Bonnaroo 09 Liveblog Bands/Musicians

Bonnaroo 09 Liveblog

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"Liveblog" of Bonnaroo 2009. Bonnaroo 09 Reviews, some Setlists, etc. Listed in order of preference, not schedule order. Continually updated.

5PM Sat update: In the middle of a no-win situation; that would be the combo of Mule>Wilco>Volta (3 of my alltime fave live bands, followed by another, The Boss). It will be impossible to see all of Mule or Wilco due to overlap. I will have to split the baby.

12:30 AM sat update - i did my best. i have seen a lot of amazing rock. it is entirely possible that this day, Sat June 13, 2009, will prove to be my best-ever single day of Rock (one must count sets that start in the early AM as part of the prior day, to be fair). The key variables will be a) my stamina. b) Nine Inch Nails, who are going on at 1am, and who were one of if not the absolute best sets of music i saw last year.

2AM Sat/Sun AM stop the presses:
Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails announces this is their last show ever in US at Bonnaroo

7:40PM Sun - it's current up to this point. Phish closing headline performance is the last thing on agenda. I need coffee.

10:10 PM Sun.
Coffee in bloodstream and halfway thru Phish there is BIG news: Bruce Springsteen is on stage performing with Phish. 3 songs so far. see details below.

Make sure to check out my review of Bonnaroo 2012 and to see other music festival reviews go here:

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  1. 1
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Head over to main stage.
    Find decent spot and park ass on ground.
    Start to tire as 11pm start time passes.
    Lights go out. Chords to 'chalkdust torture'
    Limbs start flying or at least noodling.
    Sudden slap as beach ball makes contact with face.
    Phish have arrived.

    Overall, a STUNNINGLY great set. As good as 1998-era Phish. Everyone sounded in fine form. Killer setlist as well which can be one of my major peeves with Phish as i loathe about 20% of their material.

    As an added bonus, they didn't take a set break instead playing a solid 3hrs all thru, which was very thoughtful for my 41 year old body that can't rebound like it used to after sipping vodka + for 10 hours...
  2. 2
    The Boss is rocking the house (frankly there is almost no chance that this would NOT be the case). After an opening Badlands the set may me a bit weighted towards the new record for a 10pm sat at a festival, but the audience, myself included, is still way into it

    Bruce continues to be the consummate , Bono-level frontman. Still some boring song choices like Raise Your Hand in the first hour, in general high energy but lackluster in song choice except for the welcome surprise of Youngtown, one of my absolute fave post reunion E Street tracks. And yes, Nils still rocked all over the stage at the end, even post-surgery.

    Then quite a curveball. Springsteen spends half of Raise your hand
    grabbing signs from the audience. One is for 'Santa claus is coming to town'. Bruce: "it's too f**king hot for Santa". But they play it anyway, a full version, sloppy yes except for clarence's spot on "ho ho
    hos". The stoners (ie 60% of aud) go nuts. Up next: growin up. Then The River, and one other classic. We are in the Zone.

    The rest of the set is Excellent, as is my mood as i get right up front center, basically "10 rows" back. Apparently this is only the 2nd festival ever for the E Street band, which is surprising - while i've never known them to do a US festival, i had thought they had played a bunch in Europe.

    It's a great show, crowd went nuts throughout, though i have definitely seen more enthusiastic and more packed bonnaroo crowds. Probably the most interesting thing was that the crowd went more ballistic for the combo of Radio Nowhere/Lonesome Day/Rising than they did for Growin Up/The River/Promised Land (maybe i'm getting Promised Land wrong but it was a classic and they did play PL tonite). that was kinda cool to see; having seen The Boss in arenas with older crowds, it was great to see the "oughts" material standing up with the twentysomethings.

    By the same token, the setlist was pretty stale for a "Brucehead". But you gotta expect a more general set at a festival so I'm not going to dock him many points there.

