The 30 Hottest Tours of Summer 2018

on June 14, 2018, 2:00pm
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After a winter that felt like it would last forever, we’ve skipped right over spring and into a summer that promises to heat up on all fronts. For fans of music, that means the biggest albums of the year dropping left and right, a handful of jams vying to be dubbed the “song of the summer,” and, of course, the pinnacle time of the year for live music lovers.

For many, live music in the summer means jetting or vanning around the country (or world) to sample the wide range of musical festivals out there and the unique experiences they have to offer. But don’t fret if you’re more of a homebody, low on funds, or just not the type of person to trek out to the middle of nowhere to catch a fest. Summer, like always, has you covered.

Whether you’re most comfortable head banging in a dingy club, taking in a major production with all the bells and whistles, or simply laying on a lawn and staring up at the stars while the band plays on, a great show will be in your neighborhood soon. Here are the 30 hottest tours of the summer.

We’ll save you a seat.

–Matt Melis
Editorial Director

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Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys -- Photo by Ben Kaye

Arctic Monkeys — Photo by Ben Kaye

Nobody said it would be easy for Americans to catch the Arctic Monkeys this year. With their new album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, out and turning heads, Alex Turner and co. will be ping-ponging back and forth between continents all summer long for US stints, European festivals, hometown shows, and any other type of appearance you can think of. The moral of this touring schedule: If they’re going to be playing near you this summer, don’t be a bloody fool and miss it. –Regan Bexler

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Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett, photo by Philip Cosores

Courtney Barnett – Photo by Philip Cosores

After mapping out a run of intimate US shows for May in support of her celebrated new album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, Aussie guitar-slinger Courtney Barnett has added a new leg of North American tour dates that span the month of July. The trek comes after a brief stint over in Europe and includes stops in Toronto, Louisville, Minneapolis, Brooklyn, and Kansas City. Barnett will be joined by a variety of shouldn’t-miss opening acts, such as Jay SomBig ThiefJulien BakerPalehound, and Vagabon, among others. If you miss her on this leg, she’ll be returning to the States in early September with Waxahatchee after a string of August shows back home in Australia and neighboring New Zealand. –Lake Schatz

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David Byrne

David Byrne - Photo by Caroline Daniel

David Byrne – Photo by Caroline Daniel

David Byrne knew early on that his 2018 tour supporting American Utopia would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In a statement posted via BrooklynVegan, back in December, the ex-Talking Head called the forthcoming tour “the most ambitious show I’ve done since the shows that were filmed for Stop Making Sense.”

“I had an idea that everyone in the band might be mobile… so there would be no risers, drum platform or any of that stuff,” he explained. “With everyone mobile, I realized the stage could be completely clear. If we could have the monitors in our ears, the amps off-stage and the lights up high, then we had the possibility of a completely empty space.”

And Americans will have plenty of opportunities to see that remarkable vision come to life. Already off and running, Byrne will continue to swing through the states during the first 10 days of June before heading overseas. But don’t fret. If you missed his first American leg, he’ll return in late July and play shows across North American right into early October. –Alex Young

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Cake and Ben Folds

Ben Folds - Photo by Gretchen Bachrodt

Ben Folds – Photo by Gretchen Bachrodt

Alternative rock veterans Cake and Ben Folds will team up for a co-headlining tour this summer. The eight-date outing kicks off August 16th in Philadelphia and also includes stops at the Forest Hills Stadium in Forest Hills, New York; the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland; and the BMO Harris Bank Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. If you’re willing to go the distance, you can have your Cake and Ben Folds, too. –Alex Young

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Dave Chappelle and Jon Stewart

Dave Chappelle - Photo by Netflix

Dave Chappelle – Photo by Netflix

Dave Chappelle and Jon Stewart will share the stage for a series of co-headlining dates this June. As of now, the comedy legends are due to play 11 shows together starting June 11th in Boston. The itinerary also includes dates in Houston and El Paso, Texas. Last year, Stewart struck a deal with HBO for his first stand-up special in 21 years. Chappelle, meanwhile, continues to churn out specials as part of his massive deal with Netflix. Don’t miss this chance to see Stewart out from behind a desk and Chappelle doing what he does best. –Alex Young

