Ten ’90s Acts to Check Out on Tour This Summer

From boy bands to alternative rock and ska, the '90s still has something for everyone

Stream Weezer "California Snow" song
Weezer, photo by Ben Kaye

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    As the summer months heat up, concertgoers will be traveling, bonding with friends and family, and belting out their favorite jams by their favorite artists long into the summer nights. It’s definitely a season for creating memories; however, with the number of high-quality acts from the ’90s still out on the road and doing what they do best, summer is also a time for fans to relive and reconnect with the past.

    Whether it’s a chance to see a band whose poster hung on your wall in college, an artist who dropped a single that became your song of the summer as a teen, or a member of a boy band you had a major crush on back in the day, there’s nothing better than seeing old friends take the stage for a night, play the music you love, and take you back to a time when life was simpler and music came first.

    Naturally, we at Consequence of Sound will spend part of our concert experience this summer with the ’90s acts that we grew up with, and StubHub is the absolute best go-to for scoring tickets and turning back that summer clock. So, here are 10 ’90s bands totally worth checking out this summer. We’ll see you out there.

    –Regan Bexler
    Contributing Writer

    Backstreet Boys (DNA World Tour)


    Okay, so they’re not exactly boys anymore. But Backstreet Boys are still the top-selling boy band of all time and the first group since Led Zeppelin to see their first 10 albums all reach the Top 10 on the charts. That’s rarefied air, folks. And lest we ignore the obvious, these hunks didn’t exactly grow up to be pot-bellied slouches either. Pretty faces, pretty ballads, and pretty dance moves will never go out of style, and boy do these boys have the hits to warrant a summer trek: “I Want It That Way”, “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)”, and “As Long as You Love Me”. Couple those smash classics with new tracks off this year’s DNA album, and you have one of the hottest Backstreet Boys tickets in years. The Boys are currently on the European leg of their DNA World Tour but will be back in early summer with tons of dates in both Canada and the States. It’s 2019, and, indeed, Backstreet’s back! –Regan Bexler

    Blasts from the Past: “I Want It That Way”, “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)”, and “As Long as You Love Me”

    Buy: Tickets to upcoming Backstreet Boys shows here.

    Bush and Live (ALT-IMATE Tour)

    This summer, two pioneering ‘90s alternative forces are going to combine powers to commemorate two decades of the straight-up “do-it-yourself” and non-conformist attitude that we’ve come to associate with the umbrella genre of “alternative music.” The co-headlining tour dubbed “The ALT-IMATE Tour” (see what they did there?) is going to celebrate the 25th anniversaries of each band’s respective landmark releases. Live, freshly reunited, are commemorating their breakout sophomore album, Throwing Copper, which includes hits like “Lightning Crashes” and “I Alone”, while Bush revisit their debut, Sixteen Stone — ya know, the one your older sibling listened to on loop and the one you can still hear seeping in from the walls of the room next door with Gavin Rossdale encouraging, “Breathe in/ Breathe out.” These two bands in their heyday were quintessential to the whole “cool, but tough” disposition. –Samantha Lopez


    Blasts from the Past: “Machine Head” (Bush), “Glycerine” (Bush), “Lightning Crashes” (Live), and “I Alone” (Live)

    Buy: Tickets to upcoming Bush and Live shows here.

    Cake with Ben Folds

    Some veteran tour pairings are no-brainers. Cake and Ben Folds might take a little imagination. The first is more or less an experiment in scratchy spoken word over an eclectic spectrum of accompaniment, and the latter ranges from soft piano ballads to full-on power pop. Still, if you were listening to alternative radio in the ’90s, you couldn’t escape either artist and likely bought records by both. And nobody who goes to see Cake with Ben Folds will be skipping a set. Not only do the acts — still releasing fresh music by the way — have that knack for transporting listeners to a certain time and place, but both are also incredibly willing to pull out the cover songs and take an audience to another era or place altogether. It’s our suggestion that you, like the song says, go the distance and make sure you catch Folds and save room for Cake. –Regan Bexler.

    Blasts from the Past: “The Distance” (Cake), “Brick” (Ben Folds), “Still Fighting It” (Ben Folds), and “Short Skirt / Long Jacket” (Cake)


    Buy: Tickets to upcoming Cake and Ben Folds shows here.

    Hootie & the Blowfish (Group Therapy Tour)

    You might have to jog your memory around the block a few times to recall that Hootie & the Blowfish were once the biggest band on the planet. What won’t take you any time at all, though, is recognizing the songs that catapulted a roots band with a country singer to the top of the charts at a time when a second wave of grunge still reigned supreme across the airwaves. Twenty-five years later, Cracked Rear View has sold more than 21 million copies, and “Let Her Cry”, “Only Wanna Be with You”, and “Hold My Hand” have become classic rock staples. While Darius Rucker has had more than his fair share of success as a country solo artist, die-hard Hootie fans rejoiced late last year to learn the band would not only be touring but putting out new music. The tongue-in-cheek Group Therapy Tour will be in session across the States beginning in late May and winding down in late August. We’ll save a leather coach for you. –Regan Bexler

    Blasts from the Past: “Let Her Cry”, “Only Wanna Be with You”, and “Hold My Hand”


    Buy: Tickets to upcoming Hootie & the Blowfish shows here.

    Sarah McLachlan

    Long before Sarah McLachlan was making us bawl our eyes out during commercials raising awareness for abused and homeless animals, she was using her songwriting powers to make us feel for others and climb the charts. It’s also easy to forget that McLachlan has been a driving force for opportunities for women in the music industry, most notably her founding of Lilith Fair in the late ’90s. Now, McLachlan finds herself in that envious spot where she can add to her catalog as she chooses and fall back on some of the richest singles and deep cuts of the ’90s, an array of songs that can make concertgoers bob as easily as sob. As of now, McLachlan has a slate taking her across the States in late July and into mid-August. Don’t be the one crying because you missed the show. –Regan Bexler

    Blasts from the Past: “Building a Mystery”, “In the Arms of an Angel”, and “Sweet Surrender”

    Buy: Tickets to upcoming Sarah McLachlan shows here.

