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Cheap Trick: Summerfest Potawatomi Bingo Stage, June 29

Imagine you’re Cheap Trick. Thirty years and still counting and you’ve risen from the ashes of bar band obscurity to a brief flirtation with global domination. You’ve gone from critics’ darlings to being kicked to the rock and roll curb and left for dead. Your fan base, loyal to the end, is a curious amalgam of aging diehards and tattooed twenty-somethings. You’re perceived as everything from a genuine American treasure to a tired joke with no punch line. You’ve just come off a dizzying three month tour as the opening act for hard rock icons Aerosmith. Monday night, you’re in Cleveland playing to yet another sold out Enormodome and Wednesday, you’re jetting across the Atlantic for a three week stint in Europe. So you take Tuesday off. Right? Well, sort of. Cheap Trick is anything but lazy, so they magnanimously (or is it greedily?) agree to play Bummerfest for about the zillionth time. Who can blame the boys for mailing one in? On the surface, all the pop, wallop and charm of the live Trick experience was firmly intact. Ringleader and consummate pro Rick Nielsen pranced and mugged per usual while reeling off guitar renderings that turned on a dime from slash and burn to area rock slop. Robin Zander, his always resplendent self in dark wrap-around shades and tailored white suit, hit all the notes and sang his skinny white ass off, but his delivery was dimmed by a decided lack of interest. “Ho-hum, another day, another dollar, now let’s play the hits and get the hell out of here” was the vibe coming from center stage. Partners in rhythm, Tom Peterssen and Bun E. Carlos, did their jobs and little else, rarely even hinting at the sheer brilliance they’re capable of.