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Summer 2015’s 30 Hottest Tours

Everybody from the Rolling Stones to Taylor Swift is hitting the road. Here are our picks for this year’s can’t-miss shows

Summer 2015's 30 Hottest Tours

Summer 2015's 30 Hottest Tours

Robyn Beck/Getty

Titans of rock (the Rolling Stones, the Who), country megastars (Shania Twain, Kenny Chesney) and pop's newest icons (Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran) are taking over stadiums, arenas and amphitheaters across North America this summer. The season is shaping up to be one of the biggest in biz history, and we have the ultimate guide to all the big tickets, from Nicki Minaj to Marilyn Manson to Dave Matthews Band.

5 Seconds of Summer

By:Chris Polk/PMA2014

5 Seconds of Summer

Dates: July 17th-September 13th

Opener: Hey Violet

Why You Should Go: 5 Seconds of Summer grew as a band by opening for One Direction across the world for two summers straight. The Australian pop-punkers have since found their own way, riding high on the success of their smash single "She Looks So Perfect" and self-titled debut. Now the quartet — who are all between the ages of 18 and 21 — have embarked on their first tour as headliners and are looking back to the Eighties for some arena-rock inspiration. "[I've] been watching a lot of [VH1's Behind the Music]," reveals lead singer Luke Hemmings. "Like the Guns N' Roses one, the Poison one, Bon Jovi. I've been looking to those bands and what they do with stages, like how Axl Rose will command a whole stadium." For the Rock Out With Your Socks Out Tour, Hemmings notes that their vibe is mostly to create a sense of intimacy with everything from the setup to the lighting. "It's an arena-level theater show."

Tickets: $20-$91

AC/DC

Chelsea Lauren/Getty

AC/DC

Dates: August 22nd-September 25th

Why You Should Go: For their first tour without ailing guitarist Malcolm Young and beleaguered drummer Phil Rudd, the Aussie rockers have brought in two familiar hands: former drummer Chris Slade, who left the band in 1994, and Malcolm's nephew Stevie Young. And they are keeping the spirit of Malcolm with them: "Mal told me the only thing I gotta do is play," says Angus Young. "Anything else is a bonus. Music first, dance steps second!"

Tickets: $25-$110

Bleachers and Charli XCX

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty; Cassandra Hannagan/Getty

Bleachers & Charli XCX

Dates: July 21st-August 12th

Why You Should Go: "It makes sense in that it doesn't make sense," says Bleachers' Jack Antonoff, discussing the upcoming Charli and Jack Do America Tour. "Well, Charli is kind of on the outskirts of pop, and I sit on the outskirts of alternative, so I guess it makes sense within that." For his biggest tour yet with his once-modest side project, Antonoff is planning an entirely new show. "It looks like it could have been a great late-Seventies arena show," he says. "Everyone is overly obsessed with video walls and I want to be about what's happening on the actual stage." In addition to playing songs from last year's Strange Desire, Antonoff is planning to debut new songs from their "slightly more fucked-up-sounding" next album and sing some unexpected covers with his co-headliner. "Charli is a fucking blast, she really is," he says. "I'm hoping to use it as an excuse to cut loose a little bit and maybe act vaguely wild for me."

Tickets: $25-$55

Kelly Clarkson

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Singer Kelly Clarkson speaks onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images for dcp)

Cooper Neill/Getty

Kelly Clarkson

Dates: July 11th-October 17th

Openers: Pentatonix, Eric Hutchinson

Why You Should Go: American Idol will soon be off the air, but its original champ continues to thrive. After releasing her third Number One album this February, Clarkson is headlining a 36-date summer tour, stopping at venues as storied as Radio City Music Hall and as big as L.A.'s Staples Center (with a cappella superstars Pentatonix along for the ride).

