Bonnaroo Music Festival :: 06.10 - 06.12 :: Manchester, TN

Bonnaroo 2005 by Jeremy Jones
Over the course of the past four years, Bonnaroo has established itself as THE American Music Festival. For those who crave audio diversity, there is no place on U.S. soil that can compare. Amongst the myriad of amazing Bonnaroo qualities, perhaps the most important and single most amazing aspect is the diversity. With two main stages, three big tents, and several other smaller venues, Bonnaroo offers an unbelievable array of music. But what is even more impressive than the layout, sound quality, and overall bad-ass production is the bands that are chosen.

Fans from the Jam School had the option to follow their favorites from The Allman Brothers to Tea Leaf Green, Assembly of Dust to YMSB, Particle to STS9, and Keller Williams to up-and-coming torchbearers Umphrey's McGee. For those who are all about The Rock, Bonnaroo offered Widespread Panic, The Black Crowes, Gov't Mule, Heartless Bastards, and Drive-By Truckers. Those who dig the singer/songwriter vibe could saddle up to Ray LaMontagne, Iron & Wine, John Prine, M. Ward, and Amos Lee. Hip-hop was certainly in the house with De La Soul, J5, The Perceptionists, RJD2, DJ Krush, Saul Williams, and Matisyahu. The ever-expanding world of Indie Rock was represented with Modest Mouse, Secret Machines, Dr. Dog, and Lake Trout. The Word regrouped, Trey was there (kinda), Herbie Hancock, Dave Matthews, Alison Krauss, Earl Scruggs, My Morning Jacket, Karl D, Galactic, The Duo, and then of course there was The Mars Volta. Based solely on Bonnaroo's ability to know which bands to tap for what time of night (or day), we find that this festival is clearly a notch above every other fest of the summer. The bottom line is that a music festival is about THE MUSIC, and put simply, Bonnaroo always offers the most diverse and important musicians who excel in the live arena.

Warren Haynes with the Allman Brothers :: Bonnaroo 2005
By Jeremy Jones
It seems clear that with so many options and so many choices, each and every one of the 77,000 Bonnaroo attendees had their own personal Bonnaroo experience. There's no way to cover it all, and trying to (as we've done in the past and will likely do in the future) is just daunting! That said, we offer you Dennis Cook and Kayceman's overview along with a slew of "moments" we're calling Top 3 From The 'Roo which we've culled from some of our favorite artists, managers, photographers, Superfly employees, and fans. So come on along and relive the glory. We love Bonnaroo, and we hope you do too.

-By Dennis Cook

Bonnaroo 2005 by Jeremy Jones
The official start of the festival was Friday, but by Thursday afternoon thousands were already stripped down to shorts and bikini tops. The gates were just opening, and the sun shined like a slow-moving bruise - reddish late-day sun giving way to blue-black clouds. The Tennessee soil wasn't yet the mud wallow it would become by the next day, and everywhere you turned, someone grinned at you. One was reminded of David Crosby's sage lyric, "If you smile at me, I will understand because that is something everybody does in the same language." Inhibitions and worries were left outside the chain-link fence as we set up tents and tarps and drank the first shots of the weekend.

Bela Fleck Acoustic Trio :: Bonnaroo 2005 by Jeremy Jones
The initial musical offerings would commence at nightfall, but amongst the nostril-flaring scent of straw, strong herb, and dense farm earth, you could pick up another spirit – an unmistakable hunger for experience. The folks who'd come from every corner of the country were ready to color outside the lines in fresh tones from a metaphorical 64-pack of Crayons. Free from our day-to-day routines, we spoke with our neighbors – something many of us never do at home – shared our food and party supplies, and generally began carving out a lil' utopia for music-obsessed freaks. If goodwill can be brewed in a lab, the organizers and attendees of Bonnaroo may have stumbled across an early formula.

