5 Highlights From Phish’s Past Appearances At Bonnaroo

By Ming Lee Newcomb Jun 9, 2019 11:50 am PDT

Next weekend, Phish will return to The Farm in Manchester, Tennessee, headlining the annual Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival for the third time. This year, the Vermont foursome will return for two nights, playing two sets to close out the weekend on Sunday, June 16, as well as a single performance on Friday, June 14.

In anticipation of Phish’s return this year, this week’s Sunday Cinema features video of five highlights from the band’s past performances at Bonnaroo in 2009 and 2012.

Mustang Sally, Bobby Jean > Glory Days (June 14, 2009)

Phish made their debut at Bonnaroo in 2009. Much like this year’s schedule, the band performed on two nights. On Sunday, June 14, the band took advantage of the immense talent on hand for the festival, ultimately collaborating with Bruce Springsteen, who had headlined the night prior with his own E Street Band.

At the tail end of the segue-heavy set, The Boss joined the group to lead on guitar and vocals the final three songs of set one. Springsteen’s sit-in opened with a cover of Mack Rice’s 1965 R&B number “Mustang Sally,” which was popularized a year later by Wilson Pickett. The collaboration and the frame closed with a combination of Springsteen’s own “Bobby Jean” into “Glory Days,” marking Phish’s debut of the two tunes off 1984’s Born In The U.S.A.

Mustang Sally Captured by Eric Wolfe

Bobby Jean Captured by CapturedAlive

Glory Days Captured by Spillway Productions

The Gambler (June 10, 2012)

When Phish returned to Bonnaroo for the second time in 2012, the iconic jam act offered up two sets on the final night of the festival, Sunday, June 10. Like in 2009, the group welcomed a special guest during the first set of their day, this time tapping Kenny Rogers to join them on the main What Stage.

Unlike in 2009, Rogers’ guest spot fell during the middle of the set, following up “Axilla” and the opening combinations of “Down With Disease” into “Funky Bitch” and “The Moma Dance” into “Sample In A Jar.” For the sit-in, the band looked to Rogers’ hit single “The Gambler,” which was originally penned by Don Schlitz. The performance marked Phish’s debut of the 1978 country tune and featured Rogers on vocals. Stream the collaboration below, courtesy of Nick Cason:

Shafty (June 10, 2012)

During Phish’s sophomore appearance at Bonnaroo in 2012, the jam act followed up Kenny Rogers’ sit-in during the first set with a surprise bust out in the middle of the second frame. After opening with a high-energy, crowd-pleasing run through “Golden Age,” “2001” and “Chalk Dust Torture,” the band moved into a take on “Carini.” The heavy number was used to launch into a bust out of major rarity “Shafty.”

Marking its fifth live performance to date, the June 10, 2012 version of Shafty followed up the song’s last performance during the group’s 2003 New Year’s Eve run at Miami, Florida’s American Airlines Arena. “Shafty” had previously been debuted in 1998, with additional performances falling in 1998, 2000 and 2003. The group has not performed the song since. Watch pro-shot video of “Carini” into “Shafty” below, courtesy of Phish:

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Kill Devil Falls (June 12, 2009)

When Phish debuted at the festival in 2009, the band was fresh off their second hiatus. A little over a week earlier during their comeback summer tour, the group debuted a new song, “Kill Devil Falls,” during a run at Wantagh, New York’s Jones Beach Amphitheatre. During their first ever set at Bonnaroo on Friday, June 12, Phish offered fans a glimpse into the song’s full jam potential, offering up a sprawling, 15-minute take for its fourth-ever live performance.

Following “Poor Heart,” “Kill Devil Falls” fell during the middle of the one-set show. Notably, it marked the number’s initial “Type-II” version, more than doubling the length of the song’s debut, which rang in at seven minutes. Check out the whammy-heavy jam, which ultimately led into “Free,” courtesy of skriddler, starting at the 38-minute mark below:


Highway To Hell (June 12, 2009)

After the historic Type-II “Kill Devil Falls,” the band continued to roll out the surprises during the second part of the set on Friday, June 12, 2009. Following “Wading In The Velvet Sea,” the band used “Harry Hood” to launch into a bust out of AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell,” marking their first performance of the 1979 title track since 1997.

“Highway To Hell” was a staple of Phish’s live performances during their early years in 1989 and 1990. By 1991, its performances began to taper off, with the two dozen performances of 1990 dropping to seven in the following year. Though it experienced a brief comeback in ’94, by 1995 and 1996 it was a relative rarity with only two or three plays per year. The take at Bonnaroo in 2009 followed up its lone 1997 performance during a show in Germany, marking a gap of 325 shows. Watch the cover below, courtesy of theboognish1:

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