May 10, 2024 - News

Why big concerts are skipping D.C. for Baltimore

Queen + Adam Lambert kick off the "Rhapsody Tour" at CFG Bank Arena on October 04, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images)

Queen + Adam Lambert kick off the "Rhapsody Tour" at CFG Bank Arena. Photo: Shannon Finney/Getty Images

Sorry, D.C. music fans — if you want to see some of the summer's hottest shows, they're in Baltimore.

Why it matters: Billie Eilish, Pearl Jam, The Black Keys — they're all skipping D.C. for Charm City.

The intrigue: Musicians are flocking to Baltimore's CFG Bank Arena. The 14,000-plus-seat venue reopened downtown last year after a $250 million renovation and was christened by The Boss (who skipped D.C. due to health reasons).

  • The arena has big-name backing from L.A.-based operator Oak View Group — which runs major venues nationally — plus Kevin Durant's investment company, Live Nation, and artist Pharrell Williams.

Zoom in: Mayor Brandon Scott promised CFG's revamp would make Baltimore "a mecca for music and entertainment," which is proving true with 120+ shows annually.

  • Fancy new amenities at the arena don't hurt either, including premium suites and a club level with a speakeasy-style bar.

Between the lines: D.C. fans are feeling the burn and wondering why more artists aren't coming to the bigger Capital One Arena (we can guess why they're skipping ex-FedEx). One reason: scheduling.

  • Jordan Silberman, president of venues for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, tells Axios: "Due to high artist demand and complex scheduling around the Washington Capitals and Wizards home games, we are not always able to accommodate certain tour dates."

Yes, but: Silberman says Cap One has put on more concerts in the past two years than ever in arena history (coming up: J.Lo, Olivia Rodrigo, Blink-182, and more).

  • Plus many of the same big acts are coming to CFG and Cap One, including Usher, Justin Timberlake, and Janet Jackson. A Live Nation spokesperson confirmed they view the cities as separate markets, with many artists playing in both.

The big picture: Contract and radius clauses are also common in the music industry, which can prevent artists from playing at nearby venues or cities.

What's ahead: Outdoor concert season is underway. Check out our guide.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to exclude P!nk, whose tour is also skipping Baltimore.

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