It may be 2004, but it sure seems like the '70s and '80s are ruling the summer concert scene. Prince and Madonna have multiple dates at MCI Center, Ozzy's back with Black Sabbath, Rob Halford's back with Judas Priest, Sammy Hagar's rocking with Van Halen, Robert Smith sought out the Cure, and even Simon and Garfunkel are still getting along.

On the other hand, we have nu-divas Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson and Hilary Duff, who all together don't quite add up to Blondie, though they're all playing much larger venues than Debbie Harry these days. And are people going to see Courtney Love for the music or for the anticipated train wreck?

Summer is upon us, which means that what the concert industry calls "sheds" are open for business, from the oldest local outdoor venue, Carter Barron Amphitheatre (site, among other events, of three free Weekend's Weekends concerts, see Page 32 for details), and the ever-classy Wolf Trap, to the big boys on the block, Nissan and Merriweather Post pavilions. The latter is under new management (see Nightwatch on Page 5), and the competition should be good for Washington area concertgoers. Oddly, MCI Center, normally quiet during the summer months, is having its busiest summer in years, thanks to Madonna, Prince, Eric Clapton and Van Halen.

But that's the showy side of the business. Summertime also brings hundreds of concerts in local communities, many of them free. So peruse our listings, recognizing that a lot of concert dates for July and August have yet to be announced, particularly on the club scene, and that all listings are subject to change. Whether it's an all-day grind at Lollapalooza and Ozzfest or a night under the stars at any of numerous community park concerts, the hills, and the halls, are alive with the sound of music.

Get ready for a hot time this summer. Britney Spears, Sting, Snoop Dogg and many other artists want to rock your world.