Home / A&E / 2014 Summerfest Guide / Cheap Trick w/ No Quarter (Led Zeppelin Tribute)
Monday, June 16, 2014

Cheap Trick w/ No Quarter (Led Zeppelin Tribute)

Sunday, July 6 @ BMO Harris Pavilion, 8 p.m.

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Cheap Trick came out of Rockford, Ill., in the mid ’70s but played so often in Milwaukee clubs that they felt like a local band. They were hometown heroes here and throughout the Upper Midwest from Champaign-Urbana through LaCrosse. Their self-titled debut LP (1977) was greeted with jubilation in these parts (even if it sold few copies outside the region) and vindicated a Midwest work ethic of hard touring, play-every-bar rock ’n’ roll. The myth was enhanced when Cheap Trick first broke big, not in the U.S. but Japan, where the press dubbed them the “American Beatles.”

The comparison was almost apt. Cheap Trick’s endurance was based on the distinctiveness of its four members as well as a gift for song. The classic-era lineup featured two long-haired rock stars, Tom Petersson (bass) and Robin Zander (vocals, guitar); Bun E. Carlos (drums), who resembled a bad detective from an old movie; and Rick Nielsen (lead guitar), whose bowties and baseball caps placed him in an eccentric league of his own. Nielsen is a brilliant songwriter with sharply observant, deeply felt lyrics and a profound understanding of what made ’60s rock click. And yet, in the ’70s, Cheap Trick sounded hard and entirely contemporary. They rocked then—and they still do.