Well-heeled concertgoers are paying as much as $2,500 this summer to get the VIP treatment at a Madonna concert (front-row seats, souvenir T-shirts and other material amenities). But for about a quarter of that cash, fans can sample a broad palette of music with some of the biggest stars on the road. USA TODAY looks at seven high-value shows that offer plenty of bang without breaking the bank.
The total: See all seven of these shows for less than $600 (average ticket prices, not including fees, according to Pollstar).
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
11 U.S. stadium stops, starting Aug. 14 at Fenway Park in Boston
The goods: The Boss just headed to Europe after wrapping up an arena leg of his Wrecking Ball tour and earning some of the strongest reviews of his career. The spirit of late saxophonist Clarence Clemons lives on in his nephew, Jake Clemons, who blasts the solo in Badlands. In a show that stretches to nearly three hours, Bruce and his 17-strong company fold new Wrecking Ball tunes into latter-day hits, vintage covers and singalong classics, all delivered with polish, passion and buckets of sweat.
The good deal: Tickets, which go as low as $50, average $91. Wrecking Ball is expected to swing even wilder and looser in its closing days, as new tunes are dropped, favorites dominate and the band steps up its party groove.
Vans Warped Tour
39 U.S. dates, starting June 16 in Salt Lake City
The goods: Founded as a day-long powwow of skate-punk, Warped has sprouted tentacles to reach alt-rock, hip-hop, metal, ska and hard-core subsets of fans. In its 18th year, the traveling festival is serving up 10 hours of music by 80-plus acts on eight stages. The Used, New Found Glory, All Time Low, Rise Against, Pierce the Veil and Taking Back Sunday are powerful magnets, though crowds are sure to gather at satellite stages for such buzzed-about bands as Rise to Remain, Skip the Foreplay and Mayday Parade.
The good deal: Tickets average $28.70. It's a bargain bonanza considering the sheer number of musical choices, the sideshow attractions (a giant slip-and-slide!) and the "reverse day care" tent, a chill-out zone for parents who want to sidestep the jackhammer riffs and mosh pits.
19 U.S. dates, starting June 16 in Minneapolis
The goods: Singer Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry stopped squabbling long enough to record a new album (planned for a September release) and hit the road with this summer's Global Warming tour. The Boston quintet promises a few new tunes and scores of hits spanning a career stretching to 1970. Expect revivals of Sweet Emotion, Dude (Looks Like a Lady), Love in an Elevator, Janie's Got a Gun, Jaded,Walk This Way and Back in the Saddle. Opening act Cheap Trick brings its own passel of party-starters, from Surrender and Dream Police to I Want You to Want Me.
The good deal: Tickets dip as low as $35 to $39 at some venues, a steal for a double bill packed with radio classics and enough fire and personality to summon Boomers and younger converts to fist-pumping revelry.
19 U.S. dates remaining, with the next stop Saturday in Charlotte
The goods: The Toronto rapper's Club Paradise amphitheater tour offers some of hip-hop's hottest up-and-coming stars in addition to the headliner, who's supporting his platinum-selling second album, Take Care. Drake got strong reviews for his recent sold-out U.S. college and European arena tours. J. Cole, Waka Flocka Flame, Meek Mill, 2 Chainz and French Montana all have sizable fan bases, new music out this summer and the potential to develop as headliners themselves.
The good deal: Tickets average $64, with some as low as $30. The relaxed outdoor venues, state-of-the-art production, constantly evolving stage and generous sets for the opening acts will make an evening at the "club" more party than concert.
Electric Daisy Carnival
June 8-10 in Las Vegas
The goods: Electronic dance music is one of the concert business's fastest-growing genres, and this event at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the largest. With more than 140 acts — including David Guetta, Tiesto, Avicii, Benny Benassi and Afrojack — the carnival keeps the music pumping from dusk to dawn for an expected 300,000 attendees.
The good deal: A three-day pass is $275. In addition to six music areas, there are also 30 carnival rides, a vendor village, large-scale interactive art installations and hundreds of theatrical performers.
Kenny Chesney/Tim McGraw
21 U.S. dates, starting June 2 in Tampa
The goods: Ever since Kenny Chesney played the University of Tennessee's Neyland Stadium back in 2003, his stadium shows have become must-attend pop-culture events rivaling Jimmy Buffett and Grateful Dead concerts. This year, he ups the ante by hitting the road with fellow country superstar Tim McGraw for the first time in 10 years. Their Brothers of the Sun tour offers more than just country: Rock 'n' soul powerhouse Grace Potter & the Nocturnals shares the bill, along with rising country singer Jake Owen.
The good deal: Tickets average $74.40, but some will be as low as $25. After nearly 70 stadium shows, Chesney has figured out how to make sure even the folks in the cheap seats feel like part of the action. Plus, the tour will offer otherwise rare chances to experience Chesney and McGraw's Feel Like a Rock Star and Chesney and Potter's You and Tequila duets in person.
Kelly Clarkson/The Fray
28 U.S. dates, starting July 21 in Ridgefield, Wash.
The goods: This co-headlining tour promises a hit-filled night of high-quality pop from Denver quartet The Fray and the original American Idol champion. Ten years after she helped launch the Idol juggernaut, Clarkson is coming off the biggest single of her career with the 3 million-selling Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You).
The good deal: Tickets average $54.43, with some in select markets as low as $20. Considering Clarkson's penchant for cover tunes — and that the two acts dueted at a Chicago concert last December — is there any way they won't appear onstage together at some point during the night?