    I'm going to keep Phish at #1, mainly due to the earlier setlist weakness and the surprising perfectness of the Phish Friday show, but this was a hell of a set of Rock.
  3. 3

    Phish Sunday

    Phish start things off on the wrong foot w me by opening with "AC/DC Bag". I really dislike this wet fish of a song iho I realize many Phish Heads hold it in high regard. It dawns on me that the Friday nite show contained no total clunker phish perennials, and one song on we've already eclipsed that.

    Next up a fine NICU. But then, the morinic Gotta Jiboo. It's sunday nite of a long weekend and getting worried about keeping my energy levels. Luckily ensconsed in bleachers.

    At this point there is Already Almost No Statistical chance that this show will surpass Friday

    But they start to narrow the odds w better song choices, bringing me back into the game. Just finished insane Character Zero and now into an almost quadrophenic Tweezer. (and a killer Bathtub Gin) Things have gotten a LOT better.

    Some more great playing - we're about 90mins in and it's become a pretty hot set, I am back in the game with better music and an iced cappuccino in my veins.

    Trey goes into a story about the first show he ever saw, age 11, a show that has rarely been surpassed. The Boss at some long forgotten 3000 seater on the East Coast.

    Bruce Springsteen comes out. We are now in Rock History territory.

    Unfortunately, for me at least this collaboration was more Misery than History. 3 songs. 3 REALLY REALLY BAD song choices.

    "Mustang Sally" - not surprising. I don't like it when Phish plays anything resembling the blues, nor do i need to hear this song again. It's OK for what it is, cool to see the Boss up there.

    "Bobby Jean" - it was bad enuf that Springsteen played 2 songs off the loathesome Born In The USA album last nite, now I have to hear him play an impossible-to-jam-song with Phish.

    "Glory Days" - ditto, plus he played it last nite.

    I get the sense that the Phish guys never really got too deep back into the Boss after that, because why would they pick those 3 songs? Nonetheless, a once-in-a-lifetime kinda thing.

    It's 10:40PM, set break. i am not going to last past midnite no matter how good things get

    Update: I lasted till 12:15, they were finishing up (i heard a Suzie Greenberg encore as i was walking to car) 2nd set was much better for my ears than the first, starting with a killer deep jammy "Rock and Roll" and never really letting up. Definitely a set i need to get a recording of. Overall I'm going to stick the Sunday Phish show behind The Boss's Sat set, mainly because of the first set inconsistencies, but i am still very happy to see Phish back in the game in full form. It's one of those things where i didn't realize how much i missed them till i found myself deep in the groove. Hopefully the rumors of something Left Coast will turn out to be true.
  4. 4
    First off - let's get it out of the way - Nine Inch Nails announced from the Bonnaroo stage that this would be their last ever US show. Trent Reznor has been saying they would be taking a LONG break from touring after this tour, but this is the first he has publicly said it would be their last show in the States (they are headed to Europe on this tour next). Probably just something said after fatigure - I'm sure after a long hiatus he will rethink things, as Reznor after all is NIN for all intents and purposes. But who knows.

    90 mins into the latenite set, which had already been tailored into a 1am saturday night at a festival style show, reznor annouced,after introducing the band, that this will be the last US NIN show, as per reznor "I just can't do this to myself anymore" after thanking the audience and the fans who have stuck with nine inch nails all these years"

    The set was already an atypical one, likely specifially crafted to be more exploratory for this particular set time. A song they wrote with Saul Williams was played, the members of Dillinger Escape Plan (playing Sun) came out for a even-thrashier-than-usual "Wish", one of the encores was the cover of Joy Division's "Dead Souls" (off The Crow soundtrack), etc. No "Closer", though they did pull off a stunning "Hurt" as the final track.

    The set to my eyes seemed to have some of the oddities/slower tracks that he was playing on the NINJA tour with Janes just recently, as well as a few of the ambient interludes from last years tour. It was not the tour de force of last year's Lollapalooza headline slot- the stage show wasn't as built out and the setlist wasn't packed with classes. Very cool show and glad to see something so different. We'll call it #4 for the weekend so far. (

    Sunday will be a lighter day for me. Probably a good thing for my sanity and stamina.

