Arizona State Fair concerts aren't like most concerts--and this isn't even about the average age of the performers involved. They're different because you can go to them almost by accident. Exhausted your fried food budget? Unwilling or unable to win your sweetheart a gigantic, unlicensed Angry Bird by shooting a water pistol at a horse-shaped target faster than all those 13-year-olds with Call of Duty experience? Well, there's always Cheap Trick.
With that in mind, we humbly present this year's state fair concerts schedule. Inside we've got prices, times, and--perhaps most importantly--a list of the remaining original members in each potential nostalgia act.
So read straight through, or click on the band you're most excited for below, and get ready to think about which fried candy bar you're most into. Because we can't help you there.
Click on any name for more information (or click to Page 2 to get started.)
Trace Adkins and ZZ Top Cheap Trick and Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers The Wanted and Prince Royce Snoop Dogg and Alabama Shakes Zendaya and Billy Currington Jerry Lewis and Megadeth Old School Jam and Kidz Bop Kids
Trace Adkins - Saturday, October 12 It's hard to tell whether it's that state fairs are still able to attract top-tier country stars--as opposed to the classic rockers that also pervade state fairs across the country--or that country music is just more amenable to adults than City Rock. Adkins, for his part, is 51; about the same age as Dave Mustaine, but 10 years younger than Billy Gibbons. He's had a No. 1 country album as recently as 2010, and didn't have his first until 2005.
If you don't listen to country music, you may know him from--well, The Apprentice, maybe?
Tickets are $20 for this 7 p.m. concert.
ZZ Top - Sunday, October 13 ZZ Top formed in 1969, a rough and tumble blues band forming amongst the gritty backdrop of Houston's oil greed and NASA's continuing space race. But it was the summer of 1974 in the community of Friendswood--a small town then, a thriving Houston suburb now--that my curiosity with ZZ Top began, when a burley biker walked in to a darkened juke joint and announced, loudly, "I must listen to my favorite song."
Bandages covered has right arm, with long scabs sticking out near his wrist. His cane steadied a limp. He offered a half-cocked smile. "Me and my motorcycle got into a fight with the road," he explained to no one and everyone. "And now that I'm out of jail there's only one thing I need, and that's ZZ Top!"
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Since I first heard them that raw edge has given way to a more radio-friendly sound that shuns blues grist for rock fluff. It's a little disappointing, to say the least.
There are two ways to look it, though: On one hand, it's a shame that the band left their roots behind in the service of chasing commercial fame. On the other, their popularity can only help showcase their lowdown roots, the likes of Lightning Hopkins, Freddie King, T-Bone Walker, and other West Texas bluesmen--and of course, John Lee Hooker himself, even if he was from Detroit. -- Glenn BurnSilver
Original Members: Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, and Frank Beard!
Tickets are $20 for this 7 p.m. concert. Cheap Trick - Wednesday, October 16 Rick Nielsen's singular focus has always been on playing good rock and roll music to as many people as possible, even from the band's earliest days. "I always thought internationally," he says. "Even if we were playing a little place outside of Rockford (Illinois, where the band formed), or in Iowa, or wherever, I always thought I could play in England or L.A. [Like] this was just a pit-stop I had to make to be able to play all those places."
That attitude paid off when Nielsen and crew did go international, garnering plenty of acclaim from their peers, fans, and the occasional critic. Songs like "Dream Police," "Surrender," "The Flame," and "I Want You To Want Me" helped the band sell out arenas and sell millions of records. Of course there were lean moments, too, when Cheap Trick's sound was funneled into experimental forays in faux-metal, electronica, and pure pop, even though it was the band's garage-rock core that landed them on the charts in the first place. Those diversions were often dictated by the outside suggestion of others.
"Usually the stuff people didn't like was the stuff where managers, producers, and record company people got involved," he says. "The less we had of that going on, the more we were true to ourselves. That's why we keep making records, one by one. A record may have been universally panned, but we don't work with the producer anymore, we don't have that manager anymore, we're not on that label anymore--but we're still working. ... We haven't progressed very far, but there you go." -- Glenn BurnSilver
Original Members: Everybody, ostensibly, but Bun E. Carlos no longer tours with the band. (You'll get Rick Nielsen's son instead.)
Tickets are $15 for this 7 p.m. concert.
Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers - Friday, October 18 Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers might be a nostalgia act elsewhere, where their actual fanbase would be supplemented by people who remember The Refreshments and think it would be pretty cool if they toured with Superdrag.
In Phoenix, though--well, it's a little different. The Peacemakers, after all, still have pull enough to put on Circus Mexicus every year down in Puerto Penasco, a vacation-and-festival-and-family-reunion that last year saw a reunion from The Refreshments proper.
