From left: Musgraves, .Paak, Bryan, Jagger and Grande.
From left: Musgraves, .Paak, Bryan, Jagger and Grande.
Photo Illustration by 168 Studio

The Scorching Summer Tours Of 2019: Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, BTS, Shawn Mendes, Wu-Tang Clan, Maluma & More

With another summer comes another stacked festival and touring season boasting some of music’s biggest stars -- an annual, vitamin D-enriched boon to the live business. Using 2018 Billboard Boxscore data as a guidepost, concert promoters and festival bookers will likely reap 10-figure returns during the 14 weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day. In 2018, concerts held in North America during the same period grossed $2.5 billion in ticket sales -- a 38% year-to-year increase over 2017. (As compared with a 5% increase between 2016 and 2017.) The gain can be attributed to a hat trick of tours from the industry’s 1%, including Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s On the Run II, Ed Sheeran’s all-stadium outing and Taylor Swift’s record-breaking Reputation world tour, which wrapped last October. Summer stadium shows in 2018 accounted for 56% of the overall annual stadium gross, including music concerts and comedy dates, according to Boxscore -- proving once again that fans will most often splurge on costly live music during summer. This year’s wide-ranging selection spans all major genres and includes pop headliners Ariana Grande, Shawn Mendes, Cardi B and Jennifer Lopez alongside breakthrough and next-gen talents such as Anderson .Paak, Billie Eilish, BTS, Maluma, Kacey Musgraves and Maggie Rogers. Nostalgia factors into the mix as well, with comeback/reunion runs from Heart, Hootie & The Blowfish, Queen with Adam Lambert and Wu-Tang Clan. With the season fast approaching, Billboard spotlights 24 of the most anticipated tours of summer.

BECK WITH CAGE THE ELEPHANT AND SPOON 
The Night Running Tour
Booking agencies: Creative Artists Agency (Beck), Artist Group International (Cage the Elephant)

Named after Beck and Cage the Elephant’s collaborative track, “Night Running,” which is set to appear on the latter’s new album, Social Cues, the alt-rock trek kicks off July 11 in Ridgefield, Wash., with support from Spoon on all dates, and Sunflower Bean, Starcrawler and Wild Belle on select nights. “We didn’t think it could happen,” says Artist Group International’s Marsha Vlasic of the co-headlining coup. “Beck was on top of the list at all times.” The Grammy Award-winning acts will bring their raucous show to outdoor amphitheaters, including the 14,000-capacity Forest Hills Stadium in Queens. The artists also partnered with PLUS1 to donate $1 from every ticket to fight hunger in each local community.

THE BLACK KEYS
Let’s Rock 
Booking agency: Paradigm

After a four-year hiatus devoted to solo projects and producing gigs, The Black KeysDan Auerbach and Patrick Carney return with their latest single, “Lo/Hi” -- a prelude to a new album from the group out later in 2019. The duo’s upcoming 32-date arena run -- with support from Modest Mouse -- will launch in September at the Life Is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas. The band is “back and ready to go,” says agent Dave Kaplan, who notes that while the musical landscape has shifted since the band’s last album, Turn Blue, in 2014, “the forecast of the death of rock is premature.”

LUKE BRYAN
Sunset Repeat Tour
Booking agency: WME

Beginning with a headlining slot at Goldenvoice’s Stagecoach Festival on April 26, Bryan’s latest high-energy outing will officially launch May 31 at Philadelphia’s BB&T Pavilion, and follows the country star’s nine-month What Makes You Country tour last year. While Bryan will largely play amphitheaters this summer -- with support from Cole Swindell and Jon Langston on all dates -- a few added festival gigs are on deck, including Country Jam in Grand Junction, Colo., and pal Dierks Bentley’s second Seven Peaks Music Festival in Buena Vista, Colo. The American Idol judge will play a lone stadium date at the home base of the New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium -- the fourth time he has played the Foxborough, Mass., venue in five years.

BTS
Love Yourself: Speak Yourself
Booking agency: MN2S

The main strategy for BTS’ upcoming world tour was to “move people’s hearts through music,” says manager and BigHit Entertainment producer/CEO Si-Hyuk Bang. The seven-member group -- which released its new LP, Map of the Soul, on April 12 -- has already far outpaced the first-day sales of hot acts like The Rolling Stones and Cardi B, according to fan data from Vivid Seats. Within hours of going on sale in March, the boy band sold out the eight-stadium tour, which will hit the United States, Brazil and Europe. The historic outing makes BTS the first K-pop group to play U.S. stadiums, and just one of 12 artists, as well as the first Asian headliner, to fill the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium in London, with a second night added in June.