An Evocative Landscape

Bonnaroo 2005 by Jeremy Jones
This is a monumental production - something dreamed large in an age of increasing miniaturization. We're so used to smallness, workaday ordinariness, that when we enter into a space this vast, yet still enclosed and safe, it triggers a lot of thoughts. Akin to a skyscraper or suspension bridge in complexity and construction, the sheer physical scale of Bonnaroo dwarfs just about anything else out there. That it's built around music-makers and other dreamers of dreams just makes it resonate on even more levels. You could see the sense of wonder and even awe on people's faces. It stunned many into a quiet thoughtfulness as they passed from stage to stage. The space itself fuels the musical and emotional epiphanies that abound each day.

The Blanket Of Nightfall

Brazilian Girls :: Bonnaroo 2005
By Jeremy Jones
The tone of things shifted later in the day. The late night sets reflected that creeping darkness and a deeper embrace of mystery. The wild things came out to play, chasing the sunrise with a gusto you don't often see back home. Thursday night kicked off with Rose Hill Drive putting their weathered boots into classic rock's ass and makin' it yelp. They stacked their own material up against Black Sabbath ("Fairies Wear Boots") and Led Zeppelin ("The Immigrant Song") and could walk away with their heads held high. That kind of balls-out delivery was echoed by nearly all the late night sets – a thrilling mix of confidence and daring set design that kept one up and elated way past their normal bedtime. From the epic performance from The Mars Volta to the catchy-abrasive inspired turn from Secret Machines, the wee hour programming provided some of the best times to be had at this year's 'Roo. Being active and awake helped shift everyone, artists included, a few degrees left of center. It made thousands throw a hand in the air at De La Soul, where a dizzying amount of ladies accepted the group's invitation to join them on stage during the finale to shake what their mamas gave them. And if the main stages didn't get you, there were burlesque shows and gentle singer-songwriters tucked into various corners of Centeroo, not to mention the booty-activating arcade/disco tent, where DJ's like Motion Potion chased sunrise in their own way including blindingly original mixes like Widespread's "Please" layered with Deee-Lite's "Groove Is In The Heart." Even if the incessant rain or general clamor was getting to you, it didn't take long to find something that totally engaged your senses, if only the carnival of oddities that people-watching afforded.

Being Present

Mike Gordon and Marco Benevento - Bonnaroo by Jeremy Jones
Knowing we were going nowhere for days, most of the assembled settled into the here-and-now in a fashion foreign to our daily lives. While still tied to the outside world through sporadically-functioning cell phones and the occasional wireless internet connection for the backstage folks, there was the tangible sense of a population really living "right here, right now." Despite the ephemeral nature of this event, it imprints itself on our memory in profound ways. Back at our jobs, nestled in our familiarity, we don't embrace the present tense often enough. Our thoughts are on the next bill to pay or the obligations we've yet to fulfill. Out under open skies in Manchester, we run toward the unfolding moment with open arms. We savor the now, sucking the marrow out of life a little more vigorously. We're open to whatever might happen, maybe because so much in this environment is out of our control (the weather, the schedule, etc.). We surrender to the sense of discovery that is offered to us. This is why we return to our regular lives bubbling over with enthusiasm for what we've been a part of. It lives on because it makes us live a little more brightly.

Make sure to click "Continue Reading" for Kayceman's Proving Ground...

And don't forget to check out Dave Vann's View From Bonnaroo for more images.

-By Kayceman

Jim James - My Morning Jacket (left) :: John Bell - Widespread Panic (right)
Bonnaroo 2005 by Jeremy Jones
Regardless of how big a band is or how long they've been doing it, Bonnaroo is the pinnacle of the summer. Every performance could be the biggest of one's career, every note could possibly be heard by 80,000 and thus, every band marinates in the pressure and hopefully rises to the task.

DBT and The Duo

Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers :: Bonnaroo 2005
By Jeremy Jones
On Friday afternoon, the Drive-By Truckers certainly stepped it up while serving as the unofficial slip-in for Bonnaroo. Tennessee Whiskey on stage and in the crowd gave everybody strength as the Truckers continued to blaze their legacy as the most genuine, honest, and unforgiving rock band in America. The next mouth-open moment came from the Benevento/Russo Duo featuring Mike Gordon. The dicey instrumental version of Phish's "Foam" might have been the highlight of the set, but it could have also come in second to the crowd singing the lyrical portion of "Mike's Song" following Gordo's announcement that this would be the last Duo show with him on bass.

