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.”


82 Responses to “Phish at Bonnaroo”

  1. Phish has only been part of my life sence 93′ , and righ know with whats else is out there i’ll take phish where ever i can get them. But, I must agree with my zack , i like my phish plain with out a lot of extras. People seem to get lost in all the insainty and forget to laugh and laugh and fall apart………….

  2. Bonnaroo used to be all that and more. What happened? I’ll believe all the hype when i see it published by the band with the rest of their tour. You would think as much as we’ve all seen Phish we would know this by now.

  3. FUCK BONNAROO, i dont wanna see phish with kanye metallica weezy and fucking other bullshit, heady broo folk and phish and bruce springsteen shoot me now


    I’m not going because I don’t wanna spend the money and I’d rather see them on tour hopefully. That being said…Phish will always sell out shows where ever they play. Nobody really knows there motives for playing Roo. I’m sure they’ll make some money but I don’t think any of them are hurting financially. I know they’ve all played there before with their own projects. Trey’s played there like 6 or 7 times. I think it’ s good that a festival which used to be the premier jam fest has a band like Phish headlining. We should wait to question their “soul” until we hear them play again in March. They’ll do their own fest again when they’re ready. QUIT BITCHING!

  5. waiting for full tour announcement Says:

    there is a difference between “bitching” and stating one’s opinion. Sometimes opinions might not match your own views and that is what creates diversity. Just as another person’s opinion might be viewed as bitching, the same goes for telling people to stop “bitching”, which i personally see as a form of bitching…if that makes any sense.

  6. Here are my two cents: If anyone of you was at IT or any of the other Phish Festivals (Excluding Coventry, because there are some other issues involved with Coventry that I’m going to pass on), then you MUST remember those solemn silences during songs like Reba or Pebbles and Marbles>You Enjoy Myself — 80,000 people and you could hear a pin drop. Why? Because Phish phans love the music so much, they are there to listen to every note that comes out of those four people on stage. And while I respect the band’s decision to play wherever they want, and love the fact that they would want to be part of the bigger music community; Bonnaroo has somewhat astray from those values.
    The first two Bonnaroos embraced the spirit of community and of music as a vehicle to connect people from diffrent musical background while mantaining a common thread: music that unites, that has intrinsic and universal values and is uncommercial and independent. If you have taken a look at the lineups for the past two years that hasn’t necessarily been the case.
    I’m not questioning the band or their reasons. I’m questioning whether I think it would be a good idea for ME to go see them in that context. They will tear it up no matter what. I just don’t know if I want to see them while a drunk 16-year-old who hasn’t learned some important life lessons yet keeps me from hearing Trey’s sweet whispers during Bryan and Robert, or Page’s sweet piano licks during Wading in the Velvet Sea, or Mike’s sick bass lines on Free or Fishman’s high notes during Sleeping Monkey…

  7. merry christmas!!

  8. I couldn’t agree with you more. To all you self ricious Phans who don’t want to see Phish at the Roo…good, don’t go, don’t waste our time with your negative vibes. Phish is one of the most solid, intellegent, and awesome bands to grace the last couple of generations…add that to any scene, especially a great fest like the Roo and you got a garunteed great time. I flew from Ft. Lauderdale, waited in a line for 36hrs, and then got turned around at Coventry. I also had 12 people try to get me a ticket to Hampton…and nothing. When the rumor came that Phish may be at Roo I lost my shit..I hope the come and rock it out.

  9. I don’t understand the desire for a revitalized Bonnaroo. Bonnaroo is a corporate beast that needs to be put to sleep. Maybe the reason it has been suffering the last couple years is that it is no longer a quality experience. It seems most of the support isn’t coming from the community, but from everyone who gets a piece of the pie. Promoters, record labels, management companies, agencies, and corporate sponsors to name some. I don’t really blame the bands though. Bands seem to be getting a great deal here. The opportunity to come together with a lot of other great musicians and collaborate seems like a blast. Not to mention bands typically rake in 5-10 times the cash for big festivals than what they would make on an average night. Sounds good from a band perspective. However, Bonnaroo does not have a positive reputation. The overall mismanagement of the festival and highly questionable lineups with total lack of cohesiveness could have something to do with that. It does make sense to me why the individual members of Phish would play there with their respective acts while Phish is on hiatus. It’s a paycheck and exposure for their new stuff. It doesn’t seem to offend most Phish fans. Bonnaroo is not a Phish environment. A Phish environment is a place with like-minded people sharing in the groove, surrendering to the flow, and understanding why they’re there. THE MUSIC!!! With a fanbase like Phish’s, it’s hard to understand Phish would play in a non-Phish environment. It is just so much better in a Phish environment. If Phish had learned anything from the late great Frank Zappa, it’s that commercialism does not belong in music.

