Arena-rocking is an art form.
Not everyone can do it -- although way too many try.
It takes a certain kind of band or performer to play a big venue in front of 10,000 or more fans and not get lost in the space, the crowd, the noise and lack of intimacy.
Fortunately, several experts in the field are headed our way shortly.
There is an unusually high number of tantalizing arena rock/pop shows scheduled in Northern California over the next few months. That's a nice surprise for local music fans, given that the winter to early spring is typically a comparatively quiet time for major touring artists.
Here's a look at what's on the agenda, with a breakdown of just what makes these artists so capable at the fine art of arena-rocking.
Details: 7 p.m. Monday; Oracle Arena, Oakland; $35-$69.50, www.ticketmaster.com
How they do it: Muse has been hit or miss in the studio, producing an equal number of magical moments (such as 2006's "Black Holes and Revelations") and awkward epics (see last year's "The 2nd Law"). Yet, the band never fails to thrill live in the arena, where it manages to combine the theatrical side of U2 with the ambitious nature of Radiohead. The modern-rock trio dreams big and then makes good on all promises. It certainly doesn't hurt matters that frontman Matthew Bellamy has such a beautifully bold voice, which seems to grow all that more dramatic in large settings.
Details: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31; Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento; $69.50-$89.50, www.ticketmaster.com
How he does it: Northern California fans of this country superstar will have to trek to Sacramento to catch Strait's farewell tour, and no doubt many of them will because of the sheer magnitude of the occasion. It looks like it's the last chance for locals to say goodbye to the "King of Country," who says he will hang up the saddle at the end of this Cowboy Rides Away Tour. Unfortunately -- and, really, unfathomably -- Strait didn't book a Bay Area date for this tour. He has been one of the genre's top arena artists for decades. The secret to his success is his songbook. He can play a two-hour set full of nothing but No. 1 songs -- and still not cover all his chart-toppers. He has scored 59 No. 1 hits during his incredible career -- more
Details: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 1; Oracle Arena, Oakland; $37.50-$123.25, www.ticketmaster.com
How they do it: The Who basically invented arena rock as we know it today. Sure, others (such as the Beatles) played stadiums and such first. But it was the Who that really created the blueprint for how artists could rock tens of thousands -- with extreme volume, energy and bravado, combined with plenty of anthems and a touch of chaos. More or less, that's still the formula the band uses today (however, the chaos factor diminished sizably after original drummer Keith Moon died in 1978). The band will have its work cut out for itself this time around, since it's performing the complicated 1973 rock opera "Quadrophenia" -- not the most arena-rock-friendly material.
Swedish House Mafia
Details: 7 p.m. Feb. 13-17; Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, S.F.; $69.50 (sold out), www.ticketmaster.com
How they do it: This is the season's hottest ticket. The band is playing a five-night stand at the 8,000-plus-capacity Civic and pretty much every ducat -- about 40,000 in all -- was snatched up in roughly a blink of the eye. What's all the fuss? Plenty. Swedish House Mafia is an electronic dance music supergroup, consisting of acclaimed DJ-producers Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso. The three "house" music gurus, who say they'll go their separate ways after this tour, certainly know how to turn a giant auditorium into a dance party for the ages. Consider this: All three men placed in the top 30 in DJ Mag's 100 best DJ poll in 2011. Prepare to get sweaty.
Details: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18; HP Pavilion, San Jose; $28-$96.50, www.ticketmaster.com
How she does it: She's an incredibly savvy entertainer, with a chameleonlike ability to change colors at will -- and I'm not just talking about the color of her hair. The pop star seems to pay close attention to what's going on with other top entertainers and learn from their successes and failures, as well as from her own. It's definitely working for her. Pink was a fairly ordinary live act when she first burst on the scene in the early 2000s, but she has honed her craft through the years to where she now must be ranked as one of the best in the business. During her most recent tour, in 2010, Pink made all the right moves -- utilizing theatrics and special effects in ways that always made the music more compelling.
Details: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25; Oracle Arena, Oakland; $43.75-$62.75; www.ticketmaster.com
How she does it: The former "American Idol" champ, who has gone on to become one of the top artists in country, shines with megawatt star power on the live stage. Yet, her greatest strength may well be that she's just so darn likable. That trait and her gorgeous voice pretty much carry her concerts wherever she wants to take them. Of course, the fact that she now has such a sizable songbook of top country hits certainly helps.
Details: 7:30 p.m. March 10; Oracle Arena, Oakland; $39.50-$125; www.ticketmaster.com
How she does it: Last month's 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief benefit was a star-studded affair that brought in everyone from Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones to Kanye West and Roger Waters. Yet no star shined more brightly than Keys. She's an absolutely mesmerizing performer, who can captivate 15,000 concertgoers (or millions of TV viewers) simply by sitting down at a piano and crooning into a microphone. Keys is a diversely talented artist, certainly capable of thrilling with a dance-pop number, but she's never better than when she's singing a sleek ballad -- no matter what the size of the venue.
Details: 7:30 p.m. March 13; HP Pavilion, San Jose; $28.00-$76.50 (sold out), www.ticketmaster.com
How they do it: It's all about the frontman -- Adam Levine. The vocalist has charisma to spare, which has translated during his time as a coach/mentor on TV's "The Voice." He can also sling a pop-rock ditty like nobody's business. The L.A. band has plenty of hits, which span its entire four-album catalog. However, the more recent smashes -- notably, "Payphone" and "One More Night" -- are what have really catapulted this band toward the top of the arena-rock league.
Details: 7:30 p.m. April 6; HP Pavilion, San Jose; $33.50-$147, www.ticketmaster.com
How she does it: Two words -- sex appeal. The Barbadian pop/R&B star's previous trek, 2011's Loud Tour, was one of the titillating road shows of the past few years. She's not only followed in the footprints of Madonna, Janet Jackson and other provocative female performers -- she's upped the ante. That isn't, however, all she has to offer concertgoers. Rihanna also has a great songbook and an even better voice.
Follow Jim Harrington at Twitter.com/jimthecritic, Facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.