MUSIC

11 Summer Tour Openers You Need to Leave the House Early For

by Emily Krauser 11:35 AM PDT, July 15, 2016
Photo: Getty Images

We all know what it's like to figure out the logistics of attending summer concerts, especially ones at mega venues: Will we have to park 9 million miles away? Do we tailgate? How long will it take to navigate the parking lot? More importantly, how much time do we need at the merch tables? Also, why are these amphitheaters so damn big?

Yes, a summer concert can be a major time commitment, but it's rare that trekking out to one isn't very, very worth it -- and the former is a big reason why many people to skip the openers at these shows.

EXCLUSIVE: Nick Jonas Opens Up About Demi Lovato's Breakup, Upcoming Tour

But listen, a lot of these bands and artists are really good. Like, really excellent, a combination of names you’ve probably already heard of (we're looking at you, country music community) and newcomers who are worth getting to know now before they blow up (who doesn’t want to tell their friends, 'I told you so,' right?). From country to rock to R&B, here are 11 acts you should definitely catch ahead of the headliners this summer.

1. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

Emo king McMahon is no newcomer -- he's been in the business for nearly two decades, including stints with beloved groups Something Corporate and Jack's Mannequin, plus he's had his own headlining tours and Coachella and Warped Tour stints with all of his various band iterations. Nonetheless, opening for Weezer is one of his biggest opportunities to date.

"I was just so excited by the idea that I'd be sharing a stage with a band I've admired since I was starting out," the "Cecilia and the Satellite" singer told ET. "It's like being paid to go to one of the best rock shows every night for a summer."

"It's the best gig in the world," he added. "You're outside all summer, playing huge shows and making fans. By 7:30, you're offstage and watching musicians you respect play songs you love. It's pretty hard to beat."

McMahon is a stellar songwriter, but don’t be fooled by his penchant for the piano -- the songwriter puts on a high-energy show that frequently includes jumping all over said instrument.

The Weezer & Panic! at the Disco Summer Tour 2016 wraps in Irvine, California, on Aug. 6.

MORE: Andrew McMahon Looks Back on His 10 Years as a Cancer Survivor As Jack's Mannequin Hits the Road Again

2. Alessia Cara

The 20-year-old Canadian started on YouTube, where she made acoustic covers, but her ingénue streak and impressive songwriting skills quickly won fans over. Her hit single "Here" rings true to anyone who's ever like an awkward, antisocial wallflower, but Cara seems to be doing OK at a giant party: Coldplay's summer tour.

"Playing for thousands of people every night in legendary venues is such a dream come true," the Ontario native told ET. "Of course there are nerves, but I think those nerves are good for me, especially for rooms like that, because it requires a lot of focus."

Catch Cara now before she takes over the pop world. It's always nice to say, "Hey, I knew her first!"

The U.S. leg of Coldplay's A Head Full of Dreams Tour wraps in San Francisco, California, on Sept. 3.

3. Maren Morris

The 26-year-old singer scored a major coup: opening for Keith Urban. "I don't know how I lucked into that one," she admitted to ET at the Academy of Country Music Awards in April. "I was in disbelief, because I think he had only heard one or two songs and felt passionate enough to give me that slot. It says a lot about his instincts as a businessman and as a musician, and I'm so excited. I’m such a fan of his."

Both of Morris' singles, "My Church" and "80's Mercedes," have been refreshing takes on old-school songwriting. They've also blown up on country radio, making this the perfect time for Morris to show off what she's got in front of not just Urban’s massive fanbase but also fellow opener Brett Eldredge's, which is sure to garner her even more loyal listeners.

ripCORD World Tour 2016 closes out in Brooklyn, New York, on Nov. 19.

4. Jhene Aiko

The 28-year-old GRAMMY award nominee has been on more "next big thing" lists than we can count, and she merits the accolades. It's impossible not to feel the emotional weight Aiko puts into every song -- her vocals are soulful and sexy, lyrics sharp and deep.

Though what we really want is new music from the R&B singer, we can settle for hearing her belt out "The Worst" and "Bed Peace," and, fingers crossed, some of the tracks she released earlier this year as part of Twenty88, her project with best friend Big Sean. We cannot confirm if you'll see the rapper on the road when she opens for Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa -- or if the two are more than pals, like current rumors have many believing -- but won’t it be fun to find out?

The High Road Summer Tour 2016, also featuring openers Kevin Gates, Casey Veggies and DJ Drama, closes out in Auburn, Washington, on Sept. 2.

5. Chris Lane

There is plenty to know about the very personable 31-year-old country crooner, but there's one major selling point that tells you a lot of what you already need to know: his first single, "Fix," is not only on constant radio rotation, Selena Gomez recently said it's her favorite song right now.

Just as cool a moment (well, maybe not as cool, but we're betting pretty close) was finding out that Rascal Flatts tapped Lane to open up for them this summer. "It was a really cool moment for me," the North Carolina native told ET. "I grew up going to Rascal Flatts concerts. The fun part was it kicked off in Charlotte and Raleigh -- those are the two amiptheaters I went to my entire life for concerts. I had paid for more than easily a handful of Rascal Flatts concerts there, and just being on that stage as an opener for them, that was a crazy moment for me."

Lane was a big fan of classic country singers like George Strait and Alan Jackson growing up, but he was also heavily into Backstreet Boys, Usher, and Justin Timberlake, and his love of the very different genres shows -- plus, it's really fun to watch play out on stage. "I'm seriously the worst dancer on earth, but I want people to show up and be able to move themselves and have a good time," he admitted. And fun he is.

