We arrived about a minute late for Todd Rundgren’s set on the White Stage and wondered if we were in the wrong place or whether or not Rundgren cancelled. There was a hip-hop DJ on stage playing classic rap and R&B. Then, he suddenly started yelling at the crowd. “Put your hands together for Todd Rundgren!”
And out he came, with two female dancers dressed as anime characters. Potbellied and balding (but what’s left of his hair frosted), he didn’t seem to care about the impression he made, but nevertheless word skin tight pants and a sleeveless T-Shirt. He was a modern star, or at least his sardonic version of one.
And for the next hour he but on a real show, one with strong songs and singing, and even choreography that he joined in with in his own feeble way. If the crowd had come for the hits they would have been disappointed, but they weren’t. Most of the material was from his new album “State,” which is electro-pop, with lyrics that, per Rundgren’s mission, tend to be zeitgeisty, with mentions of Miley Cyrus’s ass and the Internet age. But it wasn’t gratuitous grandstanding. If anything, the words were secondary to the music, which Rundgren has always been fussy about. The audience fell for it.
Of course, there had to be at least one hit, and after the four left the stage, the DJ came out again and incited the crowd, which was on its way out. They returned for “One Dream,” the only song approaching a hit, and a nice showcase for a guitar solo. Some things just don’t change.