Dylan closes Rothbury, sings actual words

6 07 2009

By Justin Jacobs (@justinhjacobs)

The Hold Steady at Rothbury 2009

Craig Finn of The Hold Steady, Rothbury 2009

Sundays at festivals can be tricky.

Your mind tells you to check out as many bands as possible in a mad race to the finish, but your body tells you to sit down and take a nap, please for the love of god.

Your feet hurt, your back is likely hunched and your shoulders are redder than Elmo — your mind has got to be pretty strong to persevere. A great Sunday lineup doesn’t hurt either. And luckily, Rothbury packed in a strong festival finale.

And by strong, of course, I mean relaxed. No one’s got the energy to get too wild at festival’s end, so powerful but laid back sets from Willie Nelson, Ani Difranco, Bob Dylan, Matisyahu and bluegrass heroes Yonder Mountain String Band roped in the weary masses yearning for more.

But the lay-on-the-grass vibes of the day didn’t stop The Hold Steady from tearing it up with their usual barroom-swagger rock’n’roll.

Whereas Broken Social Scene forgot to acknowledge the largely-hippie audience at Rothbury, The Hold Steady knew how to make up for the lack of jamming: fun. A whole lot of fun.

The band’s fast, bouncing guitar rock — along with Craig Finn’s frantic, anxious stage movements — were impossible to ignore.

By the time Dylan rolled onstage, though, the crowd was so sun-baked and tired that slow, sway-dancing was pretty ubiquitous. But — surprise! — Dylan wasn’t half bad. Sure, he still sounded like a lawnmower, but at least a fair portion of his words could be made out. That’s a significant portion more than usual.

After four days of great music, no sleep, expensive beer and enough hazy smoke floating around to kill Snoop Dogg, I can safely say: Good festival, goodnight.

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