As this annual celebration of music and community approaches two decades in the running, Phish reclaims the festival-circuit reins of the premier festival it helped inspire. Here are some highlights from the Bonnaroo farm.

Phish’s Trey Anastasio

Phish frontman Trey Anastasio’s fingers glide smooth like butter across the frets of his Paul Languedoc Koa guitar. A major highlight of the band’s six-hour stage time over the four-day weekend was the longest groove of Friday’s set, a 14-minute rendition of “Everything’s Alright.” That song’s message was easily digested by a committed hippie-friendly crowd who came in droves to see the pioneers who trailblazed jam-band fests.

For Bonnaroo’s 17th year, the godfather of modern music festivals went back to its roots with one of the bands that pretty much invented the jam circuit. Phish headlined two nights out of four on June 13-16, in Manchester, Tennessee, and their followers showed up, too, selling out the 80,000 capacity for the first time since 2013. For Bonnaroo’s inaugural year in 2002, Trey Anastasio headlined with Widespread Panic. Even back then, Anastasio and his band Phish had already been doing this for years: In 1996, they held the Clifford Ball festival in Vermont and drew 70,000 people to an event where Phish was the only act, and these massive concerts became a regular tradition.

And so it goes, decades later, Phish got the most stage time at ’Roo, about six hours in total over multiple sets, because hey, give the people what they want. Bonnaroo’s genre-leaping lineup might be spastic for listeners who keep their eggs pretty much in one basket, but with four days and more than 100 acts in the lineup, it’s a music fiend’s dream. Have a look at our handpicked highlights of players who performed this year, and go down the rabbit hole of discovery, because that’s what it’s all about on this farm. P.S. Did you know Post Malone plays guitar? We weren’t able to photograph it, but here’s a video of him playing solo acoustic on “Stay.”)


The Edge’s guitar playing blew our brains out. Besides that, here’s a glimpse of who played what on the farm, including Red Hot Chili Peppers, Royal Blood, Kaleo, Umphrey’s McGee, and others in between.

More than 65,000 music enthusiasts grazed the Manchester, Tennessee, farm during the 16th installment of good vibes an hour south of Nashville. Bonnaroo is always fantastically entertaining with plenty of surprises around every corner. There’s the high-fives between strangers, twerking workouts with Big Freedia, the silent disco, and the fake snow falling 24/7 at the Christmas Barn stage. Hey, there was even a dance party around a toy unicorn, dubbed the Roonicorn, that went viral. For all this festival is, it leaves a music enthusiast absolutely invigorated, exhausted, inspired, and, well, awaiting next year. You can never see it all, and there’s a lot more than guitar, but here’s what we saw in the world of strings played through cranked amplifiers. And let’s be honest: The main event was seeing the Edge and hearing his magical trademark delay cascade into the universe for two hours. Simply, he’s a master. It was flawless and incredibly awesome. See for yourself in the clips below.

Guitar highlights from the farm, which may be the most eclectic musical experience out there.

It started in 2002 and quickly earned a reputation among jam-band enthusiasts, but now in the 14th year of Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, even the artists who play it can’t help proclaiming it the “best music festival in America.” The hundreds of acts encompass all genres, but so do the events, which for 2015 included a big-screen showing of the Game of Thrones finale, appearances from celebs like Jon Hamm, Zach Galifianakis, and other comedians, and lots of boob painting and bare skin.

But it’s about music, right? About 80,000 enthusiasts descended on the storied farm in Manchester, Tennessee, becoming inhabitants of the Roo—aka “Bonnaruvians”—for a while. And while there were so many great musical moments during these four days of sonic freedom and escape, for our purposes we focus on a 6-string perspective among the selfie sticks, free hugs, and $1,500 Uber helicopter rides.

x