It took a global pandemic to put a pause on one of southeastern Michigan’s favorite summer traditions. But concerts are now back in a big, big way.
In metro Detroit and elsewhere across the world, the first full summer of shows since 2019 is on the doorstep, promising the busiest calendar of live music in many years.
It’s a schedule that includes nearly 50 concerts in a 50th anniversary season at Pine Knob, the Clarkston venue that has frequently topped the US rankings for amphitheater attendance. And there are a host of stadium extravaganzas on the books — including an 11-day stretch in July that includes four at Comerica Park.
Southern rock band Whiskey Myers is set to kick off the outdoor season with a Saturday visit to Michigan Lottery Amphitheater in Sterling Heights. Haim will get things going at Meadow Brook Amphitheater on May 25, AJR will start the Pine Knob action May 27, and Damien Escobar will launch the Aretha Franklin Amphitheater season on June 4.
The calendar even includes a handful of shows announced way back in 2019 — concerts originally planned for that following summer then postponed multiple times as the pandemic wore on. They include Billy Joel (Comerica Park), Def Leppard-Motley Crue (Comerica) and the Doobie Brothers’ reunion with Michael McDonald (Pine Knob), which means by the time those acts arrive in town, some fans will have been holding tickets for more than 2½ years.
There are fresh faces, too. At Pine Knob, the schedule includes several first-time venue headliners, including AJR (May 27), Halsey (May 29) and Odesza (Sept. 8).
“It’s pretty obvious, when you see the list of shows, that not only is it the most robust summer concert season in the last decade or more, but it’s also filled with a lot of diversity,” said Dave Clark, president of Live Nation’s Michigan division. “There are so many genres of music at a large touring level. There’s something to be said about the variety in music that can draw fans out to support this many shows.”
Amid inflation and other economic concerns, fan appears appetite to be strong heading into summer: In the latest earnings report from Live Nation, the biggest concert promoter in the US, the company said more than 70 million tickets have been sold for its concerts this year — up 36% from the same point in 2019. Overall, Live Nation reported its “best first quarter ever.”
“Artists are back on the road and fan demand has never been stronger, a reflection that live events remain a clear priority for consumers as our social lives restart,” the report read.
Fans making their way back to shows for the first time since the pandemic should know that new policies have been implemented at Pine Knob and other facilities in the stable of 313 Presents, the Ilitch-Tom Gores venture that markets Comerica Park, Little Caesars Arena, Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre, Meadow Brook and the Fox Theatre.
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Bags and purses are now prohibited, a move designed to ease congestion at security gates. Wallet-sized bags are still allowed, along with diaper and medical containers up to a certain size. Full details are at the 313 Presents website.
Most shows are now using digital ticketing, part of a broader trend across the entertainment and sports industries. Venues advise concertgoers to download tickets onto their mobile devices before leaving home, in case of connection issues onsite.
313 Presents buildings have also moved to cashless transactions for concessions and other vendors.
Note too that some tours continue to require COVID-19 vaccination proof or a negative test result.
Here’s an overview of metro Detroit’s summer music offerings.
The return of Pine Knob
Nostalgia is in the air at the Clarkston amphitheater this summer.
After two decades as DTE Energy Music Theatre, word arrived in January that the much-loved venue would resurrect the name it was christened with in 1972. The news got a loud, happy reception in Michigan and across the concert world. “Pine Knob” even trended nationally on Twitter that day.
The rekindling of the Pine Knob name comes as the amphitheater marks its 50th birthday with a summer-long anniversary campaign. Reunited country duo Brooks & Dunn, playing its first metro Detroit show since 2010, happens to be the headliner on June 25 — 50 years to the day after Pine Knob’s opening.
A media event is scheduled Friday to showcase the Pine Knob reboot, including a new marquee out front and entrance signage spotlighting the venue’s three new sponsors: United Wholesale Mortgage, Trinity Health and Ally.
New York pop band AJR will make its Pine Knob debut a week later to officially kick off the amphitheater’s 2022 season, a schedule that runs through early October and which includes a Sept. 16-17 homecoming doubleheader from Kid Rock.
Comerica Park and Ford Field have seven summer shows between them for the biggest stadium concert season in recent memory.
At the Tigers’ ballpark, the weekend of July 8-10 will feature back-to-back dates from Chris Stapleton, Billy Joel and Def Leppard-Motley Crue, followed by Elton John playing July 18 in his last-ever Detroit concert. After nearly four decades of Detroit gigs, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will make their stadium debut here with an Aug. 14 Comerica Park show.
At Ford Field, the Weeknd will take the stage with a mega-production on July 27, part of a much-delayed tour that was originally set for arenas in 2020 and ultimately grew into a US stadium run. Kenny Chesney, one of country music’s veteran stadium stars, will make his latest visit to the Lions’ house on Aug. 20.
