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.

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Bri Blahg… Bonnaroo Morning Day 3… Receding Hairlines and Never Made Tampon Commercials

13 06 2009

 Day three… Morning…. Sunshine! We are ever alert for nasty weather though. Last night a storm was looking to make a direct hit on the ‘Roo before inexplicably turning ever so slightly southward. Who says God hates hippies. The Good Lord should have smited (or is that smooted, smitted, or smothered, diced and covered) Crystal Castles instead. We’ll get to that later. (Oh Ecstasy you are a powerful drug. You can make a tent filled with 4,000 19 year olds believe a band is good)

Spent a few minutes with Portugal The Man front man John Gourley. I figured he was tired of talking about growing up in an Alaskan Cabin, his dad running the Iditorod, and having Sarah Palin as his mayor. Turns out the band’s next album is all about his wilderness boy upbringing. Gourley says the record will certainly shock fans for it’s poppier direction. I’d trust them though, they’re a band on the rise. What I couldn’t get out of young John was why he chose to call the record “The Satanic Satanists.” Perhaps they’re looking for a lifetime ban from Palin’s Alaska. Near as I could tell it’s just a bit of fun. (True story Portugal The Man and Slayer share publicists… hmmmmm) Video coming to most of these stations soon.

Speaking of bands with new albums coming, Alberta Cross have finished theirs. We talked for just a few minutes as I did not want to be the asshole that kept them from seeing The Reverend Al Green. (I was the asshole who kept myself from seeing Al Green as it turns out.) Front man Petter Stakee admitted that his material is a bit downcast. It’s also quite beautiful and he has nothing to apologize for. Big things are happening for Alberta Cross. They’re signed to ATO, opened shows for Oasis earlier this year at Noel Gallagher’s personal request, and are playing Hyde Park in London with Neil Young in a few weeks. Not bad work if you can get it.

A busy interview afternoon behind me, I picked up the camera. We have a bit of live Ani DiFranco video. Ani seemed in good spirits even though she used the “F” word a lot. She’s just never struck me as an “F” word person, but there you go. Byrne’s band was of course tight and he had white clad dancers ripped straight from a 1985 workout video. They looked like extras from a never made feminine hygiene product commercial. I’m sure someone wanted to have one with dancers, but there’s no way that gets off the drawing board in 1985.

Of course The ‘Roo has been abuzz about The Phish shows. The first of two was last night on the main stage and together with Thunder Dan Hoffman we captured video and stills. The rule for video here is the first 60 seconds of the first two songs, and still photos for the first three songs only. For Phish that could be an hour. They kicked off the show with…. ok I’ll come clean, the only Phish song I like “Chalk Dust Torture” (I also love “Truckin'” by The Dead… yeah I’m one of those.) Hey the people were pleased, the band was pleased, and it isn’t all about me. In 2009 there are ways for fellas like Phish to ward off the obvious effects of aging. They have chosen none of those, and presented themselves in all their paunchy, balding glory. The drummer I think was even wearing a mu mu. I have tremendous respect for Phish and mean no disrespect. It seems more like Bonnaroo to have them here.

Racing to That Tent (or was it This Tent) I was just in time to snap some stills of rock’s second all time greatest band from France, Phoenix. Number one of course were Sub Pop recording artists Les Thugs. After Phoenix it’s a short list. Lots of energy from the alt pop sensations. The spirit of Bonnaroo is so positive that even a band of French guys can put aside their haughty contempt and feel the love. Kisses in the air.

Crystal Castles was my next assignment though none of my photos turned out. They were using a seizure inducing strobe light, hoping no doubt to kill their fans. Sorry kids I don’t get what all the stink is about. And I’m guessing that once you come around from all the Ecstasy you ate last night you’ll feel the same.

No more time for negativity though. I have Elvis Perkins, Robyn Hitchcock and more to shoot this afternoon.