BUSH/LIVE
The Alt-imate Tour
Booking agencies: United Talent Agency (Bush), WME (Live)

Two of the most celebrated alt-rock bands of the 1990s, Bush and Live, will co-headline arenas and amphitheaters in support of the 25th anniversaries of their breakthrough LPs, Sixteen Stone and Throwing Copper, respectively. Los Angeles-based fans got a sneak peek at a secret show at The Roxy in March. “We wrote these songs in our 20s,” Live frontman Ed Kowalczyk told the crowd before performing hit “Lightning Crashes.” “Like music, we evolve and grow, but the passion and raw emotion is always there.” Adds Bush’s Gavin Rossdale: “Those songs have found a way into the soundtrack of people’s lives, and that is the highest compliment available.”

CARDI B
Booking agency: CAA

After giving birth to daughter Kulture last summer, Cardi B took a break from the road, bowing out of Bruno Mars24K Magic tour. But the Bronx rapper returned triumphantly earlier in 2019 with twerk-filled sets at the Grammy Awards, where she won best rap album, and the Houston Rodeo, where she broke the attendance record, then held by Garth Brooks. The “Bartier Cardi” hitmaker will make numerous summer-festival appearances, including Miami’s Rolling Loud and Tennessee’s Bonnaroo, followed by arena dates that begin in July at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., and continue across the Midwest. “I haven’t taken 1 day off since December 26,” Cardi recently shared on Twitter, “but I know all this hard work finna pay off!”

ERIC CHURCH
Double Down
Booking agency: WME

The “Desperate Man” singer is doubling down on his 2019 arena tour, playing two nights at practically every arena stop on the 27-city, 50-date jaunt that runs through November and includes Church’s first hometown stadium show at the over 69,000-capacity Nissan Stadium in Nashville. “Eric’s shows are a marathon performance that only covers part of his huge catalog,” says manager John Peets of Q Prime. “It’s a chance for Eric to engage in a deeper way with his fans. There’s no setlist -- anything can happen.”

BILLIE EILISH
When We All Fall Asleep World Tour
Booking agency: Paradigm

Hot off the launch of her Billboard 200-topping debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, Eilish embarked upon her fourth headlining tour in April. The 67-date trek, which kicked off with her first appearance at Coachella, will be the “bad guy” singer’s biggest to date, including stops at two iconic venues: Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre and New York’s Radio City Music Hall. The tour should be a full-scale visual manifestation of Eilish’s nightmare-pop, albeit with a familial touch: “Our dad is in London right now, building the spider that we’re taking on tour,” Eilish’s writer-producer, tour guitarist and brother Finneas told Billboard in March.

ARIANA GRANDE
Sweetener World Tour
Booking agency: CAA

Crafting the perfect setlist is hard enough when you’ve got a new album, but it’s even harder when you’ve released two in just six months. The pop titan’s loyal fan base of Arianators should walk away more than satiated from her latest tour, which plays North America through July and draws heavily from the artist’s albums Sweetener and Thank U, Next. The latter produced the singer’s first two No. 1s on the Billboard Hot 100: the title track and “7 Rings.” Former Fifth Harmony member turned solo artist Normani and rising duo Social House will support. “I am still a basket case and cannot believe any of this shit is real,” Grande recently tweeted. “I am so grateful.”

HEART WITH SHERYL CROW, JOAN JETT AND BRANDI CARLILE
Love Alive Tour
Booking agency: SME Entertainment Group

Three years after tense family issues nearly threatened to split up Heart, sisters Nancy and Ann Wilson end their lengthy hiatus with a 42-date run. Add Grammy winner Brandi Carlile, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Joan Jett and country-rock queen Sheryl Crow into the mix on select dates, and it’s a certified celebration of pioneering female industry voices. “I grew up with them as being the template,” Crow recently told Billboard about her tourmates. “They rocked. They hung with the guys, yet they were still cool chicks. It’s going to be fantastic to absorb some of their greatness.”

HOOTIE & THE BLOWFISH
Group Therapy Tour
Booking agency: CAA

It has been over a decade since the band last hit the road, but on May 30 the golf-rock act will launch its Group Therapy reunion trek to fete the 25th anniversary of its 21-times-platinum debut LP, Cracked Rear View. The surprise outing, announced last December with an appearance on NBC’s Today, will wrap Sept. 13 in frontman Darius Rucker’s hometown of Columbia, S.C. (The tour’s moniker is a nod to a local college bar where the foursome played some of their early gigs while at the University of South Carolina.) But it’s not just a nostalgic outing. Fans can expect to hear new songs because the group is working on a comeback album for its new label home, Universal Music Group Nashville.