  5. 5
    6:10PM Wilco is finishing I Am trying to break yr heart. Their 2nd song. Next company in my back and then a sick Handshake drugs. They sound Awesome.

    Can see ben harper on platform grooving w his eyes closed to 'Impossible Germany'

    great overall set, mostly last 4 albums. wilco certainly sounds great tonite, but then again i can't remember the last time they didn't (2002?)

    About 90 mins in, after a killer Spiders, I head over to the other big stage to see the mars Volta. Wilco was excellent and they have now jumped to #2 of the weekend
  6. 6
    High On Fire
    Photo: Freebase/CC-BY
    3:15 sun

    Full on shreadfest. Tent only half full but everyone here headbanging fierce. Great song choice - death is this communion, rulers of war, devilution, etc.

    First time I've seen a guy in the middle of a circle pit w a Free Hugs hat on.

    Honestly, they are killing it. Not a dull second. Hadn't seen these guys in a few years- was bummed when the mighty Down, on the early bonnaroo announcement, were subsequently removed. But HOF have proven a more than worthy replacement
  7. 7
    7:40pm sat
    It is PACKed here, I'm kinda surprised. At least as many people at this stage as wilco. Sound is once again subpar at the which stage as it was also yesterday for yeah yeah yeahs and the first half of byrne.

    Sound gets better in 2nd half of set. Volta playing a heavy heavy dark set that DOES include actual songs unlike the last time I saw them in a festival setting at vegoose a few years back (when they played a single 90 min jam - i'm not kidding)

    Mix of material from all Volta periods. During one jam cedric vamps the first cover I have heard the Volta do in 12 or so shows I've seen- ' bullet' by the Misfits. Apparently he also did some Smiths lyrics, but that must've gone right over my head.

    All in all a hellofa set and I can't wait to hear the new album. Mars volta comes In at #3 so far. Just a hair behind Wilco.
  8. 8
    TV on the Radio
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain
    Another killer set from TVOTR. Coachella may have been a hair better, but who wants to split hairs.

    I saw the last hour of a 75min set.
  9. 9
    Opened w a song i didn't recognize.

    2nd song "Don't Step On The Grass, Sam" is oddly livened up by the "Warren Clone" roadie holding up large placards with the pro-grass lyrics.

    Yet another cover. Creep

    It's only 30 mins in and warren has already pulled out short to midsize instru cover jams incorporating st. Stephen, Norwegian wood, 3rd stone from the sun, plus a familiar and an unfamiliar mule original. Yet it works.

    Oh Jesus now it's belter skelter. W vox. Danny louis 2nd gtr. Sloppy but great energy. Hippies lapping it up.

    Gov't mule only has 6 or 7 stone classic original songs, and The first hour also includes 2 of those ( banks of he deep end , beautifully broken). Then it's u2's one, time to head over to wilco. Just before crossing over I hear warren intro Grace Potter and her guitarist so I hang thinking I might hear their sick version of gold dust woman.

    Instead - a most excellent surprise: Southern man. Caps off 65mins of killer mule-enough to bump them all the way up to #2 on the overall weekend list. Now it's wilco's turn.

  10. 10
    Byrne was one of those artists i was really happy to see on Bonnaroo this year because i didn't to go see him headline the Greek last year, but heard great things about the show and was hoping I'd get to see it. He and his band did not disappoint.

    A 2 Hr "Byrne and Eno" set that was a good 50% Talking Heads classics, this show blew away for my tastes unlike his Bonnaroo set a few years back. I like pretty much everything the Talking Heads ever did, though i can't say they are one of my top bands. I am frankly not at all a fan of ANY David Byrne solo material, at least until the album last year w Eno, which i liked.
  11. 11
  12. 12
    I always like checking out the 'heritage soul or blues legend' that often plays An early eve slot at bonmaroo but more often than not am disappointed (see james brown,bb king). For once, no disappointment, except that he only played an hour of an allocated 90min set. Green sounded and looked great, at moments even killing it. A few comments he made to the audience and about the security didn’t make a ton of sense, and the new material wasn’t up to the classic standards, but it certainly wasn’t bad. Killer backup singers as well, and most of the hits were played in the 2nd half (except, interestingly, forTake Me To the River, which he must’ve saved to allow David Byrne to play).

