.

  8. Jeff Says:

    G-Man, there is nothing you can do about the fanbase that was, or that will be. When I first saw them it took getting a tape that probably took weeks to find it’s way to me via snail mail and tape to tape recordings. Then, you had to find out if they were on tour and where they were playing, by using the phone. Now, fans can have any or every Phish song by clicking a mouse, they can watch hours and hours of video via Youtube, they can watch a documentry about the band, or buy Phish shotglasses, frisbees, glasses, and baby onesys. Times have changed! The fanbase of old is just that, old. When the bad broke up, I was a bartender, renting, and no kid. Now I own, am a “professional”, and have a 2 1/2 yr old. There are many others like me who will only do one (i’ll do many more than that) show instead of the standard 4 or 5. The new fans will need instruction just as the old Dead fans gave us. Phish will always be a party and that will alwasy be a draw as to why to see them. The questions is, what’t the drug of choice for a new generation? Let’s hope not meth! also, cell phones are a double edged sword at shows. Some girls (not all) will talk throughout a show, that sucks. But the good is that if it’s a show I’m not at, I get instant setlist updates via texting = good!

  9. Musical Stew Daily Says:

    The whole thing is being blown way out of proportion. It’s not like they are touring under a Budweiser banner or that they aren’t sticking to their roots. They are four men that just want to play together again. They have paid their dues and can do what they want.

  10. Jbleiche Says:

    Thank you!!! Im of hearing everyone complain about this. Just be happy they are back and playing the festival that I’ve gone to every year, wishing they were at.

  11. StokedSiren Says:

    Can all of these complaining “phans” please just leave these guys alone and let them do whatever it is they WANT to do both in their business and in their artistry. We all know this is just the beginning of the incessant complaints about what Phish is or isn’t doing right or wrong.

    I wish people could just lay-off these guys and be excited to see what Phish 2009 looks like. Isn’t the unexpected exactly why we all love and are intrigued by this band?! Who ever went to a show hoping the next one would be exactly like the last one?!!

  12. themanatee Says:

    I think one of the most accurate things I have heard (although this is a very coherent and cool discussion) is from the person who said that them playing bonnaroo actually provides the opportunity for all those “teenyboppers” , “frat boys”, whatever label you want to put on the clown next to you screaming into his cell phone, a …. chance to transcend that lifestyle and be truly moved by the Phish. Deep in the throes of Tweezer or Hood, 2,000 of those humans may experience the life changing moment similar to what has lead all of us to be discussing this so passionately here today. The power of acceptance is pretty damn big. We aren’t gonna change the setlists, we aren’t gonna chage to tour dates, and I hear everyone who doesn’t want to go to Bonnaroo. Makes total sense. Can’t say I am dying to be there (though it will probably be amazing) I feeling is that Phish is inherently “better” than Bonnaroo, but that really doesn’t make any sense and is a subjective opinion. I wish they would play in Limestone again but that may not be logical , practical, or in longevities interest. If they played Bonnaroo once, slayed the masses, and then retreated to Limestone again – well that would be ok with me. I guess there is no “retreat” after a ‘Roo appearance but what I mean to say is acceptance of what is … is incredible powerful. Frees us up be present when fishman starts the 2001 beat.

  13. VelvetSeaWader Says:


    a few months ago everyone is complaining that they’re not playing in a big enough venue for their comeback. now they actually might be playing at a festival big enough for 10x as many people as the one of disapproval and people are STILL unhappy.

    they cannot appease everyone, but they are TRYING–you see?? this is their way of showing us that they want everyone to attend, that there is no limit to their audience, and everyone needs to quit complaining about the other people who will be there (just punch them all in the face on your way to page or mike side) and put all your energy into preparing for freakin Bonnaroo!!!!!!


  14. Mrs. Miner Says:

    Sounds like a great festie, Miner! Let’s bring Little Miner along!

  15. HEADBAND25 Says:

    I attended the first Bonaroo with my former best friend who met his wife there. We had the time of our lives. I haven’t been back since because I thought it could never be as good. Well, I have now changed my mind. Whether or not I will go will be left up to the transition between Bushenomics to Obamenomics… Phish will absolutely destroy that place. I only wish they could make a tent big enough for them to play late night.

    Miner Miner Miner has done it again!!!

  16. AbePhroman Says:

    Bonnaroo sucks.

  17. Panda Says:


    Just one kids opinion………….

  18. waiting for full tour announcement Says:

    just to clarify: If people want to go to bonnaroo just to get wasted, thats fine. More power to them! But what HAS BEEN LOST is the RESPECT the scene once had for each other and fellow music lovers. I’ve seen some shit go down there that I’d rather not comment on. Scary shit that was mainly the result of people being stupid and having no clue. With the influx of such bands as Metallica and Kanye, it also brought with it people who could honestly care less about respecting others and the general scene we all know and love. I realize that was lat year, but bottom line is that this fest attracts music fans of all genres now, and not just the folks who know how to party responsibly. Just because I choose not to be a part of that again dosen’t mean that I think phish shouldn’t play there. Its just a personal decision.