  10. Kudos! I just think that was a superb blog post. I myself am a huge phish phan like i am sure everyone else on her is, and i stand at if your a fan then you are a fan. Yes i love that phish historically is a quiet music mega monster who stray away form the spotlight and stick to the roots, that is how it should be. But this is the band that changed my musical endeavour and made me understand what music really is. Every chance i get i want to play a phish song for someone to introduce them to what genuine music is, thats why i think it is awsome that phish will gain a whole new audience. All and all i think if you like phish and are a fan then be a fan dont judge their choices and complain or protest support thats what a fan should do.

  11. Its unfortunate what is going on with commercialism in the music scene. Roo started out as a good thing for music and has become this commercial mess. Many of the cheesy commerce bands pushed out the genuine musicians. An example is Metallica, which has become a pop throwaway crap band, with no place next to great true musicians like Nickel Creek or Ben Harper. I love Phish, but I will not defend them if they enter into music festivals where the tru intention is to make money and loads of it.

  12. I aslo have to say that I am incredibly disappointedwith the whole Hampton mess. I feel somewhat abandoned considering I had n real chance to get tickets and the there are thousands of rea Phish fans that feel the same way, what is most disaapointing is that the band has made no public statement about why they chose such a small venue and pretty much gave scalpers all the power in getting the tickets nad not the band’s real fanbase. it sort of breaks my heart that after seeing the band 52 times in con cert that in cant go to Hampton beacuse the tickets cost 500 bucks a night and it seems like the band really doesn’t give a shit, and thats a real shame on them

  13. People hating about HAMPTON: STOP IT

    How can you feel left out like that band doesn’t give a shit about you. There are only so many seats in a venue and many more shows to be played. You can’t see them all, and if you really wanted to you could’ve gotten them or keep trying. They chose a coloseum, not a small theatre or something. Would you hate football if you couldn’t get super tickets…..yeah right. As for bonaroo I understand the dislike. However it makes so much sense. A lot of the problem before was that they were just too big and it was a distraction. Sure they could easily throw their own festival….but do you really want them to attempt such a feat off the back and fuck it all up….absolutely not. They are taking it slow and safe… the article said they have to planning or preparation for this…they simply get to come in and rock the fucking house…..and even if they don’t people will still have a great time and this relieves them of a large portion of the pressure. As always I’d take big reds noodling over half the other shit anyday anways…..and you know they’re gonna have atleast a couple bombdiggity moments guarants.

    Another tidbit….I have heard from friends high up in verizon………….PHISH DEER CREEK MAY 09!!!!!!!!

    This could be false because it is early and they never play deer creek in may but I know they love that place and I am hoping for the best.

  14. Deer Creek = Me Totally Peeing Myself.

  15. hey just trying to keep this blog going strong anticapting a fall tour again down the raod or summer better yet…dry months.. hard er to find some., tickets. or camping make it tough er on us who didin’t get that car or college Grant to play sports.. so BOnoroo sounds controlled ,Big crowd goers.and less to dowiht the abnd name all aspects.sounds right cause weree have they been in when no t tin the spotlight so BIG..just listen to your hearts i ask them surpirse yourself..they could play all night again down near Cypress and still impress some folks down there>>its got to big and its got to be Phish..and all us..together better weather..and some new songs matereial;a plus in anyones book!@get out of this place and back here is the hard part. .yet givena place to paly why dont’ we all play there>>FOOL!ought a.. growLl when you see ME!!!AT TheS HOW..j1-0 -1nw

  16. I totally agree with you on Phish playing Bonaroo. Your insight is wise. You are right that there will be a whole new generation of Phish heads having fallen in love with them during the break-up. I have a buddy who I turned onto Phish and I am s glad I will be able to fulfill my promise to him that I would take him to a show if they ever came back.

