When: Tue., Feb. 9, 8 p.m. 2016
Tuesday, FEB. 9 TODD RUNDGREN
In 2016, the Todd Rundgren song you're most likely to encounter by chance is "Bang the Drum All Day." The faux-island vibes of the Philadelphia rock star's 1983 novelty have a few commercial uses—as an anti-work anthem for middle-aged strivers eying a Carnival Cruise getaway, as a highly concentrated blast of fun in movie trailers, and as a mock-the-hippies moment for right-wing radio hosts railing against democratic socialism. It's fitting that even a silly Rundgren song would elude definitive meaning; most every aspect of his illustrious career is hard to summarize.
Rundgren breezed past the branches of the 1970s rock tree. He earned his biggest successes playing clean, muscular power pop and heartfelt Carole King-type ballads, but he'd soon dally with everything from hard rock to prog to Philly soul. As a producer, he guided impactful albums like The New York Dolls' debut, XTC's Skylarking, and Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell, helping to diversify the concept of male rock stardom to include androgynous gutter-glam, dry British wit, and sweaty, blockbuster cheese. He was an early adopter of the music video in the 1980s and of the clunky but interactive CD-ROM in the 1990s.
Creative restlessness has followed Rundgren into his golden years. Just last year, in fact, he released both a goofy stab at political party-rock that suggests a groggy Electric Six and a set of airy disco ballads made with Norwegian dance producer Lindstrøm. These records aren't good exactly, but they're not blankly checked out, either. Rundgren's gonna ramble on.—Jeff Klingman
CAROLINA THEATRE, DURHAM, 8 p.m., $34–$104, www.carolinatheatre.org