REALLY? Fantasia to Headline Artscape

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We’re rather astonished to report that Fantasia, “American Idol” winner from way back in season three, has been named Artscape’s opening night headliner, slated to perform on the Wells Fargo Main Stage, July 15—at 8 p.m., in case you want to attend…or avoid. 

Come on, couldn’t Artscape find someone cooler to kick off the muggy and crowded arts-and-crafts carnival? We know the producers must necessarily strive to please families and young people alike, without offending batik-clad midlifers, but Ms. Barrino marks an all-time dorky low.

Last year, jam-band-y blues rockers Gov’t Mule headlined; in 2009 uber-ironic Cake—not our favorite groups these days, but each has an edge, to match their dance-able sound. This year the torch is passed to…tear-jerking Fantasia?

Sure, she sings like a pro, that’s not the issue. She played Celie in “The Color Purple” on Broadway; she sang “Summertime” so well on “Idol” that sour Simon Cowell called hers the best performance in the history of the show. But we’re over Fantasia! Everyone we know is over Fantasia. Bottom line: She reminds us of “Idol,” of dated water-cooler chatter and TV dinners gone by, and always will.

In less dreary headliner news: G. Love and Special Sauce play Saturday night at 8. At least, they remind us of “cold beverages.” Coolest and freshest act of all, Matisyahu, a Hassidic Jew critically acclaimed for blending rap and reggae, performs Sunday at 6:30.

Forty musical acts, local and national, are set to play through the weekend, so check the schedule for more details—and cross your fingers you pick a lucky set.

Artscape, the largest free arts festival in the country, showcases dozens and dozens of artists, many quite strong, and attracts more than 350,000 visitors each summer. Far fewer than “American Idol” draws—see, we’re still thinking about the damn talent show—but in many ways it’s worth the hard-to-park, people-packed grief to get to the striking visual experience.

Which band or solo artist would you most like to see headline Artscape next year? Who would be the worst possible choice, in your opinion?



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