Whether it's aging acts taking a final bow, or up-and-comers riding a wave of buzz, the array of talent set to hit the road in 2016 is staggering. Rock titans such as Black Sabbath, AC/DC and Bruce Springsteen, pop megastars like Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Selena Gomez, and indie-rock faves Yo La Tengo and Kurt Vile will all visit arenas, theaters and clubs across North America. And then, of course, there's the mighty Adele, bringing her record-smashing 25 to life. Read on for our full rundown of the year's essential tours.
Dates: January 6th–January 31st
Openers: Primus, 3TEETH
Why You Should Go: The wheels are turning once more for Tool. After spending the last eight years deadlocked in legal battle with an insurance company, which ended in their favor, the band is finally prepping their first release since 2006's 10,000 Days. Tool last performed at the 2015 Monster Mash in Tempe, Arizona, where they dressed up as Led Zeppelin and regaled audiences with a cover of "No Quarter," as well as a brand new song, "Descending." You can probably catch some more teasers in their upcoming tour dates, along with hard-rock weirdos Primus and L.A. industrial act 3TEETH.
Dates: January 7th–February 1st
Openers: Phantogram, X Ambassadors
Why You Should Go: When Muse's seventh studio effort, Drones, was released in June, it was immediately apparent that the concept album's wartime themes and Wall-esque scope would make for an epic tour. Matt Bellamy and Co. have delivered at recent live dates, playing in-the-round with catwalks on either side, using flying balloon drones, employing awnings as projection screens and filling cavernous arenas with an explosive light show. And the gigs won't just be Drones played front-to-back: Tunes from all of Muse's previous records have gotten the nod at its international extravaganzas thus far.
Dates: January 10th–January 24th
Why You Should Go: As Madge has steadily increased ticket prices for her shows, she's upped the ante on the spectacle, changing outfits more often than on a Yves Saint Laurent walkway and employing a small army of dancers onstage. At stops so far on the tour supporting last year's Rebel Heart, the Queen of Pop has played lengthy sets, welcomed surprise guests and, as always, thumbed her nose at organized religion while spotlighting sexual taboos. Madonna has been around for a while, but she's welcome to stay as long as she likes.
Dates: January 16th–March 17th.
Why You Should Go: Springsteen will be performing his 1980 double LP, The River, in its entirety every single night, something he's only done a single time before. That means you're guaranteed to hear super obscurities like "The Price You Pay," "Wreck on the Highway" and "Stolen Car." He's also drastically scaled down the E Street Band of recent years, chucking the horn section (besides Jake Clemons), the backup singers and percussionist. What remains is a core group of E Streeters that will that will faithfully recreate The River night after night. Beyond that, even Springsteen isn't sure what will happen. "We plan on picking out some of the best of our outtakes for the end of the show, and there will obviously be some fan favorites," he told E Street Radio. "I don't know myself how it will play out. It should be interesting and a lot of fun for the fans."
Dates: January 20th–September 21st
Opener: Rival Sons
Why You Should Go: This isn't Black Sabbath's first time saying goodbye, but this time, it seems like they mean it. Guitarist Tony Iommi is still battling non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and everyone in the group is closing in on their 70th birthdays. Odds are high that this will in fact be your last opportunity to see the metal pioneers perform classics like "War Pigs," "Black Sabbath" and "Children of the Grave." As on their 2013–14 tour, they'll be playing without founding drummer Bill Ward, but with Ozzy in fine voice and Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler playing their assess off, it still feels like the legitimate Black Sabbath experience. Without a new album to support, expect the band to dig deep into the vaults and play some lost classics along with the usual hits.
Dates: January 28th–April 9th
Why You Should Go: "No openers, two YLT sets each night, very quiet to extremely loud, old songs, new songs, rearrangements, jams, covers, mistakes, most likely requests, some guests here and there, nice shirts," Yo La Tengo bassist James McNew tells Rolling Stone, breaking down the indie stalwarts' upcoming tour in a typically low-key pitch that should nevertheless have longtime fans salivating. Expect this, too: Plenty of cuts from last year's Stuff Like That There, the New Jersey group's album of covers, reworkings and originals.
