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Storming the Sidestage 

Catch the fireworks from some of rock's most provocative, passionate, and extreme up-and-comers.

Lollapalooza and Ozzfest hit town just two days apart this week, which gives Clevelanders the chance to get up close and personal with more big-name rockers than Wynona Ryder. But for all the platinum acts coming to Blossom, it's the lesser-knowns on both tours that will provide many of the fireworks. The pages that follow feature some of the main attractions; this one's all about the sidestage bands you don't want to miss.

Cradle of Filth

Long one of black metal's most provocative acts, Cradle of Filth tempers blinding velocity with dark melody and fun-loving T-shirt slogans like "Jesus is a cunt." For its latest, Damnation for a Day (the first U.S. black-metal album ever released on a major label), the group enlisted a Hungarian orchestra to further embellish its severe, sweeping sound. The result is one of the most lush, expansive albums of its kind -- a contender for metal album of the year.

The Distillers

As soon as Distillers belter Brody Armstrong split with Rancid's Tim Armstrong, her band split from the Warped Tour. But Warped's loss is Lollapalooza's gain, and the Distillers' garrulous gutter punk could steal the show. Armstrong grunts and grimaces like Courtney Love around Kathleen Hanna, spinning hard-luck tales that suggest Charles Bukowski with ovaries. Over jagged four-chord punk, it's the most delicious debauchery this side of a six-pack. Armed with a new label (from Armstrong's Hellfire to Warner Bros.) and a new beau (Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme, who's also on the tour), Armstrong promises to break bones and hearts with equal aplomb this summer.

The Revolution Smile

After subjecting ourselves to the aural ipecac that is Staind and Puddle of Mudd, we'd rather vacation in Baghdad than suffer another of Fred Durst's band signings. But this one, Sacramento's the Revolution Smile, is a potent, passionate rock outfit that mates the slobbering guitar bombast of Zeppelin and Soundgarden with a hook-laden melodic grind. Fronted by Shaun Lopez, singer-guitarist for the underappreciated post-hardcore emoters Far, the Revolution Smile is both aggressive and affecting. The band's third full-length, Above the Noise (its first for Durst's Flawless label), bursts with anthemic choruses and fist-pumping swagger. Of course, when a straight-up hard rock band like this plays the metal-mad Ozzfest, things are sure to get ugly. Kinda like the audience.

Killswitch Engage

Word is, Killswitch is already among the leaders in merch sales on the Ozzfest sidestage, suggesting that this could be the breakout act of the tour. The second stage has helped launch some of the biggest names in hard rock and metal -- Slipknot, System of a Down, Chevelle, and Incubus among them. And while Killswitch's metalcore is probably too extreme for widespread acceptance, it's also far too forceful to be relegated to the underground. The band's second album, 2002's Alive or Just Breathing, boasts a caustic yet catchy crunch that puts it at the forefront of American metal, with barrel-chested riffing and vocals that are like whiskey in an open wound.

Cave-In

Our fingers are crossed that Cave-In hits Lollapalooza's sidestage just as Incubus takes the mainstage: We'll gladly trade one of alt-metal's most exciting acts for one of its most somnolent. The Massachusetts troupe has taken a lot of flack for morphing from a feral, forward-thinking hardcore band into a progressive rock outfit, but the group's latest, Antennae, should silence the skeptics. Grand and ethereal, the album is modern rock at its most unabashedly elegant, with stirring vocals and skyrocketing guitars. Think Radiohead with balls as big as their sales.

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More by Jason Bracelin

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