Tour Buzz

THE BELOVED HEADBANGERS: Sometimes critics can’t be trusted. After last week’s debacle, when I sought critical opinion on a Rihanna show from a writer who was pretty much terrified of her, I decided to go to the public to find out how Godsmack’s current tour is going. According to Ticketmaster’s fan reviews page for Godsmack—which, by the way, is playing at Mandalay Bay on July 8 ($54)—they’re killing it. “Freaking awesome. They literally tore the place down,” wrote “runner4life2519” in the aftermath of the band’s May 29 Milwaukee show. “I took my 67 year old mother … We had an absolute blast. Met some fantastic people and Mom even went into the pit with us,” said “msshawn3019” of the May 8 show in Jacksonville, Fla. And “Pootieashee1,” writing on the same Jacksonville show, painted a rosy picture indeed: “The bands were amazing and drunk people are awesome. Not to mention all the nudity! Just fun as hell!” Wow, 67-year-olds have sure changed a lot since I was a kid.

THE UNREPENTANT HEADBANGERS: I guess July 8 is a big night for stacking amplifiers. Like Godsmack, Unearth hails from the state of Massachusetts—Godsmack is from Lawrence, Unearth from Winthrop—but where the former band’s approach to metal has its roots in Alice in Chains and post-Black Album Metallica, Unearth’s approach is almost strictly mathematical, drawing heavily from such hard-core giants as Slayer and pre-Black Album Metallica. If you’re not allowing Godsmack the pleasure of loosening your fillings this Friday evening, you should head to the Hard Rock Café on the Strip and allow Unearth to take a crack at them. Cover is $15.

NOW ON SALE: The last time I saw Kenny Wayne Shepherd was back in 1997 at The (original!) Joint at the Hard Rock, when the then-20-year-old blues guitarist stood neck-to-neck with Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Robert Fripp—three rock guitarists who can rightly be called “bitchin’ axe men”—and he more than held his own. Since then, Shepherd has had a career most guitarists dream of: He’s opened for the Rolling Stones, played alongside B.B. King, played the exact same guitar Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock … and he’s only just turned 34. Good boy. See Shepherd poolside at the Hard Rock Hotel on July 30 ($30).

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By Jeanne Goodrich

For an intriguing, eye-opening look at the cruelties and complexities of slave-era relationships between slave mistresses and their masters (and among the slave mistresses themselves), take a trip via Dolen Perkins-Valdez’ novel Wench (HarperCollins, 2010) to an Ohio resort that catered to these peculiar couples. Over three summers, four slave women meet during their “vacations” with their masters, share the challenges of their lives, their men, their children and the tension caused by their knowledge that while in Ohio they are in a free state but still the chattel of their mast