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Summerfest: Friday, June 25

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers w/ ZZ Top, Public Enemy and Dierks Bentley

Jun. 10, 2010
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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers w/ ZZ Top

Marcus Amphitheater, 7:30 p.m.

For those who like their rock fast and furious and grounded in American roots, this is the show to see.

It was 34 years ago that Tom Petty formed his band, the Heartbreakers, and the group continues to wow on the road. The parade of hits is endless, whether it’s the early work like “Breakdown” and “American Girl,” the psychedelic sounds of “Don’t Come Around Here No More” (co-written and produced by Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart), the solid rock of Petty’s 2002 record, The Last DJ, a bitter attack on the music industry, or his new album Mojo, which makes time for longer, bluesy jams.

Special guests ZZ Top merit special recognition on many levels, musically as well as personally. These three guys—Billy Gibbons (vocals and guitar), Joseph Dusty Hill (vocals, bass and keyboards) and Frank Beard (drums)—have stuck it out together for 41 years and helped to shape and define the Southern boogie blues-rock sound. Their music jumped up the charts with their 1973 release, Tres Hombres,and the catchy, infectious guitar hooks of “La Grange.” Seventeen albums with as many hits have followed since then, with a new studio album planned for 2010 to coincide with their world tour.

And, yes indeed, they still wear their sunglasses at night. (Harry Cherkinian)

Public Enemy

U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, 10 p.m.


Public Enemy wasn’t the first rap act to make message songs; Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five had been documenting inner-city ills well before Chuck D and company. But where earlier rap artists merely pointed out social problems—racism, poverty, drug use—Public Enemy pointed fingers, arguing on groundbreaking albums like 1988’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and 1990’s Fear of a Black Planet that white government was failing black America. Public Enemy affected political discourse in a way no rap act has since, taking black concerns ignored by the media—such as the sluggish response times of 911 first responders in urban communities—and turning them into songs that called mainstream attention to these issues.

The last decade has been a curious one for the band. After a slew of legal problems, sideman Flavor Flav spawned an unlikely reality-show empire on VH1, while Chuck D remained a prolific speaker and commentator. Through it all, the group has continued recording, albeit largely to commercial disinterest. Their latest album is 2007’s respectable How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul?, an indictment of modern commercial rap music. Few will confuse it for vintage Public Enemy, but nobody will mistake it for anything that isn’t Public Enemy, either. The militant beats; Chuck D’s booming, rhetorical rhymes; Flavor Flav’s irreverent, palate-cleansing tangent verses—this is one of the most iconic sounds rap music will ever know. (Evan Rytlewski)

Dierks Bentley

The Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard, 10 p.m.


Ever since his 2003 breakthrough hit "What Was I Thinkin'," Dierks Bentley has become one of mainstream country's most consistent artists, with a string of Top 10 singles on the country music charts, including seven No. 1 hits. Bentley’s studio albums with Capitol Records Nashville, even a greatest hits package in 2008, reveal a pretty consistent theme within Bentley’s work: the duality of his country-boy nature. His lyrics have him playing the part of vulnerable country-crooner-in-love with songs such as “Come a Little Closer” from 2005’s Modern Day Drifter and “Every Mile a Memory” from his third album Long Trip Alone. The Arizona native’s rollicking-redneck side is served with a helping of outlaw country a la David Allan Coe with tunes like “Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)” and “Sideways,” a crowd-pleasing favorite from 2009’s Feel That Fire.

Bentley’s 2010 “Up on the Ridge” tour coincides with the June release of his latest Capitol Nashville studio album, a project that the county star says is steeped in the bluegrass and roots music that made him become a country singer in the first place. (Sarah Biondich)



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