Summertime and the living is ... busy. It's especially busy when it comes to the list of amazing concerts that are coming to Greater Cincinnati over the next few months. It’s a seriously crazy bumper-crop of modern megastars, reunited legends, country kings and queens, and festivals with a bit of everything for everyone.
You can’t do it all, but you can get your priorities in order now so you don’t miss out on any of the shows your friends will be Instagramming like crazy the next morning.
Here are 25 of our top concert picks for your summer, including a few shows in nearby cities (they're worth the drive).
May 31: Twenty One Pilots, U.S. Bank Arena
The Columbus duo kicks off their first-ever arena tour with a gig in their other hometown. Drummer Josh Dun and singer Tyler Joseph will bring their unique mix of pop, rock, punk and hip-hop to their biggest audience yet in support of their breakthrough 2015 album, “Blurryface.”
June 1: Dixie Chicks, Riverbend Music Center
The country trio also clearly senses some magic in the Queen City, since they’re kicking off the 46-date U.S. run of their DCX MMXVI world tour at Riverbend. It’s an election year, so you can expect the outspoken, top-selling female band of all time to mix it up in between playing their deep bench of twangy hits.
June 3-5: Bunbury Music Festival, Sawyer Point and Yeatman’s Cove
The fifth edition of the city’s homegrown megafest clearly shows the influence of Columbus-based owner PromoWest Productions. The slew of bold-faced names includes the Killers, Florence + the Machine, Tom Petty’s Mudcrutch, Tears for Fears, Haim, Ice Cube, Of Monsters and Men, Grimes and Umphrey’s McGee.
June 5: Selena Gomez, U.S. Bank Arena
Expect a dance explosion when the Disney-star-turned-grownup pop sensation brings sultry hits like “Good For You,” “Same Old Love” and “Hands to Myself” to U.S. Bank Arena with some heavy artillery in tow. Gomez’s Revival Tour stop also features an opening set from her fellow child-star pal Joe Jonas, performing with his candy-coated pop outfit DNCE.
June 5: Cage the Elephant, Express Live! (Columbus)
Bowling Green’s finest is one of the fiercest, most explosive live bands in the nation now, and this killer triple-bill is worth the trip north. Portugal. The Man is equally enthralling, with a psychedelic attack that will leave you breathless. Mix in Chicago garage rockers Twin Peaks and you have the most bangin’ kick-off to the summer imaginable.
June 11: Dolly Parton, Jack Casino
The ranks of classic country icons are sadly thinning out with the recent death of Merle Haggard. But Parton, 70, is going strong on her Dolly: Pure and Simple Tour, which will mix classic hits with deep tracks and some new songs from her upcoming album of the same name.
June 14-15: Jason Isbell, Taft Theater
One of the most acclaimed roots rockers working now, the former Drive-By Truckers member has made a name for himself with ragged, deeply felt songwriting and mesmerizing live shows. Opener Frank Turner is a punk rocker (Million Dead) turned folk troubadour who perfectly balances melancholy and energetic introspection.
June 16: Dead & Company, Riverbend Music Center
If you weren’t able to catch those epic Grateful Dead reunion shows last summer, this is your next best chance to twirl dance in the aisles with most of the living members of the tie-dye legends, plus guitar face-master John Mayer filling in on the Jerry Garcia bits.
June 20: A$AP Ferg, Bogart’s
The hard-hitting member of the Harlem A$AP Mob rap collective (which also includes A$AP Rocky) is touring behind his sophomore release, “Always Strive and Prosper,” which has already hit pay dirt with the Future-featuring hypnotic single “New Level.” The album has a sentimental, emotional vibe at times, but expect Ferg to bring plenty of fire to the stage.
June 21: Sting/Peter Gabriel Nationwide Arena (Columbus)
This killer double-bill brings together two of the biggest powerhouses of 1980s rock on one stage. The Police singer and solo star has a bottomless hits catalog, while Gabriel has been wowing audiences with his Back to Front set, in which he performs his entire 1986 smash “So” (“Sledgehammer,” “In Your Eyes,” etc.).
June 24: Justin Bieber, U.S. Bank Arena
Summer is full of tough ticket-buying choices like this one: JB or his former lady love, Selena? Biebs is towing up-and-comers Post Malone and Moxie Raia on his comeback apology tour, where the former child star is working his Calvin-covered buns off trying to prove he has grown from a boy to a man.
June 29-30: I Love The 90s, Fraze Pavilion
If you grew up in the ’90s, this tour is the
mixtape mix CD of your life. With Vanilla Ice, Salt-N-Pepa, Tone Loc, Young M.C. and All-4-One, this night of one-, maybe two-hit wonders is like a live version of “NOW That’s What I Call Music!” Plus, it’s an excuse to pull those leg warmers and neon hair scrunchies out of mothballs. If you want to see the show but aren’t up for the drive, just wait until the fall: The tour recently announced a stop Nov. 19 at U.S. Bank Arena.