Dates: February 2nd–April 4th
Why You Should Go: They may be down to two original members due to drummer Phil Rudd's legal troubles and guitarist Malcolm Young's health problems, but AC/DC proved last year that they can still put on an absolutely stellar show. Frontman Brian Johnson may not quite have the vocal range he had in the Back in Black days, but Angus still plays guitar like a man possessed and they're still dragging around the eardrum-shattering cannons, the giant Hells Bell and the inflatable Rosie from the old days. Drummer Chris Slade played with the group in the late 1980s and 1990s and is the perfect sub for Rudd, and replacement rhythm guitarist Stevie Young literally has the band in his blood. If you're on the fence, consider the fact they usually wait five years between tours. If they do that again, Johnston will be 72 when the next one rolls around. It might be now or never.
Dates: February 17th–March 4th
Why You Should Go: Kurt Vile's 2015 record, B'lieve I'm Goin Down, was a drowsy, sleepy-eyed meander through his subconscious. Though we may be right to assume that these dates won't exactly be guaranteed parties, the shaggy-haired crooner will be joined at these shows by his colorful backing band, the Violators, who ought to help him pack an extra punch onstage.
Dates: February 18th–May 14th
Opener: Little Big Town, Dustin Lynch
Why You Should Go: Bryan's power as a live act is close to unmatched in country music — two years in a row now, he's won the CMA Award for Entertainer of the Year. He's hitting the road in February to support his fifth studio album, Kill the Lights, and he's sure to bring his trademark dance moves (he's been male country's most prominent dancer since at least 2011). He'll be able to groove his way through the new album's title track, which represents the latest evolution of country disco, and possibly on "Strip It Down," the most sensual single in Bryan's catalog — "Dirty dance me slow in the summertime heat/Feel my belt turn loose from these old blue jeans." Performing plays a crucial function for him, as he told Rolling Stone last year: "When I go out on stage and I watch people literally just having an absolute blast … that's all the vindication, that's all I need."
Dates: February 26th–May 7th
Opener: Travis Scott
Why You Should Go: Rihanna's long-awaited eighth album, Anti, isn't even out yet, but the singer has already plotted a world tour in support of it. The Anti tour follows 2014's co-headlining trek with Eminem and features rumored boyfriend and "Bitch Better Have My Money" co-producer Travis Scott as the opener for the North American dates. (Lucky European fans will get to see the Barbadian pop superstar perform alongside the Weeknd and Big Sean when she heads overseas.) Without the album, it's hard to predict what Rih is planning for her live shows, but expect years' worth of hit singles like "Umbrella," "Diamonds" and "Pour It Up" to fill the show.
Dates: February 26th–March 12th
Why You Should Go: In a year when hip-hop was dominated by established artists like Drake and Future, Vince Staples was one of the genre's most exciting breakout acts. It’s easy to see why the young MC earned so much attention when you listen to his debut album, Summertime '06, which featured 20 ambitious, skeletal, and relentless tracks that ignored many of the dominant trends in hip-hop. Since this acclaimed release, Staples has staked out a reputation as a cheerful provocateur, gleefully challenging standard orthodoxy by suggesting that Nineties hip-hop is overrated. To top it off, the rapper is fresh off a tour with A$AP Rocky and Tyler, the Creator, both energetic live acts with devoted fanbases who probably gave him a few good ideas about how to put on a visceral show.
Dates: March 9th–July 18th
Why You Should Go: Justin Bieber's fall from grace and return as a uniting pop phenomenon culminated this past November with the release of Purpose, an impressive fusion of crisp Top 40 texture, R&B-inflected vocals and danceable rhythms borrowed from the worlds of big-tent EDM and Latin pop. The record managed to rack up a series of remarkable chart accomplishments even while Adele was overturning all conventional wisdom about album sales: "What Do You Mean?" hit Number One, "Sorry" hit Number Two, "Love Yourself" is now at Number Three, and Purpose broke Spotify's single-season streaming record. The show won’t only be a display of dominance, since Bieber now knows the power of sass — sample line from "Love Yourself": "My mama don't like you, and she likes everyone" — and vulnerability: During a performance at the VMAs last year, he burst into tears on stage.
