Cal State Long Beach, July 1; Pomona Fairplex, July 6
The kids, they just lovesthe Warped Tour. Me? Not as much. Two years ago, when this annual extravaganza stopped at Cal State Long Beach, it felt like a graduate course in "How to Exploit the Masses" was being taught. Thousands of people came out, but there were only two food stands, a burger booth and a pizza truck (oh, there was a Subway sandwich stand, too, but when the poor, starving, spiky-haired children crawled up to it, they were met with a hand-drawn sign that rudely declared, "NO, WE DO NOT HAVE ANY FOOD HERE!"). Gargantuan lines stretched out at least half a football field away from everything. The portable toilets? My upper respiratory system is still detoxifying. And even though my ticket said the fest would start at noon, I arrived to find that some bands—including (relative) big names such as Andrew W.K.—had gone on as early as 10:45 a.m. Lousy, lousy planning. And yet the people didn't seem to mind too much. Perhaps because it's a relative bargain—some 50 bands per stop, for around $30 per ticket. Most of the music is punk and all its subgenres—emo, screamo, hardcore, etc.—which to my ears usually means it's all horribly redundant and clichd. But there are always a handful of likable acts that sign up each year, which this time includes the Offspring (keeping their name in the marketplace after coming off a flop last album); the Dropkick Murphys (always a grand, drunken time when they play live, even if there's something cringingly Aryan about them and their "Irish pride"); Billy Idol, who'll appear only in Pomona; and Mike Watt, who'll appear only in Long Beach. www.warpedtour.com
Various locales, July 22-Aug. 7
David Bash didn't have to bring his multinight, club-centric pop festival down to OC when it started in 1998, but we're happy he did. Mostly an LA event, the IPO—featuring close to 200 bands that wouldn't exist if the Beatles, Beach Boys, Kinks, Elvis Costello, Cheap Trick and even the Osmonds hadn't cut records first—is an annual tribute to all things hooky and catchy. What it's not are tribute bands, nor is it "pop" as the term has recently become re-defined by the late-'90s proliferation of boy bands and teenage trollops. These are bands playing original tunes on real instruments, and there's always a strong showing by such OC bands as Scarlet Crush and Walter Clevenger & the Dairy Kings, even if they don't always get booked at one of the two traditional OC venues (usually, there's a day portion that takes place in an Orange County park, followed by an evening segment that goes down in a nearby bar). It's great fun, the daytime outdoor show is a hoot—bring the kids!—and, shockingly, the three-disc IPO compilation CDs are but $15. www.internationalpopoverthrow.com
Hyundai Pavilion at Glen Helen, Devore, Aug. 20
Dude!We saw Ozzy on TheDailyShowa few weeks back, and man, he was so well-spoken and intelligent we could only conclude he was either a celeb impersonator or a Disneyland automaton, far from the blubbery goon depicted on MTV's TheOsbournes.Don't know which Ozzy will show up here, but it's certainly a headbanger's wet dream, what with the Sabbath and the Maiden and the Zombie and the . . . er, uh, Mastodon? In keeping with OzzFest tradition, the geezer Heshers are teaming with the new breed of Buttrock, many of whom happen to be obsessed with dark hues (Black Label Society) or things no longer living (Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, the Haunted, It Dies Today, Bury Your Dead). Then there's the Black Dahlia Murder, who craftily cover both bases. Go for two reasons: because Ozzy will not live forever, and so you can sing along with the Maiden's Bruce Dickinson when he rears back, ties his testicles off and squeals, "Ruuuuun to the hiiiiills . . . ruuuuun FOOOR your LI-I-IFE . . ."—for our money, the greatest heavy-metal song to karaoke to ever.Don't go, though, if you think for a second you'll get out of the parking lot early. www.ozzfest.com
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Cal State Long Beach Athletic Field, Sept. 3-4
Now in its 26th incarnation, the Long Beach Blues Fest has in recent years tended to lean more heavily on R&B and soul artists such as Al Green, the Ohio Players and Macy Gray. Not that there's anything wrong with that—and God would smite us right quick if a negative word about the Reverend Al should ever pass our lips—it's just that these artists aren't true, deep, low-down, dirty bloozpeople. Neither are the Black Crowes, who headline the closing day of this year's fest—the only thing bluesy about them are the chords guitarist Rich Robinson nicked from. It's weird flipping on Nothin'ButtheBlueson sponsoring radio station KKJZ 88.1 and hearing host Doug MacLeod spin the Crowes, which he'd never do if they weren't playing the thing. But hey, if you hate 'em, leave early—you could do far, far worse than having to sit through such Day Two talents as Otis Clay, Johnny Rawls, Guitar Shorty and Bobby Bland. And Saturday? Los Lobos, baby! Okay, not blues either, but if genre-phobia keeps you away from this, then you're obviously not breathing air. www.kkjz.org