Early on in the pandemic, Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor predicted that there would be an “explosion of live entertainment” once the concert industry opened up again. And, boy, was he right! The summer and fall 2021 concert season is jam-packed, with countless hard rock and metal tours taking place from July through December.
Not only are Slipknot set to embark on their “Knotfest Roadshow” this fall, other major acts like Guns N’ Roses, Megadeth, KISS, Judas Priest, Korn, and more will all be on the road.
Punk and hardcore will also be well represented, with tour packages including Dropkick Murphys and Rancid, Rise Against and Descendents, Bad Religion and Alkaline Trio, and more.
And if you’re looking for a gory good time, there’s always the intergalactic barbarians of GWAR.
We can only imagine the cathartic experience it will be for fans to see their favorite bands in concert after being cooped up for more than year.
See our guide to the 25 Essential 2021 Hard Rock & Metal Tours to Catch This Summer and Fall below. See you in the pit!
After a year or more without concerts, Slipknot’s Knotfest Roadshow sounds like the perfect way to immerse ourselves in the live heavy metal experience. For good measure, Corey Taylor and company are bringing along a stacked support lineup of Killswitch Engage, Fever 333, and Code Orange. Slipknot will be touring in support of their acclaimed 2019 album, We Are Not Your Kind, but the masked metallers are already working on the follow-up. The tour runs from September 28th through November 2nd, and will be preceded by the all-day Knotfest Iowa festival on September 25th.
Guns N’ Roses
Guns N’ Roses were originally supposed to play a stadium tour in 2020 with support on select dates from the Smashing Pumpkins, but the pandemic postponed those plans. Although the Pumpkins won’t make it for the rescheduled 2021 dates, the support slot has been notably filled by Mammoth WVH, the solo project of Wolfgang Van Halen that’s fresh off the release of a self-title debut album. The two-month run kicks off July 31st in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and ends with a two-night stand in Hollywood, Florida, on October 2nd and 3rd.
Judas Priest’s “50 Years of Heavy Metal” North American tour comes a year after the band’s actual landmark anniversary. Of all recent Priest outings, this one feels particularly vital, as it celebrates five decades of metal brilliance. Fronted by the Metal God himself, Rob Halford, the band continues to remain at the peak of its powers both on stage and in the studio (i.e. 2018’s masterful Firepower). These 50th anniversary sets promise a retrospective of hits and classic songs from the leather-clad British heroes. The expansive tour hits most major markets and starts on September 8th in Reading, Pennsylvania, and runs through a November 5th date in Hamilton, Ontario. Swedish military metallers Sabaton will support.
Megadeth & Lamb of God
A lot has happened within Megadeth over the past couple years. Frontman Dave Mustaine successfully won his battle with throat cancer, and the band was making good progress on their next album when they first announced a co-headlining tour with Lamb of God first announced their way back in February 2020. Then the pandemic hit. And then this year David Ellefson got ousted from the band. When Megadeth finally hit the stage for that first show on August 20th in Austin, Texas, it will be a long-awaited, triumphant moment. Meanwhile, Lamb of God spent the pandemic releasing an excellent self-titled LP, brewing signature coffee, and hosting a pair of livestreams. The newly scheduled tour dates run through October 10th. Trivium and Hatebreed will serve as support.
After an eventful pandemic, GWAR will finally emerge from their compound to ring in the 30th anniversary of Scumdogs of the Universe with a massive 42-date US tour this fall. The trek kicks off October 28th in Norfolk, Virginia, and runs through a December 13th gig in Washington, D.C. Among the stacked support package are Napalm Death, Eyehategod, and Madball. Measly Bohabs now have the option to indulge in some of GWAR’s newly launched Bud of Gods CBD to enhance their concert experience. The line currently has hemp flower, gummies, cartridges, and other accessories available in the Bud of Gods store.
Alice Cooper went back to his roots for 2021’s album Detroit Stories , and now he’ll be able to support the effort on the road. The OG shock rocker will showcase his new songs and his classic hits on a fall headlining tour with support from a fellow rock legend, ex-KISS guitarist Ace Frehley. The 26-date tour kicks off September 17th in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and runs through an October 23rd gig at the Shaky Knees festival in Atlanta.
The members of ZZ Top have been playing music together for over 50 years, making them one of the longest standing acts on this list. If we’ve learned anything over that five-decade span, it’s that ZZ Top are among the most rhythmically gifted and sonically pleasing hard rock trios of all-time. They will bring their legendary brand of Texas-bred rock ’n’ roll across the continent starting July 16th at the Delaware County Fair through a December 12th show in Midland, Texas.
KISS will resume their “End of the Road” US tour in August after being sidelined last year. The band also beefed up the itinerary with additional shows — including three consecutive California gigs in September — bringing the total to 30 dates. The farewell outing is being billed as KISS’ “biggest, wildest, and hottest show ever” and kicks off August 18th in Mansfield, Massachusetts, and runs through an October 9th show in Tampa, Florida.
After postponing the outing last year, Ministry will embark on their headlining “Industrial Strength Tour” this fall. They’ll be joined by Helmet and Front Line Assembly on the outing, which kicks off October 3rd in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and runs through a November 3rd show in Seattle. Frontman Al Jourgensen and company will be celebrating the belated 30th anniversary of their album The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste, as well as playing songs from their just-announced 15th album, Moral Hygiene.