The Freaks Come Out at Night: The Mars Volta

The Mars Volta :: Bonnaroo 2005
By Jeremy Jones
By far the most eclectic, and perhaps the most highly anticipated set of Bonnaroo came late Friday night with The Mars Volta. Dark eyes met dark music as The Volta blew up Bonnaroo. Almost as much fun to watch as the band were the expressions on the faces as some inched closer to the stage, drawn to the fire like a bug, and others left searching for sanity with their fingers in their ears. Obviously way too much for many, like their albums, you are either in or you are out with The Mars Volta. There is no middle ground. You can't sit to the side and "check out" the band. You either give yourself one-hundred percent to the onslaught of punked-out, rocked-up freakiness, or you leave immediately. It's all or nothing with The Mars Volta, and having the pleasure of a late night lobotomy session with them at two in the morning on the first night of Bonnaroo would prove hard, if not impossible to beat.

The Soul of Bonnaroo: My Morning Jacket

My Morning Jacket :: Bonnaroo 2005 by Jeremy Jones
My Morning Jacket has somehow managed to become engrained in the fabric of Bonnaroo. One would be hard-pressed to imagine Bonnaroo without these rockers from Louisville, Kentucky. Led by the haunting vocals and inspired guitar work of Jim James, MMJ again captured the crowd and embodied the soul of Bonnaroo. Emotionally-charged versions of "Golden," "Mahgeetah," "One Big Holiday," and "Bermuda Highway" mixed with songs that will appear on the band's highly-anticipated follow-up to 2003's It Still Moves. With a Sunday afternoon slot, sharing the stage with an array of twelve-foot animals, a conductor, and his bandmates, James drove the band through a weekend-stopping set of music that proved to be the one and only stimulant capable of bringing the masses back from two nights of non-stop fun and sleep deprivation.

The Gracious Host: Widespread Panic

Dave Schools - WSP Bonnaroo 2005 by Jeremy Jones
Who else but Widespread Panic could be called upon again to anchor Bonnaroo with two headlining gigs (as they did in 2002)? Welcoming a slew of special guest for both evenings, Panic was absolutely the host of Bonnaroo. Whether it was the more standard, two-set meltdown with Warren Haynes getting in on "Guilded Splinters" and "Maggot Brain" on Saturday or the all-star, come-one-come-all, non-stop, three-and-a-half hour campfire party to close out the fest, WSP again proved to be the class act, professional band that can. From the Sunday set opener "Space Wrangler" to the set closing (no encore) "Red Hot Mama," Panic welcomed Bob Weir, Herbie Hancock, Luther and Cody Dickinson, Derrick Freeman, Col. Bruce Hampton, and Robert Randolph to join in the fun. If you could play, you could sit in - a most gracious host indeed.

And Then There Was Trey

Bonnaroo 2005 by Jeremy Jones
Perhaps the most important responsibility that the press has is to expose the truth and keep those with the power in check. While clearly not as critical to public safety and the development of a healthy society, music journalists - like news journalists - have to be honest and hold those in power accountable for their actions. There was a day when Trey Anastasio was the leader of the Jam Scene. Without question his band Phish dictated policy for years. It's with all this in mind that the words are that much harder to muster. I had considered not even mentioning Trey's late night set at Bonnaroo, but to say nothing would be negating the responsibility of the press.

The rumor mill is working overtime trying to figure out what has happened to Trey. Regardless of how or why, Trey has rubbed up against hard times. First he pulls the plug on Phish insinuating something about not wanting to become a caricature of himself, not wanting to be a novelty act, and desiring a new musical path. Then his Zooma Tour is cancelled for lack of sales. Then there was Bonnaroo. Billed as a "Special Late Night Show," the only thing special about it was how incredibly poor and unsatisfying it was. Having left a hot Secret Machines set to see Trey's "old man review" was, for lack of a better word, sad.

