Turning 50 is certainly not old by today's standards. But rock & roll conventionally has a different scale. After all, at that age who wants to even go to a concert, much less embark on a nationwide tour performing hit songs you wrote half a lifetime ago?
Lots of people, as it turns out. As rock is starting to get a little long in the tooth itself, an older guard is emerging. And now that touring is many bands' best source of income (RIP record industry), reunions (and bands who just never leave the road) are more and more common.
With 2013 now half over, there are still a slew of 50 plus musicians making their stop in Dallas. And while it is kind of remarkable they are still embracing the tour life and playing energetic shows all over the country, it just goes to show, 50 may be the new 20, musically speaking. Here is my list of the top five quinquagenarians that will be livening things up for us unindustrious youngsters.
5. David Lowery, Camper Van Beethoven, July 27 at Granada Theater
While I am limited in my appreciation of front man David Lowery's later material in '90s alternative-era band, Cracker, his early work in whimsical and eclectic college-radio-friendly Camper Van Beethoven was always an entertaining change of pace among late '80s/early '90s bands. Yes, their debut single "Take the Skinheads Bowling" was perhaps their most well-known single, a side note that is almost always attached to any blurb written about the band, however with eight albums in their repertoire, and a mixed bag of musical styles, this show is worth adding to your concert calendar. And while Camper Van Beethoven is set to perform along with Cracker, a show that could be a bit of an ego trip instead comes across as a generous sign of respect for fans of all Lowery's material. And with just enough space to retain intimacy, I couldn't think of a better venue to host this show.
4. Dave Gahan, Depeche Mode, September 20 at Gexa Energy Pavilion
Dave Gahan and Depeche Mode have been at the helm of the British electronic music scene for over three decades, but that's not the most noteworthy part. Depeche Mode, much to Dave Gahan's surprise, is still generating a young fan base. Which shouldn't be too much of a shock, given their brand of romantically dark themes and synth-based songs have been replicated by many of today's acts. Expect to see a diverse mix of older devotees of Depeche Mode's heyday, as well as the younger crowd born a few decades too late, but equally as aged in their taste of the era-defining electronic sound Gahan and company do so well.3. Cyndi Lauper, June 26 at House of Blues
Cyndi Lauper actually turned 60 last Saturday. And yes, she already made her Dallas stop. But our admiration for Cyndi is not bound by such pittances as scheduling and/or time. She's perpetually young at heart, and has more heart than most performers her age. Touring in support for the 30th anniversary of her classic album, She's So Unusual, Cyndi Lauper is still so unusually entertaining. While she has a list of quirky pop music gems, an acting career, and human rights activism in her resume, I for one still can't forget her brief stint in the World Wrestling Federation. Cyndi Lauper wrestled professionally. And that is pretty impressive. And now, even in the autumn of her life, she's just as youthful as she was in 1983, and an anniversary tour of this magnitude proves as such.
2. Kevin Shields, My Bloody Valentine, August 17 at Verizon Theatre
Kevin Shields is not capable of dialing it down. At 50, Mr. Shields still continues to deliver notoriously loud performances, the sort of performance where waves of guitar distortion will make your t-shirt gently vibrate in unison with the tempo. And with MBV's latest album released this February, Shields and his expert band prove they haven't lost a step, with songs like "She Found Now" and the stand-out track, "New You," a tune that sounds like it was plucked right out of a Sofia Coppola mix tape. I just hope the Verizon Theatre sound set up will be kind to MBV's extreme volume.
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1. Chuck D, Public Enemy, July 1 at Verizon Theatre
At 52, Chuck D is just as politically charged and intimidatingly energetic as he was when it took a nation of millions to hold him back. Public Enemy will be the hip-hop elders on LL Cool J's "Rock the Mic" tour, but I suspect these innovators of rap's golden era will be the most lively act on the bill. Just judging by their performance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, if you're standing just far enough and squint your eyes, you wouldn't be able to tell that the performers on stage were just kiddos when man first landed on the moon.