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As summer approaches, we think of the big things it brings: expanding utility bills, growing throngs of Crocs-footed tourists at the Smithsonian, and CGI-bloated blockbuster flicks. Why not add extravagant performances by engorged-ego rock stars to the list?
The fancy lad of the big-headed musician bunch is Dean Wareham, product of the Dalton School and Harvard. Wareham is a man who candidly admitted in his memoir, Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance, that he’s read Camus, Nietzsche, and Malraux; snorted coke on tour; and prematurely ejaculated during a brief, regrettable encounter with a German prostitute. If he didn’t exist, Jay McInerney would invent him. In Cambridge, Mass., Wareham helped form the seminal dream pop band, Galaxie 500. Later, he founded the lesser, but still enjoyable, indie band, Luna, which lasted from 1991 until 2005. He’s a bit more settled these days and, in fact, he’s touring with his wife, Britta Phillips. So, mum’s the word on the German hooker incident when Dean & Britta perform on June 5 at the Black Cat.
Philadelphia’s Santigold might be the most likable artist on the ego list, but she still walks with considerable swagger. A graduate of Wesleyan, that fine potted Ivy, she has displayed wide knowledge and ability in synthesizing multiple musical genres, including New Wave pop, reggae, and indie rock. She’s toiled in the background forever, singing on other people’s records, but last year she released her eponymous debut to much acclaim. And, as she boasts on one of her singles, the former Santi White appears to be “Unstoppable.” Verify for yourself at her 9:30 Club show on June 10.
At 19 years old, Taylor Swift is country music’s latest ingénue. Everything about her—her looks, her voice, her humble-origins story—seems a little too perfect. She’s level-headed and the most controversy-stirring headline she has kicked up in her short career involved Joe Jonas dumping her via text message. Surely it’s only a matter of time before she slips up and shows she’s human like the rest of us. Swift is touring in support of her successful sophomore record, Fearless, so if you think your self-esteem can handle it, the Aryan princess who sings like a Nashvillian angel is at Merriweather Post Pavillion on June 11.
With apologies to Audioslave, the Travelling Wilburys, and Tinted Windows, Blind Faith, even with just a single 1969 release, still tops the list of rock supergroups. Of course, we are a long way from 1969. Eric Clapton has since become one of rock’s least likable stars, and Steve Winwood one of its most boring. The men now look more like unsteady pensioners than British blues powerhouses. Clapton used to be called “Slowhand,” perhaps for his smooth, bluesy style. Nowadays, he’s slow because of rigor mortis. Something died in him a long time ago—somewhere around the time he made a cameo in Blues Brothers 2000. Feel free to watch this pair of past-their-primers half-step it to a predictable selection of hits when Clapton and Winwood show up at the Verizon Center on June 13.
Poor Beyoncé—her flame has lost a bit of its glow recently. Last month, a leaked board track of what was supposed to be Bey sounding downright Linda McCartney-esque was released, and when the recording was exposed as a fake, few got the message. Soon after, her Obsessed co-star, Idris Elba, hinted that the singer isn’t as good at acting as she is at choreographed dance moves. Then there was the controversy over the authorship of “If I Were a Boy.” Still, the ridiculous I Am …Sasha Fierce went double platinum and there is little doubt that the Verizon Center will be packed to hear her lip-sync to “Diva” one more time on June 24.
Memphis’ Jay Reatard, with his snotty arrogance, onstage violence, and obligatory stints in rehab, may not seem like a sympathetic figure. He often appears to be following the Guide to Being a Rock and Roll Asshole verbatim. However, he’s actually got the chops to back it up. In fact, as he’s become more unhinged in recent years, his songwriting output and penchant for catchy hooks has increased exponentially. He released two incredible compilations of singles last year and has a new full-length slated for later this year. Sure, he will probably punch somebody, scream at the sound guy, and act like a genuine horse’s ass, but when he plays July 5 at the Black Cat, just remember it’s all a part of the big show.
Dean & Britta
Black Cat, Fri., 6/5, at 9 p.m. $15.
9:30 Club, Wed., 6/10, at 7 p.m. Sold out.
Merriweather Post Pavillion, Thurs., 6/11, at 7 p.m. Sold out.
Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood
Verizon Center, Sat., 6/13, at 8 p.m. $68-158.
Verizon Center, Wed., 6/24, at 7:30 p.m. $20.75-125.75.
Black Cat, Sun., 7/5, at 8 p.m. $12.