    Also, I wasn’t calling anyone in particular insane for buying tickets for hampton from the asshole scalpers. It breaks my heart about how the whole hampton ticket mess was set up. There are many people who would be there in a second if they didn’t have to go broke to be there. Its a personal decision on my part not to reward these scalpers for essentially stealing tickets out of the hands of true die hard fans just to turn around and sell them back to us at insanely high prices. I’ve seen phish enough times to know that its just not worth the $300 ticket prices. I guess i’ve grown out of the whole “at any cost” mindset. Believe me, it kills me to know that I won’t be there because of a seriously flawed ticketing system that was obviously hacked to give regualr people a nil shot at actually getting tickets for a fair price. So if you choose to go the scalper route and buy those tickets, then excellent! have a good time. I just choose to stick to the principal of knowing that i didn’t support these A-hole scalpers. How does the band feel about this situation? I don’t think i’ve heard one official peep as to if/how they actually planned to uphold the “no scalping policy” or if they even care that 80% of the people who wanted to be there got shafted.

  19. empire Says:

    Birds of a Feather are flocking outside

  20. snigglebeach Says:

    All i know is I finally have a ticket to see Phish.

    Being able to easily get a ticket for bonaroo now makes me feel a lot better about the current ticket crunch.

    I feel when the 09 shows are finally announced it will still leave most of us in the cold. Red rocks?? Shoreline, 2 at Camden. those shows will be almost as hard to get as Hampton.

    If scalpers and ticketmaster think general admission seats are worth 300, what will they be asking for decent reserved seats.

    Bonnaroo allows informed phans like us a chance to beat the rush and not have to hit a lottery. (probably have a better shot at winning MegaBucks lottery, than u can afford to get raped by ticketmaster)

    and lastly, i always have loved the Phish festivals, as grueling as they can be, but the sound quality is always poor at best. Bonnaroo seems to have figured that part of it out, at least everything i have ever heard, and i expect the best sound from them i ever have heard at a festival.

  21. bowie_catapult_bowie Says:

    my comment is about the rumor mill, not about ‘roo (which will be awesome).

    you mention Camden, RR, and the now semi-substantiated Bonnarumors – but where’s the Gorge?

    my little birdies say it’s on – in fact it’s the only other venue that they confirmed besides the three you already covered.

    see you at Hampton,

  22. HSV 007 Says:

    Thank you Mr. Miner for a wonderful blog. Your hard work does not go unappreciated. As a long time phan (1st show 7.15.95 Lakewood) I am absolutly thrilled about the band playing together again. The rumors of rededication & hours spent in the rehersal hall can only lead to great things in 2009. I am very luck to have allocated tix for Hampton and the thought of additional summer dates in 2009 is very exciting (NOLA!). I can only wonder what 10.31.09 may look like…..(Dire Straits: Alchemy)!!!!

    I attended the roo in ’02, ’03, & ’04 with day passes in ’05 (I’m close by). I will fervently echo the sentiments found in previous posts: the first years were great (MMW, the Meters, Jon Cleary, etc…) but it has gone into a steady state of decline & despair. It is NOT the same scene we all remember so fondly; it is a completely different mindset with vastly different priorities & agendas. They are NOT there to hear the music. They are NOT there for a sense of community. There is NO common sense of respect. $10 bags of ice & $20 six packs are of no interest to me. Fights, robberies, rip-offs, intimidation….no thanks. Is this the place for a 2-nite run with 80k+ in attendence? Not in my opinion, but then again, I’m not in the band.

    I will NOT be attending the Roo this year even though Phish will be headlining. I sincerely hope they touch someones soul that weekend & enlighten an entirely new fan base. I will make my 2009 tour plans around some other southeastern venues that hold very special places in my heart. Thanks for coming back boys! Keep up the great work Mr.Miner.

    “And not until my dying day………confess what I have seen”

  23. Bobby Caplewood Says:

    Very well said sir. I am glad to read such passion. Have a great time at Hampton and touring the South……..Who knows we might cross paths along the way.
    And lets hope “The Boys” plan on burning down Atlanta this summer.!

  24. gills Says:

    i will beleive the roo hype when i see it. although minor is pretty good with the rumor mill.

  25. Mitch Says:

    *sorry about my typos earlier, I’m often on my iPhone.

    Anyway, I heard Rothbury got sold because they couldn’t afford the mortgage on the ranch. Anyone else hear this? I think that will make it hard for them to play that one.

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