Black Label Society
Pent up frustration will be unleashed when Black Label Society heads out on their US tour this fall. Zakk Wylde and company were previously forced to cancel the final 12 shows of their 2020 tour due to the pandemic, rescheduling them for August of that year — dates that were also dropped. Finally, the band will head out again with support from Obituary and Prong. The extensive 43-show 2021 trek launches on October 1st in Sacramento, California, and runs through November 28th in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Korn & Staind
Two long-standing rock heavyweights will join forces when Korn and Staind head out on their co-headlining tour this summer. Korn are still supporting 2019’s The Nothing, while Staind are embarking on their first full tour since 2014 after ending a five-year hiatus with a few shows in 2019. The upcoming trek begins on August 5th in West Palm Beach, Florida, and wraps up on September 21st in Dallas.
Bad Religion & Alkaline Trio
Punk veterans Bad Religion were hoping to celebrate their 40th anniversary with a big tour last year, but the pandemic forced them to postpone the outing to this year. Better late than never, as the California legends will be bringing four decades worth of thought-provoking music with them on the road. Co-headliners Alkaline Trio are no spring chickens themselves, having been around for 25 years. Frontman Matt Skiba is also rocking out in Blink-182 these days, but it’s always a treat to see him return to the group he started in 1996. The 30-date U.S. tour runs from October 15th in Riverside, California, through a November 26th gig in Los Angeles. War on Women will provide support.
Testament, Exodus & Death Angel
One 2021 package that’s been a long time coming is the US leg of the “The Bay Area Strikes Tour” featuring Testament, Exodus, and Death Angel. The legendary thrash bands will assemble once again, over a year after several members of the tour contracted COVID-19 at the end of the European leg in early 2020. Death Angel drummer Will Carroll had serious battle with the disease before recovering after being put on a respirator and in a coma. Testament’s Chuck Billy and Exodus guitarist Gary Holt were also among the infected. Thankfully, the bands will hit the stage once again starting on October 6th in San Luis Obispo, California. The primary route ends on November 11th in Las Vegas, but they’ll will reconvene a couple weeks later on November 27th for a final homecoming show in Oakland, California.
Evanescence & Halestorm
Two of the most powerful frontwomen in rock, Amy Lee and Lzzy Hale, are joining forces, as Evanescence and Halestorm are teaming up for a co-headlining arena tour of the U.S. this fall. The outing kicks off November 5th in Portland, Oregon, and runs through a December 18th show in Worcester, Massachusetts. Evanescence will be touring in support of their 2021 album, The Bitter Truth, which marked the band’s first new LP of original material in 10 years. Halestorm, meanwhile, have been hard at work on a follow-up to their 2018 album, Vicious.
Dropkick Murphys & Rancid
Get ready for a rowdy night of punk rock! Dropkick Murphys and Rancid are teaming up for the second edition of their “Boston to Berkeley” tour. The name refers to the two bands’ hometowns rather than the route of the tour, as Dropkick Murphys have been bringing the Celtic punk out of Massachusetts for 25 years, and Rancid have been repping California punk for 30 years. The 34-date tour kicks off August 10th in Waite Park, Minnesota, and runs through an October 16th show in Los Angeles. Adding even more wallop to the bill are support act The Bronx.
Rise Against will be bringing their sociopolitical anthems across the U.S. this summer in support of their new album, Nowhere Generation. Better yet, they are bringing along Descendents and The Menzingers for the ride, offering a full night of punk rock at each show. The tour runs from a July 30th show at the Rooftop at Pier 17 in New York City through an August 28th show at the Huntington Bank Pavilion in Rise Against’s hometown of Chicago.
The illustrious McDonalds-themed Black Sabbath tribute act Mac Sabbath will take their “Pop-Up-Drive-In Tour” across the U.S. in August. The band is fresh off their the announcement of their pop-up book Drive Thru Metal. While their name and look is inspired the various McDonalds mascots, Mac Sabbath promise to bring their vision of a “dystopian fast–food world polluted by its own waste” to a town near you. The trek begins August 25th at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco and runs through November 6th, wrapping up in Las Vegas.
Thrice & Touché Amoré
Post-hardcore fans rejoice: Thrice are set to hit the road this fall with direct support from Touché Amoré. We last caught Thrice fresh off the release of 2018’s Palms, opening for Bring Me the Horizon’s 2019 tour. Now, fans will get to see the post-hardcore vets with Touché Amoré (whose track “Reminders” topped Heavy Consequence‘s list of the Top Metal + Hard Rock Songs of 2020). The itinerary starts on September 24th in Houston and ends on October 30th in Anaheim, California.
Of all the bands that held off on touring during the pandemic, Clutch might be the most prepared to hit the road. Few groups were as active on the livestream circuit, as Clutch frequently opened their rehearsal space for outside viewing. They also hosted proper virtual concerts and a fan-chosen setlist performance via livestream. The band’s 2021 tour is broken into three regional legs, the first date being September 8th in Norfolk, Virginia, and the final being New Year’s Eve in Cincinnati, Ohio. The new supergroup Stöner (featuring ex-Kyuss members) are slated to support.
Mongolian act The HU have gained a massive North American following after releasing viral singles on YouTube over the past few years. A classy cover of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” also endeared The HU to heavy music fans. No doubt, the group is ready to bring their traditional Mongolian instrumentation and throat singing to receptive audience across the continent this fall. The primary headlining route begins on September 9th in Indianapolis and runs through a Halloween date in Los Angeles.