Kelsea Ballerini also supports Rascall Flatts on their Rhythm and Roots Tour, wrapping up in Reading, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 8.

EXCLUSIVE: Dustin Lynch Explains Those Kelly Osbourne Dating Rumors, Dedicating 'Seein' Red' to Her

6. Dustin Lynch

Just off his own sold-out headlining tour, which Lane happened to join him on, Kelly Osbourne's rumored boyfriend is back on the road supporting Luke Bryan. Though his breakout, "Cowboys and Angels," was very much a guy with his guitar, massive hits like "Hell of a Night" and "Mind Reader" hinted at a man who had some rock in him. His newest single, "Seein' Red," finally brings that to fruition.

After plenty of road time, the 31-year-old country singer is very comfortable on stage. So don’t be fooled by his slower radio songs -- that confidence has parlayed itself into a self-described, and very accurate, "high-octane" set.

And if you're lucky, maybe Lynch will pull you up on stage. "'Seein' Red' to me has a great tempo to it for a live song, but it's also super sexy and makes me want to dance up on somebody, and I hope it has that effect on other people," he said.

The Kill the Lights Tour, which consists of all huge names including Little Big Town and Chris Stapleton, ends in Detroit, Michigan, on Oct. 29.

7. Eve

She's back! We had no idea that we needed to hear "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" or "Rich Girl" 2.0, but seeing as Eve is opening for her longtime pal Gwen Stefani this summer, we can only expect some live collaborations between the two. 

After all of that time spent pursuing acting gigs and turning up on plenty of guest singles, it's finally time to see the 37-year-old rapper do what she does best on a major stage once again. Nostalgia, here we come!

The This Is What the Truth Feels Like Tour wraps up the majority of its summer dates in Fresno, California, on Aug. 27, with three more additional California shows in October.

WATCH: Maddie & Tae on 'Unrealistic' Expectations and What They Want to Tell the Bros

8. Maddie & Tae

The country duo is best known for their girl power hit "Girl in a Country Song," so it's only fitting that they're showing the boys just what they've got as they open for Brad Paisley. They're also pretty stoked to learn quite a bit from a crooner who rules country radio. "We were so excited because we grew up listening to his music," Maddie tells ET. "He's also a songwriter, so we've also admired what he does."

These ladies have already stirred up the country world once, and it's worth keeping up with these two, because they're only getting better.

The Brad Paisley: Life Amplified World Tour ends in Mansfield, Massachusetts, on Sept. 24.

9. The Cadillac Three

Let's just call this tour a reunion of sorts. While many artists are shocked to find out they're wanted for a big-name tour, lead singer Jaren Johnston took it all in stride when Florida Georgia Line gave him a ring last summer, seeing as they're buddies.

The Cadillac Three and FGL started around the same time, so they hit the road together a few years ago, playing for just a handful of people each night. "It sucked a**. There were two vans, and it was so on the go. FGL's trailer even had Tyler's cell phone number on it, because he had a car detailing service then," Johnston told ET.

Considering how far they've both come, it was a no-brainer when FGL asked Cadillac to hit the road again. "Kinda like old times," the former American Bang band member admits. "It's pretty cool to see the level that it is now, with the private jets and all that s**t. It's amazing."

The best part is that Cadillac puts on just as energetic a show as FGL, making the entire night one big party. Expect the Southern rockers to play their current hit, "Drunk Like You," plus the two singles that put them on the map, "White Lightning" and "The South." And it'll definitely pay to get there early, because, as Johnston explains, "I'm not saying this to be facetious -- I've done this for the last 10 years, and now I'm getting to headline too on our own things, so I'm seeing both sides of it -- the opener's mindset is solely to steal this crowd."

The U.S. leg of the Dig Your Roots 2016 Tour, also featuring FGL's pals Cole Swindell and Kane Brown, wraps up in Tacoma, Washington, on Nov. 11.

WATCH: Go Behind-The-Scenes of All Time Low's 'Something's Gotta Give' Music Video

10. and 11. All Time Low and A Day to Remember

This lineup is every pop-punk kid's dream. As if it's not enough to see Blink-182 back on the road -- complete with new member Matt Skiba and their new album, California, which dropped July 1 -- the two openers are well-known road dogs.

All Time Low could be Blink's poppier brothers -- they've been hanging around the pop-punk scene since Fall Out Boy's mid-aughts hiatus, and they're got enough screaming fangirls to not go anywhere anytime soon, while metalcore-punk rockers A Day to Remember are promoting their sixth studio album, Bad Vibrations, which drops Aug. 19 and has already had two singles climb the rock charts.

Both bands have been around for 13 years and have incredibly solid followings, so expect to get schooled by die-hards who know every word -- and then some.

Blink-182's tour finishes out in Irvine, California, on Oct. 7.

Not only is this amazing crew of performers hitting the road this summer, there are plenty more to look out for, including Mike Posner, who's opening for Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas; A Thousand Horses, opening for Jason Aldean; Hey Violet, opening for 5 Seconds to Summer; and Justin Moore, opening for Brantley Gilbert.

So, yes, get on the road an hour earlier this summer -- you've got a lot of tours to hit up.

EXCLUSIVE: Gwen Stefani Dishes About 'Fun' New Tour

SHARE ON FACEBOOK SHARE SHARE ON TWITTER TWEET