Kansas: Their "Dust in the Wind" is that rare late '70s power ballad that does not suck.
Kansas: Their "Dust in the Wind" is that rare late '70s power ballad that does not suck.

Sizing up the summer's classic-rock scorecard

Deciding which classic rock shows to attend this summer might be as frustrating as enduring a drum solo by Yes's Alan White, but Wack is here to help.

So far, 13 are headed this way in May and June alone, with five coming this weekend. We'll keep score all summer, but for now, we'll confine ourselves to this quintet of rockers. All were assigned ratings in five categories, as follows:

Positive Categories include the Lighter Load, which measures the amount of stone cold classics you'll be waving your Bic to, the Cachet Counter, which is a guesstimate of the current cultural relevance, and the self-explanatory Guilty Pleasure Score.


classic rock concerts

Negative Categories include the Overexposure Index and the Sap Tax, which weighs in insipid balladry and/or extensive wankery.

Disclaimer: Values are assigned according to Wack's personal preferences and prejudices; this is hardly an exact science, people. Artists are ranked in the chronological order of their appearance in ­Houston.

Marshall Tucker Band (May 29, ­Meridian)

Lighter: 4

Cachet: 4 — Thank/blame these guys for Kenny Chesney and friends.

Guilt: 5 — Prominence of flute makes M.T.B. Southern Rock's Jethro Tull.

OverEx: (-4)

Sap: (-4)

Total: 5

Steve Miller Band (May 31, on a double bill with Joe Cocker, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion)

Lighter: 5 — Miller is actually an underrated blues guitarist.

Cachet: 4 — Because "The Joker" will never truly go away.

Guilt: 4

OverEx: (-5)

Sap: (-3)

Total: 5

Joe Cocker

Lighter: 3

Cachet: 5 — Made an Officer of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II and sang "Come Together" in Julie Taymor's Across the Universe last year

Guilt: 2

OverEx: (-2)

Sap: (-5) — "You Are So Beautiful," maybe, but the voice never was.

Total: 3

Combined score of Cocker/Miller bill: 8

Kansas (May 31, with Mark Farner, Showgrounds at Sam Houston Race Park)

Lighter: 3

Cachet: 4 — South Park's deployment of "Carry on My Wayward Son" and use of same song in Guitar Hero II has turned them on to new generation of hormonal teen boys.

Guilt: 3

OverEx: (-4)

Sap: (-2) — "Dust in the Wind" is the rare power ballad done right — you're my boy, blue!

Total: 4

Mark Farner

Lighter: 1 — Didn't write "We're an American Band."

Cachet: 5 — Lent his name to the Butt­hole Surfers' dog; received the Lakota Sioux Elder Honors Mark in 1999.

Guilt: 2

OverEx: (-1)

Sap: (-3)

Total: 4

Combined score of Kansas/Farner bill: Also 8. But like we said, we're here to help. Flip a coin.


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