Perhaps the most confusing aspect of all this is the motivation. To see a band shoot for the stars and fall on their face is far more appealing than watching an incredibly talented musician flounder aimlessly. Seeing him play more covers than originals, one has to question the whole nostalgia act argument. Why leave Phish in fear of novelty to run through mailed-in versions of other people's songs? Top this off with an appearance by American Idol's runner-up Bo Bice, and it becomes impossible for the press to not call out one of the world's greatest guitarists. One does not travel to Bonnaroo to watch Bo Bice. This is in fact the exact opposite reason why 80,000 flock to Manchester. Bonnaroo is a way to escape the homogenization and commodification of our musical world. It's a place where creativity and originality are revered. Please leave American Idol out of it.

Lets be realistic and have some perspective on all this as well. While it's true that Trey's set was even more disappointing than expected, it is also necessary to view this situation with a bit of distance. Trey is clearly in a transitional period of his life/career. Break-ups and transitions are always difficult; Trey just has the good fortune to be doing this in front of a live audience. When life pulls us down most of us can hide on the couch, in the bar, or on the corner. Trey is a public figure he is not afforded such luxuries. Whether or not he should be opening the floodgates and headlining high profile events such as Saturday Late Night at Bonnaroo is an entirely different discussion, one that seems to have answered itself. But Trey was only one act amongst a plethora of amazing shows, if you're gonna let one set ruin your good time, well, then that's your fault.

Bonnaroo: A State of Mind
There were too many amazing, transcendent shows at Bonnaroo to list them all, so what we've done is compiled a list of "moments" from various sources known as the Top 3 From The 'Roo. So please keep on reading, and we'll see y'all soon. While it's true we have a whole year before our next 'Roo, Bonnaroo is really a state of mind - a place where inspiration drips from amplifiers and friendly faces mix with improvisational moments of brilliance. Bonnaroo is a music junkie's fix, and some of us live there permanently, constantly chasing our passions and filling our soul with the music that moves us.

Make sure to click "Continue Reading" for Top 3 From The 'Roo...


Kerry Black: Superfly

Bonnaroo 2005 by Rie Kasahara
1) The entire Mars Volta set.

2) John Prine's comments during "Your Flag Decal Won't Get you Into Heaven Anymore," 'This song has been in retirement for 25 years... I took it out of retirement at the special request of the President of the United States. It wasn't a formal request, but believe me, he's asking for it.'

3) A packed house going nuts for Game 1 of the NBA Finals in the Cinema Tent.

Jim James: My Morning Jacket - Guitar/Vocals

Jim James at Bonnaroo by J. Jones
1) De La Soul. They tore the roof off That Tent at 3 in tha mornin'. We were primed for dancin' and everybody went ape-shit. It was so positive too, the message and attitude that was pouring out of them: love yourself, respect yourself. It was pretty special.

2) The silent disco. This was truly a marvel in scientific dancing madness. The only problem was the headphones didn't get loud enough and they needed more dance/hip-hop hits. Other than that it was awesome!!

3) John Prine. John Prine is one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Everyone I know, along with myself, had chills the entire time. It was so awesome to watch him triumph and feel the crowd love every minute. The new songs sounded great and right in place with all the classics.

Silent Disco by J. Jones
Bo Koster: My Morning Jacket - Keyboards

1) The Silent Disco

2) Joanna Newsome

3) The Black Crowes

Marco Benevento: Benevento/Russo Duo - Keyboards

Marco Benevento at Bonnaroo by J. Jones
1) Secret Machines rocked my world with there approach to some cover tunes and there lights were mesmerizing.

2) Iron and Wine's tunes mellow me out and that's always nice amongst 80,000 people to have something or somewhere to go and chill and listen to some slow pensive songs.

3) Modest Mouse...god I fuckin' love this band! First time seeing them live too, I look forward to seeing them again soon.