Tickets: $20-$170

 

Kenny Chesney

Mike Windle/ACM2015

Kenny Chesney

Dates: Through August 29th

Openers: Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen, Chase Rice (varies by date)

Why You Should Go: Chesney's tour is one of the most reliable of the summer – or it was, until he took 2014 off. The rest did him well: Last September, he released The Big Revival, his strongest, most urgent album in half a decade. Back in football stadiums, he'll be traveling North America with a rotating group of openers that includes others stars like Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen, Eric Church and Brantley Gilbert. Jason Aldean will co-headline 10 dates. (Go behind the tour in exclusive photos here.)

Tickets: $37-$262

D'Angelo

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 15: Singer/songwriter D'Angelo performs onstage during the Samsung Supper Club at SXSW 2015 on March 15, 2015 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for Samsung)

Rick Kern/Getty

D’Angelo

Dates: June 7th-25th

Why You Should Go: D'Angelo and his backing band, the Vanguard (which includes Who bassist Pino Palladino and former Time guitarist Jesse Johnson), have already played a short run of airtight shows mixing classic material, soul and funk covers and Black Messiah tracks — but D'Angelo plans to push the band even harder in rehearsals for their theater tour. "I just feel like it can always be better," he says. "I don't want to just have a good show — I want to have the best show you ever saw."

Tickets: $49.50-$175

Dave Matthews Band

Dave Matthews of Dave Matthews Band performs during the final day of Dave Matthews Band Caravan at Lakeside on July 10, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for Dave Matthews Band)

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Dave Matthews Band

Dates: Through September 13th

Why You Should Go: For 24 summers in a row, since 1992, Dave Matthews Band have hit the road without fail, selling 19 million tickets over their full career. This summer, they're doing it all over again. "I'm excited about the idea of the smaller acoustic set and then an electric set," says Matthews. "I think it gives the band a chance to put some variety into the songs. I definitely want people to walk away thinking, 'That was almost cool.'"

Tickets: $40-$85

Death Cab for Cutie

Death Cab For Cutie PUBLICITY 2015 Photo Credit: We Are The Rhoads http://press.atlanticrecords.com/death-cab-for-cutie/

We Are The Rhoads

Death Cab for Cutie

Dates: July 8th-October 5th

Openers: Built to Spill, Tune-Yards, the Antlers, Explosions in the Sky, Twin Shadow, Best Coast (varies by date)

Why You Should Go: Death Cab for Cutie's Kintsugi tour, which restarts in June after a series of spring warm-up dates, is the band's first since guitarist-producer Chris Walla left the band last fall. They're attempting to fill his shoes with two new members: guitarist Dave Depper and keyboardist Zac Rae. "We just get to be able to explore musical territory that we've never been able to do in the past," says bassist Nick Harmer, promising set lists that tweak old favorites and rotate in five or so songs from the new LP. "I think ultimately it'll translate to a better sounding show. We get to hear a lot of old material and a lot of new material in ways that we've never heard it before."

Tickets: $30-$50

Drake

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - MARCH 14: Drake performs on stage at Dubai International Cricket Ground on March 14, 2015 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Helen Boast/Redferns via Getty Images)

Helen Boast/Redferns/Getty

Drake

Dates: Through August 3rd 

Opener: Future

Why You Should Go: Drake doesn't have to do much to keep the world's attention, but that didn't stop him from scheduling a short, early-summer tour prior to his own OVO Fest in August. If his headlining performance at Coachella is any indicator, expect a lush set, lots of flames and surprise make-outs with music icons who released their first album in 1983. We'll be waiting for you, Thurston Moore.

