Rock ’N’ Roll Still Very Much Not Dead As A New Generation Of Rawk Hits The Road

Italian Man Skin:
Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic
– Italian Man Skin:
Victoria De Angelis, Damiano David, Thomas Raggi and Ethan Torchio of Måneskin, who have broken through on U.S. rock and pop radio, perform at the MTV EMAs 2021 at Budapest’s Papp Laszlo Budapest Sports Arena on Nov. 14, 2021.
The rock audience is returning to live shows,” proclaims Allen Kovac, who has doubled down on the genre at his Better Noise Music label and 10th Street Entertainment management company, home to the likes of Five Finger Death Punch, The HU and Papa Roach. His longtime client Mötley Crüe will finally get to launch its twice-postponed “Stadium Tour” with Def Leppard, Poison and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts at Atlanta’s Truist Park on June 16. Kovac also points to the success of the just-ended, self-described “Metal Tour of the Year,” featuring Megadeth, Lamb of God, Trivium and Hatebreed (see cover story HERE). 
Noted rock promoter Danny Wimmer Presents had one of its strongest years in 2021, capped off by its Welcome to Rockville festival in Daytona Beach, Fla., which attracted 160,000 fans to a weekend headlined by Metallica and Slipknot earlier this month.
It should surprise no one that the current spate of activity on the rock touring front was led by The Rolling Stones, whose resumed “No Filter Tour” averaged a nightly gross of $10.1 million, as a seemingly ageless, 78-year-old Mick Jagger, with Keith Richards and Ron Wood in tow, is still capable of entertaining audiences of more than 50,000. And the just-completed U.S. leg of Green Day’s “Hella Mega Tour” with Weezer and Fall Out Boy filled 30,000-40,000-seat stadiums, moving 659,062 tickets over 20 dates and raking in $67.3 million, including seven gigs that topped $4 million, per Pollstar Boxoffice data. In June, that tour picks back up in Europe.
Kicking Out The Jams:
Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images
– Kicking Out The Jams:
Justin Smolian, Marc LaBelle, and John Notto of Dirty Honey play The Forum opening for the Black Crowes on August 19, 2021 in Inglewood, California.
Next year’s rock touring slate also includes Swedish ghoul-rockers Ghost and Danish metal band Volbeat co-headlining 15,000-seat arenas in major markets starting at Nevada’s Reno Events Center on Jan. 25. The tour, promoted by Live Nation’s Kelly Kapp and Frank Productions’ Charlie Goldstone, was organized by Artist Group International agents Nick Storch (Ghost) and Justin Hirschman (Volbeat). 
“This represents the next level up for both bands,” says Storch, noting how Ghost’s last pre-pandemic tour consisted of arenas in secondary and tertiary markets. “Both write arena-ready music, with anthemic sounds. It speaks to people around the globe, whether you’re in America or Scandinavia.”
Indeed, as rock ’n’ roll celebrates 60 years in the U.S., it is a much newer phenomenon worldwide. Eurovision-winning Måneskin, from Italy, is the latest example of this phenomenon, drawing a female-friendly, Euro crowd to a recent downscale appearance at L.A.’s packed Roxy, where tickets were going for $300 outside the venue, with a line snaking up along Sunset Boulevard for the show. And while the band has attracted both alternative and Top 40 play for their pop-friendly cover of the Four Seasons’ “Beggin’,” their punk-metal predilections were revealed in a raucous, unironic cover of The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog.”  
This while Idles, a post-punk group of Cockney rabble-rousers from Bristol, U.K., recalling The Clash’s proletarian politics, recently sold out three shows at L.A.’s 1,200-capacity Fonda Theatre – nearly the equivalent of headlining the 4,000-capacity Palladium down the block – with a boisterously anticommercial sound.