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Childish Gambino

Childish Gambino, photo by Ben Kaye

Childish Gambino – Photo by Ben Kaye

Donald Glover has spent the last few months cooped up on production sets filming movies, including Disney’s Han Solo anthology film and live-action remake of The Lion King in addition to the second season of his acclaimed FX series, Atlanta. Come September, however, Glover will get a chance to stretch his legs as he’ll head out on the road to perform a series of concerts as his hip-hop alter ego, Childish Gambino. Kicking off September 6th in Atlanta, the 19-date tour includes massive gigs at Madison Square Garden in NYC, Chicago’s United Center, and the Forum in Los Angeles. Accompanying Glover for each of the September dates will be hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd. The “This Is America” Tour picks up again in October with Vince Staples opening. –Lake Schatz

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Chromeo

Chromeo, photo by David Brendan Hall

Chromeo – Photo by David Brendan Hall

We’re less than two weeks away from Chromeo dropping Head Over Heels, their guest-studded follow-up to 2014’s White Women. And with a new album in tow, the Funky Lordz will keep their tour, which began in April and consumed most of May, going right through June and parts of July, August, and September, bouncing between solo shows and festival dates. Don’t miss your chance to get seduced by the latest from Dave 1 and P-Thugg. –Randall Colburn

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Dirty Projectors

Dirty Projectors - Photo by Ben Kaye

Dirty Projectors – Photo by Ben Kaye

Save for a few one-off shows, Dirty Projectors didn’t actually tour behind last year’s self-titled album. Perhaps Dave Longstreth was just waiting to put together the right touring party, something he seems to have accomplished as the band have revealed a full schedule for this summer. After performing at Arizona’s FORM Arcosanti, Dirty Projector’s proper tour kicked off May 12th in San Diego, California. They have played or will play venues in Nashville, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Portland, as well as festivals like Boston Calling, Governors Ball, and Sled Island. The North American leg wraps June 30th in Houston, Texas, after which the band will head to Japan and Europe for a number of concerts. So, unless you plan on hopping a boat or plane, make sure you catch them in June. –Ben Kaye

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Drake and Migos

Drake, photo by Marjorie Strick

Drake – Photo by Marjorie Strick

Drake has been promising to release his new album, Scorpion., any time now. In anticipation, he’s mapped out a gigantic North America tour with fellow hip-hop titans Migos. The aptly titled “Aubrey and the Three Amigos Tour” kicks off July 26th in Salt Lake City. Spanning over 40 dates, the tour includes multiple nights in Drizzy’s hometown of Toronto, Chicago, Boston, Miami, and Houston. They’ll also play four nights (!) in both New York City and Los Angeles before wrapping things up with a pair of shows in Migos’ hometown of Atlanta in mid-November. –Alex Young

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Echo and the Bunnymen and Violent Femmes

Violent Femmes -- Photo by Ben Kaye

Violent Femmes — Photo by Ben Kaye

Last summer, post-punk legends Echo & the Bunnymen and reunited alt-rockers Violent Femmes combined forces on a North American co-headlining tour. The two acts enjoyed hitting the road together so much they’re planning to do it again this July. The 11-date itinerary will see Echo & the Bunnymen and Violent Femmes perform in cities like San Antonio, Houston, Nashville, Lake Buena Vista, and Washington, DC. According to a press statement, the pair will take turns closing out alternate shows. –Lake Schatz

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Glassjaw and Quicksand

glassjaw schuering riot2013 dsc 5151 The 30 Hottest Tours of Summer 2018

Glassjaw – Photo by Katie Schuering

Two stables of the post-hardcore scene are truly back in full effect. After each releasing their first records in well over a decade late last year, Glassjaw and Quicksand are hitting the road together this summer. So far, the bands have mapped out a 20-date co-headlining tour set to kick off in July. It concludes a month later with a pair of dates in the NYC metropolitan area. The summer just got a lot louder. –Alex Young

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Hamilton Live Tour

Lin Manuel Miranda in Hamilton

Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton

Sometimes shit just comes together and falls into place. In a country where our own president, let alone its voting public, doesn’t know the first thing about history, who would have thought that a sung and rapped musical about founding father Alexander Hamilton (okay, now you know who he is) would captivate an entire nation of theater and non-theatergoers alike? Well, if you haven’t yet been able to see what all the hype is about, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton is finally coming to a city near you. Throughout the summer and into the fall, the show will be establishing residencies of varying lengths in 36 different American cities. If you miss it this time, it’s your own damn fault. Word. –Regan Bexler

