Top Summer Concerts

The 12 best concerts to see in Houston this summer, from Garth to Kelly Clarkson and more

The best concerts to see in Houston this summer, led by Garth Brooks

This summer looks to be a memorable one for Houston-area concertgoers, as the 12 shows featured below include a broad range of up-and-coming, of-the-moment and classic acts.

Among the offerings are a huge two-day festival, classic rappers, a comedy legend on a career resurgence and the return of a country superstar for an unprecedented number of concerts.

Free Press Summer Fest - June 6 & 7
In six short years, Free Press Summer Fest has grown from an estimated 30,000 attendees in 2009 to over 100,000 last year. Houston's largest music festival, now taking place at NRG Park following flooding at the newly renovated Eleanor Tinsley Park, will feature six stages with nearly 80 different acts, including Skrillex, R. Kelly, Weezer, St. Vincent, Tove Lo, Lecrae and Belle and Sebastian.

Kings of the Mic with LL Cool J and Public Enemy - ​June 13
Hip hop royalty will take over Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in June, as the Kings of the Mic Tour hits town with a slew of big name rappers. Among the acts on hand will be LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Doug E. Fresh, Whodini, Big Daddy Kane, Scarface, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Sugarhill Gang and The Furious 5.

Neon Trees - June 19
Given that the Utah quartet Neon Trees had a stellar start to their career in 2010 and 2011 with hits like "Animal" and "Everybody Talks," you'd figure they'd be playing bigger venues by now. But luckily for fans, you can still catch them playing in the intimacy of the House of Blues in support of their 2014 album, Pop Psychology.

Darius Rucker - June 20
Twenty years ago, the idea that Darius Rucker would be headlining a country extravaganza was as far-fetched as the rise of Hootie and the Blowfish in 1994. But Rucker has established himself as a country mainstay, with each of his albums hitting No. 1 on the country charts. He plays at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in support of his latest, Southern Style.

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood - June 26 through July 4
It's been 17 years since Garth Brooks last put on a show in Houston, and for most fans we're sure it will have been worth the wait. Brooks, along with his wife and fellow country superstar Trisha Yearwood, will put on eight concerts over the course of two weekends at Toyota Center, culminating with two shows on the Fourth of July. 

Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson - July 16
For aging rockers, it's a familiar formula to team up with another older band to try to play on nostalgia. Although the fan bases of the Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson wouldn't normally seem like they'd have much crossover, perhaps their combined power can be enough to remind us of what both acts once were. They'll play at NRG Arena.

Fall Out Boy and Wiz Khalifa - ​July 24
Pairing rockers Fall Out Boy and rapper Wiz Khalifa together for a summer tour also wouldn't seem to be a good fit, but they swear that there's more common ground than you might think. You can judge for yourself when they play at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Fall Out Boy in support of their recent American Beauty/American Psycho album and Wiz Khalifa in anticipation of a new album later in 2015.

Idina Menzel - ​July 31
It's been a stellar decade or so for singer Idina Menzel, as she originated the role of Elphaba in the Broadway musical Wicked, cementing her legacy on the Great White Way, and then graduated to Disney stardom as Elsa in Frozen. You can expect songs from both of those hits, Menzel's own albums and more at this concert at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

Sam Smith - August 14
It was clear when Sam Smith came to the House of Blues in October 2014 that his days of playing smaller venues were already passé, so it's no surprise that his return visit will be at Toyota Center. The soul singer, who's already on his way to superstardom thanks to songs like "Stay With Me" and "I'm Not the Only One," will aim to prove that he's worthy of the upgrade.

Weird Al Yankovic - August 18
Sometimes big concerts happen on weeknights instead of weekends in Houston, such as this night of music and comedy courtesy of Weird Al Yankovic at Bayou Music Center. After 32 years in the business, Weird Al might be at his peak, scoring the first No. 1 album of his career for Mandatory Fun, followed by his fourth Grammy for Best Comedy Album.

Def Leppard with Styx and Tesla - August 22
The appetite for nostalgia in music is never-ending, so despite the fact that two of the three bands on this throwback-to-the-'80s bill haven't put out any new music in years, this is sure to be a packed concert. Def Leppard, who've maintained almost the exact same lineup since they began in 1977, will headline at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, with support from Styx and Tesla.

Kelly Clarkson - September 1
What better way to end a summer of great concerts than by seeing Texas girl Kelly Clarkson headline at ​Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion? The new mom isn't letting parenthood slow her down, as this concert is part of a four-month tour across North America in support of her latest album, Piece by Piece. She's joined by a capella group Pentatonix and Eric Hutchinson.

Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, ACM Lifting Lives Gala
Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood will play eight shows at Toyota Center from June 26 through July 4. Photo by Getty Images
Skrillex musician
Skrillex is among the big names who will perform at the Free Press Summer Fest on June 6 and 7 at Eleanor Tinsley Park. Skrillex/Facebook
Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy performs at Houston Rodeo
Fall Out Boy will play with Wiz Khalifa at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on July 24. Photo by © Michelle Watson/
Idina Menzel
Idina Menzel will perform at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on July 31. Photo by Natasha Desai
Weird Al Yankovic
Weird Al Yankovic will play at Bayou Music Center on August 18. Photo courtesy of Weird Al Yankovic
Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, ACM Lifting Lives Gala
Skrillex musician
Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy performs at Houston Rodeo
Idina Menzel
Weird Al Yankovic