Road Show: A Guide to Summer Music Festivals
by Beth Rowen
School's out and that means summer entertainment is in full swing. There's no shortage of diversions, from blockbuster movies to touring music festivals. This summer's eclectic group of road fests will certainly satisfy all musical tastes, from folk to hip-hop to metal to ska. In addition to hours of music and sun, vendors will be hawking everything from condoms to software to tattoos and advocacy groups pitching the message du jour. The granddaddy of summer festivals, Lollapalooza, is taking the year off. Organizers bowed out, claiming they couldn't land a big-name headliner. Here's a look at the hottest tickets of the summer.
After the lackluster 1997 Further Festival, the future of the travelfest seemed as dead as, well, Jerry Garcia. But things are looking brighter this year, with three surviving Grateful Dead members, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Phil Lesh, touring together as a group, the Other Ones, for the first time since the Dead disbanded. The band is promoting the fact that their set list will include mostly Dead songs. That's sure to please the throngs of hippies who've been surviving on Phish concerts since Garcia's 1995 demise. Hot Tuna and Rusted Root are slated as opening acts. The 21-show tour kicked off June 25. Ticket price: $30.
John Popper of Blues Traveler created the clumsiest-named festival, H.O.R.D.E. (Horizons of Rock Developing Everywhere), in 1992 as a blues-inspired neo-hippie alternative to Lollapalooza. Over the years, it has embraced a more diverse sound and crowd, with the likes of Beck, Morphine and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones signing on. The change met some resistance, evidenced by sluggish 1997 ticket sales, and Popper and bandmates decided to go back to the festival's roots. Though with the departure of Lollapalooza, a healthy dose of alt-rock bands spice up the roster. The seventh annual, 43-date festival begins July 9 in Somerset, Wisconsin. Joining Blues Traveler on the 1998 lineup are Ben Harper, Barenaked Ladies, Alana Davis, Smashing Pumpkins, Paula Cole, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Fastball and Marcy Playground. Ticket prices range from $25 to $30. For dates, venue, lineup and ticket information see www.hordefestival.com.
House of Blues Smokin' Grooves Tour
The much-talked-about reuniting of Public Enemy for the tour has had rap fans hip-hopping all summer, but don't count your chickens. The rebanding has been off as much as it has been on. Regardless of Public Enemy's status, the third Grooves tour will be grooving, with Cypress Hill, Busta Rhymes, Wyclef Jean, Gang Starr, Canibus and Black Eyed Peas all turning out for an electric mix of urban, hip-hop, rap and reggae. The 30-show tour begins July 22 in Darien Lake, New York. Ticket price: $20 to $30.
Britain's other Fab Four (formerly the Fab Five, until the departure of Ginger Spice) may claim to have girl power, but this Sarah McLachlan-organized road show is a display of true sisterhood. Lilith Fair, the highest-grossing summer tour of 1997 ($16.5 million), boasts a more diverse lineup in its sophomore outing, a refreshing departure from 1997's VH1-inspired roster. The 57-show tour kicked off on June 19 in Portland, Oregon, and runs through August 31, wending its way across the United States and Canada. The fair is named for Adam's first wife, who, in Jewish folklore, was booted from the Garden of Eden for refusing to subordinate herself to her husband. Chanteuse McLachlan will headline all dates, with Natalie Merchant on board for 49 shows. Other performers include hip-hop diva Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliot, Erykah Badu, Luscious Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Bonnie Raitt, the Indigo Girls, Liz Phair , Paula Cole, Tracy Bonham, Me'Shell Ndegéocello, Sinéad O'Connor and many more. Ticket price: $25 to $35. For dates, venue, lineup and ticket information see lilith.excite.com.
Newport Folk Festival
Try to make sense of this one: the Newport Folk Festival launches in Atlanta? There's reason behind the madness. For the first time since it was established in 1959, the Newport Folk Festival hits the road, stopping at 14 U.S. cities beginning July 30. The big kahuna is still in Newport, with a two-day show that includes Ani DiFranco, Lyle Lovett, Marc Cohn, Alison Krauss, Dar Williams, the Indigo Girls, Nanci Griffith and Lucinda Williams. Festivities begin on Friday, August 7 at the Hotel Viking, with a special program celebrating Club 47, the historic Cambridge, Massachusetts, venue. The next two days are spent on the sea-surrounded, expansive lawn of Fort Adams State Park. In addition to the artists playing the Newport show, touring bands include Joan Baez, the Violent Femmes, Wilco, Rickie Lee Jones, John Hiatt and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Ticket price: $15 to $57.50. For dates, venue, lineup and ticket information see www.newportfolk.com.
The surprise hit of the 1997 summer tours, OZZfest was the second-highest-grossing road show, behind Lilith. Suburban white boys came out in force to assure us that loud metal is not dead. While the 1998 tour doesn't include the controversial Marilyn Manson, the sole UK stop does boast a reunited Black Sabbath, with original band members Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward joining fest organizer Ozzy Osbourne. If 15 hours of mind-numbing metal is too much, Never-Never Land, a circus-like concourse, provides a colorful respite, with a wide variety of exhibitors and diversions. For the exhibitionists, there's the back-by-popular-demand breast-painting booth. The lineup includes Osbourne, Tool, Megadeath, Limp Bizkit, Sevendust and Coal Chamber. The 17-show tour began July 3 in New Jersey. On July 18 in Minneapolis, OZZfest will join forces with the Vans Warped Tour for a bone-crunching show. Ticket price: $27.
Vans Warped Tour
The extremely rad place to hang this summer, the Vans Warped Tour not only features more than 50 acts, ranging from thrash, ska, punk and grunge, but also a diverse subculture, weaving together gender issues and extreme sports. An assortment of professional and amateur extreme athletes compete in street and vertical skateboarding, inline skating and BMX events, while a Ladies' Lounge features women speakers and women's-health information. There are climbing, skateboarding and other sports activities set up for enthusiasts. The lineup includes Rancid; Bad Religion; Mighty, Mighty Bosstones; Cherry Poppin' Daddies; Save Ferris; the Specials; the Deftones; NOFX and many other bands. The 33-show festival kicked off June 30 in Phoenix. On July 18 in Minneapolis, the Warped Tour will join forces with OZZfest for a bone-crunching show. Ticket price: $20. For dates, venue, lineup and ticket information see www.warpedtour.com.
Beth Rowen is the Entertainment Editor at Information Please.
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