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- Posted on Jun 15th 2009 2:30AM by Benjy Eisen
With that on top Springsteen's incredible Saturday set, Nine Inch Nails performing what they claim is their last U.S. show ever, Passion Pit coming into their own as a live band, Animal Collective teasing Grateful Dead songs, the Beastie Boys bringing out surprise guest Nas for help on a new song and David Byrne curating his own stage, it's clear that Bonnaroo is no longer anything else but Bonnaroo -- a phenomenon unto itself and, clearly, the single greatest music festival in America.
Bonnaroo also continued its tradition this year of seamlessly integrating comedy and music, as comedians from Aziz Ansari to Janeane Garofalo made Bonnaroo-specific jokes, Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter previewed their new Comedy Central series, and Margaret Cho made an unannounced appearance, playing guitar and singing songs about bad sex.
Even if you can't stand hippies, you kind of have to become one when you're here: the fans, by being so nice, so dedicated to seeing as much music as possible (and actually listening with full attention), and interacting as much as possible -- with each other, with musicians, with comedians -- are partly what makes Bonnaroo so great. As Kaki King declared in one of the press conferences that took place backstage, Bonnaroo is a musician's musician crowd -- people in the audience are not just music fans, they're rabid music aficionados.
They braved the elements and subjected themselves to camping in torrential downpours, unbearable humidity, and hours of standstill traffic all because of music. They're not here to check out what everyone's wearing -- they're here to check out what everyone's hearing. They're just as interested in hearing new bands as much as old favorites. They're just as willing to see Raphael Saadiq lead a gospel R&B revival or Jimmy Buffett introduce a young new talent as they are to jam out to Gov't Mule or moe. in more traditional Bonnaroo-style jam sessions. And that, truly, makes all the difference.
That said, Phish closed out Sunday night showing everybody while they're not Mr. Springsteen himself, they were certainly the bosses of Bonnaroo.