Tours Of Summer ’09

Flip flops, Ray Bans, driving with the windows down past kids’ lemonade stands, the fragrant and familiar smell of sun tan lotion lathering your body, and deciding to go for a leisurely stroll on 14th street instead of taking the L train across town—these trademarks of summer are slowly dawning upon us. People have already started to embrace the idea of coming out of hibernation and are bathing themselves in the outdoors. Starbucks is making a regular slew of iced lattes and suburban high school boys are rushing to their local American Eagle Outfitters to get the newest and trendiest improvement upon the simple plaid short design. It’s official, the warmest and most picnic friendly season of the year is nearly here. And for the music industry, it’s the allotted annual time slot that’s a guaranteed money maker—all in the form of summer concerts.

The summer has historically been the season with the most jam packed tour itinerary. Kids are out of school, families are going on vacation, people are taking days off work–it’s the perfect time to get fans out to shows to see their favorite artists and introduce them to new ones.

Summer tours have often served as venues for getting fans reconnected with artists who may not have been around for some time, as well as a platform for familiar musicians to test out new songs. For instance, Kelly Clarkson’s “Addicted” summer tour in 2006 was designed to both finish promoting the success of her “Breakaway” album, while interspersing new songs she was recording for her upcoming “My December” release. Fan reactions to these new songs played a significant role in deciding what tracks made the final cut of the record, while they still had a good time and jumping up and down to “Since U Been Gone.”

This summer, Clarkson is touring in support of her most recent release, the #1 album “All I Ever Wanted,” promising a set comprised of past hits, new pop masterpieces, and a couple of covers of music that has had deep personal influences on her. Playing these songs to stadiums full of screaming fans, her summer tour is surely to be both a reminder of who the original and most successful American Idol is, as well as a reclaiming of her “queen of pop/rock” crown after a hiatus from the charts for a couple of years.

Also re-entering the scene after being off the map for quite some time is rock band No Doubt. After a departure from the group to pursue a successful solo career, lead singer Gwen Stefani rejoins her original crew to build up anticipation for their upcoming record, to be released at the end of the year. The show is designed to reacquaint fans with the band by playing essentially a “greatest hits” set, as well as some personal favorites from their twenty-four year career as a group. To draw in a younger generation of fans, opening up for No Doubt will be the female fronted power pop/rock group Paramore, a band that numerously cites Stefani and co. as one of their greatest influences. The wide list of tour dates also includes opening acts such as Katy Perry, the pop star quickly making herself an international household names after hits such as “I Kissed A Girl,” “Hot ‘N Cold,” and the just released “Waking Up In Vegas.” By bringing in radio’s current dominating guitar-riffing divas, No Doubt is not only appealing to their old fans, but introducing themselves to legions of new ones, and are quickly on track for a comeback of epic proportions. On top of that, to promote the tour to the extreme, the band is offering their entire music catalog for free in Mp3 format with the purchase of every individual ticket—so you really have no excuse not to sing along.

Similarly, taking a page from the comeback self-help book, rockers Blink 182 have recently made an announcement that they too have reunited and will be embarking on a nationwide trek across various arenas this summer. Again, the purpose is to bring back all the old fans and gear them up for their impending new record. After a breakup that was set to be permanent, Blink fans rejoiced at the news that the crude, humorous, and lyrically genius band would have their names printed on ticket stubs for a summer 2009 headlining concert.

The beauty of musicians going out on tour is that there is always a show for everyone, no matter the preferred genre. If, for instance, you want to go see some classic oldies on stage this summer, legendary artists such as Leonard Cohen, Fleetwood Mac, Etta James, and a co-headliner between Elton John and Billy Joel are all must see shows. If you want to experience the typical “college rock” scene, concerts by Dave Matthews Band as well as a stadium show featuring both Jack’s Mannequin and The Fray should be on your list. If you’re looking for a fun, guilty pleasure pop show, you should consider catching Australian twins The Veronicas on their “Revenge Is Sweeter (Than You Ever Were)” tour, Lady GaGa’s critically acclaimed first ever headlining tour, or Disney channel superstar Demi Lovato, who is being supported by former American Idol contestant and current hit maker David Archuleta.

Although going into large arenas with thousands of screaming fans usually promises to be a good time, my favorite tours have always been the ones played in smaller venues for a more intimate connection with the artists. Some musicians I am personally excited to see this summer are Santigold and Metric, both playing shows at Terminal 5 in New York City. Others include disco influenced rockers, Of Montreal, who are playing at decent sized venues such as the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, Trocadero in Philadelphia, and The Hollywood Bowl in California. The Format’s Nate Ruess’ new band Fun will be attempting to make a name for themselves and garner hype for the release of their debut album by opening up for Manchester Orchestra. Other highlights I am looking forward to are the headlining tours of The Kills, Incubus, Adele, Loney Dear, The Shins, Regina Spektor, Mates of State, and the “River To River Festival” concert taking place at Battery Park on July 4th, being headlined by Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) and Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley).

Whether it’s a trip to the beach that ends with a fierce tan or sipping daiquiris and coladas by the pool, the summer is revered as the “vacation season.” It’s the time when you’re supposed to let go of your daily routine and indulge yourself in trips to amusement parks and spend hours strolling through outdoor sidewalk sales. There’s no better way to unwind, however, than watching great music being played live on stage. If the show is done right, a concert has the ability to transcend your body to an out of this world experience where only you and the music matter. This summer, there are plenty of opportunities nationwide to see some fantastic and talented artists play on stage. Although we are in a recession and concert tickets may not be the first priority many have when it comes to spending money, however, the experience has the potential to be absolutely priceless.