Tickets: $40-$155

Wiz Khalifa and Fall Out Boy

Wiz Khalifa and Fall Out Boy

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty; Larry Busacca/Getty

Fall Out Boy & Wiz Khalifa

Dates: June 10th-August 10th

Opener: Hoodie Allen, Max

Why You Should Go: Last year, Fall Out Boy paired with Paramore and brought pop-punk to amphitheaters across the country. Their forthcoming Boys of Zummer tour will return to many of the same venues, but the band's approach will be almost entirely different. "We're going to do a less standard rock & roll show," singer Pete Wentz tells Rolling Stone. "On the last tour it felt really cool, but if we did it again it would be rehashing the same thing and you can kind of get caught in that." Hence their new co-headliner: "See You Again" rapper Wiz Khalifa. The combination may seem odd, but Wentz says that both artists have much in common: "He straddled hip-hop and pop the way we straddled pop and rock music. Him coming from Pittsburgh and us coming from the suburbs of Chicago, we both kind of grew in a lab and were able to create a culture."

Tickets: $20-$89.50

Foo Fighters

Editorial Use Only. Consent Required for Commercial Use and Book Publications Mandatory Credit: Photo by Matthew Poon/Newspix/Rex/REX USA (2672055j) Foo Fighters - Dave Grohl Foo Fighters in concert, Perth, Australia - 08 Mar 2015

Matthew Poon/Newspix/Rex

Foo Fighters

Dates: July 13th-October 17th

Openers: Gary Clark Jr., Royal Blood, additional bands in each city

Why You Should Go: The North American leg of Foo Fighters' 2015 world tour opens on July 4th at Washington, D.C.'s RFK Stadium and continues with more baseball-park shows in New York, Boston and Chicago. "You'd be surprised how small you can make a stadium," says Dave Grohl. "We don't need the lasers and pyrotechnics. When you sing 'My Hero' or 'Best of You' and light up the crowd to get everybody to sing along, that's more powerful than any light show I've ever seen." The band's set lists will stretch deep into their 20-year catalog, including "things we haven't played in a long time," Grohl says. "If we're lucky, they'll let us play for three hours."

Tickets: $42.50-$75

Ariana Grande

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 8: Ariana Grande in concert at the Air Canada Centre. (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Andrew Francis Wallace/Getty

Ariana Grande

Dates: July 16th-October 15th

Opener: Prince Royce

Why You Should Go: Ariana Grande has dominated radio with an ease that makes it seem like she's a seasoned vet, but the Honeymoon Tour is Grande's first international headlining run. The last time the "Love Me Harder" singer played stadiums was back in 2013, when she joined Justin Bieber following the release of his Believe. Even with only two albums under her belt, Grande has enough ballads and bangers to fill a solo show  hopefully Justin gave her some pointers on how command the attention of thousands of screaming teens. Joining her will be Prince Royce, a bachata star who can make a crowd scream in both Spanish and English.

Tickets: $30-$80

Imagine Dragons

Randy Holmes/Getty

Imagine Dragons

Dates: June 3rd-August 1st

Openers: Metric, Halsey

Why You Should Go: The Vegas rockers are working with Nine Inch Nails' production team on a high-tech show featuring 3D projections. "We're going to be playing with people's perspectives," says singer Dan Reynolds, "making them have to look twice."

Tickets: $24.75-$69.50

Incubus and Deftones

Incubus and Deftones

Heather Kennedy/Getty; Rick Kern/WireImage/Getty

Incubus & Deftones

Dates: July 22nd-August 30th

Openers: Death From Above 1979, the Bots

Why You Should Go: Alt-rock veterans Deftones and their "longtime homies" Incubus go so far back that the latter's singer, Brandon Boyd, refers to the groups' upcoming co-headlining trek as a "fun little high-school reunion." The bands grew up together heavily-dreadlocked in the Nineties California nü-metal scene, but they’ve both evolved musically (and cut their hair) since, so expect their sets to span skyscraping balladry and gauzy chill-outs as well as groove-centric mosh fodder. Adding to the eclecticism, two duos, Death From Above 1979 and the Bots, will open shows with their dance punk and garage punk, respectively. Incubus bassist Ben Kelley is eager to kick things off — if only so he can get in the Deftones' ears about playing his favorite song of theirs: "Street Carp." "They don't really like to play it!" he says. "[But] I have all summer to beg them for it."

