No one loves rock music quite like Southern California and these 7 concerts prove it – Press Enterprise

From the Ontario Motor Speedway to the Empire Polo Club in Indio, the announcement of Cal Jam 17 — featuring the Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age and on the grounds of Glen Helen Amphitheater in Devore on Oct. 7 — is a reminder that large-scale rock shows prosper in Inland Southern California.

The region is home to some of music’s biggest annual happenings, such as the massive Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Stagecoach Country Music Festival, as well as events that don’t make the calendar every year but have added chapters to the area’s sonic history.

Here’s a look at 7 of the biggest rock music events that have happened in the region:

1. California Jam

More than a quarter-million music fans descended on the now defunct Ontario Motor Speedway on April 6, 1974, for the event co-headlined by Deep Purple and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but also featured performances from Black Sabbath, Eagles and Earth, Wind & Fire. And they all played under a giant rainbow cutout. Before the first note was played, fans eager to get into the sprawling venue sat in traffic that at times backed up for 13 miles on both the 10 and 60 freeways. Tickets were $10 — about $52 in today’s dollars. Four years later, Cal Jam II had Ted Nugent, Santana and Aerosmith on the bill and drew more than 300,000 people, but lacked the rainbow stage set.

2. Us Festival

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak spearheaded a three-day fest that brought Fleetwood Mac, The Police, The Cars, Jackson Browne and others to Glen Helen Regional Park near San Bernardino. The first Us Festival played out over Labor Day weekend in 1982, and attracted 425,000 people who sweltered in 100-plus degree heat. A sequel that opened the following Memorial Day weekend had themed days (new wave, heavy metal, rock and country) with The Clash — in what ended up being the band’s final performance — Van Halen, David Bowie and Willie Nelson.

3. Ozzfest

Heavy metal’s Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne, and his wife and manager, Sharon Osbourne, launched the festival with two shows–one in Arizona and one at the amphitheater in Devore in October 1996. The event’s initial commercial success encouraged them to take Ozzfest on the road for national tours that included the likes of Disturbed, Incubus, Linkin Park and Marilyn Manson, often returning to Glen Helen. In recent years, the festival has been on and off, but last year it combined with Knotfest for a serious metal thumping. Rumor has it Ozzy will make an announcement about the fate of the festival in July.

4. Epicenter

A large cast of bands made up the one-day Epicenter Festival that kicked off at Fairplex in Pomona in 2009 with Linkin Park, Tool, Alice in Chains and other acts rocking out. The following year, the event moved to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana and added a second day with Eminem, Papa Roach, Kiss and Blink-182 playing to tens of thousands in scorching temperatures. From there, the show moved to Irvine from 2011-14 before to the Forum in Inglewood in 2015.

5. Big 4

It’s hard to beat the shredding Big 4 lineup that featured Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax and Metallica in a blistering music experience at Indio’s Empire Polo Club on April 23, 2011. The festival was sandwiched between that year’s Coachella and Stagecoach and was the first U.S. date for the celebration of the biggest four bands of thrash metal. For the night’s final encore, nearly every member of the four bands came out on stage to perform a cover of Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil?”

6. Knotfest

The brainchild of heavy metal act Slipknot, Knotfest was a rock ‘n’ roll lovers headbanging paradise at what was then known as San Manuel Amphitheater, Oct. 24-26, 2014. Music was performed on five stages, with Anthrax, Danzig, Five Finger Death Punch and Slipknot on the main stage, and up-and-coming acts such as The Devil Wears Prada and Butcher Babies performing on the others — all making metal fans rejoice. A sequel was staged the following year in late October with Judas Priest, Korn and others, then in September 2016 two heavy metal/hard rock festival worlds combined for Ozzfest Meets Knotfest.

7. Desert Trip

Dubbed “Old-Chella” by fans — due to the age of the artists — the highly anticipated Desert Trip had music fans in a frenzy to see iconic performers Roger Waters, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, The Who and Bob Dylan play over two weekends at the Empire Polo Club last October. Collectively, the artists have sold more than 435 million records, so it was probably no surprise that the initial batch of tickets, priced from $199 for a single day general admission to $1,599 to stand in the pit in front of the stage, were all snapped up in a matter of hours.


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