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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summerfest: Tuesday, June 29

Brooks & Dunn, Cypress Hill and “Weird Al” Yankovic

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Brooks & Dunn w/ Gary Allan and Kellie Pickler

Marcus Amphitheater, 7 p.m.

Rumors of retirement (and subsequent un-retirement) for recording artists are nothing new, but if their word is to be believed, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn are going out on top—fitting, since that’s more or less where they started.This really may be the final tour for Brooks & Dunn, the duo whose stable presence on commercialcountry radio over the past 20 yearswas often a respite from pre-fab hat acts and pop divas in disguise.Dunn'sOkiesoulfulness and Brooks’ smoother, darker tone were enough of a draw, but the twosome alsodistillednearly every influencetheir genreabsorbed the past 40 years into a sound respectful of history while keeping pace with country’s evolution.

The guys’ opening acts aren't shabby, either. Gary Allan has been a standard-bearer for Cali country since thelate ’90s, oftencreating songs that are haunted andresigned, unusual for the current market.

Season Five “American Idol”alum Kellie Pickler specializes incountry’s poppier side, but she does it with aslyness and sincerity that some of her competition would do well to learn. (Jamie Lee Rake)

Cypress Hill

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

2010-06-10

As members of a Latino rap group formed at a time when the genre was still decidedly monochromatic, Cypress Hill were hip-hop outsiders from the beginning. Though their blockbuster debut albums, 1991’s Cypress Hill and 1993’s Black Sunday, made them bona fide rap stars, they were never satisfied staying planted in one genre. They wanted to be rock stars, too, and they reached out to rock fans in a way no rappers had since Run-D.M.C. They toured with a band—a genuine, trash-the-stage rock band—and played the alternative-music festival Lollapalooza. Even their album art, with its gloomy images and gothic lettering, nodded to heavy-metal culture.

In the decade since their 2000 album, Skull & Bones, a double-disc set divided between rap and rap-rock, Cypress Hill has had better luck on the rock charts than the rap ones. Their new album, Rise Up, rewards the loyalty of the band’s rock fans with plenty of rap-rock red meat, including guest appearances from Everlast, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda and System of a Down’s Daron Malakian. It’s a loud record, but conversely it’s also perhaps the band’s most easygoing. Though the band made their name with militant, overtly threatening singles like “How I Could Just Kill a Man,” “Hand on the Pump” and “I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That,” Rise Up dials that aggression way down, offering instead Cypress Hill’s version of a party record. (Evan Rytlewski)


“Weird Al” Yankovic

M&I Classic Rock Stage, 9:30 p.m.

2010-06-10

“Weird Al” Yankovic knows how to flatter music royalty—if imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery. The industry’s court jester has spoofed everyone from the King of Pop (“Eat It”) to Queen (“Another One Rides the Bus”) in a 30-year career that arguably remains more relevant than that of the dour Prince.

Yankovic’s rise from cult hero to minor celebrity to mainstream music satirist has stemmed from a seemingly simple formula—take popular tune, tweak lyrics, rinse and repeat—yet three decades later “Weird Al” remains the unquestioned leader of the spoof-song genre.

In a business known for quickly dishing up new talents, only to chew them up and spit them back out, perhaps the secret of Al’s longevity lies in the sheer number of his food-centric songs (“Fat,” “Eat It,” “I Love Rocky Road,” “Lasagna,” “Spam,” “Taco Grande,” “Livin’ in the Fridge,” “My Bologna,” “Grapefruit Diet,” “Girls Just Want to Have Lunch”).

Then again, it could be his penchant for hopping all over the musical spectrum, from folk and polka to rock and rap.

Or maybe we just love a talented goofball who’s committed to being silly (“Polka Power!,” “Pretty Fly for a Rabbi,” “Toothless People”). With so many people caught up in their own self-importance, Al isn’t afraid to “Dare to Be Stupid.”

That refreshing attitude, not to mention his total commitment to having a good time, makes “Weird Al” a perfect ambassador for a royally fun night at Summerfest. (Robbie Hartman)

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