Five hot concerts in GR this week

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Ben Folds. Photo courtesy of Frederik Meijer Gardens.

The weather may have cooled down this week, but the musical acts gracing the stages of Grand Rapids are as hot as ever. From rap to pop, boy bands and even a trombone-playing headliner, these traveling musicians picked a great week to visit West Michigan:

Tuesday, July 18 – Rapper Nate Feuerstein (NF) at Van Andel Arena
Michigan rapper and producer NF announces his HOPE TOUR. The massive 47 show runs across the US, making a stop in Grand Rapids, MI at Van Andel Arena on Tuesday, July 18, 2023. In support of his forthcoming studio album, HOPE. Produced by Live Nation, the North American leg of the tour will feature special guest Cordae.

Rapper NF (Nate Feurstein). Photo by Jon Sweet.

NF raps with raw grit and emotional authenticity, born of a lifetime of taking hits and getting back up again. He’s earned 39 RIAA certifications,14 Platinum plaques, and 5 multi-Platinum honors. This success stems from genuine fan-fueled momentum connecting directly with fans in an authentic way. 

His intimate yet propulsive tracks received two consecutive No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 with Perception and The Search. Often silent on self-promotion and social media, NF’s massive achievements come straight from his music and lyrics resonating with fans. As Forbes noted, “NF’s success speaks to what can be done these days outside of the traditional system, proving that with his strong fan base and his incredible drive, the success of NF is a true testament to his status as a talent in the hip hop world.”

Nate Feuerstein came of age in Michigan, using music as both escape and expression, a way to channel his pain. Purchase tickets to his upcoming show here.

Wednesday, July 19- Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue + Mavis Staples at Frederik Meijer Gardens

Trombone Shorty. Photo by Justen Williams.

It was after midnight when Trombone Shorty stepped offstage at the House of Blues in New Orleans, but he wasn’t done playing yet. Listen to Lifted, Trombone Shorty’s second Blue Note Records release, to hear that same ecstatic energy coursing through the entire collection. The album finds the Grammy-nominated NOLA icon and his bandmates tapping into the raw power and exhilarating grooves of their legendary live show, channeling it all into a series of tight, explosive performances that blur the lines between funk, soul, R&B, and psychedelic rock. Mavis Staples and Levon Helm did what came most naturally: They sang. Staples was there to perform for Helm’s Midnight Ramble series. The ensuing 2011 concert—available today on the rousing new release Carry Me Home—is a personal high watermark for both artists.

Thursday, July 20- Ben Folds with the Grand Rapids Symphony at Frederik Meijer Gardens
Ben Folds’ masterful new What Matters Most collection is less a statement than it is an offering—an open hand reaching out to all those wounded and bewildered by a world that seems to make less and less sense every day. Recorded in East Nashville with co-producer Joe Pisapia, the album marks Folds’ first new studio release in eight years.

Grand Rapids Symphony courtesy photo.

Recognized nationally for the high quality of its concerts and educational programs, the Grand Rapids Symphony has been an important cultural resource in Grand Rapids and the West Michigan community for almost a century.  Led by Music Director Marcelo Lehninger, Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt, and Assistant Conductor Duo Shen, the orchestra presents more than 400 performances each year. The Grand Rapids Symphony made its Carnegie Hall debut in 2005 and returned in 2018 for a triumphant performance with the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus under Lehninger’s baton. The Frederik Meijer Gardens website says this event is SOLD OUT, but StubHub says this event is selling fast.

Friday, July 21- First Aid Kit with The Weather Station at Frederik Meijer Gardens

First Aid Kit. Photo courtesy of Frederik Meijer Gardens.

Uplifted by the familial creative harmony of sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg, First Aid Kit delicately thread together eloquent folk, breezy Americana and pensive pop. After amassing over 1 billion streams, the two-time BRIT Award- nominated Swedish duo’s blend of artful songcraft and ambitious melodies continue fixating audiences worldwide.

Friday, July 21- Big Time Rush at Van Andel Arena
Produced by Live Nation, the Can’t Get Enough Tour will see Big Time Rush bring their singular style of pop to 35+ markets across North America, kicking off June 22 and stopping in Grand Rapids at Van Andel Arena on Friday, July 21 at 7 p.m. with special guests, openers Jax and Max. Multi-platinum pop star Max has amassed more than 1.5 billion streams and has released a number of multi-platinum songs. Singer-songwriter and TikTok star Jax, who won iHeartRadio’s TikTok Songwriter of the year award in 2022, has made waves with her body-positive anthem “Victoria’s Secret” (allegedly about the man behind the Victoria’s Secret brand, Les Wexner, who had ties to the infamous Jeffrey Epstein). The song debuted on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

Big Time Rush became an overnight sensation in 2009 from the launch of the Nickelodeon television series Big Time Rush. The show was a huge success and catapulted the group into real-life stardom, as they went on to release 3 studio albums and performed across the globe, including five tours from 2011 to 2014. 

Purchase tickets here.

Big Time Rush Pre-show Party
Van Andel Arena has partnered with iHeartMedia radio stations WSRW and WSNX for the Big Time Rush Plaza Party Friday, July 21 from 4–6 p.m. The party will take place outside the front of the arena on the plaza before the show. Tickets to the show are not required to attend the plaza party.

 Patrons will have the opportunity to participate in Big Time Rush games for the chance to win tickets and meet & greet passes to meet the band before the show. The first 400 fans to arrive to the party will also be able to take home a complimentary pair of Big Time Rush sunglasses. 

 Local restaurant MeXo will be serving small appetizers, free for plaza party guests, and SAVOR Grand Rapids will host a cash bar offering a variety of beverage options. Appetizers will be available on a first come, first served basis.

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