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Ms. Lauryn Hill

Ms. Lauryn Hill -- Photo by Philip Cosores

Ms. Lauryn Hill — Photo by Philip Cosores

Lauryn Hill’s iconic debut album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, turns 20 this year. To mark the occasion, The Fugees legend is heading out on a special US tour during, which she’ll perform the LP in full. The 20-date run launches in early July and runs through mid-September. She’s set to visit cities such as Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Nashville, San Diego, and Portland. Hill’s headlining set at Pitchfork Fest in Chicago is also part of this itinerary. If you miss this chance, you’ll feel like killing yourself softly. –Lake Schatz

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J. Cole with Young Thug

J. Cole - Photo by Ben Kaye

J. Cole – Photo by Ben Kaye

J. Cole returned earlier this year with his fifth studio album, KOD. Now, he’s planning to bring the LP to audiences all across North America with an expansive tour featuring support from Young Thug. The trek officially commences August 9th in Miami and runs through mid-October. The itinerary also includes stops in Atlanta, New Orleans, Chicago, New York City, Montreal, and Boston, as well as in Raleigh, NC, where Cole will present the first-ever Dreamville Festival on September 15th. –Lake Schatz

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Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson Tour Promo

Janet Jackson Tour Promo

Last year, Janet Jackson embarked on her 56-date “State of the World Tour”. This year, she’s following up that tough act with a new run of summer US dates. The trek is sandwiched around previously announced appearances at New Orleans’ Essence Festival, New York’s Panorama Festival, and San Francisco’s Outside Lands. It kicks off on June 11th in Austin, Texas, and hits cities including Cincinnati, Syracuse, Raleigh, Charlotte, and Miami before winding down in mid-August. –Eddie Fu

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Jay-Z and Beyoncé

Beyonce - Photo by David Brendan Hall

Beyoncé – Photo by David Brendan Hall

Beyoncé and Jay-Z  have announced dates for a massive stadium tour. It’s their second such outing together following 2014’s On the Run Tour. The new jaunt — appropriately dubbed, On the Run II — spans more than 35 dates and just kicked off overseas his week. A string of UK and European shows precedes the North American tour, which officially starts on July 25th in Cleveland. If reports from opening night taught us anything, now is the time to catch the power couple onstage — happier and hotter than ever. –Alex Young

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Ted Leo

Ted Leo Promo

Ted Leo Promo Photo

This past September saw Ted Leo deliver The Hanged Man, the indie rocker’s first album to be released under his own name. His current tour, however, is devoted to one he put out a decade and a half ago alongside The Pharmacists. In May, Leo kicked off a short jaunt celebrating the 15th anniversary of his band’s fifth album, 2003’s Hearts of Oak. Each stop on the tour is spread across two nights, with the first date featuring Hearts of Oak in its entirety after some “warm-up songs.” On the second night, Leo plays a greatest hits set comprised of cuts from across his career. Fans in DC, Brooklyn, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles should rejoice. –Randall Colburn

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Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie

Marilyn Manson, photo by Philip Cosores

Marilyn Manson – Photo by Philip Cosores

Marilyn Manson is reuniting Rob Zombie for another expansive co-headlining tour. Coming six years after their previous outing together, “The TWINS OF EVIL: The Second Coming Tour 2018” kicks off July 11th and spans nearly 30 dates.

The original “Twins of Evil Tour” took place in 2012 and was not without its drama. Early on in the tour, Manson accused Zombie of deliberately cutting into his set time. Things came to a head during a concert in Detroit, when Manson told the audience, “I’m sorry if you came to see Rob Zombie, and he can’t come on, because I’m going to beat his ass … twice … three fucking times.” Zombie responded by covering Alice Cooper’s “Schools Out”, which he dedicated to “the only real shock rocker there ever was, Alice Cooper, not some punk-ass bitch.”

The two hard rockers eventually made amends and finished the tour without further incident. Now, they’ll give it another go this summer, and in a nod to their past drama, they’ll kick off the new tour in Detroit. –Alex Young

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Mastodon with Dinosaur Jr.