    Reel Big Fish

    Some of these tours are victory laps: some of the biggest bands of the last 30 years coming back for yet another bow in front of thousands of adoring fans. Then there are bands like goofballs Reel Big Fish who, while successful by most measures, never quite reached the heights of ska contemporaries like No Doubt, Sublime, or even The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Still, the Fish are still out there on the road and recording music, buoyed by their incredibly fun-loving trio of hit singles off 1996’s Turn the Radio Off: “Sell Out”, “She Has a Girlfriend Now”, and “Beer”. Not only will they be bringing their wacky sense of irreverence across the States in June and July, but they’ll also be sharing headlining duties during stints with Bowling for Soup and The Aquabats. There may be bigger names touring this summer, but nobody puts on a funner show than our favorite sell-outs, Reel Big Fish. –Regan Bexler


    Blasts from the Past: “Sell Out”, “She Has a Girlfriend Now”, and “Beer”

    Buy: Tickets to upcoming Reel Big Fish shows here.

    The Smashing Pumpkins

    Some people tend to lump The Smashing Pumpkins with acts like Pearl Jam and Nirvana, having emerged alongside the two. But the Pumpkins were less influenced by traditional underground rock and more by a mash-up of goth rock, psychedelia, heavy metal, and dream pop, a differing palette that creates a very precisely layered soundscape. The band created a sound driven by swirling, distorted guitars that ferment beneath Billy Corgan’s angst-ridden lyrics. Smashing Pumpkins are one of the most visible alternative rock bands of the early ’90s, achieving mainstream success over the decade with classic releases Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness before entering the raucous chapter that carried them into the 2000s. After a misunderstood onslaught into electronic rock on Adore, Corgan issued a final pair of efforts before putting the group to rest for an extended early aughts hiatus that came to an end with 2007’s Zeitgeist. Along with an ever-changing lineup, Corgan continued to churn out albums under the Pumpkins moniker before reuniting with most of the original lineup for a 2018 reunion. That same lineup, along with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, will spend June and July in Europe before making a run through the States in August. –Samantha Lopez

    Blasts from the Past: “1979”, “Tonight, Tonight”, and “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”


    Buy: Tickets to upcoming Smashing Pumpkins shows here.

    Third Eye Blind

    Although often categorized in the post-grunge category, Third Eye Blind displayed a brighter sound than many of their late-’90s peers, taking as much influence from classic pop/rock traditions as allowed by the angst-ridden music that infiltrated the decade. The group scored its first hit in 1997, when their debut single, “Semi-Charmed Life” (you’re singing it in your head right now, aren’t you?), cracked the Top 10. Third Eye Blind built upon that success throughout the following three years, releasing a number of singles while touring with big names like U2 and Oasis. After taking a break during the early 2000s, the band returned in 2015 with its fifth studio album, Dopamine. Now, the band are once again living a charmed life as a legacy act on the ’90s tour circuit, including dates across June and July with Jimmy Eat World. –Samantha Lopez

    Blasts from the Past: “Semi-Charmed Life”, “Jumper”, and “How’s It Going to Be”

    Buy: Tickets to upcoming Third Eye Blind shows here.


    Formed in 1989 in Fort Worth, Texas, you probably know Toadies as the innovators who brought us the 1995 grunge-mix-essential “Possum Kingdom”. The band found success during the ’90’s rock boom, showcasing crumbly yet catchy guitar-based music that was a refreshing spin on the hard rock that was so prevalent at the time. Toadies sported an obvious Pixies-influenced sound, mirroring the howl-like screech of Frank Black, intertwined with the off-center guitar lines of Clark Vogeler — in line with Joey Santiago’s notable guitar wailing. The band made a splash with their major-label debut, 1995’s Rubberneck, and the heavier-but-delayed Hell Below/ Stars Above, which shows them trudging through primordial sludge, awakening the long-forgotten heavy metal past. Toadies reemerged in 2017 with The Lower Side of Uptown and proved that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to stay relevant. They’re mistakenly thrown in with the rest of the grunge-lite bands, but as it turns out, Toadies have always been and will always be a rock band. Toadies will be hopping across their native South in May. –Samantha Lopez


    Blasts from the Past: “Possum Kingdom”, “Tyler”, and “I Come from the Water”

    Buy: Tickets to upcoming Toadies shows here.


    Weezer are one of the most popular bands to emerge during the post-grunge alternative rock aftermath of the mid-’90s. They’re the band the kids who were holed up in the rec room playing records while studying or watching TV looked up to; they helped pave the way to making geeks “cool.” Drawing from heavy power pop sounds of arena rock and the angular guitar leads of post-punk, what really makes Weezer Weezer is the infusion of a quirky sense of humor and an endearing awkwardness that made their self-titled debut (aka The Blue Album) a modern rock classic. The debut helped associate Weezer with a specific synthesized alt-rock sound intertwined with a ’70s-ish trash-rock fondness, which was then all served together with the aforementioned power pop distinction and clever music videos. They’ve been bashed and dismissed by super critics –but in true geek fashion, they don’t let the haters get them down, and they’ll spend much of 2019 bringing that unmistakable geekiness to the dorky masses in concert. –Samantha Lopez 

    Blasts from the Past: “Say It Ain’t So”, “Buddy Holly”, and “My Name Is Jonas”


    Buy: Tickets to upcoming Weezer shows here.