The last time I went to the Gorge Amphitheater in George, Washington there was a riot. Mere hours after Metallica closed out Lollapalooza ’96, the 19,000 kids who had camped out for the show collectively became agitated, unruly, and then came unglued. They staged a real rock-throwing, bottle-chucking, Dumpster-burning riot, complete with an army of Teflon-clad Washington State troopers. Heck, they even made it on MTV.

And I slept though the whole thing.

The trip before that one, a drunk, homeless man urinated on my car. The trip before that, my pill-popping, Budweiser drinking buddy fell in a hole and had to be rushed to the emergency room in Wenatchee. The Gorge may not be for the faint of heart, but if you can weather the four-hour drive, you’re basically guaranteed an interesting experience.

The Gorge kicks off its summer concert schedule this month. Highlighting the June dates are Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, who both hit the Northwest this Sunday, setting out to prove that aging, unintelligible, balding guys still rock as hard as any of you young whippersnappers.

The Slaytanic Wehrmacht wants you! See Slayer at the Gorge July>

Shania Twain, the most successful country/pop-rock crossover artist since Lord Garth took over the world, hits the Eastern Washington desert on June 26. I don’t know what they’re putting in the water up there in Great White North, but after Alanis, Shania, and Bryan Adams, I’m starting to believe Canada doesn’t suck. Not too bad, anyway.

July is packed full of goodies. Jewel (you either love her or hate her, right?) plays solo on the third. The Lilith Fair has a two-night-stand on July 9 and 10, and western heavyweights Tim McGraw and the Dixie Chicks fill the place the very next night.

Probably the best chance for a repeat performance of the ’96 riot occurs when Ozzfest invades the banks of the Columbia on July 18. Featuring a reunited Black Sabbath (provided Ozzy remembers the words) and a solo Rob the fest will undoubtedly serve as a reminder that metal ain’t dead, regardless of what those insider sissies at the music magazines say. With an undercard of Deftones, Slayer, Primus, GodSmack and System of Down, the Ozzfest line-up is stocked with all-star noise.

A Goo Goo Dolls, Sugar Ray, and Fastball union that goes on stage July 25 should be enough to make the pop-rock kids swoon. I’m sure they’ll play all the hits and all their other songs, too.

But really, isn’t the whole summer just a warm-up for Motley Crue and Scorpions? Their rock ‘n’ roll globe of death rolls into the Gorge July 31. The Crue, who are without the musical “endowment” of drummer Tommy Lee, are touring to support the release of yet another greatest hits collection. And Scorpions, well, they’re probably the only heavy metal act who even knew where Gorky Park was pre-1993.

Not to mention Journey and Foreigner on August 7, or the All That and More Festival featuring 98 Degrees, Monica, and B-Witched on August 8. Barenaked Ladies and Semisonic play the Gorge August 21 for what is probably the first and last time of their respective careers, so you better catch them now.

The Gorge sports a summer line-up to spin the most eclectic beanies. Tickets for all events can be purchased from Ticketmaster Northwest at (206) 628-0888.


July marks the true beginning of summer in Missoula. That bright sun. Those long languid evenings. And just as the hot weather comes to town, so too does the first in a series of world-class entertainers who will be making appearances in the Caras Park Pavilion this summer. In downtown Missoula, just off of Higgins along the churning waters of the Clark Fork River, there will be music, dancing and libations, courtesy of the Bravo concert series.

Last year there was much talk about onlookers who congregated along the Higgins Bridge to watch the Bravo shows. Needless to say, this irked the sponsors of the series. After all, there were bands to pay. So they erected a screen that obscured the view of the stage from the street. Still, people hung around to listen.

Considering the acts slated, expect the same this year. Each show between July and September offers its own unique sound, be it rhythm and blues, folk, soul, rock or reggae. And their sounds are bound to be in the air, on the bridge, all through town. But perhaps more importantly, Robert Cray, Natalie Cole, Sammy Hagar and Ziggy Marley are all great to look at. But for that you’ll have to see them. For that you’ll have to buy a ticket. But whether you’re in Caras Park, on the bridge, or just walking through town, for Missoula the Bravo concert series means music, pure and simple.

Robert Cray kicks off the 1999 Bravo concert series July 2 in the Caras Park>

On July 2, The Robert Cray Band starts the summer program with lots of horns, big sound and style. Touring for their new album, Take your shoes off, they’ll offer a good dose of nostalgic R&B, a bit of a surprise from the soulful Cray. But as usual, the tracks swing and shimmy and shake off the leaden feeling of love gone wrong. Cray co-headlines with Big Head Todd & the Monsters, a band with an alternative folky sound, and the Celtic rock of The Young Dubliners opens the show.

The acts that follow make it clear that one of the series’ aims is to span a range of musical tastes:

The smooth sounds of Natalie Cole, a singer who is as polished as they come, will be accompanied by a full symphony orchestra on July 23 when she comes to Caras Park. She’ll be performing songs from her newly released album Snow in the Sahara.

You may wonder where he’s been since he left Van Halen to go solo, but for at least one day this summer you’ll know. Sammy Hagar, the quintessential rocker, will be here with his big blond hair and screaming guitar on Aug. 4, on tour for his newly released Red Voodoo.

And on Sept. 2, the Caras Pavilion will host Ziggy Marley playing that funky reggae. He too is touring for his latest album, scheduled to be released later this summer.

The Bravo concert series runs from July 2 to Sept. 2 in the Caras Park Pavilion. Tickets for July 2 are $25; July 23, $30; Aug. 4, $25; Sept. 2, $21. Tickets available through TIC-IT-EZ.

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