What Could an "I Love the 2010s" Tour Look Like?

Ladies and gentlemen, your emcee for the evening...
Ladies and gentlemen, your emcee for the evening...
Photo by Marco Torres

Package tours have been an important part of the concert business since at least the early rock and roll era. The infamous "Winter Dance Party" of early 1959, featuring Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, was one, as were the original Lollapalooza tours of the early '90s. Promoters love them because pooling the fan bases of several artists — sometimes quite diverse, but usually cut from the same cloth — usually leads to a much bigger take at the box office. Similarly, artists usually go along with them because the crowds are almost always bigger than what they could pull in on their own, with the added benefit that they need to learn only about 45 minutes of material (tops). Even fictional package tours can be great, as seen in Rusty Cundieff's hilarious 1993 "rapumentary" Fear of a Black Hat.

But let's be honest: Most package tours are designed for the kind of fans who probably only care about two or three songs per act anyway; it's the concert equivalent of buffet dining: delicious and really not all that good for you, if we're being honest. Still, they can be quite successful, as Houston-area classic hip-hop fans were reminded last month when the "I Love the '90s" tour starring Salt N' Pepa, Kid N' Play, Color Me Badd, Tone-Loc and many more filled up the seated area of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion (the lawn was closed). It's not hard to imagine this kind of thing still going on 20 years from now, when today's teens and twentysomethings find themselves growing nostalgic for the Obama years, God help us all. In fact, it might look a little something like this...

The rise and fall of Iggy Azalea blew past us in a blink, driven by the social-media hyperspeed of the 2010s. One minute Azalea is blowing up, opening up for Beyoncé and rocketing through the summer of 2014 with the earworm hit "Fancy." The next minute, she's the poster child for black cultural appropriation, canceling her tour amid rumors of lackluster ticket sales. With her second album already being framed as a failed comeback (before it's even been released, no less), it seems that Azalea's stardom will be frozen in the carbonite of this decade, and with good reason. For all the frenzied clickbait that Azalea inspired, listening to her is the musical equivalent of eating giant bags of Hot Cheetos and Takis by yourself; it's somehow both irresistible and painful, leaving one with a colorful case of indigestion. Her derivative beats and shameless cross-promotion draw ire now, but in 20 years, we might be more wistful for the Australian rapper novelty that flashed across the collective American pan. Go ahead, Iggy — milk the whole game twice. KATIE SULLIVAN

fun. could certainly headline such a bill, mostly because "We Are Young" is one of those songs people will still sing along to in 20 years when it randomly comes on the radio or at a bar. Plus, despite its uplifting musical tone, the lyrics are incredibly dark (front man Nate Ruess apparently borrowed a page out of the Brian Wilson book of songwriting). The point is, fun. is a band that will forever be associated with its era — a solid-but-unspectacular outfit that produced one really catchy song and several others that weren't nearly as catchy before flaming out and making way for a slew of other rock-radio-ready bands. CLINT HALE

The future nostalgia tour can't be full of artists with one-hit wonders. It has to be made up of enough hits to keep the fans entertained for a few hours. Flo Rida has enough chart-toppers to headline the 25-city tour, and LMFAO would serve as the perfect hypemen for the last act. Aloe Blacc and Fifth Harmony are the back-to-back pop-soul artists. Somehow Fetty Wap got a higher billing than Psy, the man who started the "Gangnam Style" dance craze. Mike Posner fresh outta rehab does "Cooler Than Me" a cappella just after the Gym Class Heroes (only Travie McCoy as the remaining original member) cycles through two of their old ones. It all starts with a seven-minute set by Silento highlighted by his only hit, but one that has early fans getting into the venue to dance "The Nae Nae." Ahh, how we all loved the '10s. JACK GORMAN

There ain’t no “Remember the 2010s?” tour without Nicki Minaj. More than any other on this list, maybe, she was the artist we never saw coming. A Trini rapper from Queens signed to a Southern hip-hop label whose technical, Cockney-accented street rhymes command street cred and whose personal style makes Freddy Mercury seem boringly conservative? And this artist happens to pee sitting down? This was not who we envisioned ruling the pop charts seven years ago. But then, in 2010 alone, Minaj had seven hits on the Billboard 100 at the same time. That’s a record. And she was just getting warmed up. Whether it's been releasing her own genre-twisting albums or simply making someone else’s song her own — as she’s done with Lil’ Wayne, Justin Bieber, Drake and Madonna, to name a few — Nicki Minaj has done things we’ve never seen a female rapper do before…even great ones. With a dozen Top 10 singles to her name, she’s already got a legit greatest-hits package ready to go while still in her prime. No question she’ll still be a draw in 30 years, if she isn’t too busy hosting a talk show or something. NATHAN SMITH

My tour budget/the performers' egos won't allow me to book true superstars at this hypothetical event, but using the "I Love the '90s" template as a guideline, my task isn't that difficult. I'm looking for a half-dozen acts who enjoyed a fast following. If such an act wasn't a one-hit wonder, it peaked around the five-year career mark before backsliding into "Where Are They Now?" territory. Because we're now more than halfway through the decade, I need only to comb through the Grammys' Best New Artist nominees since 2010. It doesn't matter who might shine or fade between today and New Year's Day 2020; there's plenty of material to choose from already. The nostalgia of songs like "All About That Bass" and "Hold Back the River" will move tickets, and Imagine Dragons and Macklemore are fun ways to close your show. Hozier and Sam Smith to open things up might be a bit morose for a party, but that's what you people liked in the 2010s, so don't blame me for giving you what you once thought you wanted. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

It has to be Frank Ocean, right, if only because he's sort of this decade's Lauryn Hill, a ridiculously talented performer whose stellar debut sets the table for future success? Except, as was the case with Hill, Ocean — whose channel ORANGE is an absolute classic — doesn't seem particularly interested in performing or releasing new music moving forward. It's a damn shame, too. Ocean's talent, backstory and mystique combined into one hell of a package, enough to headline his own major tour, or at the very least, open for someone like Drake. CLINT HALE

I don't know if he's big enough to headline, but Pitbull could definitely be the Arn Anderson of a '10s-centric tour. Sure, maybe you want someone with a bigger hit or two on stop, but Pitbull could be the glue that holds the entire endeavor together. He's got enough hits to fill a set of any length, and, bizarrely, he likes playing songs during his sets that have nothing to do with him. In fact, I would go as far as to argue that with his effortless swagger, he'd be the right guy to host something like this, performing two of three songs in between each of the other people on the tour. At the very least, he'd keep the energy in the building up. CORY GARCIA

Curating an imaginary nostalgia tour for your current decade is a lot harder than one would think, but this is particularly challenging for the 2010s since so much new music has been less than inspiring. And if one is thinking realistically, a nostalgia tour has to have some big, commercially successful names on its schedule in order to be successful, so that eliminates most of the good music from the past six years. While I don't exactly see droves of people attending a post-psychedelic rock fest in 2036, "I Love the 2010s" should star Dr. Dog, Tame Impala, and King Gizard and the Lizard Wizard. Adding Beck and Arcade Fire would make it more marketable, and rounding the lineup with some electronic influence would sell more tickets, so add Grimes and the Klaxons. Actually, why wait? Let's just book this show now. SELENA DIERINGER

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