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Summerfest: Thursday, July 1

Santana w/ Steve Winwood, The Hold Steady and The Offspring

Jun. 10, 2010
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Santana w/ Steve Winwood

Marcus Amphitheater, 7:30 p.m.

At the height of San Francisco’s musical and cultural revolutions of the late 1960s, young guitarist Carlos Santana surfaced with a new sound, one that blended traditional blues with his own Mexican-American roots, all awash in the era’s “psychedelic” and socially conscious overtones. With a hit single, “Jingo,” and a legendary performance at Woodstock, Santana took the world by storm. The result was a vibrant new voice in the musical scene, one that continued to evolve through the guitarist’s growing spiritualism and emerging pan-cultural musical palette. The Grammy-winning artist and social activist has created a new cross-cultural ideal that embraces the music and causes of many countries, making him one of the most influential artists of both the 20th and 21st centuries.

Santana and the latest iteration of his groundbreaking ensemble share the Marcus Amphitheater stage with another music legend, Steve Winwood. The British keyboard player, who fronted the Spencer Davis Group and Blind Faith with Eric Clapton, was last seen on the Marcus stage in 2005 as part of Traffic, the seminal 1970s blues-rock band who reunited to pack the house. Expect great things from an evening spent with these two influential musicians. (Michael Muckian)

The Hold Steady

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


Songs about getting high never go out of style. That’s one reason why The Hold Steady—propelled by vocalist/guitarist/lyricist Craig Finn’s neurotic narratives laced with references to drugs, religion, alcohol and youth culture—is still, well, holding steady. And maybe even growing up.

A decade on, the Brooklyn-based critical darlings have sort of become a Springsteenized version of The Replacements. Finn and guitarist Tad Kubler agree that The Hold Steady’s fifth album, Heaven Is Whenever, released in May after the departure of longtime keyboardist Franz Nicolay, is less dense than 2008’s Stay Positive. “[It] has a bit more open space,” explains Finn, a bespectacled, hyper-literate type whose off-kilter and wordy delivery remains an acquired taste, in a release about the album. “I see it as being less anthemic and more complex. Each time we make a record, I think it gets more musical. We have had the opportunity to grow as musicians and performers.”

So have Finn’s characters. “The lyrics speak a lot about struggle and reward,” Finn continues. “It’s about embracing suffering and understanding its place in a joyful life. Some of the characters from old records are there, but I don't name them by name.”

Longtime fans shouldn’t expect many changes in The Hold Steady’s live performance, according to Kubler. “I think regardless of the decisions we make in the studio, we love playing music,” he says. “You get a bunch of people together at a rock concert looking to have a good time, the rest takes care of itself.” (Michael Popke)

The Offspring

Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, 10:30 p.m.


The Offspring are one of the most successful punk bands of all time, largely because they’ve always had an ear for the times. During a period when their California punk peers were rigidly committed to Bad Religion’s playbook, the broader sounds of alternative rock seeped like a sponge through The Offspring’s breakthrough album, 1994’s Smash. In its oversized hooks the record mirrored the pop-punk of bands like Green Day, which were beginning to dominate the radio at the time, but the record also recalled Nirvana in its grungy, halting guitars and in singer Dexter Holland’s hoarse screams. The disc was also imbued with a heaviness that endeared it to underserved hard-rock and heavy-metal fans of the day.

Grunge was for all purposes dead by the time The Offspring released 1998’s Americana, but the band adapted well, commenting on the newfound prevalence of rap culture in the suburbs on their jocular hit “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” and, like so many punks of the era, aligning themselves with the ska movement on “Why Don’t You Get a Job?”

They continue to stay with the times. Their late-2001 single “Defy You” found Holland channeling the brooding intensity of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, while other singles from the era capture the irreverence of Blink-182 and Sum-41’s mall-punk. In typical fashion, the group again captured the pulse of alternative radio with 2008’s Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace, which included “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid,” a hit so sardonic Pete Wentz could have penned it. The band is looking to release a new album later this year. (Evan Rytlewski)


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