Ghost, which is signed to Tom Whalley’s Loma Vista label through Concord, is known for ghoulish death metal imagery and hard-edged music. Led by singer Tobias Forge’s heavily made-up demonic anti-Pope, Papa Emeritus IV, and another alter ego, Cardinal Copia, Ghost has matured over the years with a melodic prog art-rock sound not that dissimilar from the anthemic rock of Journey or Foreigner.
“When I first heard Ghost, you could tell they wouldn’t remain long in this shell they created,” says Storch, who compares the charismatic Forge to Freddie Mercury in a pope’s hat. “They were destined to bloom like a butterfly into this incredible theatrical rock experience. Heavy metal is just their foundation. They can speak to people in so many different ways, not just with their music, but the look, the style, how they move onstage.”
Like KISS or Queen, Ghost is larger-than-life and theatrical, attracting grade-school kids who delight in dressing up and emulating their heroes. Both bands have toured with Metallica and benefited from “their seal of approval,” with lead singer James Hetfield one of the first to boast a Ghost T-shirt.
On the other side of the spectrum is the “Young Guns Tour,” which features co-headliners Dirty Honey and Wolfgang Van Halen’s Mammoth WVH and was put together by their mutual agent, UTA partner Ken Fermaglich. Multiple promoters, including both Live Nation and AEG as well as independents, are on board for the 10-week tour of 1,500-1,700-capacity venues starting at Chicago’s House of Blues on Jan. 21.
Both bands are coming off chart-topping Active Rock radio hits and stints opening for headliners last summer – Dirty Honey toured with the Black Crowes while Mammoth WVH opened for Guns N’ Roses. The bill is a true co-headlining affair, with bands alternating between opening and closing, while all tickets and admat are customized to list the groups in the order they’ll be performing in that particular market.
“You don’t see too many of these young developing rock acts come together for this kind of co-headline tour,” Fermaglich says. “We felt it would be that much better for not only both bands, but the rock genre. Kind of a one plus one equals three mentality.”
Dirty Honey lead singer Marc LaBelle recalls co-headlining shows like Aerosmith and KISS from his childhood: “We’d cross paths on the road with Wolf, see each other perform and just took a liking to each other’s art. It’s always cool to see rock bands join forces to bring a great show to every major market in the U.S.”
Van Halen says, “We’re both coming off fresh, new rock albums and ready to build on what we’ve been cultivating and preparing for.”
He released his solo debut on Explorer 1 Music Group, home to rockers like ex-Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing (KK’s Priest) and Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris (British Lion). 
The New Rock Breed:
Scott Legato / Getty Images
– The New Rock Breed:
Jonathan Jourdan, Wolfgang Van Halen and Ronnie Ficarro of Mammoth WVH perform at Atlanta’s Shaky Knees Festival on October 23, 2021.
The proudly independent Dirty Honey made history as the first unsigned band to hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart. 
“Our tour support was my bank account for our first years on the road,” says LaBelle. “I had about $50,000 I saved from working in film and TV, and that was gone within the first six weeks. I quickly learned how expensive touring can be.”
All set to go with a couple of tour buses and a storage van, “The Young Guns Tour” is UTA’s stab at the time-honored artist development route of building bands up to arena and, hopefully, stadium acts in time.
“It’s like a house,” says Fermaglich. “You have to start on the ground floor and establish a foundation. Which is why there will be a local rock radio station attached to each show. As these veteran rock headliners start to slow down, we will need new ones to take their place.”
After playing with his dad in Van Halen, Wolfgang is set to establish his own music – don’t expect to hear any material from that “other” band.
“If you want to hear Van Halen songs, there are plenty of ‘em here,” he says, holding up his iPhone. “I’m here to stand up on my own and prove what I can do. The truth is, while my name may open the door, if you don’t have the goods, it will be kicked shut pretty quick.”
A second-generation rocker, Van Halen is bullish on the band’s ability to speak to and attract new fans, and inspire new groups.
“There are so many amazing young bands championing the genre, and that’s what makes this tour so special,” he says. “We’re out there proving that raw rock ’n’ roll is still an important thing in 2022.”