Mastodon - Photo by Carlo Cavaluzzi

Mastodon – Photo by Carlo Cavaluzzi

Two of music’s loudest and hardest-hitting rock bands are joining forces for a North American tour this September. Mastodon and Dinosaur Jr. will play 13 shows together beginning September 1st in Edmonton, Alberta. A majority of the dates take place in Canada, but there are also shows scheduled in Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Grand Rapids, among others. Oh, and in case you missed it, Mastodon is already out on the road with Primus through early July. Trust us. No matter what the chants say, neither of these bands suck. –Alex Young

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MC50

MC50 lineup featuring Wayne Kramer, Kim Thayil, Brendan Canty, Dug Pinnick, and Marcus Durant

MC50 Anniversary Lineup

Wayne Kramer has revealed the 35-date itinerary for MC5’s upcoming 50th anniversary North American tour. “Kick Out the Jams: The 50th Anniversary Tour” kicks off on September 5th in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and runs through the end of October, concluding with two nights in MC5’s native Detroit. Each show will feature a full-album performance of MC5’s seminal album, Kick Out the Jams, plus an encore of other MC5 material.

Kramer will be joined on the road by an all-star backing band. Dubbed “MC50,” the lineup features Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil, Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty, King’s X bassist Dug Pinnick, and Zen Guerrilla frontman Marcus Durant. Additionally, drummer Dennis Thompson, the only other living member of MC5, will appear at select dates. –Alex Young

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Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monae, photo by Philip Cosores

Janelle Monáe – Photo by Philip Cosores

Janelle Monáe has mapped out a North American tour in support of her mind-blowing new album, Dirty Computer. The 28-date tour kicks off in Seattle on June 11th and runs into early August, culminating with a date in Monáe’s hometown of Atlanta. Nobody has put out a better album so far this year than Monáe; this tour is as can’t-miss as anything on this list. –Alex Young

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My Bloody Valentine

My Bloody Valentine Promo Photo

My Bloody Valentine Promo Photo

My Blood Valentine have confirmed dates for their first US tour in five years. Scheduled around their upcoming appearance at Los Angeles’ FYF Fest, the shoegaze legends will tour the US in July, playing shows in Seattle, Oakland, St. Paul, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City. My Bloody Valentine last toured the US in 2013 behind their comeback album, m b v. In a recent interview, frontman Kevin Shields confirmed the impending release of two new EPs, the first of which is set to arrive this summer, followed by a second EP in Spring 2019. Sounds like there’s a good chance to hear new material. –Alex Young

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Paramore and Foster the People

Paramore - Photo by Ben Kaye

Paramore – Photo by Ben Kaye

Paramore and Foster the People are joining forces for a US summer tour. The 24-date outing kicks off on June 12th in St. Augustine, Florida, and includes stops at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, The Forum in Los Angeles, and the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado, where the tour is scheduled to conclude on July 24th. If recent festivals are anything to judge by, Hayley Williams and co. have never sounded better. –Alex Young

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Paul Simon

Paul Simon, photo by Jessica Gilbert

Paul Simon – Photo by Jessica Gilbert

Paul Simon has revealed the third and final leg of his “Homeward Bound” farewell tour. A total of 11 new dates have been announced for September — in addition to his current June and July slate. The final leg opens with a September 5th gig in New Orleans before hitting three Florida cities; Atlanta, Georgia; and Washington, DC. There are also four “hometown” shows on the docket, including one in Simon’s native Newark, NJ. The farewell concludes with a trio of New York City concerts, two at Madison Square Garden and one at a yet to be announced location. –Ben Kaye

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Liz Phair

Liz Phair - Photo by Heather Kaplan

Liz Phair – Photo by Heather Kaplan

Earlier this year, Liz Phair released her massive Girly-Sound to Guyville: The 25th Anniversary Box Setwhich features a remastered version of the 1993 record as well as the first ever restored audio re-releases of the three demo cassettes Phair made under the name Girly-Sound. An accompanying summer tour featuring Phair performing songs from the Girly-Sound tapes for the very first time sold out almost instantly, but the singer has since announced a new batch of dates for late summer and fall. The 25-date “Amps on the Lawn Tour” kicks off on September 6th at Atlanta and finds Phair snaking through the Midwest and scaling both coasts before it wraps up in Milwaukee on October 12th. Along the way, she’ll play sets at Raleigh’s Hopscotch Music Festival and Eddie Vedder’s new Ohana Music and Arts Festival in Dana Point, CA. –Randall Colburn

