Opening musical acts are like the redheaded stepchildren of the music scene: neglected, underappreciated and designated as second-class citizens by many concertgoers.
Many fans skip the supporting act and show up for concerts right before the headliner hits the stage. But in many cases, they're missing out on seeing the "next big thing" before it's selling out arenas. Or at the very least they're missing out on discovering a great band that they might really enjoy.
This summer, many opening acts are just as good — if not better — than the bands they're supporting. And don't forget about the slew of festivals, where even more up-and-comers play before the sun goes down. Here are some worthy supporting acts you might want to head out early for:
Who: The Pink Spiders
Supporting: Vans Warped Tour
Where you might have heard them: The band's "Little Razorblade" has been rocking the airwaves, and the video premiered on "TRL" in April.
Why you should show up early: Named one of the 100 Bands You Need to Know in 2006 by Alternative Press magazine, the Pink Spiders play garage pop-rock infused with deliriously catchy hooks bound to get your head bobbing and your foot tapping. Don't be deceived by their pink outfits and oversized sunglasses: These guys know how to rock.
Who: Ashley Parker Angel
Supporting: Ashlee Simpson
Where you might have heard him:
A regular on the reality-TV circuit, Angel got his big break when he was chosen as a member of O-Town for "Making the Band." After the group disbanded, Angel's struggle to launch a solo career was documented in the MTV series "There and Back."
Why you should show up early: Angel has undergone a musical and physical makeover since his stint as O-Town's resident heartthrob. Not only has he grown out his blond locks and started sporting a more laid-back rock style, but his solo songs feature an edgier sound that proves he's more than just a pretty face. Ashlee fans might dig the other Ashley's honest, attitude-laced pop.
Supporting: The Fray
Where you might have heard them: Augustana have earned a spot in the regular rotation at many radio stations nationwide with the emotional track "Boston," and they've already hit the road opening for the Counting Crows and Goo Goo Dolls.
Why you should show up early: Only in their early 20s, the members of Augustana seem to draw from a well of life experience equivalent to that of people twice their age. The band might be on the fast track already, having also
secured an opening spot for Snow Patrol in September.
Supporting: Jurassic 5
Where you might have heard them: In the early '90s, X-Clan made a significant mark on the rap scene as a conscious hip-hop act in the vein of Public Enemy or Brand Nubian.
Why you should show up early: After breaking up almost a decade ago, the group was recently reunited by Brother J, and a new album is scheduled to drop this fall. Like headliners Jurassic 5, X-Clan are a hip-hop group that rejects the gangsta-rap persona, shuns commercialization and blends a positive message with their beats.
Who: Frank Black
Supporting: Foo Fighters
Where you might have heard him: Frank Black is regarded as an indie-rock icon owing to his turn as frontman for the Pixies, who everyone from Kurt Cobain to Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard have cited as an influence.
Why you should show up early: Black's solo music is much more subtle and toned-down than the Pixies' gritty blasts. But his engaging, mellow tunes are more fitting for the Foo Fighters' current tour, during which they're playing stripped-down, acoustic sets.
Who: Rogue Wave
Supporting: Guster and Ray LaMontagne
Where you might have heard them: Like seemingly every other just-under-the-radar indie band, Rogue Wave had a tune, "Publish My Love," that made it into an episode of "The O.C." that aired this past season.
Why you should show up early: Signed to Sub Pop, the mecca of indie labels, the band blends sing-song vocals with layers of pop-rock. They've been drawing comparisons to everyone from My Bloody Valentine to Neil Young.
Who: Norma Jean
Where you might have heard them: The "Headbangers Ball" darlings have toured incessantly over the last few years, opening for Atreyu and As I Lay Dying, and their 2005 album, O God, the Aftermath, reached #62 on the Billboard albums chart last year.
Why you should show up early: They may be a Christian band, but Norma Jean's music isn't for the gentle-hearted. With their thrashing guitars and guttural vocals, the music demands a mosh pit and gets it. In addition to high energy, they're known to bring elaborate light shows and smoke machines to the stage.