Marc Allan: Benevento/Russo Duo - Manager

Joe Russo & Shirt
Bonnaroo '05
There were so many moments, from the Masquerade Jam to the Secret Machines psychedelic wash out to Joanna Newsome's winsome voice to the Dozen blowing it out at Galactic's Crewe de Carnival to Marco Benevento's call-out to the acid freaks of the 'Roo from the Sonic Stage, but my top 3 have to be:

1) Tie. In particular, the opening notes of "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" (Prince song) being played by My Morning Jacket... it brought a smile on my face that still hasn't left. In general, the way that MMJ has the innate ability to create weather when they take the stage at outdoor festivals. I've seen it too often to doubt it.

1) Tie. Seeing The Word one more time and feeling the hair on my arms stand up and goosebumps run across my body while Luther [Dickinson] and Robert [Randolph] slid to the heavens during a signature version of "I'll Fly Away."

3) BONNARUSSO [T-shirt]. The fact that some kid was out there selling that shirt had me on the floor laughing on Sunday night, but if you were at any of the three Duo performances at 'Roo this year, it makes a little more sense why a shirt like this would be out there. His drumming on "My Pet Goat" is inhuman.

Annabel Lukins: Sonic Stage Manager – Bonnaroo / Marketing Director – Jam Cruise

Annabel & G. McConnell Bonnaroo 2005
1) Toots' rare and intimate solo acoustic performance at the Sonic Stage.

2) Dancing harder than I had in so long to Widespread Panic both nights realizing that George McConnell is a bad ass.

3) Being in the middle of Centeroo with some close friends at midnight seeing the lights from Trey in one corner, hearing faint funk rifts of Karl D in another, gravitating toward the mysteriously powerful Secret Machines, grateful to experience brand new music... all of us reminding each other that there isn't anything like Bonnaroo and we continue to be changed by the experience and grow spiritually year after year.

Matisyahu by J. Jones
Jason Colton: Mike Gordon - Manager

1) Citizen Cope

2) Iron & Wine

3) Matisyahu

J. Bau: Gov't Mule - Manager

Crowd at De La Soul
Bonnaroo '05 by Josh Miller
1) My Morning Jacket: Last year's rain soaked MMJ set has not left my iPod for the past 12 months. With the bar set so high and the band not having played much this year, I truthfully did not expect them to turn in the performance of the weekend (again). Musically, they were locked into each other and on fire. Their choice of covers were absolutely spectacular. They reworked Dylan's "Tonight, I'll Be Staying Here With You" to make it sound like it had come directly from the mind of Jim James. And, their version of Prince's "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man" was pure smile-inducing goodness. Visually, the addition of a dude in tails and a Mozart looking wig "conducting" the band made me chuckle. Like the band itself, something so simple made a significant difference, in this case, visually. Speaking of which, I have to mention the enormous puppets which came out one by one at the beginning of each song and, somehow, blended in and added a texture of surreality. Somehow, mixed in with the shredding guitars, flying manes of hair, and a conductor, a bunch of oversized puppets made perfect sense.

2) De La Soul. Late night party music at its best. I first saw De La 16 years ago in NYC when they played one of their very first (if not the first) shows opening for Living Colour. What struck me about this show was how tight they were. Pos and Dave each lyrically bobbed and weaved in and out of the others' lines and hit their marks HARD. I had so much fun hearing those songs again, many of which I hadn't heard in a decade. Their 90 minute set flew by like it was only 10 minutes long.

3) Tea Leaf Green. Clearly the breakout performance of the fest. These guys had a hell of a crowd for 1 p.m. on a Saturday. I love the combination of the soulful piano and lyrics with the nasty guitar. It was nice to see people GROOVING to a rock band again. I look forward to their set next year.

Bob Weir - RatDog
Bonnaroo '05 by Dave Vann
Dennis McNally: RatDog - Manager

1) Bob Weir & RatDog, Sunday

2) The Word, Sunday

3) Keller Williams at Sonic Stage, Saturday

Herbie on keytar by Jones
Joel Cummins: Umphrey's McGee - Keyboards

1) The Secret Machines' haunting melodies and searing backbeats

2) Herbie Hancock dueling John Mayer with the keytar

3) Warren Haynes bringing down the house with some amazing, heavenly guitar work playing with Widespread Panic on Saturday night

Steve Molitz: Particle - Keyboards

Particle at Bonnaroo '05 by Josh Miller
1) Watching North Mississippi drummer Cody Dickinson take a mind-blowing electric washboard solo during The Word's set. Just when you thought it had all been done, mankind revolutionizes the washboard.