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Slayer

Slayer - Photo by Philip Cosores

Slayer – Photo by Philip Cosores

Tickets to Slayer’s final tour have been going fast since it was announced at the end of January. With such apparent demand to catch the thrash icons’ last hurrah, the band has today revealed a second leg of North American tour dates for the summer. The new stretch starts in late July along the East Coast, with August shows taking the metal outfit to Grand Rapids, Michigan; Atlanta, Georgia; San Antonio, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; and beyond. As with much of the first leg, Lamb of GodAnthrax, and Testament will serve as support for all the new shows. Napalm Death has also joined the trek. If this is really goodbye, you don’t want to miss it. –Ben Kaye

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Sleep

Sleep Promo Photo

Sleep Promo Photo

If J. Cole dropping a surprise album on 4/20 didn’t already have your bong quivering, the announcement that stoner metal legends Sleep would be doing the same most certainly did. The Sciences was first teased in November of last year, when the band posted a message in morse code saying they had almost finished recording, and finally arrived to a frenzy via Jack White’s Third Man Records. In support of the new album, which contains pummeling jams like “Marijuanaut’s Theme” and “The Botanist”, Sleep will be headlining a massive tour of North America and Europe. Don’t sleep on this chance. –Randall Colburn

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The Smashing Pumpkins

Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan, photo by Philip Cosores

The Smashing Pumpkins – Photo by Philip Cosores

Three-fourths of Smashing Pumpkins’ founding lineup — frontman Billy Corgan, guitarist James Iha, and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin — are reuniting for a US tour this summer that kicks off in early July. It marks the trio’s first such outing together since 2000 and comes in celebration of the band’s 30th anniversary. Tickets to these shows went on sale in late February and quickly showed sluggish movement in many markets. Still, even without founding bassist D’arcy Wretzky involved, we’ve never been known to say no to a hometown Pumpkins show here in Chicago. –Alex Young

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The The

The The, photo by Thomas Feiner

The The – Photo by Thomas Feiner

The least Googleable post-punk outfit in history is back. The The have revealed dates for a North American comeback tour, marking their first shows in this part of the world since 2000. Back in September, Matt Johnson’s English outfit announced their first live shows in 16 years with a pair of EU gigs. Then came a full run of UK gigs, and now the itinerary has been expanded to include eight stops in the US and Canada set for September. Kicking off on the 14th in Boston, The The will hit Brooklyn, New York, Toronto, Detroit, Chicago, and Los Angeles before wrapping up on the 27th in San Francisco. –Ben Kaye

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Yes

Yes featuring Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, Alan White, Jon Davison, Billy Sherwood, photo by Glenn Gottlieb

Yes featuring Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, Alan White, Jon Davison, and Billy Sherwood — Photo by Glenn Gottlieb

Veteran prog-rock outfit Yes will mark their 50th anniversary by embarking on a US tour this summer. The 34-date outing kicks off in early June with a pair of dates in St. Charles, Illinois. The band also plays shows in cities such as Los Angeles, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Orlando before wrapping up the tour in Atlanta on July 28th.

The current Yes lineup consists of longtime guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Alan White, along with keyboardist Geoff Downes, bassist Billy Sherwood, and vocalist Jon Davidson. They’re not to be confused with the other live incarnation of Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman, who are currently performing together under the banner Yes featuring ARW. –Alex Young

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Yes featuring ARW

Yes featuring ARW

Yes featuring ARW — Courtesy of Yes featuring ARW

2018 marks 50 years of Yes, and both versions of the band are celebrating with anniversary tours. The second version, Yes featuring ARW (that’s Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Rick Wakeman), have mapped out their own global tour. And in a not-so-subtle jab aimed at the other version of Yes, they’ve dubbed the forthcoming trek: “Quintessential Yes: The 50th Anniversary Tour.”

The tour will span 100 shows, which have already begun in Europe. An initial leg of North American dates is scheduled for August and September, with further dates planned for the top of 2019. –Alex Young

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