From on high, Neil Young declared the concert touring business was broken. “It’s over,” he posted on his website last month. “The old days are gone.”
Young is not the only one frustrated. Fans of Taylor Swift filed a class-action lawsuit against Ticketmaster and parent-company Live Nation Entertainment for “unlawful conduct” after the Swift ticket debacle, and U.S senators held an antitrust hearing earlier this year to investigate whether Ticketmaster and promoter Live Nation hold a monopoly in the ticketing industry.
Amid the outrage, however, the concert business rolls on robustly. Live Nation just posted a record-breaking quarter of US$3.1-billion in revenue, with a record 19.5 million fans attending its events globally. If people are protesting, they are doing it with their words (and lawsuits), not their pocketbooks.
As for Young, following his dire proclamation, he returned to the stage after more than three years away for a pair of concerts, including Willie Nelson’s 90th birthday celebration. “Made me want to play more,” the Rockin’ in the Free World singer said on his website afterward. “Maybe July.”
The system might be broken, but it’s the only one we’ve got.
Top 13 summer music events
Industry forecasters predict that her spectacle Renaissance tour could net nearly US$2-billion, easily topping the US$1.6-billion that Taylor Swift’s Eras tour is expected to earn. There is a reason Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter is known as Queen Bey. July 8 and 9, Rogers Centre, Toronto; Sept. 11, BC Place, Vancouver.
The indie-rock supergroup of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus wear its influences on its record sleeve: The trio’s demonstrative debut LP, The Record, includes a song inspired by Paul Simon and another one called Leonard Cohen. June 21, Budweiser Stage, Toronto; July 28, PNE Amphitheatre, Vancouver.
Has it really been 50 years since the release of his platinum-selling Head Hunters album? The 83-year-old legend still brings the funk, touring with a band that includes trumpetist Terence Blanchard. June 29, Toronto Jazz Festival; June 30, Ottawa Jazz Festival; July 3, Montreal Jazz Festival.
Winnipeg Folk Festival
“When I was your age, I was just like you/ And just look at me now, I’m sure you do.” Loudon Wainwright III wrote 1990′s A Father and A Son about his boy, Rufus Wainwright. The generational singer-songwriters are among the headliners at Birds Hill Provincial Park. July 6-9, Winnipeg.
Keanu Reeves’s Dogstar
You can’t kill John Wick, and you can’t kill Canadian actor Keanu Reeves’s alt-rock trio, set to make its first public appearance in more than 20 years. May 27, Bottle Rock Napa Valley, Napa, Calif.
Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival
If salt air, folk music and East Coast quaintness are your jam, your schooner’s come in. Headliners at the beloved festival include banjo songstress Kaia Kater, soprano Measha Brueggergosman and singer-songwriters Catherine MacLellan and Jane Siberry. Aug. 10-13, Lunenburg, N.S.
In 1980, the great jazz guitarist and smooth pop singer George Benson sang “Give me the night.” He gets two. June 27, Toronto Jazz Festival; June 29, Montreal Jazz Festival.
Calgary Folk Festival
Come for Emmylou Harris, stay for Amythyst Kiah. Come for Jeff Tweedy, stay for Boy Golden. Come for Bahamas, stay for Jenn Grant. July 21-24, Prince’s Island Park, Calgary.
Lionel Richie, with Earth, Wind & Fire
Nothing says “imperial decline” like bygone pop star Lionel Richie performing at the coronation concert of King Charles. Still, Richie, who is not royalty but was once a Commodore, offers hits all night long (or at least until curfew). Aug. 8, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto; Aug. 9, Bell Centre, Montreal; Sept. 12, Rogers Arena, Vancouver.
Shambhala Music Festival
If you think Shambhala is the name of a Three Dog Night hit – that song is Shambala – you are likely too old for this electronic music event in the West Kootenay mountains. Chill vibes prevail in a woodsy setting where the latest advancements in dance music and recreational chemicals are enjoyed responsibly. July 21-24, Salmo River Ranch, Nelson, B.C.
The group David Letterman once called “your saddest friend’s favourite band” makes alt-rock music that is monochromatic and emotionally rescuing – soft musical hugs for the feeling people. The quintet’s new album, First Two Pages of Frankenstein, namechecks Canada’s Cowboy Junkies and features contributions from Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers. June 5, Deer Lake Park, Burnaby, B.C.; Aug. 5, Osheaga Music and Arts Festival, Montreal; Aug. 20 (with Patti Smith), Budweiser Stage, Toronto.
Osheaga Music and Arts Festival
Simply one of North America’s top-curated pop fests. This year’s headliners at Parc Jean-Drapeau include Kendrick Lamar, Billie Eilish and Japanese Breakfast. Aug. 4-6, Montreal.
The Toronto rapper has based a career on telling everyone how hard it is to be him. Turns out, it’s not that hard: Heart on My Sleeve, created using artificial intelligence to mimic Drake and the Weeknd, was a viral hit recently. The real thing hits the road this summer for his It’s All A Blur tour. July 14-15, Bell Centre, Montreal; Aug. 28-29, Rogers Arena, Vancouver.