Watch The Band Performs “The Weight” in 1969
via outlander / Youtube
Since the original Woodstock audience was gradually dispersing, The Band came to represent the zeitgeist of the time more than anybody else. Robbie Robertson, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, and Levon Helm, as was traditional for their live shows, were arranged on stage as though they were back in their basement or in someone’s living room, with their backs to the audience. Even though the band members themselves didn’t think it was their greatest performance, the music they created was among the festival’s best.
The group, originally named The Hawks, was often referred to by many as “the band” when they landed the gig as Bob Dylan’s backing group. Naturally, when it was time for them to stand on their own feet, they adopted the name and created an entity that no one could far reach so.
Screams of “where’s Dylan?” were thrown at the stage throughout the band’s Woodstock set, but they went unanswered because of the widespread belief that Bob Dylan himself would join The Band for this performance. Robertson opened up about how the group felt all along while being in front of thousands of audiences waiting to see them perform:
“I never thought it was an amazing musical experience,” Robertson explained to Rolling Stone. “Just like in the movie, the music was only part of the entertainment. As for the event itself, you feel proud to have been a part of it; you feel it was amazing; you feel it was a first; you feel like it said something. In all of those ways, it was huge. But as a musical experience for the Band, we were like orphans in the storm there. Most of the other musicians went up and said, ‘Everybody clap your hands and sing along with me.’ But that wasn’t our calling. We were thinking, ‘These poor suckers have been putting up with a lot of stuff, so maybe we should send out a little spiritual blessing to them.’”
Still, the whole performance wasn’t catastrophic at all. Watch The Band perform “The Weight” in the 1969 Woodstock below.