ZZ Top: Bearded boogie band rocks Ribfest
BY KAY SEVERINSEN - For the Naperville Sun July 1, 2012 10:52PM
Classic rock band ZZ Top, rocks the crowd at Ribfest on Sunday, July 1, 2012 in Naperville IL. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 30, 2012 10:33AM
If ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons got a little distracted by all the smoke and savory sauces at Ribfest Sunday, you could hardly have blamed him. After all, he's not just a veteran blues rocker, lead guitarist and vocalist, he's also a barbecue chef who recently started selling his own barbecue sauce, named for his initials, "BFG."
Not to worry. All three "smart dressed" men brought plenty of gusto for a crowd that boogied and cheered for their favorite songs by the "Lil Ol' Band from Texas."
It was a night of ol' favorites for the mixed crowd, most of whom remember the band from a few decades ago. The band opened with a cover of Sam & Dave's "I Thank You," then segued into a medley of familiar faves. Gibbons unleashed his raunch appeal and signature deep bass growl in several songs, such as in the refrain of "LaGrange," a song about a Texas whore house. Its catchy "haw haw haw haw" is pretty easy to sing along to, even several octaves above Gibbons.
Bob and Margaret Glines of Plainfield came for the ribs and the band. "I've never heard ZZ Top live," Bob said, "but I have all their CDs," and, he admitted, even a few of their original vinyls.
For the most part, the younger generation was keeping an open mind about the band with the long beards. Tucker DeBolt, 18, and Savannah Webb, 17, both of Elburn, came mostly because they like Ribfest. "ZZ Top was the band I was most familiar with" of all the Ribfest bands, DeBolt said.
For a 40-something-year-old band, ZZ Top has had a vigorous summer, touring the nation and releasing an extended play, Texicali, while finishing up a full-length album due out later this year. Naperville was the group's last gig before they move on to Russia in a few weeks. In fact they arrived at Ribfest after playing in Milwaukee just the night before.
While most of the set seemed almost note for note the same as their recordings or videos, the guitarists are fun to listen to and watch for their sharp licks and picking, not to mention the occasional guitar spin or that signature knee-knocking dance. The performance got some more kick from the excellent visuals and snippets of videos and graphics.
The band kicked it up a notch for the encore, switching to sparkling jackets and revving up for "LaGrange," and "Tush." That had the audience on its feet, clapping and singing.
You have to hope that everyone got what they came for - those in the front, waving cameras and arms, took home digital memories, middle aged women danced and slithered, little girls played air guitar, two little boys atop their dads' shoulders jammed on plastic guitars during "Legs," and one patron played along on a blow up toy watermelon.
And with any luck, Gibbons got to taste the Desperado ribs. That ain't asking for much.