2) Watching people lose themselves in a "waterdance" in the Centeroo fountain... drenched and completely blissed out.

3) Seeing the smiling faces of Nashville's Fresh Oil Gospel Choir as they joined Particle onstage for a Sly and the Family Stone tribute. I think the crowd's mass and energy caught them by surprise, and it was a joy to see them singing their hearts out while caught in the whirlwind of Bonnaroo's intensity.

Zach Velmer: Sound Tribe Sector 9 - Drums

Zach Velmer at Bonnaroo '05
By Rie Kasahara
1) Free ACAI drinks (a Brazilian berry that is one of the healthiest berries on the planet) in the air-conditioned tent... I had 6 of 'em.

2) Collaborations with Richard Devine, The Perceptionists and Collective Efforts. Always a pleasure at festivals for collabs and it is just plain fun.

3) Watching the sun rise playing music. Pretty epic.

Rie Kasahara: Photographer, Japanese Music Fan

1) I could see my favorite band STS9. It was a beautiful moment.

2) I could see lots of smiles of the people. Not only Americans, but also Japanese, European, children, staff, volunteers and of course musicians!

3) I had lots of grateful moments... and to be able to share the time with everyone.

Tom Speed: An Honest Tune - Editor-in-Chief

Frederick Von Guggenheim
MMJ by Josh Miller
1) Widespread Panic: Setbreak? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Setbreak! With back to back headlining performances on the main stage, Widespread Panic asserted themselves as the cornerstone on which the success of this festival was forged. On Sunday night, their 3 1/2 hour performance--in which they played the hospitable host to a cavalcade of jam icons--was one of the most impressive of Bonnaroo's 4 year history.

2) My Morning Jacket, Frederick Von Guggenheim (conductor). Nothing shakes things up like a bevy of 12 foot tall puppets. Jim James & company had fun with costumed stage antics, but that goofiness didn't obscure the fact that My Morning Jacket put on one of the most high energy, and well-received, sets of the weekend.

3) The Mars Volta: The Slow Burn of an Intricate Mind Etching. Sometimes it feels good to be disturbed. The mind-bending and demented late-night performance by The Mars Volta was inspiring in a refreshingly disturbing kind of way. It's not all good, you know.

Dennis Cook: JamBase Primary Contributor and Freelance Journalistic Monkey

Black Crowes by Jones
1) The Black Crowes (Saturday afternoon) - A thrilling, totally switched-on set that parted the clouds during the climax of "My Morning Song." A-freaking-men!

2) Assembly of Dust (Saturday afternoon) - Reid Genauer and his band of merry men poured liquid sunshine into us on the wettest day of the fest, saturating every pore with music that just makes a body feel good. This is what pop music, at its best, should sound like.

3) Secret Machines (Saturday late night) - A near-epileptic torrent of white light and a craggy emotional bottom fueled my biggest surprise of the 'Roo. The Machines are hard and gentle in equal measures, a descendent of the likes of Jane's Addiction, Bauhaus and Pink Floyd but only in passing ways. They are their own men and this gig revealed that.

Andy Gadiel: JamBase - CEO

Danny Clinch and TLG
Bonnaroo '05 by Josh Miller
1) Tea Leaf Green. Finally great to see my home town heroes get the shot they deserve. And they nailed it!

2) The Black Crowes. They came out on fire and never let up. I'm a converted fan.

3) The Mars Volta. The spectacle of the crowd, the hype and the ensuing sonic assault.

