Phish might technically be a Bonnaroo rookie, but the band’s first performance at the Tennessee music festival had the feeling of a homecoming.
Phish performed a highly anticipated 3-hour set Friday night, playing until the early morning hours. The Vermont-based band, which reunited earlier this year after a five-year hiatus, is a double headliner, also performing Sunday evening.
“I’m so incredibly happy to be here,” said singer and guitarist Trey Anastasio, beaming in front of the giant crowd.
All of the members of Phish — Anastasio, Mike Gordon, Jon Fishman and Page McConnell — have previously played Bonnaroo. In fact, festivals in 2007 and 2008 were the only times in Bonnaroo’s eight years that a member from Phish didn’t play.
Further, Bonnaroo — held annually on a remote country farm about an hour’s drive from Nashville — was in many ways modeled on the destination concerts Phish has hosted through the years in locales like an old airstrip in Maine.
“To have them finally appearing at the festival as Phish, it feels like something’s come full circle,” said Ashley Capps, the co-founder of Bonnaroo and president of AC Entertainment — which produces the festival with Superfly Productions.
Phish fans, among the most ardent in music, have come out in droves to see the band at Bonnaroo, considerably boosting the festival’s attendance. Figures for the festival have not yet been announced.
The crowd was immediately cheered with the band’s opener: the rocking fan-favorite “Chalkdust Torture.” Across nearly three hours, Phish performed a number of their classic, multipart jams, including “Harry Hood,” Divided Sky” and “You Enjoy Myself” — which included a sideways trek to their song “Wilson.” They encored with their frequently played Beatles cover of “A Day in the Life.”
Phish’s performance Friday capped the festival’s jam-packed first full day. The lineup included Al Green, Beastie Boys, David Byrne, Santigold, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV on the Radio, Lucinda Williams and Ani DiFranco.