July 6: Guns ’N Roses, Paul Brown Stadium
When Axl Rose yells, “Do you know where you are? You’re in the Jungle, BAAAAABYYYYY!!!” everyone at Paul Brown is going to lose their minds. Because they really are in the Jungle! This long-awaited truce between Slash and Axl is the holy grail of hard-rock reunions, so get your tickets now, because it probably won’t last forever.
July 10: Paul McCartney, U.S. Bank Arena
The former Beatle just added this date to his One On One tour, marking the second time in six years he has played Cincinnati. If early set lists are any indication, fans can expect to hear Macca’s first solo performances of “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Love Me Do,” as well as rarities like “The Fool on the Hill” and “I’ve Got a Feeling.”
July 15-17: PromoWest Fest, Arena District (Columbus)
The inaugural edition of this Columbus-based blowout features an impressive mix of huge stars and buzz acts, including Modest Mouse, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, Mac Miller, the Decemberists, Tears for Fears, Brand New and X Ambassadors.
July 18: Digable Planets, Woodward Theater
We also will be blessed with the first club date on a reunion tour by the 1990s hip-hop crew fronted by Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler, Craig “Doodlebug” Irving and Mary Ann “Ladybug Mecca” Vieira. The group known for blending jazz samples and rap beats is beloved for the enduring influence of their 1992 single, “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat).”
July 22-23: Cincinnati Music Festival, Paul Brown Stadium
The granddaddy of Cincinnati summer festivals returns with such R&B heavyweights as New Edition, Babyface, Fantasia, the Whispers, eternal fan faves Charlie Wilson and Maze feat. Frankie Beverly, plus the usual smattering of new jacks.
July 22: The Rock Hall Three For All, Riverbend Music Center
You literally cannot go wrong with this power-packed trio of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame heavy hitters. Newest inductees and power-pop legends Cheap Trick join two of the baddest female-fronted rock bands of all time: Heart and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. You will get rocked.
July 28: Coldplay, Nationwide Arena (Columbus)
This is as close as the Superbowl halftime rockers will come to Cincinnati on their stadium/arena tour. Chris Martin and Co. always deliver a high-energy show with stunning visuals and a deep bench of huge, sing-along hits and songs from their latest, the psychedelic pop treasure “A Head Full of Dreams.”
July 30: Tedeschi Trucks Band, PNC Pavilion
Some shows are for spectacle, some are for pop hits and some are for top-notch musicianship. This one is the latter. The headlining husband-and-wife duo bring the blues fire, Los Lobos is the enduring king of Chicano roots rock and the North Mississippi Allstars is one of the hottest Southern rock-blues bands around.
Aug. 6: Buckle Up Music Festival, Summit Park
After taking a year off, this country-focused throwdown from the same people who bring you Bunbury has announced only a few headliners so far (Chase Rice, Brad Paisley, Maggie Rose). The move to the new bandshell in Blue Ash’s Summit Park is an unknown, but if the PromoWest team does its job, this will be a new Cincinnati tradition.
Aug. 7: Rob Zombie/Korn, Riverbend Music Center
This one is gonna hurt. Two of the hardest, thrashiest rock bands of the ’90s are teaming up for a summer tour that is everything a headbanger could ask for. Zombie is promoting his upcoming Google-bait solo album, “The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser,” while Korn is working on its super-heavy 12th release.
Aug. 9: Gwen Stefani, Riverbend Music Center
The No Doubt singer turned solo star and tabloid staple will celebrate her This is What the Truth Feels Like tour by dropping in for a late summer gig with rapper Eve, her collaborator on the hits “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” and “Rich Girl.”
Aug. 13-14: Luke Bryan, Riverbend Music Center
The capper to the always robust boots-’n’-belt-buckles summer lineup at Riverbend is topped by this headlining gig from Bryan, performing alongside Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch. Expect to hear the hits (“Kick The Dust Up,” “Crash My Party,” “Drink A Beer”), plus some on-stage collabos with his opening acts.
Aug. 13: Drake/Future, Nationwide Arena
The closest that Toronto’s finest will come is Columbus, but you’d be a fool to miss out on what is sure to be the summer’s hottest hip-hop double bill. Touring in support of his new “Views” album, the “Hotline Bling” rapper is taking the stage with his frequent collaborator, Atlanta’s Future, for the “Summer Sixteen” extravaganza. As they like to say, “what a time to be alive.”