MMJ by J. Jones
Sam Elkin: JamBase - Director of Sales

1) My Morning Jacket

2) Mouse on Mars

3) The Black Crowes

Jonathan Zwickel: Music Editor, New Times Broward-Palm Beach

Heartless Bastards :: Bonnaroo by J. Jones
1) First timers. There were a ton familiar bands at Bonnaroo, and even more I'd heard but never seen. I got flattened by the Drive-By Truckers, welcomed to the Secret Machines, healed by Dr. Dog, and screwed over by the Heartless Bastards. Surprises like those are what make mega-festies so awesome.

2) Old friends. When the Black Crowes crooned "Brokedown Palace" during an afternoon rainstorm, I couldn't tell if those were raindrops in my eyes or tears of reminiscence. Ozomatli might be the best music to wake up to, and of course STS9 is the perfect soundtrack for sunrise.

3) Solidarity. When you've been standing in the mud watching music for three days straight, you gotta work hard to have fun. Of course, everyone was up for the effort. Doubt it if you want, but Bonnaroo really does inspire a spirit of music-mad camaraderie that infuses every interaction of the weekend. In the end, the love enhances -- even supersedes -- the music. And that's a wonderful thing.

Jon Bahr: ASCAP & Photographer

The Word :: Bonnaroo '05 by Dave Vann
1) The force of the singer/songwriters. Some of my favorite sets weren't the rockers (M. Ward, Iron & Wine, Ray LaMontagne, Heartless Bastards and Amos Lee are too good). I can't get Iron & Wine's "Woman King" out of my head! Damn you Sam Beam!

2) My Morning Jacket. Last year the rain brought the spectacle, this time the band brought the spectacle with the puppets and conductor.

3) The Word. Such joyful sounds, I wish I had been at their set for longer. Ahh... 'Roo conflicts.

Jeremy Jones: JamBase - Photographer

Shonna Tucker - DBT :: Bonnaroo by J. Jones
1) The women of 'Roo: Whether it was Joss Stone ripping up the Which Stage with her huge vocals, Alison Krauss making putty out of me with her angelic voice, Shonna Tucker manhandling that bass, Gabby La La adding surreal textures to The Duo with Mike Gordon's set, Sabina Scuibba setting my soul on fire late night Friday, Sista Teedy joining forces with Galactic putting memories of Jam Cruise One back in my head, Jenny Lewis making me a new fan of Rilo Kiley, Chris Robinson making me think about Kate Hudson for the Black Crowes entire set (did I say that out loud?). The backing vocal ladies for the Crowes and Toots adding amazing layers into their sets, Erika Wennerstrom showing me how to be a Heartless Bastard, or the beautiful Jessi Alexander that came out during the Earl Scruggs set to sing the most beautiful song accompanied by the sweets sounds of all those strings cleansing my soul right before Panic destroyed it again, women represented this year and it was grand.

2) Getting to see new bands that were on and off the radar. Matisyahu, MATISYAHU, MATISYAHU! Rilo Kiley, The Mars Volta, The Word, Herbie Hancock, Jurassic 5, Ray LaMontagne, Brazilian Girls, Xavier Rudd, John Butler-and knowing that I get to see them again in some intimate club around town the next time.

3) Seeing my favorite band, Widespread Panic, put on one of the most memorable two shows of all time. It was my 147th and 148th time stepping foot in front of that stage and I walked away completely smiling, knowing that I just witnessed true Southern hospitality by some of the finest musicians out there.

Bradly Bifulco: JamBase - Designer

JoJo Hermann
WSP by J. Jones
1) The Mars Volta (Friday late night) - the whole show really, but specifically, the "Roulette Dares" set closer - people everywhere were scared.

2) Widespread Panic (Sunday's final performance) - specifically, "Bowlegged Woman" first song out of the mid-set "Drums" - Down and Dirty!

3) My Morning Jacket - the whole thing, tip to tail.

