Summertime and the livin' is easy, Janis Joplin once crooned in her cover of George Gershwin's "Summertime."

Although the United States is currently sunk in a depressing recession and a War on Terrorism, the hot months of 2002 still have plenty of venues offering a list of bands looking to blow your ears, tire your feet, and inflate their bank accounts.

One such celeb-heavy event coming to a town near you is OzzFest, whose subject - both ex-Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne and the desperation-soaked metal madness that his name is almost synonymous with -- has been featured (along with his strange family) on prime-time television lately. While Ozzy is always the star and ringmaster of the OzzFest circus, the tour actually features some substantial figures apart from the usual host of headbangers, including Rob Zombie, P.O.D., as well as Middle Eastern mosh gods Apex Theory and System of a Down. Both of the latter bands have proven that metal has come quite a long way from the awful Quiet Riot; it is now equal parts intellectual Tool and early, thrashing Metallica, as much as it is a reason to jump as high and hard into something as possible.

Speaking of metal, you get to pick your poison, I mean, decades when both Korn and the aforementioned Quiet Riot kick off their summer shows. If you want to disregard what I said about Quiet Riot, let me warn you, don't throw away your receipt. You might need it to get your money back. As for MTV faves Korn, well, same goes for them. You get the idea.

As for our new millenium's heavy music, that can be found on the Vans Warped Tour, the destination zone for skaters, thrashers, moshers, and most other metalheads sick of FM radio these days. Vans Warped is a bit more eclectic than OzzFest -- it has elements of punk, postpunk, ska, and goth -- but nowhere near tours of the Coachella variety. In either case, catching diverse music vets such as Bad Religion, NOFX, The Damned, Reel Big Fish and more all on the same stage would worth a ticket in my book, even if you have sensitive ears.

And let's say you do. You might be interested to know that the "other" but no less talented Elvis -- Costello, that is -- is making quite a comeback this summer, albeit early in the season. It may not qualify as a massive event, but I guess it all depends on who you ask, doesn't it? Costello has tried almost every trick in his musical book, mixing equal parts Dylan, Bacharach, Pogues and Johnny Rotten throughout his career, but the results have always been worth it, if not flooring. Catching him live now might be the last chance you get, so think about it. And think also about catching the thirtysomething's version of Costello that is Dave Matthews, another hard-working, guitar wizard interested in crafting pure pop poetry, whose group, the aptly-named Dave Matthews Band is kicking off their own summer mega-tour come late April. Two multi-talented songcraftsmen in one season; it rarely gets better than that.

But if you're America-bound, then you are most likely going to miss out on the most exciting and rewarding summer festival you've most likely never heard of, the UK's eye-opening Reading Festival. In the past, Reading has featured some of the world's most substantial artists, with a heavy emphasis on the word "art," rather than commerce, which is where the emphasis usually lands. And, true to the international nature of the event, the featured bands will most likely offer a cross-section of the world's most impressive talent.

Right now, the lineup for the festival is fluid, which means that it is comprised more of rumor than commitments, but that doesn't mean that heavies such as Foo Fighters, The Offspring, Prodigy, Garbage, New Order, Blur, Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer, Sex Pistols (!), among others will be no-shows. If I was a betting man, and I am, I'd count on all of them making the gig, which takes place August 23-25 during the August Bank Holiday Weekend in Reading. I'd also count on stumbling across some awesome groups you've never heard of -- like The Get Up Kids -- too.

Holy Lollapalooza, indeed.

So if you're lucky enough to have a fat wallet, buy yourself a ticket to the not-so-sunny United Kingdom, and take a trip to a land where fans can truly appreciate a diverse lineup and actually have it backed by the money men. Pound for pound, the Reading Festival is the place to be this summer.

But if not, there's always Quiet Riot.

To view OzzFest dates, click here. To view Elvis Costello's dates, click here.

Vans Warped Tour 2002

Due to some interesting site coding, it's just easier to let your fingers do the walking if you're interested in catching the Warped Tour. So click below to check out the dates for the much more interested Vans Warped summer tour. --

Dave Matthews Band Tour Dates

Not to beat a dead horse, but it's kinda the same vibe here with one exception - these guys are as down-to-earth as any rock gods you'll ever meet. Which means it's always a good idea to support that vibe by giving them some love (even if you're not big fans). Hence, another link. -


© Melt Magazine 2001