Tom Petty floated the idea of randomly dropping the needle on a long album side and that’s just what he replicated on Thursday at TD Garden, mixing deep tracks with a string of hits to launch the first of two nights with his trusty Heartbreakers. Celebrating their 40th anniversary, the band bookended the near-two-hour show like their 1976 debut, with “Rockin’ Around (With You)” and “American Girl.” But Petty bounced the needle around in between, taking the spin at a relaxed pace to stack up mid-tempo favorites. Perhaps oddly for the anniversary tour, Petty kept a focus on 1994’s Wildflowers, a fine solo album nonetheless recorded with the Heartbreakers, including songs like a welcome snarl like “Good to be King” and “You Wreck Me” as well as the sweet acoustic-led title tune. Much of the verve came from Petty’s righthand guitar foil Mike Campbell (who sat in Wednesday night with Grateful Dead tribute band Bearly Dead at Thunder Road) and here’s hoping that Tom and the Heartbreakers crank it up a notch for Friday night. Oh, and Peter Wolf and the Midnight Travelers provide a lively, compatible opening set.
But there’s plenty of other rockin’ around town on Friday. Austin rockers Spoon take the step up to Blue Hills Bank Pavilion with the New Pornographers, indie-folk chameleon Conor Oberst digs deep at House of Blues and cancer survivor Mike Peters leads his current incarnation of the Alarm at Somerville’s Once Ballroom—on a stacked bill with Goddamn Draculas and Big City Rockers (performing the music of Boston band the Atlantics). Graham Nash serenades Lowell Summer Music at Boarding House Park the same night while local acts highlight Friday’s slate as well. You can’t find a more solid, diverse lineup than a bill at the Sinclair where hip-hop standouts STL GLD and Dutch Rebelle trade sets with the colorful Sidewalk Driver and Rumble winner Carissa Johnson, who’s featured here in our new music issue batch of 10 local bands making waves. Another Boston standout on that list, Hayley Thompson-King, joins singer Tristen (who takes more of a pop turn on new album Sneaker Waves) at the Rockwell in Davis Square. And local folk treasure Ellis Paul celebrates his 25th anniversary with special Club Passim shows (album features, family sets) on Friday through Sunday. Here’s that breakdown.
Saturday’s all about hip-hop wunderkind Kendrick Lamar commanding the arena stage at TD Garden with a relatively stripped-down presentation and martial arts theme in support of his again-stellar release DAMN. The Ryan Montbleau Band sets the groove at Lowell’s Boarding House Park while a cappella juggernaut Straight No Chaser croons at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on Saturday before Les Claypool’s crew Primus bring the alt-punk-metal bounce there on Sunday.