The sweltering season also signals the beginning of signature multi-act tours. Although Ozzfest has again given Cleveland the finger -- preferring the inhabitants of Columbus to our hair-swinging metalheads -- a couple of seriously shredding lineups will pass through the area to make up for it. Slayer headlines a bill with Lamb of God, Mastodon, and Children of Bodom at Tower City Amphitheater June 30. On July 8, it's the Sounds of the Underground tour at Plain Dealer Pavilion, featuring a mix of old and new acts, including Gwar, Cannibal Corpse, In Flames, As I Lay Dying, Behemoth, and the Black Dahlia Murder. In August, black-metal vet Shadows Fall arrives with last year's metal-act-of-the-moment, Poison the Well.
For the second consecutive year, summer brings the CMJ Rock Hall Music Festival to town. This year's program is tight, capped by the terrific double bill of local metal gods Mushroomhead and Chimaira, performing on the same stage for the first time, with Wicked Wisdom and Dope (Saturday, June 17, Plain Dealer Pavilion). In addition to talented locals -- Whiskey Daredevils, Machine Go Boom, Gil Mantera's Party Dream, Dead in London -- CMJ will feature myriad great independent acts: Hasidic reggae star Matisyahu (June 15, Agora), terrific roots rocker Alejandro Escovedo (June 15, Beachland), Pedro the Lion's David Bazan with indie pop acts Rogue Wave and the Stills (June 16, Grog Shop), and hot-blooded garage rockers the Dirtbombs and the Detroit Cobras (June 16, Beachland).
The Warped Tour also returns, but unless you head to Columbus for the tour's second show (June 16), the popular punk band does not hit this area again until August 11. (Interestingly, each ticket comes with a one-year subscription to Rolling Stone -- the only way anyone not in need of Fixadent will read that tired rag.) Among the acts on the bill are Against Me!, Anti-Flag, From First to Last, Less Than Jake, Saves the Day, Senses Fail, the Bled, Bouncing Souls, Thursday, Underoath, NOFX, and Aiden.
The best lineup of the summer belongs to K-Rock's "Kuyahoga" Festival at Blossom (August 3), which features a range of indie crossover acts, including the Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth, Death Cab for Cutie, and She Wants Revenge, along with spectacular new talent the Go! Team, the Hold Steady, and Wolfmother. Other top indie rock shows this summer include -- all within the same week -- sonorous Swedish singer-songwriter Jens Lekman (July 24, Beachland), '80s punk act Mission of Burma (July 27), and the terrific triple bill of the Black Crowes, the gospel-flavored sounds of Robert Randolph and the Family Band, and unstoppable country-rockers Drive-By Truckers (July 28, Tower City Amphitheater).
Goth fans can look forward to a similarly jam-packed week, which includes Ministry with the Revolting Cocks (June 25, House of Blues) and Bauhaus with Nine Inch Nails (June 27, Blossom). Goths may also enjoy the dark-tinged stylings of the Weimar-loving Dresden Dolls and buzz-band tourmates Panic! at the Disco (July 12, Plain Dealer Pavilion).
This summer also boasts a number of big country shows, foremost being the legendary Loretta Lynn (June 10, Blossom) and the high-profile husband-and-wife team Faith Hill and Tim McGraw (July 1, Quicken). Other big country performances include patriotic shitkicker Toby Keith (August 11, Blossom) and Kenny Chesney, with ubiquitous American Idol winner Carrie Underwood.
If overheated karaoke two nights a week for five months is not enough for you, American Idols Live features all this year's contestants (July 19, Wolstein Center). If you need a less painful alternative, try metal retreads Cinderella and Poison (July 19, Blossom). (That's less painful, not painless.)
It also promises to be a good summer for mainstream music. Jewel arrives with Matchbox Twenty singer Rob Thomas (June 14, Blossom), and a couple of days later, the Boss, Bruce Springsteen, comes to town with the backing band from his new album of Pete Seeger covers (June 16, Blossom). July welcomes the steamy Tom Jones and Etta James (July 12, Blossom), and in August, Dave Matthews with Government Mule (August 2, Blossom) and iconoclastic singer-songwriter Fiona Apple (August 10, Plain Dealer Pavilion).
For those whose tastes are as ossified as their favorite musician's career, the concert calendar boasts plenty of has-beens. To wit: Pat Benatar (June 23, HOB), Peter Frampton (June 27, HOB), Chicago/Huey Lewis (June 29, Tower City), Counting Crows/Goo Goo Dolls (July 11, Plain Dealer Pavilion), America (August 1, Cain Park) and Michael McDonald/Steely Dan (September 1, Blossom).