As soon as the weather warms, hundreds of bands strap on guitars and slather on sunblock to play the county-fair and street-festival circuit. Some we welcome back like old friends; others make us run so far away. Alas, we couldn't get away.
By Rod O'Connor|
Bad Hair Band
Typical band A Flock of Seagulls
Career high point While this one-hit wonder’s signature tune, “I Ran (So Far Away)” did crack the Top 10, lead singer and former hairdresser Mike Score’s ’80s new wave hairdo—a stylized, backward mullet: business on the sides and back, party (long and swooping) in the front—remains the synth-pop band’s lasting legacy.
Groupie profile Aggressively-ironic male models; Supercuts employees who trim their own hair.
Likely dressing room demand Back in the day, flat irons were a must. But since lead singer Score now performs in a baseball hat, we assume he’s balding and therefore requires one box of Rogaine for Men.
Catch them at Wells Street Art Festival, June 14–15
In Name Only
Typical band Foghat
Career high point Its boogie-rock sound peaked in 1975 with “Slow Ride.” But after decades of revolving-door band membership—the Spinal Tap–like confusion reached its nadir from 1990 to 1993 when there were two versions of Foghat touring at the same time—only drummer Roger Earl remains from the original lineup.
Groupie profile A mix of doobie-smoking, Camaro-driving ’70s holdovers and young axe slingers who first rocked to “Slow Ride” thanks to Guitar Hero III.
Likely dressing room demand Once the proud owner of one of rock & roll’s most distinctive mustaches, Earl no doubt requires one package of Mach 3 razor blades for his now clean-shaven look.
Catch them at Jeff Fest, June 6–8 and Naperville Ribfest, July 3–6
Typical band Umphrey’s McGee
Career high point Playing Bonnaroo back in 2002 when it was still a hippie fest. Also, the day Phish broke up, which made Umphrey’s the country’s most noodle-tastic jam band (although they refer to themselves as “progressive”).
Groupie profile Nonthreatening drug dealers; college students who enjoy face-melting guitar solos.
Likely dressing room demand Patchouli-scented candles, vegan burritos and lots of Budweiser.
Catch them at Summer Camp Festival, May 22–25
Typical band Elevation
Career high point When founding member Daniel Burrow decided to scrap his own identity and channel U2 singer Bono for a living by calling himself “Danno.” Certainly, it’s Danno’s pitch-perfect “Bono-ness” that keeps the fest crowds coming back for more each and every year.
Groupie profile Plastered Lincoln Park Trixies who are so drunk, they think the band’s even better than the real thing.
Likely dressing room demand Three extra pairs of purple-tinted wrap-around shades for Danno, the Mr. Bono-wannabe. And three black skullcaps for The Edge’s stand-in.
Catch them at Sheffield Garden Walk, July 19–20
Current Festival Band Ready to Break Out
Typical band The Redwalls
Career high point Rocking live on Letterman and Leno; also having their tune “Build a Bridge” featured in an AT&T commercial (just like their heroes Oasis).
Groupie profile Americans who never could quite get into Oasis; Anglophiles who think these suburban Deerfield residents are actually British.
Likely dressing room demand Copies of every Beatles album ever released; also, extra product to maintain their shaggy British-Invasion haircuts.