On the Detroit riverfront at the Aretha, a bustling summer includes the ever-popular Wednesday night jazz series (starting June 8), along with a slate of weekend shows highlighted by the reunited Jodeci (June 17), Charlie Wilson (July 23), Lord Huron (Aug. 16) and UB40 (Aug. 19).
Sterling Heights’ Michigan Lottery Amphitheater has a genre-hopping schedule that includes Deftones (May 24), 5 Seconds of Summer (July 21), Alicia Keys (Aug. 16) and the latest homecoming by Ted Nugent (Aug. 13).
At bucolic Meadow Brook in Rochester Hills, highlights include Jackson Browne (June 10), Rex Orange County (June 25), Norah Jones (July 16), the Cult (July 27) and a 60th-anniversary tour stop from the Beach Boys ( Aug 14).
Wildwood Amphitheater in Lake Orion will kick off its season with a June 9 show and birthday celebration from Detroit rock-blues guitarist Jim McCarty and his band Mystery Train, while Detroit-bred rocker Mitch Ryder will play July 1. The venue’s summer calendar is loaded with tribute shows, including bands celebrating the music of Prince, Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, Bob Seger and others.
The big festivals are fully back to life this summer.
After a two-year pandemic layoff, the Movement electronic-music festival will return to Hart Plaza on Memorial Day weekend (May 28-30) with its most extensive lineup in many years, a six-stage bill that includes headliners Jeff Mills, Adam Beyer and Richie Hawtin.
The Mo Pop fest will make its Hart Plaza debut July 30-31, moving up Jefferson Avenue from its recent home at West Riverfront Park, presenting two stages of indie rock, pop and hip-hop topped by Glass Animals and Detroit’s Big Sean.
Local bands and DJs will be on tap at the latest edition of Rock ‘n’ Rides in Royal Oak June 16-19. A full lineup — including the Ruiners, Spiral Crush and Cast-Iron Cornbread Band — will be announced Monday.
The Detroit Jazz Festival plans to return to a full, in-person event Labor Day weekend, following two years of acclaimed livestreaming presentations, with artist-in-residence Chucho Valdés leading this year’s lineup.
Arts, Beats & Eats in Royal Oak, gearing up for its 25th anniversary on Labor Day weekend, is expected to announce its national and local music lineup in early August.
Little Caesars Arena
While most of the summer music action is outdoors, Detroit’s prime arena has an array of big concerts on the docket, including Justin Bieber (June 5), Machine Gun Kelly (July 3), Roger Waters (July 23) and a just-announced show by Kendrick Lamar (Aug. 14).
Pine Knob, 50th anniversary schedule
(Tickets at ticketmaster.com.)
May 27: AJR with BoyWithUke
May 29: Halsey with Beabadoobee
June 3: Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town with the Cadillac Three
June 6: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
June 8: REO Speedwagon and Styx with Loverboy
June 10: The Lumineers
June 15: Tears for Fears with Garbage
June 17: Josh Groban with Preservation Hall Jazz Band
June 18: Steely Dan with Snarky Puppy
June 21: Dave Matthews Band
June 22: The Chicks with Patty Griffin
June 25: WYCD Hoedown with Brooks & Dunn
June 29: Dead & Company
June 30: Nick Cannon Presents: MTV Wild ‘N Out Live
July 2: Jack Johnson with Durand Jones & the Indications
July 3: Barenaked Ladies with Gin Blossoms and Toad the Wet Sprocket
July 4: The Doobie Brothers
July 5: Carlos Santana and Earth, Wind & Fire
July 12: Train with Jewel and Blues Traveler
July 16: Thomas Rhett with Parker McCollum
July 26: Chicago and Brian Wilson
July 27: Rod Stewart with Cheap Trick
July 28: Backstreet Boys
July 29: Zac Brown Band
July 30: Chris Brown and Lil Baby
Aug 2: One Republic with Needtobreathe
Aug 3: phish
Aug 10: Incubus with Sublime With Rome
Aug 14: Jason Aldean with Gabby Barrett
Aug 16: Alice in Chains and Breaking Benjamin with Bush
Aug 19: Kidz Bop
Aug 21: Korn and Evanescence
Aug 23: Sammy Hagar & the Circle with George Thorogood & the Destroyers
Aug 24: Imagine Dragons with Macklemore
Aug 26: Keith Urban with Ingrid Andress
Aug 27: Charm: The Sing Along
Aug 30: Scorpions with Whitesnake
Aug 31: Pitbull with Iggy Azalea
Sept. one: Wiz Khalifa and Logic
Sept. 3: Wu-Tang Clan and Nas
Sept. 7: The Black Keys with Band of Horses
Sept. 8: odessa
Sept. 10: Florence + the Machine with Sam Fender
Sept. 16-17: Kid Rock with Foreigner
Sept. twenty-one: Shinedown with Jelly Roll
Sept. 24: RIFF Fest with Disturbed, Dirty Honey, more
Oct 5: Five Finger Death Punch with Megadeth