By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
For four days, the Pageant will party like it's 1996. So to help simplify this way-back bonanza, we've drafted a helpful comparison among four Generation X stalwarts.Better Than Ezra
Biggest hit: "One Headlight"
The band's name is: Unintentionally ironic. "Wallflower" is a term for one who draws little attention to themselves, an all-too-fitting descriptor for the band's adult-contemporary leanings.
This band is cool because: The fact that frontman Jakob Dylan is Bob Dylan's son implies a genetic advantage in the songwriting department.
This band is lame because: The fact that frontman Jakob Dylan is Bob Dylan's son also implies an easier passage to success than any other rock band in the history of rock bands. Genealogy has become a bigger hook for the Wallflowers than the chorus of "6th Avenue Heartache."
Could this band succeed if it debuted in this decade? Yes. All Dylanthropologic studies aside, "One Headlight" is an effective moody verse/triumphant chorus pop song that is both brilliant and timeless.
With Bottle Rockets, 8 p.m. Sunday, July 26. $25 advance, $28 day of show.
Biggest hit: "Send Me On My Way"
The band's name is: Confusing. Rust occurs when iron is oxidized, but organic materials — like the root of a plant — cannot rust. Perhaps there is a deeper meaning referring to some combination of natural and manmade elements in the band's music. Or, more likely, it's some sort of obscure weed reference.
This band is cool because: Its experiments blending pop music with African rhythms predicted a hipster trend thirteen years in advance.
This band is lame because: The members look like dirty, dirty hippies.
Could this band succeed if it debuted in this decade? Yes. The neo-hippie movement had yet to bloom in the mid-'90s. If Rusted Root sprouted today, it could easily score a side-stage spot on Bonnaroo, a Nissan commercial and a gig as Jack Johnson's backing band.
With Devon Allman's Honeytribe, 8 p.m. Monday, July 27. $22.50 in advance, $25 day of show.
Toad the Wet Sprocket
Biggest hit: "All I Want"
The band's name is: From a Monty Python monologue in which the lead electric-triangle player from the ridiculously named rock band Toad the Wet Sprocket must have his elbow removed following a motorcycle accident.
This band is cool because: Its jangly guitars, indirect hooks and verbed-out snare drum backbeats read like a page ripped from the R.E.M. playbook.
This band is lame because: "Good Intentions," the band's contribution to the Friends soundtrack, sounds an awful lot like the theme song to Nickelodeon's Western sitcom Hey Dude.
Could this band succeed if it debuted in this decade? No. Even though "All I Want" has a hook as good as any hit rock song this side of Y2K, the production and melodies are definitely dated. There's no room these days for quasi-abstract college rock between the Fergies and Nickelbacks on the FM radio dial — or at least no major labels that're willing to try.
8 p.m. Tuesday, July 28. $25.