Ted Nugent

The 62-year-old rocker has never been one for subtlety. Whether it’s a lightning-quick guitar riff or a verbal assault, Nugent comes at you like a fist to the face. And playing the Sunset Station Amphitheater on July 2, Nugent was certain to discharge some holiday fireworks of his own. Declaring “every day is Independence Day where I come from,” Nugent unleashed a torrent of rockers from his ’70s heyday, starting with “Free for All” and “Stormtroopin’.” In between songs (and sometimes during), the Motor City Madman took full advantage of his First Amendment rights (“If any of you don’t like a political rant, then fuck you! This is freedom music.”), performing “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang,” bleating like a sheep in his version of the “French national anthem,” and barking for President Obama to (in so many words) perform oral sex on him. Nugent kept the focus on the music toward the end, closing strongly with hits “Cat Scratch Fever,” “Stranglehold” and “Great White Buffalo.” Love him or hate him, Nugent continually refuses to compromise his music or his beliefs, and there’s something admirably American about that.

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WANNA RIHANNA?: I don’t even know how to approach a force of nature such as Rihanna. The superstar diva, performing at Mandalay Bay on July 1 ($26-$143), is critic-proof, Chris Brown-proof and probably invulnerable to zombie attacks, so anything negative that’s been said about her current tour has to be taken for what it is: a spitball fired at the moon. In reviewing her June 10 show, Montreal Gazette writer Bernard Perusse flailed in his attempts to put Rihanna in perspective.

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