Ale Fest returns to Tremont in July. Early bird tickets are available right now!


92.3 Xtreme Radio X-Fest, featuring Godsmack, Cypress Hill, New Found Glory, Fuel, Dropbox, and Breaking Benjamin. Friday, May 21, at Tower City Amphitheater.

Concerts are too long. Midtempo songs are boring live. And you don't really want to hear new songs that you don't know yet. That's just three reasons why radio festivals are such good deals. Bands perform mercifully abbreviated sets, play all their radio hits, say "Goodnight, Cleveland," and everybody's home by midnight with a tale of a tight set by Godsmack, which lately has been performing an acoustic version of "Serenity" before blowing the roof off with "Straight of Line." Modern-rock radio hopefuls Dropbox work in the same mode, which makes sense: Lee Richards was Godsmack's original guitarist, and Godsmack frontman Sully Erna executive-produced Dropbox's debut (it also sounds as if he sang it).

From the other side of the country, Cypress Hill's been together for more than 12 years, but doesn't begin to approach the sheer number of radio hits that Godsmack's had. The barrio heads are a crucial reminder of what's wrong with major labels' "Sign 'em and drop 'em" approach: Some bands write a really catch tune every four or five years, like "Insane in the Brain," "Rock Superstar," and most recently the Clash-sourced "What's Your Number?"

New Found Glory is the least likely act to take punk-metal fusion somewhere new, but they've done it on the new single "All Downhill From Here," which stirs their trademark bubblegum punk into a curious mix with metal breakdowns and double-bass blasts. Maybe on their headlining tour, they'll add some half-hour solos.

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