Widespread Panic has been deeply entwined with the Bonnaroo Music Festival from the get go. The band headlined two nights of the inaugural festival in 2002 so it is quite fitting that even as Bonnaroo continues to expand its tentacles to draw an expanding array of artists, Panic remains an anchor. And with the groups single extended set on Sunday night, the band brought the 2007 edition of the fest to a close.
Temperatures on Sunday crested at 95 degrees, a situation that called for some measure of restraint among festivalgoers although few performers seemed to take it easy (as noted earlier, Ornette Coleman collapsed from heat exhaustion during his early evening set and he remains under observation at an area hospital). Wilcos Jeff Tweedy proclaimed, We’re having a good time and I usually hate these things. Wolfmother proclaimed it would embrace the Bonnaroo spirit by delivering a rare freeform jam during its set. A bit earlier John Butler used his What Stage set to offer a peace prayer before a receptive crowd.T-Bone Burnett took a break from recording the score for a new Sam Shepard play for his set in That Other Tent, leading an all-star band that included jazz guitarist Marc Ribot and noted session drummer Jim Keltner through such selections as Bob Dylans Isis.
Highlights included the White Stripes set from Which Stage, which appeared to be the most widely attended from that stage over the course of the weekend, The Decemberists take on The Weight, featuring guest vocals from Mavis Staples as well as Bobby Bare Jr., the acoustic opening to Pete Yorns set which included a version of Friend of the Devil, the Slips acoustic performance from the Sonic Stage, which glanced to the past with a collection of pre-Eisenhower compositions and the RatDog set, which was comprised of two extended segued sections.
As for Panic, the band opened its encore with a first time cover of John Lennon’s Crippled Inside which some saw as the groups sentiment upon looking back at the intervening years since its Bonnaroo debut, during which the bands founder and namesake Michael Houser passed away. The group also recorded a version of the song as part of the Instant Karma The Amnesty International Campaign To Save Darfur.