Ted Kartzman: JamBase Rhapsody Blog Maintainer

Jim James - MMJ by J. Jones
1) My Morning Jacket on Sunday at What Stage. I had never seen MMJ before, but have worn out my copy of It Still Moves waiting for this day to come. After last year's epic weather-soaked set, all eyez on them... but how could they possibly repeat? They had a white-haired conductor, but didn't need him. They had multiple ten foot puppets on stage, but could hardly notice, the music was so entrancing. Yes, the band is great, but there is one difference between everyone else. MMJ has what no one else has: Jim James' voice. It literally stopped the rain and brought the crowd to a crescendo, and took it down so delicately for an acoustic "Golden." The voice, the band, the songs... every song was great, and I only knew half of them. Saw many Dylan covers over the weekend, but MMJ cover of "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You" was off the charts. This band brings it, I joined the street team.

2) The Black Crowes - my sentimental favorite. I was looking forward to this set more than almost anything. I will stand by my statement that The Black Crowes are the defining rock and roll band of my coming-of-age. They broke up, tried what they tried, and realized they were better as a team. Brothers Chris and Rich back together, Marc Ford's moustache shimmering in the breeze, his scissorhand fingers showing megashred ability. The thing about this band in 2005 is that they are so versatile, they are able to play Phish-style jam rock and kick ass, they are able to showcase their southern roots by playing the dueling guitars of southern rock, and they are also second to none at playing gospel rock, showcasing those buttah-sounding backup singers. To play three styles of rock well, and to do it within the framework of some of the greatest songs of my youth, like "Wiser Time," "Thorn in My Pride," "Seeing Things," "Soul Singing" and "My Morning Song" - well, I was a kid in a candy store again. Not to mention their cover choices, opening with The Band's "Don't Do It" and closing the set with the cover song that gave me the most chills all weekend: "Brokedown Palace" - The Black Crowes toasted Jerry's memory with great taste and total class. Long live this incarnation, take back the title of best Georgia band from WSP. Can't wait for the Crowes at Fillmore run!

3) Benevento/Russo Duo with Mike Gordon. It is one of the great pleasures to see how far these two kings of music from the gritty streets of Brooklyn have come since they hooked up (literally) in the tap room a few years back. To see them on that big Bonnaroo stage and to watch and hear the crowd sing the entire "Mike's Song" was the biggest moment of chills for me over the weekend. Trey can cover whatever Phish he wants and none of it will make me feel like these three did. Plus the joy on Marco's face was worth the price of admission alone. And it wasn't just the Phish influence, the Duo stuff before Mike joined them was slammin and got a huge roar, especially "9x9." Them boys are sick... and no longer just in the head! Plus, the Bonnarusso homemade shirt that some hippie gave Joe was shirt of the weekend!

Allen Scott: Another Planet Entertainment - Concert Promoter

Ray LaMontagne by J. Jones
1) Dave Matthews Band (Friday) - A lot of people in the jam community have written these guys off. But, I would think there have to be many converts (or re-converts) after their Bonnaroo performance. They were smokin'. Particularly noted, was their version of "Time of the Season" (by the Zombies), as well as a new tune, "Louisiana Bayou," performed with Robert Randolph.

2) Rilo Kiley (Saturday) - I was curious to see how they would do in front of the Bonnaroo crowd. And, they killed it. During their afternoon slot, they had the packed tent singing along and eating out of their hands.

3) Ray LaMontagne (Friday). A talented songwriter with an other-worldly voice. He surprised me. I did not expect him to be as strong live as he was. Can not wait to check him out in a theatre setting.

Aaron Kayce (Kayceman): JamBase Editor/Sr. Writer

Bonnaroo '05 by Josh Miller
1) The Mars Volta

2) Widespread Panic

3) My Morning Jacket

It is also important to note that in fact my favorite thing about Bonnaroo is Bonnaroo. The word Bonnaroo, like the festival, has come to mean far more than a weekend of music. One can count on an amazing, wildly eclectic line-up, professional production and an absolutely mind-expanding event. Bonnaroo is for the adventurous and refuses to allow anyone to simply rest in their comfort zone. Bonnaroo has built a kingdom and it is now part of social lexicon. For the fourth year in a row Bonnaroo will almost undoubtedly be the best fest of the year. Bonnaroo: it's a state of mind!

Don't forget to check out Dave Vann's View From Bonnaroo for more images.

JamBase | Bonnaroo
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