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Rock Concert
Tin Salamunic for The Washington Post

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Friday, June 2, 2006

By now, most people realize summer is the busiest time of the year in the concert business, thanks to outdoor venues like the Nissan and Merriweather Post pavilions, though a lot of major acts are now doing summer tours indoors at places like Verizon Center, where reserved seating tickets can be priced higher. Whatever the venue, about two-thirds of concert business is done between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

While the last two years have featured consecutive declines in attendance, there is hope afloat: According to Billboard Boxscore's first-quarter reports, concert attendance was up 19 percent and dollars up 28 percent, suggesting the industry may be emerging from its slump.

The Billboard country chart seems to be touring en masse, beginning with Brooks & Dunn Sunday at Nissan Pavilion. Nissan will also have shows headlined by Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts and very late summer with Toby Keith. Country's leading couple, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, will be at Verizon Center, which will also host the Dixie Chicks. Merriweather Post Pavilion has Gretchen Wilson as well as Montgomery Gentry with Lonestar. Trisha Yearwood will be at Wolf Trap.

Hip-hop may be a behemoth on radio and at retail, but on the concert trail, not so much. The Black Eyed Peas have already played Merriweather Post, as did Kanye West, as part of last week's HFStival; the only other arena shows this summer are a WPGC-FM sponsored birthday party at Verizon Center headlined by LL Cool J, Bow Wow and MC Hammer and a Nissan Pavilion show mixing rappers Dem Franchize Boyz, Juelz Santana and Lil' Wayne with crooners Chris Brown and Ne-Yo. There's a little more action for hip-hop fans at the club level, including appearances by such seldom seen acts as Rakim, PM Dawn and the Pharcyde.

Nissan hosts the original American Idol, Kelly Clarkson, while this year's American Idols drop by Verizon Center. And American Icon Barbie (same age as Madonna, 47, and doesn't look it, either) comes to town in her first theatrical venture, "Barbie Live in Fairytopia."

Some of summer's big rock shows have already passed through (Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam), and hardy perennials are on the way (the Allman Brothers, Jimmy Buffett, Santana). Other major shows recently announced include Mariah Carey, Paul Simon, Mary J. Blige and Godsmack, as well as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. And June 10 might be a good time to catch Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at Nissan: Petty has hinted this may be his last big summer tour.

Ticket Auction Trend May Cost You
Through Ticketmaster Auctions, the traditional players are looking to regain control in what may well be the future of ticketing. It's a showdown between face value and true market value.

Don't Do Him Like That: Tom Petty vs. Scalpers
Fan clubs and VIP packages offered through artists' Web sites provide a significant source of income for many touring acts. Recently, Petty struck back at scalpers who'd broken the rules.

Bid on a Ticket, Help a Cause
Major acts can turn auctions into public relations assets. More than 100 acts have donated tickets for Ticketmaster auctions to raise funds to replace musical equipment destroyed during the Gulf Coast hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Free Music, From Us to You
Each summer The Post and the Weekend section host Weekend's Weekends, a series of free concerts featuring a variety of music from top local talent in our community.

Power in Numbers: Music Tour and Festival Season Heats Up
While single-location superfestivals such as Coachella and Lollapalooza have diversified their lineups, the two longest-running touring fests -- metal/hard rock-focused Ozzfest and punk-centric Vans Warped -- have thrived by keeping a narrow focus.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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