JASON ISBELL/FATHER JOHN MISTY
Booking agencies: WME (Jason Isbell) / Paradigm (Father John Misty)

Father John Misty (aka Josh Tillman) first met singer-songwriter Isbell at a Philadelphia hotel before a 2016 performance, which has been immortalized in “Mr. Tillman,” the single off Misty’s 2018 LP, God’s Favorite Customer. (Isbell was amused by the reference.) They’ve since shared festival stages, but will link up for a tour of their own: an 18-date U.S. trek that will include Jade Bird and Erin Rae as support on select dates.

JENNIFER LOPEZ
It’s My Party: The Live Celebration Tour
Booking agency: CAA

After giving fans “All I Have” during her record-breaking Planet Hollywood residency in Las Vegas (which grossed over $100 million during its two-and-a-half-year run, according to Boxscore), Lopez is ready to bring the glitz of Sin City to her first headlining run in more than six years. The trek doubles as a summerlong 50th-birthday bash for the artist (which J.Lo will celebrate on July 24). Beginning June 7 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., the Live Nation outing promises the full Jenny From the Block experience: “a nonstop party mix” of her hit-heavy discography.

MALUMA
11:11 World Tour
Booking agency: CAA

Maluma’s upcoming 11:11 tour, named after his next album, is a nod to the universal “angel sign” that the Colombian singer considers a wake-up call to humanity’s “true purpose on earth,” he said on Twitter. The Latin superstar’s third North American voyage, which launches in San Diego on Sept. 6, will play over 21 cities, including stops in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. In 2018, the “Corazón” crooner made the rounds with his F.A.M.E. tour, which had 22 stateside dates and grossed $17.7 million globally, according to Boxscore. Henry Cárdenas, CEO of tour promoter Cárdenas Marketing Network, says that after the artist’s successful 2018 outing sold out almost every venue, he’s ready to continue the momentum. “This year’s tour will be full of new experiences, from the general production to [tracks] that Maluma will be releasing before the tour,” he says, with a second leg earmarked for the first quarter of 2020.

JOHN MAYER
2019 World Tour
Booking agency: WME

While Mayer continues to tour with Dead & Co., whose summer run of amphitheaters and stadiums opens May 31 in Mountainview, Calif., he also is topping the bill on a solo world tour. The recipient of Billboard’s Legend of Live Award in November, Mayer played Australia and Asia in March and April and will open the U.S. leg of his own summer tour July 19 at the Times Union Center  in Albany, N.Y.. The tour will play two nights Sept. 13-14 at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. and Sept. 16 at the new Chase Center in San Francisco, before Mayer heads to Europe. As if his solo shows and Dead & Co. duties aren’t enough, Mayer also continues to join Dave Chappelle for selected dates on their music and comedy Controlled Danger tour.

SHAWN MENDES
Shawn Mendes: The Tour
Booking agency: Paradigm

Though the 20-year-old swept arenas on his Illuminate tour in 2017, Mendes’ trek nearly doubles his reach to 97 venues this year, including his first stadium date, in his native Toronto, on Sept. 6. “Shawn has fully come into his own on this tour,” says manager Andrew Gertler of AG Artists. “He said that on past tours, it used to feel like he was trying hard to be ‘that guy,’ and now, on this tour, it really feels like he fully is ‘that guy.’ ” The outing began in Amsterdam on March 7 and runs through Dec. 21, but Gertler says Mendes has already found his rhythm. “The finale is a full-out version of ‘In My Blood,’ and he pulls out all the stops,” he says. “It’s a true rock star moment.”

LUIS MIGUEL
​¡Mexico Por Siempre! Tour
Booking agency: WME

Boxscore reported that the 2018 leg of Luis Miguel’s Siempre run was the highest-grossing Latin tour since the chart launched in 1990, pulling in $64.9 million from 613,000 tickets sold, and earning the hitmaker a Latin American Music Award for tour of the year. The North American run starts in Phoenix on June 1 and reaches 20 cities. “Luis has always been big, but he’s just bigger now,” WME partner Keith Sarkisian told Billboard earlier this year. The tour shares its title with his 2017 LP, which nabbed the Latin Grammy for album of the year.

KACEY MUSGRAVES
Oh, What A World Tour

Booking agency: Paradigm

What a world, indeed, for Musgraves, who is on her first headlining theater tour in the wake of her four Grammy Award wins in February, including album of the year for Golden Hour. Not surprisingly, the show draws heavily on the country singer’s breakthrough -- at some stops, Musgraves has played all 13 album tracks. After becoming the first female country artist to play Coachella this year, the “Space Cowboy” singer will continue to dominate other non-country festivals throughout the summer with stops at Bonnaroo, Newport Folk Festival, Lollapalooza and Outside Lands, according to Paradigm’s Lenore Kinder, who adds that the second leg will begin in August, play “4,000- to 7,000-capacity theaters and boutique amphitheaters” and offer a “fresh take on the Golden Hour look and feel.”