Dates: May 6th–July 8th
Why You Should Go: It's a new era for Selena Gomez, who has shed her teen-icon skin to become a confident, sultry pop diva in her Revival era. Her sophomore album saw the singer and actress move away from EDM-pop and towards a more R&B-tinged style that showcases her vocals. At the American Music Awards and on the Jingle Ball tour, Gomez teased a dance-heavy, Cabaret-inspired live performance that will hopefully be reflected in her second worldwide tour.
Dates: May 10th–June 27th.
Opener: The Twilight Sad
Why You Should Go: There hasn't been a new Cure album since 2008's 4:13 Dream, but that isn't stopping them from launching a 61-date world tour in May. It's their biggest outing in more than a decade, and it will give fans a chance to see former Tin Machine guitarist Reeves Gabrels, who joined the group in 2012. Robert Smith's voice sounds almost exactly like it did in 1985, and their shows are often marathons lasting three hours. They play nearly all the hits, though "Killing an Arab" has been turned into the more politically correct "Killing Another."
Dates: June 1st–October 10th
Why You Should Go: The Chicks' DCX MMXVI World Tour is being billed as their first American headlining tour in a decade — they opened for the Eagles in 2010, and have played some other spot dates — and it's a good time for them to return. Though they haven’t put out a new album since 2006, the band remains the biggest-selling female band of all time in the United States. Women in country are getting more attention than they have in years due to the now-infamous suggestion of radio consultant Keith Hill that the way to improve ratings in country radio was to remove the women. The Chicks were always proof that females were a vital force on the country airwaves. Hopefully the group will think about recording another album, joining recent titans in their genre (Garth Brooks, Tricia Yearwood) who returned after a long hiatus.
Dates: June 24th–September 17th
Why You Should Go: Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas have grown up together, so it's no surprise that the former Disney stars would embark on a joint headlining tour just as they simultaneously embark on more mature music careers. Since their Camp Rock days, the pair have done more than just cross paths — their summer tour will be their sixth tour together since 2008 when Lovato opened for the Jonas Brothers. Since then, the two have become business partners as well, with Jonas serving as musical and creative director for Lovato's 2014 Neon Lights tour and the launch of their joint label Safehouse Records, which released Lovato's Confident LP in the fall. Hopefully for the fans, Jonas will release the follow-up to his 2013 self-titled album just in time for the tour.
Dates: July 1st–September 24th
Why You Should Go: For the second year in a row, the Australian pop-punk crew is embarking on a massive, nearly year-long world tour, this time in support of sophomore album Sounds Good Feel Good. Between the nearly 100 dates the young band will hit over the year, 5SOS will spend their summer in North America and hit even bigger venues than they did last summer, like the legendary Madison Square Garden. It's appropriate for a band that just secured its second Number One album in a row and continues to see both its fandom and stature in the pop scene grow bigger by the day.
Dates: July 5th–November 9th
Why You Should Go: Hello? Adele's 25 was the best-selling album of 2015, even though it was released in late November. Naturally, the British songstress is following up those staggering sales with some more: Every Adele Live 2016 date is officially sold out, making it the hottest ticket for grandmothers, firefighters and everyone in between. It's the kind of FOMO event that feels mandatory, even if you didn't have three monitors with seven browsers open on the morning the six Madison Square Garden shows went on sale. At minimum, the prospect of experiencing Adele's glittering pipes in person is reason enough to catch one of these shows.
Why You Should Go: Jackson is simply one of the great all-around stars of her generation, with undeniable hits in four decades and a kinetic, tightly wound, impeccably choreographed dance style that has influenced everyone from Beyoncé to Tinashe. Unbreakable, her first album in seven and a half years, arrived in 2015, and it’s her best effort since the 2001 classic All For You. Although the singer recently announced that she's postponing her tour until the spring due to surgery, she's sure to return with a vengeance — after all, this is the Unbreakable World Tour.
Why You Should Go: Virtually nothing is known about Pearl Jam's upcoming American tour other than the fact it's going to celebrate their 25th anniversary and that dates will come sometime early in the year. In keeping with all Pearl Jam shows, expect a set list that's basically their entire catalog on shuffle. Their South American shows in late 2015 featured as many as 32 songs, including Nineties classics like "Daughter" and "Why Go," and recent tunes like "Lightning Bolt" and "Mind Your Manners," along with covers like Pink Floyd's "Mother" and U2's "A Sort of Homecoming."