Summerfest Daily Highlights: Sunday, July 3
Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow and Rise Against
Kid Rock w/ Sheryl Crow and Leroy Powell and the Messengers
Marcus Amphitheater, 7 p.m.
How does screaming, rapping cowboy Kid Rock grow old respectably? For starters, by screaming and rapping a whole lot less. Over the last decade Kid Rock has gradually tamed his brasher impulses to broaden his appeal to country-music audiences. His latest record, last year's Born Free, completes his transition from nu-metal curiosity to respectable Bob Seger/John Mellencamp-styled heartland rocker. On it, Rock purges nearly all traces of rap, with the exception of a brief cameo from T.I., who shares a verse so clean and inspirational that even fans of Martina McBride, who is also featured on that track, will likely find him a charming, upstanding young man.
The album also continues Rock's long collaborative streak with Sheryl Crow, who first joined him on his 2002 single “Picture.” Like Rock, Crow has learned over the years that there's a loyal audience to be found in the country circuit, so she's played up her rural roots on recent albums like 2008's Detours. But on her latest album, 100 Miles from Memphis, Crow somewhat departs from that formula to embrace her inner Dusty Springfield and pay homage to Memphis soul. It's a minor record, less radio-minded than any Crow album before it, but her affection for the material is contagious. (Evan Rytlewski)
Miller Lite Oasis, 10 p.m.
Since 1999, Chicago-based Rise Against has been cranking out polished punk anthems of consistent quality. The band's most recent release, 2011's Endgame, finds the band moving in a more rock-oriented direction, a development that has disappointed some longtime fans while introducing the group to new listeners. Despite such a development, the band is still more Bad Religion than Green Day, and the band's live performances remain as incendiary as ever.
Yet the most apparent constant throughout the band's six studio albums remains the lyrical prowess of Rise Against frontman Tim McIlrath. Now over 30, McIlrath still is able to conjure up the youthful essence of punk rock in a direct and deeply personal way. “Don't you remember when you were young,” McIlrath sings on “Architects,” the leadoff track of Endgame, “and you wanted to set the world on fire? Somewhere deep down, I know you do.” McIlrath delivers these lines with so much sincerity that it becomes nearly impossible to doubt his commitment to the life-altering potential of punk rock. The sound may change, but the spirit remains the same. (Michael Carriere)
Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard, 10 p.m.
The Jayhawks emerged from the flourishing Twin Cities music scene of the '80s with a sound and feel deeply rooted in the soil of American music. Their 1989 album on Twin/Tone Records, Blue Earth, gained them a nationwide college-radio cult following on the strength of the superb, often bittersweet songs of Mark Olson and Gary Louris. Signed afterward to the coolest label in '90s alt-rock, Def American, The Jayhawks released one of that decade's greatest albums, Hollywood Town Hall (1992), and an excellent follow-up, Tomorrow the Green Grass (1995). As beautiful and bleak as a long car trip through the upper Midwest in late winter, an aura of mystery clung to songs that suggested stories rather than telling them. The steel-guitar-drenched laments rode on a solid country-rock rhythm, moving the music down Gram Parsons' road of melancholy resignation.
After Olson left at the end of 1995, Louris took charge and led the band in other directions. Many longtime fans begrudged the changes. The band was dormant for much of the last decade but Olson and Louris reunited for occasional shows beginning in 2009. Earlier this year, after Legacy issued expanded editions of the Def American releases, the Jayhawks went on tour. A new studio album is expected. (David Luhrssen)