ANDERSON .PAAK & The Free Nationals
Best Teef in the Game Tour
Booking agency: CAA

Genre-bending multi-instrumentalist .Paak is hitting the road in support of two Dr. Dre-produced albums: last November’s Oxnard and Ventura, which dropped April 12. Fresh off his 2019 Grammy win for best rap performance, .Paak embarks on his largest tour to date, says agent Caroline Yim, who cites a stacked lineup of eclectic openers, including Thundercat, Noname, Mac DeMarco, Earl Sweatshirt and Jessie Reyez. For Live Nation vp touring Lesley Olenik, who is the outing’s promoter, it’s all about .Paak’s “contagious smile and charisma”: “Whether keeping the beat behind the drums or showing off his best dance moves,” she says, “Anderson is one of the best multitalented performers onstage today.”

QUEEN & ADAM LAMBERT
The Rhapsody Tour
Booking agency: CAA

It was only natural for Queen to take advantage of the Academy Award-winning success of the band’s biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which catapulted the legendary group back into the mainstream. Beginning in July, founding members Brian May and Roger Taylor will reteam with the Freddie Mercury-channeling Adam Lambert for their third collaborative North American trek. “Our last tour featured our most ambitious production ever -- and got our best notices ever,” says May. “So we decided to rip it apart and get even more ambitious. Watch out, America!”

MAGGIE ROGERS
Heard It In A Past Life World Tour

Booking agency: CAA

Right before launching a sold-out spring tour in March, folk-pop artist Rogers revealed a surprise: She had tacked on 24 extra summer/fall dates, including two nights at Radio City Music Hall in New York. It’s her biggest outing yet following a 14-date headlining trek last fall -- and coveted slots at both Coachella and Woodstock 50 sweeten the deal. “The venues I’m getting to play are mind-blowing,” says Rogers, whose Capitol Records debut, Heard It in a Past Life, entered at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in February. “Seeing the light and positivity that people are leaving the shows with,” says Rogers, “that’s what sticks with me.”

THE ROLLING STONES
No Filter Tour
Booking agency: Concerts West

“Oh, help me, dear doctor, I’m damaged,” sang a heart-sick Mick Jagger on The Rolling Stones’ 1968 album, Beggars Banquet -- never imagining that five decades later, a heart ailment would derail the band’s North American stadium tour, as the frontman is recovering from a recent heart-valve procedure in New York. “Everyone’s health and happiness comes first,” says John Meglen, co-CEO of Concerts West, promoter of the tour that was due to open in Miami on April 20. Rescheduled shows will be announced “as quickly as we can,” says Meglen. While fans wait, they can listen to Honk, the band’s new multidisc compilation out April 19 that features hits and live tracks.

CARRIE UNDERWOOD
The Cry Pretty Tour 360

Booking agency: CAA

Underwood’s latest live run in support of her 2018 Cry Pretty LP, her first on new label home Capitol Records Nashville, will offer fans an intimate in-the-round experience -- via a centrally located stage -- developed by the singer, tour creative director Barry Lather (Rihanna, Mariah Carey) and Fireplay partner/tour production designer Nick Whitehouse (Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé). Underwood will play 55 “360” North American arena dates in the United States and Canada beginning May 1 in Greensboro, N.C. The former American Idol winner, who began tour rehearsals in April, personally selected genre upstarts Maddie & Tae and Runaway June as support, making for a powerhouse all-female bill. Says longtime agent Jeff Frasco: “She always wants to connect women.”

WU-TANG CLAN
Gods of Rap Tour
Booking agency: CAA

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the rap collective’s magnum opus, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Staten Island’s Wu-Tang Clan -- led by OG members RZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa, GZA and U-God -- will bring the ruckus to Europe and North America starting in May. Stops will include the Ford Amphitheater on Brooklyn’s Coney Island Boardwalk and The Armory in Minneapolis for the 2019 X Games. Public Enemy and De La Soul will support -- both also celebrating landmark LPs with PE’s 1988 It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and De La’s 3 Feet High and Rising from 1989.

Contributors: Katie Atkinson, Dave Brooks, Tatiana Cirisano, Thom Duffy, Nolan Feeney, Suzette Fernandez, Gab Ginsberg, Bianca Gracie, Hilary Hughes, Carl Lamarre, Taylor Mims, Melinda Newman, Annie Reuter, Jessica Roiz, Eric Spitznagel, Andrew Unterberger, Taylor Weatherby

This article originally appeared in the April 20 issue of Billboard.


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