Cover Story: Road Trippin'

It's a decent summer for national touring acts -- not that you'd know it in Cincinnati


Hitting the road to see a concert out of town during the summer is a fun ritual that I look forward to every year. Loading up the car, picking the road music, breaking down on the highway, calling AAA, trolling around the streets of Chicago or Columbus begging for any available hotel rooms. Sure, it can seem daunting at the time, but, looking back, most of the memories are fond ones.

The reasons for the road trips are harder to swallow, though. Granted, Cincinnati is a moderate-sized market. But year in, year out, major U.S. tours seem to bypass our city. Instead we get "oldies" acts, also-rans and the same tours that seem to hit the city all the time.

Take a look at Riverbend's schedule: Styx, Bad Company, Quiet Riot, Journey, Lynyrd Skynrd, Ted Nugent. Of course, these nostalgia acts are the ones that sell tickets regularly in our fair town, so apathetic, nerveless audiences could be to blame.

But they should only share the blame.

Cincy's "no festival seating" rule, which began following the 1979 Who concert stampede at the Firstar Center, is hopelessly outdated. As U2's current tour has shown, with top-notch security procedures, an open floor with no seating can work wonderfully. U2 — surprise! — did not and will not play here this tour. Fans had to trek to Indianapolis, Lexington and Columbus. It's time to look at a way to have festival seating succeed again in Cincinnati. It would also be nice to have a more daring venue or two as well.

Artists embarking on shorter tours are another factor. Radiohead's much anticipated tour is so far limited to only a couple of weeks' worth of dates (a Cuyahoga Falls date in northeastern Ohio is expected in August), while the Dido/Travis tour also deemed other markets more important than Cincy on their month-long jaunt (which hits Cuyahoga Falls on June 28).

Here's a look at some other big shows that (so far) haven't been booked to hit Cincinnati this summer:

· Moby's Area:One tour, featuring Outkast, New Order, Paul Oakenfold, The Roots and more (closest scheduled date: July 25, Tinley Park, Ill., near Chicago).

· Madonna (closest dates: Aug. 28 and 29, Chicago).

· Ozzfest, featuring Black Sabbath, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, Papa Roach and more (closest date: Aug. 3, Columbus).

· Janet Jackson (closest date: July 22, Columbus).

· Dave Matthews Band (closest dates: July 6-7, Chicago).

· Jane's Addiction's Jubilee tour (no dates announced yet, but trust us, it won't be coming here).

A sign of hope: The Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky., has already announced the booking of the Warped Tour, featuring Punk and Hip Hop artists like 311, Rancid, Kool Keith, Esham and others (July 17). The Speedway was the site of last summer's biggest area draw, a Metallica-headlined concert. Looks like it's attractive for more adventurous tours not wanting to deal with the region's more staid outdoor venues.

There are some big and/or interesting shows hitting town, of course. It's nice to see Blink 182, newcomers to the "shed" circuit, hit Riverbend (July 9), and it was a bit surprising to see the Deftones/Godsmack tour make it to the 'bend (see Deftones interview, page 29). Fraze Pavilion in Kettering, near Dayton, has a lot of the nostalgia acts, too, but some shows, like Hall and Oates (June 1, already sold out), Wynton Marsalis with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and the "Walk Down Abbey Road" show (see feature, page 32), at least make you raise an eyebrow instead of stifle a yawn. Smaller tours will keep hitting the mid-sized venues like Bogart's and the Southgate House and, don't forget, Cincinnati's strong local music scene is always a favored option.

So don't let geography get in the way of seeing a great concert this summer. And don't worry: If you hang around Cincinnati long enough, you'll be able to catch the "Awesome '00s" tour starring Radiohead, Moby, The Roots and Dido — coming to Riverbend in 2015.