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Zac Brown Band

Zac Brown helms his band — which has grown since its inception in 2002 to an eight-piece — with his rich, reflective baritone and un-egotistical approach to performance. The dream of the jam band is still alive in ZBB, despite three platinum records and eleven #1 singles, as well as the release of Brown’s cookbook of Southern cuisine. But the group’s signature is their penchant for emotive country rock songs, rooted deeply in nostalgic harmony and imagery of the Georgia landscape where Brown grew up.

Sat., Aug. 30, 7 p.m., 2014

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Rod Stewart & Santana

This powerhouse odd couple gives new meaning to the word sexagenarian. Santana can still elicit ultrasonic banshee wails on his famously no-frills solid body, eschewing pedal effects for a more quintessentially “smooth” guitar sound, and Stewart can still croak more soulfully than anyone. “Oye Como Va” and “Black Magic Woman” meet “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy,” the Faces’ “Stay with Me,” and Stewart’s recent teenage love ballad, “Brighton Beach,” begging the question of whether Santana’s signature fedora and Rod’s mod rooster coiffe clash or complement. Yet any questioning ears should be satisfied by the pair’s keening duet on Etta James’s “I’d Rather Go Blind.”

Wed., Aug. 20, 7:30 p.m., 2014

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Linkin Park

The newest album’s deliberate moves toward punk rock feel contrived coming from a band with this history of overproduction, but it does at least feature one song with a killer odd-time riff. That stuff is the point now, really: all the tiny weird flourishes have become considerably weirder, sometimes compellingly; the swirling spoken-word collage halfway through A Thousand Suns might have been a tipping point. Punching bag or not, Hybrid Theory has actually aged quite well as an artifact of its era, a pristine embalmed facepalm which reminds us that we once decided a nü-metal boy band deserved ubiquity for “In The End.” But hey, it’d still make a better Song of the Summer than fucking “Fancy.”

Tue., Aug. 19, 6:30 p.m., 2014

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OFF TO SEE THE WIZ

Wiz Khalifa brings his “Under the Influence of Music” tour to the tri-state area’s iconic Jones Beach Theater tonight. Toward the end of 2013, Wiz started discussing his new album Blacc Hollywood, and now the Pittsburgh rapper is prepping its release. The record will be his fifth studio album, out on August 19 through Atlantic Records. The lead single, “We Dem Boyz” rocketed him back to the forefront of the hip-hop conversation. Last year saw Khalifa focusing more on his personal life than music—he and Amber Rose had their first son in February and followed that up with a wedding—but back in May, Khalifa released the mix tape 28 Gramz to help build anticipation for his new record. Like the rest of his work, the tape focuses heavily on cannabis use and celebrates the wonders of marijuana in general.

Thu., July 31, 6 p.m., 2014

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Nine Inch Nails+Soundgarden

Nostalgia is a dish best served loud, and even sans Death Grips’ noise-rap maelstrom, this tour’s marquee acts are beasts. In the late 1980s and early 1990s Soundgarden helped invent grunge idolatry, and can guarantee a snoutful of sludgy, telescoping guitars. At the same time and for some years thereafter (and recently), Nine Inch Nails auteur Trent Reznor made industrial pop angst a bankable concept. Expect gratuitous headbanging, tinnitus, and bruise-inducing fist-bumps galore – plus considerably inevitable confusion, among the target market, over the musical stylings of opener Oneohtrix Point Never.

Fri., Aug. 1, 7 p.m., 2014

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John Fogerty+Jackson Browne

Between the two of them, co-headliners John Fogerty and Jackson Browne cover some serious musical acreage. In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Fogerty’s Creedence Clearwater Revival appealed to nearly everyone; country and rock audiences alike have long flocked to the group’s anthemic folk style. Browne’s songwriting straddles genre, epitomizing the fusion of poetics and big-arena catchiness–a combination that’s earned him a spot in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Both performers have an appeal that’s built to last as well as a knack for bottling rock and roll and making magic happen, over and over again.

Tue., Aug. 5, 7:30 p.m., 2014

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Lady Antebellum

You probably best know Lady Antebellum from the group’s ubiquitous 2009 smash “Need You Now” — you know, the one identifiable by the piano-pounding intro and the somber, too-much-to-drink regret. The Nashville country trio of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood have kept plenty busy since that Grammy-winning single, churning out a number of other memorable hits including “Just a Kiss,” “We Owned the Night” and the summer-perfect funkified “Downtown.” For this stop on the band’s Take Me Downtown tour, Lady A is bringing out Billy Currington and Joe Nichols for a good ol’ fashioned summertime party — which nobody does better than country music fans.

Sun., July 27, 7 p.m., 2014

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Lionel Richie: The Obama of Pop Music

In 2016, when Americans take stock of Barack Obama’s presidency, they may determine that he did very little to improve the lives of everyday black people. But what is indisputable is that Obama will have forever altered people’s perceptions of what a black person in America can accomplish.

