There are a handful of popular artists who have sold out arenas and stadiums year after year. It’s a somewhat elite group. Even more elite are the ones who inspire fans to hit the road with them, and go to show after show. This phenomenon most likely started with the Grateful Dead in the ’70s, when fans would pack their bags and follow the group from concert to concert. The band would change their setlist night after night. This changed the definition of what a concert could be. Instead of playing the same songs in the same order, in city after city, they gave a different experience each night.
The benefits of changing the setlist
Of course, it’s much easier to rehearse a set and do it over and over. Many huge artists do that with each tour. AC/DC, for example, remains one of the most popular live acts in the world. But their setlist is generally locked in for an entire tour, and it barely changes from the beginning of the tour to the end. There are definitely benefits to that: fans know what they’re paying for.
On the other hand, artists who change their setlist every night may not get to all of the hits, and fans may not even know (or like) all of their songs. But it makes each concert a different experience, and there’s an excitement to that. The bands may also benefit from this: in the case of acts who sell live recordings of their shows (such as Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam, who we discuss below), this gives fans a reason to buy multiple recordings. It also helps them to stay in the news cycle. If a band plays a brand new song for the first time, or an old song that they haven’t played in years, it can draw attention that they wouldn’t otherwise receive by playing the same songs each night.
Other reasons to follow the artist on tour
A lot of these artists sell custom merch at every show. In other words, they might sell t-shirts and posters specific to the concert you’re attending alongside the more generic tour gear. You can only get that merch by attending the show… and by getting to the merch stand before the limited edition stuff sells out. Other than that: it’s fun to see the country while seeing your favorite artist multiple times.
To look deeper into this subject, we’ve identified six artists with whom it is common practice for fans to attend multiple shows. It’s a passion for the artist that drives this behavior, but it’s also the desire to take in each unique experience.
Here, we’ve listed some of the artists that make it worth fans’ efforts to follow around on tour.