On The Road Again: Chris Stapleton, Alejandro Fernández, Dave Matthews Band Latest To Announce Major 2021 Tours

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– Traveller
Chris Stapleton’s 2021 dates include what may be the industry’s largest and soonest announced hard-ticket gig, a July 17 all-star smash at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. Here, he performs at the CMA Awards on Nov. 11, 2020.

As April nears its end, the trickle of tour announcements as the live industry prepares to return has swelled to a steady stream.

At press time, 87.6 million Americans – 26.4% of the U.S. population – had been fully vaccinated, while 134.4 million had received at least one dose. Though vaccination numbers and case rates remain inconsistent regionally, the numbers are still encouraging enough that artists have started assembling full-blown tours for late summer and early fall, rather than piecemeal itineraries of abbreviated jaunts and festival plays.

The most notable announcements have come from the country world, where Chris Stapleton, Thomas Rhett and Eric Church revealed tours in recent days. All represented by WME Nashville, the three artists hit the road in July, August and September, respectively.

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– ¡Hecho En México!
Alejandro Fernández’s fall tour will hit theaters and arenas, including L.A.’s Forum.

“It’s really great to see things reopening safely in a lot of places,” WME partner and Nashville co-head Jay Williams told Pollstar by email. “We have shifted, routed and rerouted tours so many times, over 25 in some cases, so it’s great seeing things beginning to announce and go on sale finally.”

Rhett’s tour begins with two nights at the Wharf Amphitheater in Orange Beach, Ala., Aug. 13-14, and will hit East Coast and Midwest sheds before wrapping at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, N.C., Oct. 9. Church’s massive, multi-month arena trek begins at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., on Sept. 17, and concludes at New York’s Madison Square Garden on May 20, 2022. Stops along the way will include Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena (Oct. 30), Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena (Jan. 22, 2022) and Los Angeles’ Staples Center (May 7, 2022).

While Rhett and Church’s tours are new, Stapleton’s, which begins at Chicago’s Wrigley Field on July 17 – supported by The Highwomen, Mavis Staples, and The Dirty Knobs with Mike Campbell – is a complex patchwork of pre-existing dates and fresh ones. Two-thirds of the 57-date trek was first announced for 2020, then pushed to 2021, including plays at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas (Aug. 21), and Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena (Oct. 22-23). New dates on his itinerary include Atlanta’s Cellairis Bank Amphitheatre (Aug. 28) and Memphis’ FedEx Forum (Dec. 3). The tour wraps in April and June 2022 with gigs that were set for spring and early summer 2021, but postponed a second time, including Washington’s Gorge Amphitheater (June 4, 2022) and Denver’s Ball Arena (June 24-25, 2022).

Notably, Stapleton preserved his sterling guest roster, which beyond his Wrigley openers includes Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Margo Price, Dwight Yoakam, Elle King, Yola and Marcus King.

“We are hoping for full capacities everywhere, but obviously there are local mandates that will dictate that,” said Williams of the tours of WME Nashville clients, calling early sales “incredibly encouraging.”

The wave of tour announcements goes beyond country. As this issue was going to print, Dave Matthews Band shared summer 2021 dates that, like Stapleton, consist of gigs rescheduled from 2020, rescheduled again from early summer 2021 or freshly booked (Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre in Greenwood Village, Colo., Oct. 8-9). Set for mostly sheds, the run begins July 23 at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek.

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– Cloud Control
Waxahatchee, who released her acclaimed Saint Cloud in late March 2020, is one of several indie-rock artists to have announced tours for this fall.

Meanwhile, prominent Latin artists Alejandro Fernández, Zoé and Los Ángeles Azules all announced treks in recent days that are set to begin in August or September. Fernández and Azules will both play arenas, following the lead of this week’s cover star Maluma, whose North American arena tour, announced in February, kicks off Sept. 2.

At the club and theater level, several leading indie artists, including Waxahatchee, Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus and Japanese Breakfast announced multi-week jaunts. And some tours postponed from 2020 are planning to proceed with rescheduled 2021 dates. Matchbox Twenty and The Wallflowers’ joint arena and shed trek, for instance, will take place from July 16 to Oct. 7, fulfilling an itinerary announced in July 2020.

Still, many artists have opted to postpone major tours initially announced before the pandemic for a second time. The Weeknd, who in February made headlines as one of the first artists to reveal post-pandemic touring plans, begins his 104-date tour – including 65 dates announced before the pandemic – in January 2022. Kenny Chesney and Roger Waters similarly pushed back tours to next year, and My Chemical Romance and Rage Against the Machine, whose reunion tours were to be some of 2020’s highest-profile arena treks, recently delayed rescheduled 2021 tours to 2022.

The touring news complements announcements from the festival world, where events such as Tennessee’s Bonnaroo and California’s Outside Lands have already announced lineups for fall events, and the venues sector, where venues such as the Hollywood Bowl have outlined summer reopening plans.