[Recap/review of last night's Bonnaroo show is courtesy of Michael Ayers, user @yhgtbfkm. Note that there was no recap/review posted to the blog about Roo1's show, because no one attending the show volunteered to recap it, and there wasn't a webcast of it either, and we decided not to recap it based simply on the LivePhish recording. -Ed.]
Ahh, Bonnaroo. The perennial jam band festival that’s not really a jam band festival anymore.
I’ve had the pleasure of only attending Bonnaroo once, back in 2005. I saw a slew of amazing sets that weekend, including Benevento Russo Duo with Mike Gordon (a show you should definitely check out if you haven’t), Keller Williams, Jurassic 5 and Dave Matthews Band (laugh all you want, it was my first time seeing them and I really enjoyed it). That’s the nice part about festivals like this, it gives you the opportunity to see acts in the same place that you normally wouldn’t.
After the St Louis shows, I texted a good friend of mine who was on the fence about driving up to Camden to see them. I said, “Dude, I might be biased, but they are already playing lights out. You can’t miss seeing them in Camden.” I thought both nights in St Louis were spectacular. I will admit, the second night in particular will always be near and dear to my heart because of what transpired during the setbreak and how set two started out. I felt like there was little rust in the St. Louis shows (which you sometimes can’t say for tour openers), which made me both excited for the two nights at Bonnaroo and disappointed that I was not attending them.
So what will the boys have in store for us for Sunday down in Manchester? Will they bust out something they haven’t played in years (looking at you, "Free Bird")? Will Bo Bice and Trey share the stage again? (Spoiler alert: they did not, thank god.) Everyone is familiar with the old adage “Never Miss A Sunday Show,” would that apply to tonight as well? Let’s find out.
The band comes out on stage just a touch after 8:30pm CST and Trey, looking like he just stepped off of a yacht, starts us off with “Set Your Soul Free.” Right away, the band is locked in, with Trey shining in particular. Next up is “Blaze On,” allowing Page to strut his stuff on the keys. The song gently rolls into a beautiful jam before picking up steam to finish us off. Trey steps up to the mic and informs the crowd that he’s gonna slow it down so everyone can catch their breath and get the message. My heart briefly skips a beat as I think they’re about to play “Icculus," but instead Trey kicks off “Death Don’t Hurt Very Long.” I was fortunate to see the Kasvot Vaxt set in Vegas, and I’m glad to see these songs continue to be in the rotation.
1.0 makes its first appearance next, and it’s the song that got me into Phish, "Reba" (11/27/98 to be exact). It's excellent, with a solid composed section and a wonderful jam that contains some excellent playing by Page on the Rhodes and more lights out playing by Trey. The jam is over before we know it, and Trey kicks off “Free.” While this version doesn't break any new ground, the trend of solid playing by the band continues. “Sand” is paired nicely with “Wolfman’s Brother” next. Neither song will make anyone’s top 10 list, but they are well played and full of energy. The set closes with a standard version of “Cavern,” complete with flubbed lyrics by Trey.
Set break affords me some time to gather my thoughts, grab a fresh drink, and pay some much needed attention to my puppy dog, who hasn’t been able to figure out why I’m staring intently at the TV and throwing her tennis ball around the house.
Set II kicks off with a short but sweet “Mike’s Song,” which is then followed up by…”Fluffhead?” I have to say, of all of the songs they’ve segued into out of “Mike’s Song,” I was not expecting “Fluffhead,” but I will gladly take it. Some minor flubs aside towards the end of the song and some...interesting...singing by Fishman, “Fluffhead” is well played and the band jumps into “Twist.” At about the 12 minute mark, we segue into “Weekapaug Groove” and then almost immediately segue into “No Men In No Man’s Land” and then almost immediately after that segue back into "Weekapaug Groove" before finally winding up back in “Twist.” Both "Weekapaug Groove" and "NMINML" probably set their respective records for shortest versions played, but it was a fun little segment that’s worth checking out.
In honor of Father’s Day, the band starts up “Fuego” while providing a little extra oomph to the lyrics “World’s Greatest Dad.” “Fuego” holds a special place in my heart, as it was the favorite Phish song of a dear friend who died of cancer several years ago, and every time I hear it I’m reminded of the smile on her face when they played it at the one show she was able to attend.
“Ghost” and “Bathtub Gin” round out our set, and while they feel slightly out of place, both are well played and a fine way to end the set.
“Wilson” and “First Tube” are the encore, and with that the band leaves the stage and heads for north of the border. A wonderful end to a spectacular show.
So overall I thought this was a wonderful show. Sure, the song selection isn’t going to blow you away, and there were no epic jams to speak of, but considering the venue and the place in the tour, I thought the playing was top notch. I’ve got six (6) more shows on the calendar for this summer, and I cannot wait to see how the rest of the tour turns out!
I want to end this recap with a thank you to everyone. Thanks to the gracious folks at Phish.net for allowing me the opportunity to recap this show for you, thank you to The Mockingbird Foundation for continuing to donate to music programs across the country and most importantly, thank you to all of you. Every day there are articles in the news about horrible things happening throughout this world, and I’m so thankful to be part of a community of awesome and welcoming people such as yourselves. I’ve met so many wonderful people at Phish shows throughout the years, and I look forward to meeting many more of you on the road this summer and beyond. Godspeed, you crazy kids.
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What do you mean 'song selection isn't going to blow you away'?!?!? A majority of the show was fan favorite songs, with 13 songs from 1.0 alone.
These reviews should be done by people who can actually paint what it was like to be there, not just list the songs and and some descriptions.
Not hating. Just an observation. This show was much stronger in context than you gave it credit for.
Ghost into Gin is similarly patient, purposeful and lovely.
Also it's worth noting that the entire "Week -> No Men's -> Week -> Twist" segment unfolds over only 9 minutes, with segues so butter it's basically all a seamless flow. Earning those "-" hyphens for sure.
Not bad for a festival show. :-)
So there we have it. Two opposite yet equally innocuous recap styles...so far
I would have totally, and professionally, reviewed Friday's show, as I was in attendance DFC in front of the soundboard on the rail. I'm also a published writer.
But nobody asked.
Still waiting . . .