Jeep World Outside Festival

July 18

This Jeep-sponsored traveling all-day festival is billing itself as a "musical celebration of the outside active lifestyle," but that's nonsense--the only reason you should feel at all compelled to go is to check out what reasonably talented people can do with expensive recording equipment inside darkened rooms that cost a whole lot to rent by the hour. Still, clever move in picking Sheryl Crow to headline: "Soak Up the Sun," the lead single from her new C'mon, C'mon, is like Southern California shrink-wrapped and delivered to your doorstep by 8 a.m., a grainless smoothie of unctuous guitar finery and gooey El Lay harmonies that tells a preposterous story about working-class ennui but feels like lying by the pool until it's time to wake up and spend some more money (or clock into your crappy dishwashing job, whichever goes with your tube-top).

Unfortunately, soft-rock dullards Train and Tonic don't guarantee that type of transport in their freeze-dried studio stuff, though Tonic's homely "If You Could Only See" might take you back to the days when inchoate Replacements/Soul Asylum approximations actually found sympathizers at alt-rock radio. (It might also remind you that Dishwalla really existed.) Young New England guitar-strummer Howie Day would've possibly fit onto the radio then as a cuter Shawn Mullins, but now he's got his own booming singer-songwriter thing to glom onto (and a pleasant, just-re-released-by-Sony debut called Australia to promote), so on Thursday he'll likely come off as a cuter David Gray with a hankering for those dreamy sex songs Dave Matthews sometimes plays. Remy Shand's got his own sex songs--a whole album of them, actually. Motown Records swears Shand made the mildly seductive The Way I Feel all by himself in his bedroom in his parents' house in Winnipeg, Canada (which, to be fair, is way too lame to make up), but it's hard to say how Sheryl Crow's flock will take to a young white guy trying really hard to channel Stevie Wonder. Or the whitewater kayakers, for that matter.

 
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