Tickets: $20-$125

Kid Rock

Kevin Mazur/Getty

Kid Rock

Dates: June 24th-September 5th

Openers: Foreigner

Why You Should Go: Expect all the hits. "I want to be like Tom Petty," Kid Rock says, "playing an hour and a half of fucking great songs." As in 2013, he's charging $20 for most tickets. "Nobody got rich, but we made enough," he says. "Well, I got rich." (For many more quotes like this, don't miss The Killer Inside Kid Rock.)

Tickets: $20-$24

Nicki Minaj

NBC/Getty

Nicki Minaj

Dates: May 30th-August 19th

Openers: Meek Mill, Tinashe, Rae Sremmurd, Dej Loaf

Why You Should Go: Nicki Minaj is one of rap's biggest personalities and sharpest talents, and her Pinkprint tour is the perfect excuse to show off both. With more than enough solo singles ("Super Bass," "Anaconda") and scene-stealing features ("Flawless," "Bang Bang") to squeeze in, her set list will play like an extended greatest hits. Four openers will come along for the ride: recent collaborators Meek Mill and Rae Sremmurd plus newcomers Tinashe and Dej Loaf. Minaj's Pinkprint-era look may be more subdued than that of Pink Friday, but the tour promises to be more turned up than ever.

Tickets: $30-$160

Mumford & Sons

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 09: Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons performs for SiriusXM listeners at The McKittrick Hotel on May 9, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Taylor Hill/Getty

Mumford & Sons

Dates: June 2nd-August 22nd

Openers: The Maccabees 

Why You Should Go: Mumford & Sons' big challenge as they play amphitheaters, arenas and a headlining spot at Bonnaroo — plus several Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Festivals in out-of-the-way spots like Waverly, Iowa — will be figuring out how to adapt the electric sound of Wilder Mind to the stage. "A lot of these songs we haven't played since we put them down in the studio," says Marcus Mumford. "We've got a lot of work to do." That includes expanding the band's lineup with a new touring drummer. "We needed a few extra hands on deck, and we got someone amazing," says bassist Ted Dwane, who's especially excited about the change: "Being a bass player in a band without a drummer for eight years was kind of weird!"

Tickets: $45-$200

New Kids on the Block

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 08: (L - R) Donnie Wahlberg,Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Danny Wood, and Jordan Knight of New Kids on the Block perform during the band's "The Main Event" tour on May 8, 2015 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty

New Kids on the Block

Dates: Through July 2nd

Openers: Nelly, TLC

Why You Should Go: New Kids on the Block haven't released new music since 2013, but on the Main Event Tour, they're playing alongside two surprising guests: TLC and Nelly. But the combination makes sense than initially appears. Although the NKOTB comeback has previously brought the group on the road with other man bands like Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees, the Kids have long been hip-hop fans a previous opener was Donnie Wahlberg's rapping brother Marky Mark. Expect the nostalgia in troves.

Tickets: $20-$90

One Direction

Mark Metcalfe/Getty

One Direction

Dates: July 9th-September 12th

Why You Should Go: One Direction began their On the Road Again Tour in February, but according to singer Niall Horan, the set list for the European and North American legs remains up in the air. "We will be rehearsing new songs which we are very excited to perform live for the first time," he says. "We always felt 'Clouds' has a real 'stadium' sound and is great to perform live. I also personally love 'Where Do Broken Hearts Go,' 'Little White Lies' and 'Girl Almighty.'" These dates will be some of 1D's first since Zayn Malik left the group in March, but Horan says that this will have little effect on the show: "[Fans] should expect the usual One Direction madness onstage."

Tickets: $25-$115

Romeo Santos

Romeo Santos rehearses for the 2015 Billboard Latin Music Awards, from Miami, Florida at the University of Miami on April 29th, 2015.