  13. 13

    booker t the DBTs

    Unlike Coachella, this set includes some DBT's tracks, which is sweet (so far have heard Home Field Advantage and Zip City, but i missed the first 15mins). Pretty big crowd.

    Now they are playing a really groovy organ-heavy version of "Let There Be Rock". Also included Green Onions and that other MG's hit that was in the Blues Bros soundtrack. Pretty sweet set overall.

    And now they close with "Lookout Mountain". Very happy i didn't blow them off having thought that it would be a repeat of Coachella (i enjoy instrumental music but didn't need a repeat performance only two months later)
  14. 14
    I am just kicking it in the shade/bleachers. i'm aways from the stage but the sound is still excellent (BOH are not haunted by the Which Stage poor sound bugaboos). I am really enjoying myself kicking back and listening to these guys, but it's not exactly the highlight of the weekend or anything.

    7:25PM Sun

    Band of Horses are a "just stand there and play" band - don't do much on stage, don't jam out the songs etc. I love their music, and am glad to be kicking it here as the sun is starting to set in central TN, but i wouldn't call this a "must see" set. Crowd is just average - looks like far more people watching Snoop on the main stage, and Neko Case prob drew off a lot of this audience to her tent as well.

    i think there was a Gram Parsons cover in the mix; other than that just mostly-great songs by a band I really dig.

    ah and now they are easing into "The Funeral", an absolute fave. time to power down.

    Update: the last song, which i didn't recognize, was great. Overall, though, this is not a must-see live band.
  15. 15
    If jimmy page was secretly a woman all these years and he and Robert had gotten it on without protection during some debauched nite touring LZ II, the singer for this band would be a plausible outcome.

    saw a little over half the set.
  16. 16
    Yeah Yeah Yeahs
    Photo: Alyse
    not as good as the Coachella set - the sound on the Which stage was a bit spotty overall yesterday and they may have suffered. Also with her costume changes etc it's helpful to have a video screen.
  17. 17
    A. A. Bondy
    Photo: Freebase/CC-BY
    5:15 PM Sun - Sonic Stage (this was his 2nd performance of the day, I think they broadcast this stage on Sirius or something for 30min sets)

    This guy was in some majorlabel alternarock band (i think Verbena) that i liked a few songs by but was generally "meh" about.

    He put an album out last year that i stumbled upon and find myself listening to again and again (in fairness, partly becuz when i open my ITunes he comes up right away, replacing ABBA and AC/DC in that regards - smart marketing Mr Bondy). Anyhow he played on the Sonic stage with electric guitar and a drummer and sounded great, though there was sound bleeding in from Andrew Bird on one of the bigger stages.

    The song he's playing right now sounds like a new one, something about the love that is tearing you down, and it's great, the rather sparse crowd gives a big thumbs up.

    only a half hour set, alas. But this guy is GREAT. if you like deep, rootsy rock music, you should check him out. If you hated Verbena you may well like him, they are nothing alike. It's like if Jim James had been in the Gin Blossoms or something and completely reinvented himself with MMJ.

    up soon - one of my fave bands of recent years, Band of Horses. Then Phish, then Ambien.
  18. 18
  19. 19
    parked in the bleachers and caught 20mins from my perennial festival "not a must see but always catch some of their set if there's an opening" band. was near end of their set. some killer instrumental but then i bailed once the Houseman took over.
  20. 20
    Bon Iver
    Photo: Freebase/CC-BY
    I'm a fan but hadn't really thought it a priority to see him live, because his music doesn't seem like it would really do much live. Only saw the last 10 mins. He played my favorite song of his in solo acoustic format, which was nice (i don't remember the name, but was 2nd to last song if someone finds a setlist online). Then finished with a song with his band that sounded great. Now I'm bummed i didn't get to the tent sooner. Tent was PACKED and he got a great response
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