    Considering the history of the band in the final years, they should try some different stuff. They’re gonna kill at that festival and prove themselves to so many who wouldn’t have given them the respect they deserve. I think this is gonna be great, and I think part of it will be Phish continuing to do what they want. That’s how it should be.

  17. contact420 Says:

    In the economic times we live in at present it makes much more sense than putting on a festival. Remember that touring bands need to build up steam buy touring extensively. They’re not going to sell out every show on the tour like they were doing before the first break. Remember what happened when they came back, after the winter tour it lost a lot of luster and shows were not selling out anymore. It’s gonna take a few years before they throw their own festival, fiscally it doesn’t make good business sense. Be patient, if they come back in the way we’d/they hope to, all will work it self out, now is a time for patience and restraint, let’s see what they have to offer before you go see every show of every tour.

  18. My opinion on the whole matter is that Bonnaroo is nothing but a big business venture for investors.
    When I attended, we were treated like criminals as we waited in line to be searched before entering the gates. Security was over bearing and intrusive. I’m not even going to go into details on how they were hell bent on finding the “contra band” in which they were so overly confident that everyone was carrying in their vehicles.
    Advertisement is fine in small doses but its disgusting when its rammed down your throat and plastered all over the festival grounds. Bonnaroo is not intimate in any sense. It’s about money and that contradicts artistic integrity. I will still go see phish whenever I get the chance, but it won’t be at Bonnaroo… I don’t care what the setlist is or how hard they tear it up.
    Festivals like Bonnaroo are insulting to attend, besides the fact that it is over priced and commericialized.
    I am saddened that phish feels they need to be a part of such a mess. But oh well, this is just my humble opinion and it really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things…..

  19. Yea I remember that post-hiatus summer tour… tickets were everywhere. People were dropping them on the ground on the way into the shows because they literally could not give them away.

    I don’t see the big deal with Bonnaroo. I guess since I don’t plan on going to Bonnaroo- Phish or not- I don’t harbor any strong feelings about it either way. The thought of a summer festival with several stages and on-site camping never appealed to me. I agree with the post about spending loads of money to be hot and miserable… I’m too old for that mess. I don’t even go to ACL Fest anymore here in Austin (15 minutes from my house) because it’s too expensive, too crowded, on top of being ridiculously hot (this year being the lone exception but I have no regrets about not going).

    Maybe I’m too old and cynical for all this dreamy talk of Phish scene utopia, too. Maybe it was that way pre-95 when it was a much smaller crowd (my first show was Hampton ’95) but it has been a dog eat dog world out in that parking lot for as long as I’ve known it. Sure there are some nice folks, passionate fans, and semi-responsible people in bunches but the hell if there haven’t been sketchballs, shysters, and flat out disrespectful jerks by the hundreds at every Phish show I’ve ever been to. I imagine Bonnaroo’s scene could be much worse but it’s too damn hot (with no shade, I hear) in Tennessee that time of year for me to worry about it.

  20. jamie used to be skeens are u out there. I seen a “my two cents” and automatically thought of you, just like i always have. hit me back my e-mail is my full name minus the reece j—sl– please send me someting we spent so much time together and i REALLY need to talk to you. Love always and forever-hope to see you at some shows this summer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love Ya’

  21. Mr. Miner!

    My name is Evan. U know what is real man. I couldn’t have described my thoughts on Phish playing Bonnaroo better than u did. I got my ticket already, but a bunch of my phriends are booing down the idea. So, at this point I am on my own. I would love to meet u rock that phish show with u if I dont find a partner. Email me at this address or call or text me at 219-921-4739. No pressure, I am just lookin for an experienced phishhead to rock the roo with. Let me know.


  22. I was just thinking, and i don’ t know if any one else said this, but, I figure if enough phans show up, the phanbase will dominate and maybe educate the “not so chill” crowd everyone is saying frequents bonnaroo. I’ve never been, but i’ve been going to phish shows, and thier huge festivals since 94′. So i will be at bonnaroo to represent phish phans and teach some kids how to party! 🙂 So come and join me!

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