Such has been the impact of Lionel Richie as well.

Back in college, Richie, a native Alabaman who attended Tuskegee Institute on a tennis scholarship, formed the Commodores with some schoolmates. Like many familiar Motown acts of the ’60s and ’70s, they dressed alike, danced alike, and harmonized in an airtight manner, merging funk, soul, and disco. But by the early ’80s, Lionel Richie had outgrown the Commodores.

Richie struck out on his own as a solo balladeer, becoming one of the best-selling artists of the decade. His rise concurred with Prince’s and Michael Jackson’s, with none of the innovation. The music Richie played was earnest and emotional, more reminiscent of Barry Manilow than Barry Gordy. Funky basslines gave way to elaborate string sections, as coked-up revelers in sockless loafers danced on stucco ceilings where brick houses once stood. By and large, the former Commodore was making white music for white people. He was no longer just another successful black recording artist; he was the world.

Back in 2004, when Richie, now 64, was at perhaps the nadir of his career, I interviewed him before a gig in Stuttgart, Germany. I asked if he’d had a dream the night prior, and whether it was awesome.

“When I tour, I have the weirdest dreams,” Richie replied. “I’m in my house in L.A., and I walk out the door, and I’m in Dubai. I cover the world in about five or six snaps now. I have what you call ‘global dreams.'”

On May 30, before an enthusiastic crowd at Seattle’s KeyArena, Richie kept most of his Commodores hits contained to a medley. His introduction and the accompanying nostalgic video footage half-mocked this era of his career. However, when Richie announced the final song of his encore, the decidedly unfunky “We Are the World,” he oozed an extraordinary amount of pride.

In the video for “Hello,” a clay sculpture of Richie’s mustachioed visage is created by a blind female. She can’t see him, but his face is familiar enough for |her to form with her hands. The resulting bust is big, beautiful, and beige — an apt metaphor for Richie’s music.

Richie took dead aim at the gooey center of ’80s soft rock and made the most commercially successful version of it, his songs serving as exultant sing-along fodder. (Richie acknowledged as much when, during his concert in Seattle, he asked the audience if they were ready for two hours of karaoke.) As a black artist who made his bones by whiting out his Caucasian contemporaries, he was stealthily revolutionary, detonating whatever box black music was contained in and leaving a landscape for future Kanyes and Kravitzes to chart whatever courses they damn well pleased.

In 2012, Richie reissued a collection of his greatest hits with an ingenious twist. Tuskegee was a duets album, featuring contributions from some of country music’s biggest stars: Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Jennifer Nettles, Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town, Shania Twain, Darius Rucker, Willie Nelson, and Kenny Rogers, who hit No. 1 with Richie’s “Lady” in 1980.

Tuskegee shot to No. 1 on the Billboard charts, Richie’s first success of that magnitude in 25 years. Nashville, like a pack of Republicans with Colin Powell among them, fell all over Richie, slapping together a tribute concert during which Luke Bryan reminisced about how he used to romance college girls over glasses of Chardonnay on the bed of his pickup while listening to Lionel. In all likelihood, that’s bullshit, but the sentiment was spot-on.

It’d be easy (like Sunday morning) to say Richie got lucky, but it’d be more accurate to say that his timing was purposeful and perfect. Mainstream country today is like soft rock was in the ’80s, and here Richie was again, reaping the benefits. But far from a mere masterstroke of opportunism, Richie wouldn’t have found such a warm reception down South had his music not meant something to those doing the receiving. The accomplishments of his prime, once derided by some, had stood the test of time — and time had come down on his side. His performing at Bonnaroo on June 14 is, perhaps, the biggest proof of this.

It remains to be seen whether history will be as generous to Obama, but odds are it will. As president, he’s played the long game, confident his legacy will overcome any passing peccadilloes. He, like Lionel, has dreamed globally, viewing the world not in black-and-white, but in beautiful shades of beige. Fiesta forever, indeed.

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Fall Out Boy+Paramore

Pop-punk aficionados, take my word on this one: Fall Out Boy and Paramore have never toured together. Really, think about how strange that is! No overlapping on Warped Tour or the ill-fated Taste of Chaos tours. Quench your thirst for teenage nostalgia with this double whammy of a bill. The price is steep, but come on people, when else will you get to hear “Sugar We’re Going Down” and “Emergency” in the same night, on the same stage? No time machine required.

Sat., June 21, 7 p.m., 2014

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Backstreet Boys+Avril Lavigne

The ‘90s and the early ‘00s were a golden age of pop music. We could feel larger than life while our female protagonists rocked ties like nobody’s business. We could worship Blink-182 and unironically appreciate the dick humor in classic teenage films like American Pie. Those days might be behind us, but with Backstreet Boys and Avril Lavigne sharing a bill, you have to wonder just how far removed the past really is. We say embrace it, go to this show, and contemplate starting a tribute band called “Sk8r Boys.” The world is ready.

Sun., June 22, 7:30 p.m., 2014