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Could 2017 be St. Louis' biggest concert year?


Naysayers love to complain that St. Louis doesn’t get enough concerts. The old gripe surfaces loudest when a major new tour doesn’t include a local stop.

That was the case recently when tours by Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z skipped St. Louis. All three will visit other major arenas this year.

It’s likely that Lamar and Mars bypassed us because there was nowhere for them to perform. Scottrade Center (which seats about 19,000 for concerts) is closed for renovations this summer. It reopens Sept. 17 with a show by Ed Sheeran.

Chaifetz Arena (10,600) is too small for those shows. Busch Stadium (50,000) and the Dome at America’s Center (70,000) are too big. And Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre (20,000) and Busch Stadium aren’t arenas.

As for Jay-Z, who last performed in St. Louis in 2010, there’s hope a second leg of his tour could be added that would include a stop here.

But even with the grumblings, while shows pile into cities such as Chicago and Kansas City, St. Louis is enjoying one of its best years ever for concerts.

Some will say that idea is crazy.

I’ve been covering the St. Louis music scene for the last 19 years, though, and I’ve never been busier or seen a year of concerts quite like 2017.

Just look at how many stadium shows are hitting town this year.

Years go by with St. Louis not getting a single stadium show, while stadiums in other cities stay booked. But 2016 saw two such shows: Beyoncé at the Dome at America’s Center and Paul McCartney at Busch Stadium.

Apparently that was just a warm-up for 2017, which includes four stadium shows. That’s unprecedented, at least for the past couple of decades.

It looks like a real comeback for the St. Louis stadium concert. And all the shows this year are doozies.

Metallica played June 4 at Busch Stadium.

Guns N’ Roses plays Thursday at the Dome, the band’s first St. Louis appearance since the Riverport riot of 1991. The band since 2002 has included St. Louis guitarist Richard Fortus.

U2 celebrates the 30th anniversary of “The Joshua Tree” Sept. 16 at the Dome. The show also includes Beck.

Billy Joel plays Sept. 21 at Busch Stadium, his first solo stadium appearance in St. Louis and his only Missouri show this year.

So why all this now?

Maybe St. Louis is now viewed by artists as less of a fly-over state.

Perhaps concert producers — the top two are Live Nation and AEG, which both have offices here — and booking agents are recognizing St. Louis as a full-fledged music town. That seems especially true for rock and country music. (We reached out to Live Nation and AEG but didn’t get a response.)

Vicki Bryant, vice president of event services and merchandising for the Cardinals, says the baseball schedule included spots for two concerts this year.

“Obviously, the schedule drives our ability to have these concerts, but also promoters find great value in the Cardinals’ ability to promote the concerts utilizing our broadcasts and digital media,” she says. “This year we are even hosting a Billy Joel theme night at the baseball game on Aug. 9 that will feature a Billy Joel bobblehead. These types of unique promotional opportunities are very appealing to the artists.”

With the Rams out of the Dome, there’s certainly more flexibility for scheduling big concerts there.

Stadium shows aside, music fans are also seeing concert logjams — examples of too much of a good thing.

Oct. 21, for example, brings Fall Out Boy to Scottrade Center, Janet Jackson to Chaifetz Arena and Sheila E. to the Peabody Opera House as part of Cedric the Entertainer’s annual fund-raiser. Those are three strong tickets, all on one night.

A comedy pileup July 28 and 29 has Joel McHale at Helium Comedy Club, Paul Mooney at the Laugh Lounge and Tim Meadows at the Funny Bone. That’s just ridiculous for all the wrong reasons.

Billy Joel’s Busch Stadium show and Sturgill Simpson at the Fox Theatre (sold out) are both Sept. 21.

And looking back, we can’t forget the choices galore on May 14, Mother’s Day: Chance the Rapper at Scottrade Center, Anthony Hamilton and Joe at Chaifetz Arena, Dick Gregory at Helium Comedy Club and Rick Ross at the Marquee Restaurant and Lounge.

A large number of hot shows will pass through, including:

• Chris Stapleton, Aug. 5 at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre

• Jidenna, Aug. 6 at the Ready Room

• Green Day, Aug. 14 at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre

• Zac Brown Band, Aug. 27 at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre

• Mary J. Blige, Sept. 13 at the Fox Theatre

• Stevie Nicks, Sept. 13 at the Family Arena

• Ed Sheeran, Sept. 17 at Scottrade Center

• Bob Seger and Nancy Wilson, Oct. 12 at Scottrade Center

• Avett Brothers, Oct. 7 at Chaifetz Arena

• Fall Out Boy, Oct. 21 at Scottrade Center

• Katy Perry, Oct. 22 at Scottrade Center

• Jerry Seinfeld, Oct. 27 at the Fox Theatre

• Lady Gaga, Nov. 16 at Scottrade Center

• SZA, Dec. 17 and Dec. 19 at the Ready Room

That’s to say nothing of the always-thriving Pageant and newcomer Delmar Hall. And LouFest, Sept. 9-10, continues to break records year after year.

The best so far

2017 is a banner concert year, with the second half possibly topping the first, which won’t be an easy task. Here’s a look at some shows that were my favorites this year.

• Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jan. 18 at Scottrade Center

• Alfredo Rodriguez & Pedrito Martinez Duo, Feb. 1-4 at Ferring Jazz Bistro

• Sting, Feb. 17 at the Pageant

• Chris Rock, April 8-9 at the Peabody Opera House

• Little Dragon, April 30 at the Pageant

• Kehlani and Ella Mai, May 13 at the Ready Room

• Chance the Rapper, May 14 at Scottrade Center

• Smino, May 28 at Delmar Hall

• Metallica, June 4 at Busch Stadium

• J. Cole, June 13 at the Pageant

• John Legend, June 15 at the Fox Theatre

• Sam Hunt, July 7 at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre

• Santana, July 12 at the Fox Theatre

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