The days of seeing the world’s biggest rock and pop bands for a few bucks, plus a little extra for parking and service fees, are as long-gone as Peter Frampton’s curly hair. But amid $650 Stones tickets and $600 Bon Jovi tickets this summer are bargains for fans who can’t afford to take a date for the price of a monthly mortgage payment or two. Kid Rock put his entire tour on sale for $20, and others from Lil Wayne to Ke$ha are allowing fans to slip in the back, or on the lawn, for $30 or $40 apiece. The summer’s best deals:
TOUR: Kid Rock
Alarmed by cost-prohibitive concerts everywhere, Rock approached promoter Live Nation and struck a deal to split all the revenue, including parking, hot dogs and beer. He agreed to absorb the loss if nobody showed up. “We’re all so overpaid. It’s ridiculous,” Rock told Rolling Stone. “People stopped going to concerts because they can’t afford them.” The $20 includes ZZ Top and Uncle Kracker.
WHY IT’S A GREAT VALUE: Even the legendarily affordable Warped Tour costs more than Kid Rock this summer.
TOUR: Rolling Stones
Although their top price is $650, the Stones are letting hundreds and sometimes thousands of punters into the arenas for $85 apiece. Some of these seats are due to last-minute desperation deals to fill seats (although promoters deny it), and some are part of a long-planned lottery designed to let budget-conscious fans see the Stones.
WHY IT’S A GREAT VALUE: The Stones’ late-2012 shows averaged $520, so $85 (including service fees in most cases) is a super-bargain.
TOUR: Wiz Khalifa/A$AP Rocky
This summer’s hip-hop packages are fantastic – Wiz and A$AP, Public Enemy and LL Cool J, Lil Wayne and T.I., Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake (hey, he rapped on Fallon). This one is the most consistently affordable, at least for lawn seats, which are going for as little as $27 in some markets.
WHY IT’S A GREAT VALUE: With prime seats as much as $150 – and those hard to find – it’s worth scouring the remaining tour dates for $30-ish deals.
TOUR: Lil Wayne/T.I.
Not all Weezy tickets are in the bargain range, but fans should take the extra few minutes of Ticketmaster-surfing – the lawn at First Midwest Amphitheatre near Chicago goes as low as $25 (for four-packs) and $40 (for individual tickets), and certain arena nosebleed seats are comparable. Hooray for variable pricing!
WHY IT’S A GREAT VALUE: Top seats are going for more than $300, so squeezing in for less than 50 bucks is a steal.
Pitbull may have over-exposed himself in TV commercials and Ke$ha may have over-exposed herself in general, but both pop superstars put on great live shows. The deal ($30 with purchase of a four-pack in many locations, or $40 apiece) includes service fees and applies to amphitheater lawns and some rear-pavilion seats.
WHY IT’S A GREAT VALUE: Aside from Kid Rock and Warped, almost no major summer tour has prices this low for just about every show.
TOUR: Vans Warped Tour
Warped’s traditional $25-across-the-board deal has inched up in recent years – tickets for some shows are a shocking $47, with service fees! – but it’s still worth it for dozens of punk bands in parking lots across the country. On the bill this year: Goldfinger, Motion City Soundtrack, We Came As Romans, Hawthorne Heights and Reel Big Fish.
WHY IT’S A GREAT VALUE: It’s something like 30 cents per band. You won’t get that at Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo.
Recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and still able to kick ass, Seventies stalwarts Heart play sheds with lawn seats as low as $14.50 in some cities. (That’s for a four-pack – individual lawn prices are a jacked-up $17.)
WHY IT’S A GREAT VALUE: These are some of the summer’s lowest prices, a sweet deal compared to the top $120 Heart prices. They also include opener Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience.
TOUR: Brad Paisley
Paisley got a bad rap (heh) for his clumsy “Accidental Racist” song earlier this year, but he’s still both underrated and one of country’s most reliable headliners. Lawns for several dates on his summer tour are $35 (four-packs) and $40 (individual tickets).
WHY IT’S A GREAT VALUE: Country tours are affordable in general – if Paisley isn’t your thing, try comparably priced seats for Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Luke Bryan or Kenny Chesney.
TOUR: 311 with Cypress Hill and G. Love and Special Sauce
Headliners 311 may be washed-up Nineties rockers, but Cypress Hill are hip-hop pioneers and G. Love always puts on a solid show. They’re playing mostly sheds, and tickets for the cheap seats are different for each date, but deals are frequent – such as four-packs on the lawn for $20 apiece at the Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati.
WHY IT’S A GREAT VALUE: For just twice the price of a movie, you can hear Cypress Hill perform “How I Could Just Kill a Man” while doing whatever it is you do on the lawn.
TOUR: Black Sabbath
Not all lawn seats are super-cheap for this Ozzy-fronted tour, but click around until you find the ones for $25. Sabbath are set to put out their first album since 1978, which could mean renewed energy for all involved or it could mean a bunch of new songs stuffed between “Paranoid” and “Iron Man.”
WHY IT’S A GREAT VALUE: It’s even cheaper than the summer’s other big metal tour, the Mayhem Festival, starring Mastodon and Rob Zombie, which sells lawn seats in the $32 range.