John Parra/Telemundo/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

Romeo Santos

Dates: May 21st-July 12th

Why You Should Go: Last summer, bachata king Romeo Santos proved his dominance with two solo shows at Yankee Stadium. When he comes to New York this year, the Bronx native will have to settle for three at Brooklyn's Barclays Center tough life. Onstage, Santos is smooth and flirtatious, oozing charm while singing romantic hits like "Eres Mia" and "Propuesta Indecente." America will be quickly seduced.

Tickets: $40-$130

Ed Sheeran

AUSTIN, TX - MAY 06: Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran performs in concert during the opening night of the North American leg of his 'Multiply World Tour' at The Frank Erwin Center on May 6, 2015 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/WireImage)

Rick Kern/Getty

Ed Sheeran

Dates: Through September 10th 

Openers: Foy Vance, Rixton, Christina Perri

Why You Should Go: For the first time ever, Sheeran is headlining stadiums with his acoustic tunes. "We first started talking about the possibility a couple of years ago," he says. "We’ve added some cool production to help fill out the stages as they grew in size, but ultimately it’s still just me and a guitar which is pretty cool."

Tickets: $40-$85

Rolling Stones

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 22: Ronnie Wood (L) Mick Jagger (C) and Keith Richards (R) on stage as The Rolling Stones perform live at Mt Smart Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Fiona Goodall/Getty

The Rolling Stones

Dates: May 30th-July 11th

Why You Should Go: "We are energized," says Keith Richards of the Stones' last few years on the road. "Once you're onstage, it's very familiar ground to me." On this tour, they're planning to sprinkle in rarities from their new reissue of 1971's landmark Sticky Fingers. It's even possible they'll play the whole album at some point, which they've never done. Says Mick Jagger, "It's not like doing Their Satanic Majesties Request."

Tickets: $40-$400

Mick Thompson of Slipknot and Randy Blythe of Lamb of God.

Mick Thompson of Slipknot and Randy Blythe of Lamb of God.

Daniel Boczarski/Redferns/Getty; Christie Goodwin/Redferns/Getty

Slipknot & Lamb of God

Dates: July 24th-September 5th

Openers: Bullet for My Valentine, Motionless in White

Why You Should Go: For the heaviest double-bill of the summer, look no further than metal titans Slipknot and Lamb of God. This year is big for both acts: Lamb of God are releasing their first album since lead singer Randy Blythe was acquitted of manslaughter charges, and Slipknot is recognizing the fifth anniversary of founding member Paul Gray's death.

Tickets: $30-$80

Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson

Victor Moriyama/Getty; David A. Beloff/Getty

Smashing Pumpkins & Marilyn Manson

Dates: July 7th-August 9th

Why You Should Go: Billy Corgan promises career-spanning sets when he tours with his old Nineties pal Marilyn Manson. But don't get it twisted: "Anyone who calls this a nostalgia tour doesn't know what the fuck they're talking about," Corgan says. "Believe it or don't — but if you don't, then you will miss something rare, which is three hours of really powerful music."

Tickets: $35-$110

Taylor Swift

Jun Sato/Getty

Taylor Swift

Dates: Through October 31st 

Openers: Haim, Shawn Mendes, Vance Joy (varies by date)

Why You Should Go: Taylor Swift says she was on a mission to make her current arena and stadium tour every bit as much of a pop experience as last year's 1989 album. "I was very adamant that every decision I've made creatively in the past had to be almost flipped," Swift says. "You're not going to see me playing the banjo." Producer Max Martin was enlisted to teach her live band how to re-create the 1989 sound. The set list draws most from the record but also includes revamped versions of some old favorites — "'Love Story,' 'I Knew You Were Trouble' and 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together' are completely different," Swift says.

