Your Music Guide to the Arizona State Fair

It used to be that playing the state fair circuit meant you were a has-been, that your rock 'n' roll career had gone belly-up (you know, like billed after the puppet show, Spinal Tap-style).

Maybe it's still like that in most places, but the Arizona State Fair always manages to corral a decent-to-great lineup. Remember past years, when the Fair hosted Snoop-freaking-Dogg and Judas-freaking-Priest?

Acts headed to Veterans Memorial Coliseum (which has got the most Almost Famous-like vibe of any venue in the Valley) in 2012 look to uphold the standards of previous years.

There's a little something for everyone, including American Idol rocker Adam Lambert (his fans hated us for suggesting he didn't make a good Queen fit?), country superstar Billy Currington, on-the-rise pop duo Karmin, metal-gone-dubstep rockers Korn, and alt-rockers Sublime with Rome, Weezer, and Jane's Addiction.

Billy Currington (Saturday, October 13): Currington's easygoing everyman appeal has earned him a CMT Award for "Hottest Video of the Year" and a couple Grammy nominations.

His song "Like My Dog" is an ambling, tongue-in-cheek (we're hoping) plea for his baby to "love him like his dog." (He gets a pretty bitter line in about calling his lady's sister a bitch, but who's going to fault the guy for going after a lazy canine pun?)

Something tells us the ladies find him hunky, too, what with those muscles, tousled hair, and piercing eyes.

Weezer (Sunday, October 14): While discerning listeners live and die by the phrase "Blue and Pinkerton only," California power-pop combo Weezer maintains a stranglehold on the pop airways. 2010's Hurley showed signs of improvement, with a couple of pleasing pop jams, like "Ruling Me," co-written by under-appreciated pop genius Dan Wilson (of Semisonic).

Live, the Weez can still thrill: The strength of "Say It Ain't So" is enough to outweigh the stank of a couple dozen "Beverly Hills."

Adam Lambert (Wednesday, October 17): Let's just turn this over to one of our Up on the Sun blog's illustrious commenters, Kerry Kolsch, who left this missive when we wrote about five people better suited to sing with Queen that Adam Lambert:

"Like you, from the time I was a kid when my mom took me to concerts, I have seen everyone from Prince to Madonna, the Rolling Stones to Britney Spears, Paul McCartney to Billy Joel. You get my point. I have never seen a better live performer than Adam Lambert. He has the sex appeal of Elvis and a voice like no other. He is 6 foot, 1 inch of handsome, strutting alpha male, and he is getting ready to rock the world. The five guys listed here are no match for Adam Lambert on the best day of their lives."

Glamberts, we offer our recommendation to go see Lambert at Veterans as an olive branch. We don't want to arouse your wrath again.

The Mavericks (Sunday, October 18): Miami isn't exactly the first place you'd expect to find country music, but that's where The Mavericks hail from, and it goes a long way toward explaining the band's Latin flair (they're best known for their collaboration with accordionist Flaco Jiménez).

Songwriter Raul Malo embarked on a solo career as the band's fortunes waned, but they reunited this year, armed with a new album, Suited Up and Ready.

John Fogerty (Friday, October 19): The voice of Creedence Clearwater Revival has been an abiding force in the realm of easygoing swamp rock since striking out on his own. At Coachella 2012, the guy hooked up with the reigning kings of blues rock, The Black Keys. That his signature craggy vocals fit in perfectly with the twosome during a cover of The Band's "The Weight" is a perfect example of his sonic staying power. He is the voice of Creedence, so much so that CCR's old label, Fantasy, actually tried to sue the guy for sounding too much like himself.

Nas (Saturday, October 20): Nas' 1994 effort, Illmatic, is an enduring hip-hop classic, the kind of album that showed that his wordplay put him in the master class. He's still at it, and his 2012 record, Life Is Good, finds him navigating one of the most difficult roles modern hip-hop has to offer: that of elder statesman. Nas pulls it off with aplomb, ruminating over nostalgic beats about fatherhood and responsibility, while never stooping to preachy, syrupy rhymes.

Prince Royce (Sunday October 21): Bachata/R&B pop star Prince Royce has enjoyed a charmed couple of years. Collaborations with Latin rapper Daddy Yankee and high-profile tours with Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias have put his potent blend of Latin sounds and urban pop in the ears of new listeners, and his cultural sidestepping got them quickly taking notice. His 2012 record, Phase II, instantly shot to number one on the Latin iTunes charts.

Jane's Addiction (Wednesday, October 24): Do you know how many albums Jane's Addiction has? Four. That's four records in 27 years. But at least two of them are straight-up classics — Nothing's Shocking (1988) and Ritual de lo Habitual (1990) — and the others aren't terrible or anything (TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek added some cool textures to last year's The Great Escape Artist). In their own way, Jane's blended the bare-chested nonsense of Los Angeles pop-metal with a wounded, mystic hippie aesthetic. Sure, "Jane Says" and "Been Caught Stealing" have been driven into the ground by modern rock radio, but tell me you don't have an urge to strut a little to "Mountain Song."

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3 comments
pp_sheeba
pp_sheeba

lol.. love fairs but they are not what I want to do before I move out of here..... lol..  I prefer the museums and mountains.. People and noises kill me!

novastarz47
novastarz47

The State fair is a filty dirty place to go ...Mesa Art TUTU IS GAY ! AZ going to hell

Cos2mwiz
Cos2mwiz

Well...Adam did six EXTRAORDINARY shows with QUEEN in Europe this summer and proved you monumentally wrong about his "fit" to front them. He'll FAR and away be the most exciting performance you'll see at the fair. 

 

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