Good for the soul like chicken soup, but way more fun

8 07 2009

by Justin Jacobs (@JustinHJacobs)


Well, folks, it’s a full three days after Rothbury’s triumphant close and I’m still recovering.

My attempt to drive home after Bob Dylan’s set ended Sunday night was a bust — with my eyelids as heavy as The Glitch Mob’s basslines, I pulled to the side of the highway somewhere in Michigan around 2 a.m. and fell uncomfortably asleep in the driver’s seat. Lucky me, there weren’t any murderous hitchhikers prowling.

Needless to say, I was a bit late for work on Monday morning. My editor is very forgiving.

After arriving back in the real world, having spent four days doing solely fantastic things — camping, experiencing live music, being with friends, drinking almost-cold beer and whiskey — can seem utterly surreal. As is the case with any festival, half of me feels like Rothbury didn’t really happen.

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Video: Rothbury 2009

7 07 2009

UWire reporter Justin Jacobs (@JustinHJacobs) celebrated Independence day with 20,000 of his best friends at the Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, MI this past weekend. You can read his post here, but he also captured some video of the weekend. Here’s his interview with Tad Kubler of The Hold Steady, but hit the jump for more video from The Hold Steady, Broken Social Scene and Man Man.

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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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Break out the glow sticks, it’s time to get down

5 07 2009

By Justin Jacobs (@justinhjacobs)

Take 30,000 kids hyped up on the noodle-dancing of The Dead, add thousands of glow sticks and neon body paint and let the raves begin.

MSTRKRFT blew up the Sherwood Court stage and shrank the open, boundless area to a sweaty warehouse party.
The DJ duo roped in Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.,” chopped up and rebuilt, of course, and played Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsondy” in near-entirety. Who says hipsters and hippies can’t appreciate the classics, albeit cheesy ones?

But good God, the pulsing beats didn’t stop there.

DJ getup EOTO burst any eardrums that weren’t already ruptured with a set of slowed down, Titanic bass beats with an elaborate video show that could get a Narcotics agent to start tripping.

Though numbers began to dwindle towards 4 a.m., there was a party to be had all throughout the tent grounds until it was time for breakfast.

Time of my body slumping over in a tent dead asleep: 6:30 a.m.

Time to wake up and check out Sunday’s lineup — with Yonder Mountain String Band, The Hold Steady, Ani DiFranco, Gov’t Mule and (way, way past his prime but always worth checking out, even for bragging rights of saying “I saw him play”) Bob Dylan.

The Dead melt thousands of faces, no one’s upset

5 07 2009

By Justin Jacobs (@justinhjacobs)


Bob Weir, The Dead, Rothbury 2009

By Festival Saturday, Rothbury had turned into a fully functioning mini-nation, with its own culture, its own people and its own, ahem, underground economy.

It’s hard not to feel part of something at a festival as well-organized and friendly as Rothbury — aside from the bevy of kooks too spun out on acid blotter to know what day, or often year, it is. And truth be told, most of them aren’t so bad either.  Just a little hard on the nostrils.

Though The Black Crowes tore up the main stage Saturday afternoon, much of the crowd remained before the stage during the hour-plus that no music was played. Why? Easy: The Dead.

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The String Cheese Incident take Rothbury to the circus

4 07 2009

By Justin Jacobs (@justinhjacobs)


Early Friday evening saw Rothbury’s lineup take a distinct turn in sound.

First came Broken Social Scene, a band that’s long held a top spot among the indie band elite. Don’t get me wrong, BSS make some great songs, and You Forgot It In People is one of the best indie records of the last few decades, but a Rothbury the terse, serious guitar jams didn’t quite fit.

The crowd that gathered for BSS was one of the smallest to appear before The Ranch Area stage, and it didn’t help that the first half of the set overlapped Femi Kuti & The Positive Force’s African funk fury and the second cut into the Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley & Nas duo.

Not great odds for the Canadian indie (and mostly jam-less) collective.

“We thought that would be an hour and 15 minutes. Well, we got 15 minutes left,” said Kevin Drew after the band’s planned last song, the lullaby “Anthem of a Seventeen Year Old Girl.”

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Man Man works you up, G. Love calms you down

3 07 2009

By Justin Jacobs (@justinhjacobs)


Man Man, Rothbury 2009

The back end of Rothbury’s festival grounds — where you’ll find the duo of the mid-sized Sherwood Court stage and the massive Odeum — drew shuffling, sleepy crowds for Friday’s early afternoon shows.

Luckily, Philadelphia spazz-rock outfit Man Man provided more jolt than a Redbull or coffee ever could. The band sounds like the music that would come from Santa’s workshop if all the elves were mentally unstable. That is, vocalist Honus Honus shrieks wildly over his band’s orchestral racket that includes two drum sets, saxophone, xylophone and — get this — slide flute.

With matching white outfits of cut-off shorts and face paint (as well as few songs Honus sang wearing a sequined dress from backstage), Man Man is almost equal parts performance and music — the band could entertain a crowd without playing anything at all.

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