Bonnaroo | 06.11 - 06.14 | Tennessee

Sunday :: 06.14

The final day was already upon us. Like that wise man once said, "Time flies when you're having fun," and I'd be shocked if I have more fun at a festival this year. Time also got sucked from my day, as I didn't arrive at the fest until Erykah Badu's set. I had wanted to start my day with Todd Snider or Dillinger Escape Plan but when it's the final day of the fest and you didn't actually hit the pillow till the sun was in the sky, well, an early start is no easy thing.

Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu :: Bonnaroo 2009 by Snyder
Considering Badu burned me at this past year's SXSW I wasn't particularly excited to give her more of my time. But, we had arrived late and apparently that paid off because in classic Badu style, the princess took the stage about 45-minutes after her scheduled slot (or so I was told). She may not care about being punctual, but when she actually is on stage singing with her band (check the bass!), it's pretty damn impressive. Wearing a Public Enemy sweatshirt (how she wasn't melting I'm not sure), Badu switched from future soul rock to mean hip-hop to a spaced-out combo of it all.

Merle Haggard

Feeling a bit haggard myself, it was definitely the right call to sit in the shade and dig on the legendary Merle Haggard for a bit. Busting out hits like "Mama Tried" (which made the many Deadheads shout their approval), Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" and the classic "Jackson" - equipped with a perfect June Carter-style female counter-point - Haggard and his crack band of country pickers and strummers, not to mention the strong sax, kept spirits high as we headed towards evening.

Band of Horses

Ben Bridwell - Band of Horses :: Bonnaroo 2009 by Snyder
Starting with "Monsters," this was a powerful set. With Snoop Dogg on the main stage, the crowd was thinner at BoH, but certainly still well attended, and it allowed us to get a good close spot for the emotionally-pregnant performance. Mixing in newer songs, that found even the keyboard player singing lead at one point, with staples like "Great Salt Lake" and the more recent "Is There A Ghost," Ben Bridwell and his Horses delivered a perfectly balanced set. During "Marry Song" I felt my collective energy take the much-needed positive swing towards night. It may have been 6:30 p.m., but I was finally starting to feel alive again, and it was fully due to Band of Horses' triumphant rock. After a stellar cover of Gram Parsons' "A Song For You," we had "Window Blues," the beautifully touching "No One's Gonna Love You," the serious rocker "Ode to LRC" and "Wicked Gil." Then, a thick bass crawled over the crowd. It was throbbing, pulling us closer and the most haunting, wonderful intro to "The Funeral" wrapped around the field. It was at this point that I shut myself off. I couldn't chat anymore and I just had to feel it. We all have connections to certain music for certain reasons - Band of Horses is a special band for me. They define a difficult stretch and remind me of people I love and have lost. Music is deeply personal, we all know that, and for some Band of Horses is one of the most emotionally powerful bands out there, and at Bonnaroo they crafted amazingly potent feelings, slowing time and wetting eyes.

Phish

Trey Anastasio - Phish :: Bonnaroo 2009 by Snyder
It was time for Phish's Bonnaroo closing performance. After being so impressed with Friday night's show, my own personal expectations were fairly high. Things started out well enough with "AC/DC Bag" > "NICU," but really took off during a meaty jam inside "Gotta Jibbo" and "Punch You In The Eye," with Trey even nailing the fancy Latin dance moves with Mike (not to mention the difficult guitar passages). The "Bathtub Gin" was huge, undeniably good with thick, chunky guitar explorations that seemed particularly adventurous. "Character Zero" > "Tweezer" (with a "Free" jam) was also impressive and then after a decent (though far from overwhelming) "Run Like An Antelope" shit just got crazy.

Trey started to tell a story about seeing a rock concert when he was a teenager back in Jersey. He explained how the concert was three hours of non-stop electricity and energy and then he welcomed out his childhood hero, Bruce Springsteen. To say the crowd went nuts would be an understatement. Talk about Jersey Pride! With The Boss center stage, they jumped into "Mustang Sally." It took a minute to get everyone on the same page, but as they let the song unfold Trey and Bruce hit a few wicked sections where their guitars wrapped around each other and pushed into piercing notes. There was also one hilarious moment where Bruce went to call for a keyboard solo but clearly didn't know Page's name and wound up saying, "Come on, Mr. Keyboard Player," we all laughed, as did Page. After "Mustang Sally" they went into the old Bruce track "Bobby Jean," which included a "Rift" tease as well as a bunch of fireworks lighting up the sky. The final song of the Bruce segment (and the set) was "Glory Days." It started slow and I couldn't help but say to those in my area, "Who woulda thunk you'd hear two 'Glory Days' at Bonnaroo?" Although not overwhelming at the start, they built "Glory Days" into a burner full of swirling guitars, with Bruce clearly impressed by Trey's finger-work. Watching them slay "Glory Days" I couldn't help but wonder if Bruce was thinking, "Man, I didn't know 'Glory Days' could be that kind of song!" This was one of those epic rock & roll moments that those who witnessed it will never forget. And it doesn't even really matter if you are Phish fan, a Springsteen fan or neither: this was a special moment and it was clear to anyone lucky enough to be a part of it.

Coming out of set break was a monster version of The Velvet Undergrounds "Rock & Roll" that showed serious teeth. We were also treated to a surprisingly strong "46 Days," a nice "Farmhouse" guitar solo and a set closing "First Tube" that brought things down in style. The encore of "Suzy Greenberg" > "Tweezer Reprise" was satisfying, and although some fans were looking for one more song to cap this epic weekend, sometimes enough is enough and it seemed clear from the sparkling eyes and shouts of joy that Phish pleased the masses.

And even if Phish wasn't your bag, Bonnaroo 2009 had something for any music fan, and with perfect weather and amicable crowds it's hard to imagine things going any better. Back at the tour buses, campsites and RVs, one could over hear cries of, "Best Bonnaroo Ever!" I would have to agree.

Bruce Springsteen with Phish :: Bonnaroo 2009 by Vann
Bruce Springsteen with Phish :: Bonnaroo 2009 by Vann
Bruce Springsteen with Phish :: Bonnaroo 2009 by Vann

Continue reading for lots more pics of Bonnaroo 2009...


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