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The Ten Hottest Summer Package Tours of 2012

Def Leppard/Poison, Aerosmith/Cheap Trick, Gin Blossoms/Lit and other multi-act spectacles coming to a city near you

stevie nicks rod stewart

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With the economy in the crapper and even some of the biggest acts in music struggling to sell out ampitheaters, it's no wonder that many acts are hitting the road on package tours this summer. Fans might be sick of seeing Kiss or Mötley Crüe alone, but throw them together and it becomes more enticing. It's like a struggling restaurant throwing in a free appetizer and dessert onto the price of the entree. Simply speaking, the bigger the artist the smaller the other act on the bill needs to be in order to fill the venue. Aerosmith needs a Cheap Trick, Rod Stewart needs a Stevie Nicks and Bruce Springsteen needs nobody. But if you're the Gin Blossoms, you need Sugar Ray and Marcy Playground and Everclear and Lit, and even then some markets will probably be soft. Here's a guide to nine of the summers biggest package tours. 

rod stewart stevie nicks

Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Lester Cohen/WireImage

Rod Stewart and Stevie Nicks

Target Audience: Fans of late 1970s/early 1980s AOR rock. The two singers may not seem to have much in common, but both started as the singers of big rock bands of the 1970s. Both quickly launched hugely successful solo careers, and then walked away from their groups. 

Missing Members: This is a rare case of two solo acts sharing the stage this summer, so this obviously doesn't apply. Mick Fleetwood has voiced frustration with Stevie Nicks for prioritizing her solo career in recent years, and the Faces also yearn for a reunion with Rod. But for now they're out on their own. 

Highlight: Stevie tends to come out early in Rod's set for "Young Turks" and "Leather and Lace," but then Rod tends to close out his show with "Do You Think I'm Sexy?" 

chicago doobie brothers

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Chicago and Doobie Brothers

Target Audience: This tour is for people who feel that music reached for perfection in 1972, right as "Listen to the Music" and "Saturday in the Park" climbed into the Top 10. These groups may not be very "cool" these days and they may be missing "key members," but they work their asses off every summer pounding out those  hits. 

Missing Members: There's too many to name, but the Doobie Brothers no longer have Michael McDonald and Chicago has been without Peter Cetera for quite some time.

Likely Highlight: Sadly, the Karate Kid II song "The Glory of Love" was a Peter Cetera solo song, so they won't be doing that. Same goes for "I Keep Forgettin'." That was Michael McDonald solo. But the Doobies are sure to bust out "China Groove," "Listen to the Music" and "Takin' it to the Streets" and "What a Fool Believes." Likewise, no Chicago concert would be complete without "Saturday in the Park," "25 or 6 to 4," "Just You 'N' Me" and "If You Leave Me Now." 

everclear gin blossoms sugar ray lit marcy playground

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Gin Blossoms, Sugar Ray, Lit, Everclear, Marcy Playground

Target Audience: Fans of early 16th century lute music…we're kidding. This is the most Nineties-tastic tour in the long history of 1990s nostalgia. Many people probably wouldn't see these acts on their own, but together they form the ultimate Nineties-monster that 30-somethings will be unable to resist. 

Missing Members: The Gin Blossoms have been without Doug Hopkins (who penned many of their best songs) since 1992. He committed suicide shortly after leaving the group. Earlier this year drummer Phillip Rhodes left the group. Sugar Ray has also parted ways with bassist Murphy Karges and drummer Stan Frazier. We'll leave it up to you to research who's left in Marcy Playground, Lit and Everclear. 

Likely Highlight: The Gin Blossoms and Sugar Ray have the most hits, but Marcy Playground have "Sex and Candy" and Lit have "My Own Worst Enemy." Those are two of the most 1990s songs in the entire decade and they should bring the house down every night. 


barenaked ladies blue traveler

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Barenaked Ladies, Blues Traveler, Cracker and Big Head Todd & The Monsters

Target Audience: Rock fans with such an insatiable appetite for 1990s nostalgia that the Gin Blossoms/Sugar Ray tour just isn't enough. To be fair, these groups are a little less mainstream than that package tour. Your average Sugar Ray fan probably can't name a single song by Big Head Todd & The Monsters. Also, the cool kids from your eighth grade class in 1995 will really dig this one. 

Missing Members: The biggest absence on this whole tour is Barenaked Ladies singer Steven Page. He quit the group in 2009, just a year after he was busted with cocaine and marijuana. Ed Robertson always handled a lot of the vocals and he's still in the band, so they aren't critically wounded without Page. It's just not the ideal line-up at the moment. Original Blues Traveler bassist Bobby Sheehan died in 1999, but the classic line-up is otherwise intact – though John Popper has lost so much weight that you might not recognize him these days. Cracker got a new bassist in 2006, but otherwise still have their 1990s roster. "Big Head" Todd Park Mohr still has the bulk of his 1990s Monsters.

Likely Highlight: The Barenaked Ladies will have everyone on their feet for "Brian Wilson" and "One Week," while Blues Traveler are sure to bust out "Run-Around" and "Hook." Our pick for highlight, however, is "Low" by Cracker. If that doesn't ring a bell, go look it up on YouTube. It'll come back to you after about two seconds. They somehow capture the essence of the entire 1990s in those two seconds.