Tickets: $33-$250

Shania Twain

CALGARY, CANADA - JULY 10: Shania Twain performs at the Calgary Stampede at Scotiabank Saddledome on July 10, 2014 in Calgary, Canada. (Photo by Melissa Renwick/Getty Images)

Melissa Renwick/Getty

Shania Twain

Dates: June 5th-August 24th

Openers: Gavin DeGraw (U.S.), Wes Mack (Canada)

Why You Should Go: When Shania Twain's two-year run in Las Vegas concluded in December, the 49-year-old pop-country hitmaker knew her performing days were almost over. "I just feel like there are so many other things to do musically," says Twain. This summer, she'll bid farewell not in a casino theater but with the Rock This Country trek, which launches June 5th in Seattle. "I thought it would be more satisfying to end it on tour and not in a static environment," she continues, promising a show emphasizing the guitar-heavy country music she recorded with producer and then-husband Mutt Lange. "I want to focus more on the rock vibe and the punch and edge that the music naturally has. I'm going to stick to the hits and let the energy go and rock."

Tickets: $45-$151

U2

BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 13: Bono of U2 perform on stage during the Bambi Awards 2014 show on November 13, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Gisela Schober/Getty Images)

Gisela Schober/Getty

U2

Dates: Through July 31st

Why You Should Go: The last time U2 went out on the road, they built a spaceship — the 29,000-square-foot "Claw" that was the centerpiece of their 2009-'11 world tour. This time around, they're playing through custom PA system that employs speakers hung from the ceiling spread evenly throughout the venue. "Everyone up to this point, us included, has always put all the speakers at one end of the stage and blasted all the sound the full length of the venue," says the Edge. "With this, you sit no further than 50 feet from a set of speakers." The show, which opened last week in Vancouver, is also Bono's first since a serious bicycle crash left the 55-year-old unable to wield his instrument. "I miss his guitar playing," says the Edge. "I particularly miss it when I have to go into a solo and there's no Bono there to back me up. I'm like, 'Oh, shit. This is quite a different thing.'"

Tickets: $35-$280

Van Halen

HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 30: Eddie Van Halen and Wolfgang Van Halen of Van Halen performs on March 30, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Jeff Kravitz/Getty

Van Halen

Dates: July 5th-October 4th

Opener: Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band

Why You Should Go: In celebration of Van Halen's first live album to feature vocals from David Lee Roth, the hard rock band has planned a hefty tour that will cross North America. Performances on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Ellen previewed the unerring energy that they'll be bring to these summer dates. In fact, the singer had been so enthusiastic on Kimmel that he needed to get stitches following a baton incident that occurred on air. Even more irresistible: the promise of another new studio album, something guitarist Eddie Van Halen has hinted at in recent interviews.

Tickets: $43.50-$166.50

The Who

Josh Brasted/Getty

The Who

Dates: Through November 4th

Openers: Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

Why You Should Go: To celebrate their 50th anniversary, the Who are spending the year on the road with an ambitious show that mixes in deep cuts like "Pictures of Lily" and "A Quick One, While He's Away." "I know this is the last big tour we'll ever do," says Roger Daltrey (Pete Townshend, however, isn't so sure). "We have to be realistic. I want us to stop at the top of our game when we are still really good at what we do."

Tickets: $35-$150

Neil Young

Kevin Mazur/Getty

Neil Young

Dates: July 5th-24th

Openers: Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, Band of Horses, Puss N Boots

Why You Should Go: Neil Young's upcoming protest album The Monsanto Years was recorded with Willie Nelson's sons Mikah Nelson as Lukas Nelson, as well as their backing band Promise of Real. They're nearly 50 years younger than Young, but they found an intense musical connection they plan on bringing to amphitheaters all across North America. A rehearsal show at California bar featured the entire new album along with Young classics like "Country Home," "Walk On" and "Down by the River," but trying to predict what Young will want to play this summer, or even if the tour will go past these initial dates, is impossible to know. "Neil could call me up right now and say, 'We're doing a show in Iraq tomorrow,'" says Micah. "We'd be like, 'OK! Here we go.'" No matter what happens, the Nelson boys are extremely pumped. "As much as you can imagine how fun it would be, just amplify that by 10,000," says Lukas. "And that's close to how we feel as a band. It's almost spiritual."

Tickets: $34.50-$165

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