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Meager MixFest is strong enough with Crow, Lauper

Radio station 98.5 FM's MixFest might have a 12-year history, but with only five acts, Saturday's show at the Bank of America Pavilion featured one of the sparsest lineups since 1994. Quantity isn't everything, though. Compare that year's headliner (Huey Lewis and the News) with this year's (Sheryl Crow), and even Saturday's uneven show was strong enough to keep the tradition alive.

Opening act the Pat McGee Band's bland acoustic pop was met with plenty of screams, but McGee's WB-ready looks couldn't counteract a generally static stage presence. Gavin DeGraw seemed like a master showman in comparison, embracing a host of rock-star poses and cliches. If there were times when he appeared too cool to take any pleasure in performing, he still provided a jolt of energy, and his band was more muscular and compelling than McGee's, nailing the Stone Temple Pilots riff of ''I Don't Want to Be."

Cyndi Lauper took the stage next, providing the '80s component of Mix 98.5's playlist. Within seconds of arrival she announced, ''Somebody help me, my pants are falling down," a problem that at one point required the help of two roadies. Unfazed, she continued to sing the upbeat ''Shine" and hopped into the crowd -- despite her unresolved wardrobe issues. Still in strong, quirky voice after 20 years, she experimented with her most familiar material, converting ''Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" into ska, playing dulcimer on ''All Through the Night" and ''Time After Time," and turning ''She Bop" into slow, moody psychedelia.

After a meager two-song set of acoustic bedroom pop by Howie Day, Sheryl Crow closed out the evening, and the five songs she previewed from her new album, ''Wildflower" (out today), suggested that her decade-long hot streak shows no signs of flagging. Crow occasionally had a hard time making herself heard, and ''Every Day Is a Winding Road" lacked some of the original's snap. Otherwise, she was in fine form, playing hits such as ''Strong Enough," ''If It Makes You Happy," and the undervalued ''Run, Baby, Run," which she treated as the soul song that was bubbling under the surface the entire time.

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