Even if no more major show announcements were made for 2017, Charlotte would have a pretty awesome year of entertainment to look forward to thanks to a steady stream of big-time bookings locked by the city over the past several months.
Of course, scads of other dates eventually will be filled in, so there’s much more to come. (PNC Music Pavilion’s lineup, for instance, has just one concert scheduled – Chicago and The Doobie Brothers on June 24 – but will ultimately host dozens of acts between April and October.)
Yes, we realize everyone has their own individual tastes, and if yours are decidedly less-mainstream, this list might not be for you. But for now, in terms of high-end pop entertainment, these are the upcoming shows that have created the most intense buzz among the most Charlotteans.
10. Julianne Hough
When/where/how much: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 10; Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd.; $39.50-$99.50; www.ovensauditorium.com.
What: The longtime “Dancing With the Stars” fan favorite (a two-time champion as a pro dancer and a judge for the past several seasons) is co-creating, choreographing, producing and starring in “Move–Beyond–Live on Tour” with her brother Derek – also well-known to the “DWTS” faithful. The show is said to feature inspiration pulled from earth, wind, fire and water.
Recent headlines: She got props for posting a makeup-free selfie on Instagram this week, which falls in line with her pledge to use fewer beauty products. “I’ve definitely gone for a ‘less is more’ standpoint,” Hough told People. “I cut back on hair and makeup and all that stuff. As far as beauty goes, my philosophy is starting from the inside out. Being happy, having a positive attitude, drinking tons of water – happy girls are the prettiest girls.”
Why we can’t wait to see her: As we’ve seen from past performances in Charlotte, her dancing is much more fun to watch when it’s free of ABC’s quick-cutting camerawork.
When/where/how much: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 6; Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd.; $25-$45; www.livenation.com.
What: The “Pompeii” indie pop quartet tours in support of new album “Wild World,” which was released on Sept. 9. In a review of the band’s recent show at London’s O2 Arena, the UK’s Independent called the current show “sheer, unadulterated energy” and said that “the band’s upward trajectory doesn’t appear to be showing any signs of slowing down.” This also marks one of the first significant concerts of the outdoor season for Charlotte.
Recent headlines: The London-based band last month unveiled one of the wildest, most confusing and most unsettling music videos of 2016 with its cult-themed “Blame” video.
Why we can’t wait to see them: They’ll be riding a high from performing at the Coachella festival in California on April 15 and 22, and should bring plenty of that “sheer, unadulterated energy” to Charlotte.
When/where/how much: 8 p.m. Monday, April 17; Spectrum Center, 333 E. Trade St.; $51-$101; www.livenation.com.
What: The veteran rockers – responsible for the soundtrack of countless college kids’ lives during the ’90s and ’00s (“Dani California,” “Scar Tissue” and “Give It Away,” to name a few of their bigger hits) – returns to try to prove that three guys in their mid-50s can still bring it. That’d be lead singer Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea and drummer Chad Smith. Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, 37, is the baby of the group...
Recent headlines: RHCP kicks off its 2017 tour on Thursday night in San Antonio. If you can’t catch the band on the road, you can see them in theaters March 17, when they’re set to appear in director Terrence Malick’s musical drama “Song to Song” (previously titled “Weightless”).
Why we can’t wait to see them: Arena rock is rare in these parts, and we’re ready to do some headbanging.
When/where/how much: 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15; Bojangles’ Coliseum, 2700 E. Independence Blvd.; $57-$130; www.bojanglescoliseum.com.
What: The outrageously funny stand-up comedian and sometime actor (he’s earned laughs in everything from stoner comedy “Friday After Next” to spoof-filled sequel “Scary Movie 5”) will bring a bundle of NSFW jokes to get the New Year off to a very blue start.
Recent headlines: Unfortunately, they’re less-than-positive. The 45-year-old comic was recently sentenced to three years’ probation after pleading no contest to allegedly punching a woman. This comes on the heels of a no-contest plea in a Georgia case in which he was charged with assaulting a man with a baseball bat; that one earned him five years’ probation.
Why we can’t wait to see him: Because someone might try to heckle him, and he has been known to unload on hecklers.
6. Paula Abdul
When/where/how much: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 13; Spectrum Center, 333 E. Trade St.; $29.95-$199.95; www.livenation.com.
What: Thanks to a string of high-profile reality-TV judging gigs, starting with “American Idol” in 2002 and currently with the Australian edition of “So You Think You Can Dance,” the former pop queen has managed to stay relevant and popular. New Kids On The Block is headlining this show, but they come to Charlotte frequently and this is her first tour in 25 years. So make no mistake: A whole lot of fans will buy tickets just to see her once again sing (and dance to) No. 1s like “Straight Up” and “Promise of a New Day” live.
Recent headlines: She rang in the New Year by guest-starring in an Amazon Prime kid series called “Bookaboo.”
