- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 27, 2000

It's midsummer, boys and girls, smack dab. And beyond some more beach time, what else is there but to take in some sounds over the weekend?

This sure is the weekend to do it. Especially if your tastes run to winner-of-Kennedy-Center-Honors wing of popular music. Yes, like a rolling stone, though not completely unknown, Bob Dylan pulls his musical wagon into Merriweather Post Pavilion for a gig Saturday.

The iconic songwriter and player of harmonica and guitar can't sing for beans any more. It's true. But this is the guy who wrote "Blowin' in the Wind," "Don't Think Twice," "Masters Of War," "Didn't You," "Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," "Down the Highway" and a million other lesser songs that speak to a generation or two of American youths.

True, those youths today are getting ready for Sun City and nightly Geritol. But they're still hangin' in there, baby. Through July 31, they and upcoming generations will have packed 31 concert halls across the country for a little touch of Mr. Tambourine Man.

Playing with Mr. Dylan is Phil Lesh former guitar player for the Grateful Dead and a backup band. Most of the show, alas, is given to newer stuff, like "Things Have Changed," "Buckets of Rain," "Simple Twist of Fate."

Mr. Dylan has an album of newer stuff to sell at Merriweather, too, "Time Out of Mind," his 41st, a stab at songwriting for the rock 'n' roll band set. Released in 1997, it was his first top-10 album in 18 years. And a lot of big name acts like Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell in recent years have paired up with both Mr. Dylan and pieces of that album. Some like it, some don't.

For something completely different, head to Nissan Pavilion this Saturday for Savage Garden, the cute-as-a-button Australian duo who are making millions with hot pop-of-the-moment songs like "Truly Madly Deeply," "I Knew I Loved You" and "Crash And Burn."

Lead vocalist Darren Hayes is a gorgeous young man and sings like an angel. True, the falsetto may not be a guy thing. But therein lies the tale. Savage Garden is a boy-toy act, two guys whose gentle techno rock and bouncy love ballads are for girls, younger girls finding their way through the tender underbrush of love.

Trust me. "I believe the sun should never set upon an argument," they sing. "I believe we place our happiness in other people's hands," they croon. No, these are not edgy meditations on war, death and inheritance taxes, but on love. And, in fact, it works well.

The Savage Garden production team Daniel Jones is chief tunesmith and instrumentalist of the group has worked up songs that bounce and feel good, nice stuff that speaks to little parts of life. That's what art does, what music does, when it works well on a hot summer's eve.

And then there's Third Eye Blind playing something "Blue" tonight at Merriweather Post Pavilion. "Blue," of course, is that happy techno thing all over pop radio at the moment, a nutty nonsense song that sets toes to tapping. Never mind making sense of it.

Which probably describes at least part of the success of the California quartet. Stephan Jenkins is lead songwriter, originator of "Semi-Charmed Life," "How's It Going To Be" and "Jumper," hit songs responsible for about 4 million sales over the past few years.

Drumming is Brad Hargreaves, another twentysomething cutie, with Arion Salazar on bass the brooding and slightly oddball heavy of the group. The band recently picked up a fourth member, Tony Fredianelli, who plays guitar and bass. Together, the four offer an energetic, if derivative, sound. It's pounding technopunk, scoured of dirty words and presented with lots of wailing guitar and heavy drums. The group lays out ballady things, too.

Be sure to stick around for "Never Let You Go," a kind of coda for this group. There is great falsetto boy bands do that these days and the wildest brushed guitar giving up sound like an electro jew's-harp. The boys lay out a teen anthem of sorts "There's every good reason for letting you go." But it's really about love and life, and all in good fun.

So are they.

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