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Published: 2008/06/18

Bonnaroo Sunday Wrap

The seventh annual Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival came to a close Sunday night with a mammoth single-set performance on the festivals primary What Stage. The three-hour performance marked Widespread Panics seventh What Stage appearance since 2002 and featured a full horn section: Kevin Hyde (trombone), Tom Ryan (saxophone), Wayne Postell (trumpet) and Randall Bramblett (saxophone), the latter of whom also played with Panic during their first Bonnaroo appearance. Partway through Widespread Panics set, Robert Randolph emerged to play pedal steal on Sewing Machine, and a run from Ride Me High through Impossible and Love Tractor. Early on, Panic also nodded to fellow Bonnaroo performer Levon Helm by covering The Bands Chest Fever (before taking the stage, the members of Widespread Panic told Relix/ that they chose Chest Fever over Ophelia since Helm already played the song at this years Bonnaroo).
Panics performance closed out one of the strangest days in Bonnaroo history. As has been heavily documented elsewhere, production issues delayed Kanye Wests late night performance on the What Stage from 2:45 AM to 4:25 AM, forcing thousands of fans to wait around until close to sunrise. Since Jack Johnson has already moved his previously scheduled headlining performance from Sunday to Saturday evening before Pearl Jam, Bonnaroos stage crew struggled to prepare no less than three arena shows within a five hour period. While Bonnaroos peaceful audience has traditionally gone with the flow, Wests delayed set resulted in the festivals first audible boos in seven years. Some fans even threw bottles and glow sticks at the stage, one of which hit Wests hi-tech video screen. The high-profile rapper made even more enemies when, instead of adjusting his show for Bonnaroos tie-dyed audience liked most artists, he played an unapologetic straightforward show without addressing the crowd.
Wests set stretched until sunrise, delaying the start times of several shows Sunday and placing a uncharacteristically dark cloud over many of the days performances. Fans booed West again when rising indie-pop stars Rogue Wave asked did Kanye really make you wait until 4 AM, fans cheered when Robert Randolph slammed the rapper from the stage and Broken Social Scene made a point to play extra long for their fans. Even soul-legend Solomon Burke referenced the incident when omnipresent fan Beatle Bob went off on a tangent while introducing the elder statesmen.
Yet, many of the festivals touchstones remained intact. Robert Plant referenced Bonnaroo inspirations the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and the Moby Grape during his set with Alison Krauss, Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron played a jazz set in the Somethin Else New Orleans Tent with keyboardist Ryan Burns and bassist Geoff Harper (Herbie Hancock, Bill Frisell) as Harrybu McCage and Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi offered one of their Soul Stew Revivals. Separating itself from other mega-festivals, Bonnaroo offered Phil Lesh a bonus acoustic set with his recent collaborators Jackie Greene, Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams consisting of classics like Friend of the Devil, Deal, Deep Elem Blues, Till The Morning Comes and Brokedown Palace. Leshs friends also got into the collaboration game: keyboardist Steve Molitz sat in with Jackie Green on the Sonic Stage and drummer John Molo joined Levon Helm for his Ramble on the Road in The Other Tent. Across the field, Randolph debuted his Robert Randolphs Revival, which features pedal steel legends Aubrey Ghent and Calvin Cooke, as well as his own band. Proof that sit ins arent just for jambands, late Friday night both Tegan and Sara, and Jose Gonzalez sat in with Tiesto, while Eddie Vedder and Money Mark appeared with Jack Johnson. Building on past Bonnaroo collaborations, the members of Galactic made a surprise appearance to back Chali 2Na late Saturday night, Muscle Shoals legend Spooner Oldham played with the Drive-By Truckers on the Which Stage, Meowskers Jeff Neuberger sat in with Steel Train on Firecracker and Les Claypool hosted the festivals annual SuperJam: a tribute to Tom Waits that drew in Gogol Bordello and, for one song, Kirk Hammett. As previously reported, Hammett also sat in with My Morning Jacket for One Big Holiday, as part of a high-energy late night set that featured Flecktone saxophonist Jeff Coffin, The Nashville/Louisville Horns and comedian Zach Galifianakis on a cover of My CrHome Sweet Home. But, perhaps Big Sam scored the weekends sit in award, jamming with Randolph, Ozomatli and Dumpstaphunk, as well as performing two shows with his own Funky Nation.

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