Why we can’t wait to see her: She’s been judging others for years. Now we get to judge her! We promise to try to be nice...
5. Mike Epps
When/where/how much: 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25; Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd.; $56-$103; www.ovensauditorium.com.
What: Another very funny comic swings through town, this one with a face familiar to fans of several movie franchises, including “Next Friday” and “Friday After Next,” “The Hangover” and “The Hangover Part III,” and “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” and “Resident Evil: Extinction.” Epps is the main attraction in a show billed as the “Festival Laughs”; it also features fellow stand-ups Bruce Bruce and Tony Rock.
Recent headlines: He quickly got on board with one of the first viral “challenges” of 2017, making a blistering send-up of a bizarrely ridiculous interview with rapper Soulja Boy.
Why we can’t wait to see him: At some point in the near future, he’ll play Richard Pryor in a biopic that is also set to star Eddie Murphy, Oprah Winfrey, Kate Hudson and Tracy Morgan. It’ll be nice to be able to say we saw him when.
4. The Weeknd
When/where/how much: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 17; Spectrum Center, 333 E. Independence Blvd.; $39-$125; www.livenation.com.
What: The Grammy-winning wunderkind behind alt-R&B hits like “The Hills,” “Can’t Feel My Face,” “Often,” “In the Night,” “Acquainted” and “Earned It” (from the “Fifty Shades of Grey” soundtrack) kicks off the summer concert season at the arena with his “Starboy: Legend of the Fall” tour.
Recent headlines: He rang in the New Year with a 10-song set at Marquee Nightclub inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Why we can’t wait to see him: We saw him here with Justin Timberlake in 2013 and Drake in 2014 – in both cases, it was pretty clear why such big stars tapped him. But he’s also an enigma, from his extreme reluctance to grant interviews to his ultra-violent music videos, like this one for new single “False Alarm.”
3. Steve Martin
When/where/how much: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 22; Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd.; $80-$249; www.ovensauditorium.com.
What: One of the greatest living comic actors, now 71, joins longtime friend and collaborator Martin Short – as well as frequent friends and collaborators (especially in recent years) Steep Canyon Rangers – for a night of storytelling, reminiscing, comedy, singing and banjo-playing. The title of the show? “An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life.”
Recent headlines: Martin got berated last week into deleting a tweet intended to honor the passing of Carrie Fisher, after some took offense. It read: “When I was a young man, Carrie Fisher was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She turned out to be witty and bright as well.” I wrote a column last week basically saying exactly that, and received no backlash. Of course, Steve Martin has a few million more followers than I do...
Why we can’t wait to see him: Um, because he’s Steve Martin. Duh.
2. Mariah Carey
When/where/how much: 7 p.m. Sunday, May 21; Spectrum Center, 333 E. Trade St.; $29.95-$500; www.livenation.com.
What: Technically, Carey is opening for soul legend Lionel Richie, but as with Paula Abdul’s opening slot on the NKOTB tour, it’s tough to argue that Carey isn’t the primary draw here – for several reasons. For one, only The Beatles generated more No. 1 singles (she’s tied with Elvis Presley), but in terms of local appeal, Carey actually has never performed in Charlotte. So this is a big deal.
Recent headlines: Of course, an even bigger deal at the moment is the fact that she went down in flames Saturday night during a jaw-droppingly awful performance during “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” that quickly went viral. Afterward, she tweeted: “S--- happens.”
Why we can’t wait to see her: Her days of ruling the charts may be decades behind her, but the opportunity to hear these songs sung well live is hard to resist... and the opportunity to hear them sung badly live, in some ways, may be even more appealing.
1. Bruno Mars
When/where/how much: 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14; Spectrum Center, 333 E. Trade St.; $45-$135; www.livenation.com.
What: Big artists can have trouble filling big venues in Charlotte, but at this point, the show that’s surest to sell out is this one: “The 24K Magic World Tour,” starring a guy who has gone from virtual unknown to most successful male pop star on the planet in six short years thanks to monster hits like “Just the Way You Are,” “Grenade,” “Locked Out of Heaven,” “When I Was Your Man,” “Nothin’ on You” and “Uptown Funk.”
Recent headlines: Last month, Mars became the latest marquee name to play along for “Late Late Show” host James Corden “Carpool Karaoke” series. The video is closing in on 34 million views on YouTube.
Why we can’t wait to see him: To mix sports metaphors, his showstopping Super Bowl halftime performances with Red Hot Chili Peppers (in 2014) and with Coldplay and Beyonce (in 2016) proved that when he swings for the fences, he hits home runs.
Best bets elsewhere (but still close by)
Bon Jovi (“This House Is Not for Sale” Tour) at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C., on Feb. 8.
Luke Bryan (“Kill the Lights” Tour) at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C., on Feb. 23.
Guns N’ Roses (“Not in This Lifetime” Tour) at BB&T Field at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem on Aug. 11.