Summer may be the time to shed some bulk, but heavyweights will rule this season on the concert trail — and the industry couldn’t be happier.
The summer-tour business, which accounts for nearly two thirds of annual ticket sales, has been mired in a three-year recession since 1990’s record- setting $1.1 billion take. But industry analysts predict 1994 can’t help but pass that mark, for two obvious reasons: (1) a plethora of superstar acts that appeal to older, boomer audiences have decided to hit the road, and (2) ticket prices have skyrocketed to unprecedented three-figure levels without encountering any consumer resistance (in fact, more expensive tickets tend to sell faster than upper-deck bargain seats). “The buzz on the summer is that it’s hot,” says Bob Grossweiner, New York bureau chief of the concert-business magazine Performance. “But you have to have a lot of money to enjoy the buzz.”
Since dollars don’t stretch nearly as far as in summers past, perennial touring acts like the Beach Boys will most likely feel the biggest pinch. But with these eight megatours packing stadiums and arenas — as well as Metallica/Danzig, the H.O.R.D.E. tour (the Allman Brothers Band, Blues Traveler, and other tie-dyed rockers), the two Woodstock festivals, and the 10-show WOMAD tour (Peter Gabriel, Arrested Development, Midnight Oil, Queen Latifah, and others) — 1994 should be a good year to visit the ballpark. Here’s a guide to what you’ll see, spend, and have to put up with.
TICKET PRICE/EQUIVALENT: $35-$115, or, at most, 4.6 acres of adopted South American rain forest.
VITAL STATISTICS: May 27-October; 60-plus dates in 31-plus cities; three hours of solo hits, standards, and new songs. Melissa Etheridge opens some dates.
ACCESSORY TO BRING: Fritz the Cat bong.
INDUSTRY BUZZ: The tour of the year in the land of classic rock-the surest of sure shots.
WHEN TO BUY A T-SHIRT: During “The Heat Is On” or any of Glenn Frey’s other solo hits.
IS IT WORTH IT?: Wags have dubbed it The Greed Tour, but given intraband tension, this may actually be that cliche — the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
TOUR: Rolling Stones
TICKET PRICE/EQUIVALENT: $25-$50, or three of the best Stones albums (e.g., Exile on Main St., Aftermath, and Let It Bleed) on CD.
VITAL STATISTICS: Aug. 1-December; 30-plus dates in 27-plus cities; openers include Stone Temple Pilots, Lenny Kravitz, and Counting Crows.
ACCESSORY TO BRING: Metamucil.
INDUSTRY BUZZ: Still in demand, but without a new album in stores yet, they’ve cooled off considerably since 1989’s Steel Wheels tour.
WHEN TO BUY A T-SHIRT: If they start playing Budweiser commercials by the Stones on the giant video screen.
IS IT WORTH IT?: If you’re looking to recapture keg-party euphoria, this is your night.
TOUR: Lollapalooza ’94
TICKET PRICE/EQUIVALENT: $28, or one exotic tattoo.
VITAL STATISTICS: July 6-Aug. 27; 25-plus dates in 23-plus cities; includes George Clinton, Smashing Pumpkins, L7, Breeders, Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest.
ACCESSORY TO BRING: Kurt Cobain memorial T-shirt.
INDUSTRY BUZZ: Suffers from loss of original headliner, Nirvana, but event status should carry tour if new bill topper Smashing Pumpkins can’t.
WHEN TO BUY A T-SHIRT: When heatstroke sets in.
IS IT WORTH IT?: More varied than last year, with solid Second Stage lineup (Shonen Knife, the Pharcyde, Luscious Jackson, etc.). Hard to go wrong.