Tickets are $15 for this 7 p.m. concert.The Wanted - Saturday, October 19
Oh, boy. Oh, boy. If you haven't heard of The Wanted yet, you probably don't have to go to this, so you can safely ignore this warning. If youhave
heard of The Wanted, but maybe aren't sure how intense this concert from One Direction's arch-nemeses might get, bring earplugs.
The Wanted are, like One Direction themselves, the perfect boy band for the Twitter generation: Most non-fans have no idea what they look or sound like, and it's pretty easy to go through life having never heard their hit songs, such as they are. But Twitter and Tumblr allow their tween and teen fans to stuff their life full of these guys, retweeting every photo and sending message after message in the hopes of getting a follow back from just one of Max George, Siva Kaneswaran, Jay McGuiness, Tom Parker, or Nathan Sykes. Which are actually strikingly normal names for boy-band members, for what that's worth.
Anyway, in case you wanted to know, that's what they sound like. Tickets are $20 for this 7 p.m. concert.
Original Members: Everybody, but it's a shame Bun E. Carlos isn't around.Prince Royce - Sunday, October 20
It's been similarly easy for English speakers to miss bachata singer Prince Royce, whose last two albums debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart--and whose third came out earlier this week. That's likely to change sometime soon; his last single, "Darte un Beso," was his first to hit the Hot 100 proper, and his current single features English and Selena Gomez.
I'm not sure this is the crossover album for the Bronx native, but it's clear his major label has one in mind sometime soon. Which makes this your chance to feel slightly ahead of the curve. Tickets are $20 for this 5 p.m. concert.Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion - Wednesday, October 23
If you're one of those people who likes to be continually reminded of your own mortality, I'd like to let you know that Snoop Dogg--were he not in the middle of a seemingly serious reggae phase--is basically no less a nostalgia act than Cheap Trick.
That doesn't mean he's not worth seeing--Cheap Trick is awesome--just that, short of another "Drop It Like It's Hot," he's officially become more famous for having been famous for a long time than he is for whatever he's doing right now. Which is, again, reggae. Tickets are $20 for this 7 p.m. concert.Alabama Shakes - Thursday, October 24
State Fair theory note: Every year, every state fair needs to bring in at least one band or artist who is clearly there to bridge the gap between the fair-concert mainstays and the hipsters who positively spit the words "nostalgia act" before they listen attentively to these guys, who are themselves kind of a nostalgia act for a bygone southern rock era.
Alabama Shakes is this year's up-and-coming band, and they're a good choice--their sound appeals to people who are willing to admit they like The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and who maybe saw them in concert, and people who aren't. Tickets are $15 for this 7 p.m. concert.Zendaya - Friday, October 25
If The Wanted isn't your brand of tween fandom-pop maybe give Zendaya, a Disney-Channel-star-turned-regular-star with a 1996 birthday, a shot. Like many Disney alums, it's hard to tell whether she's an actress who's singing or a singer who's acting. Regardless, Wikipedia tells me she's a former Kidz Bop featured performer (about which more later) and once released a single entitled "Swag It Out."
I've got a not-insignificant appetite for huge pop songs--somebody had to gave Taylor Swift a BOP, after all--but at this level, when they're attached to Disney shows, it's not really necessary to know a lot about them in advance. If you know a small person who wants to go to the Zendaya show, you'll hear all about it in due time. Tickets are $15 for this 7 p.m. concert.
Billy Currington - Saturday, October 26 Country fans not sated by Trace Adkins will have Billy Currington to kick around a couple of weeks later; he hasn't quite hit the same mainstream-recognition levels, but that might just be because his name isn't so perfectly country as Trace Adkins.
Currington is definitely further down the crossover spectrum than Adkins, if that means something to you; his latest album has a duet with Willie Nelson and a Jack Johnson cover. On songs like "Hey Girl" he's not your country friend per se--he's your friend from the south, or south-ish maybe, who has an acoustic guitar but also wears flip-flops to the mall. Tickets are $20 for this 7 p.m. concert.Jerry Lewis(!) - Sunday, October 27
That's comedy-Dean-Martin-telethon Jerry Lewis (87), not rock-pioneer-piano JerryLee
Lewis (78), and I'm as surprised as you are. He just made a movie this year--his first since 1995, by the advance press's count--so maybe I shouldn't be quite so surprised as I am.
In any case, I have no idea what a Jerry Lewis performance consists of in 2013, but that's almost beyond the point--when else are you going to get a shot to find out? Tickets are $15 for this 5 p.m. concert.
Megadeth - Wednesday, October 30 Dave Mustaine and co. are an interesting contrast to the usual classic-rock nostalgia--listening to Megadeth is going back to a time when a genre was big, and Megadeth seemed somehow both vital and dangerous. Megadeth is not even a little dangerous now; Mustaine is now a stone-sober born-again Christian.
But they're still Megadeth. If you can bring the memories of metal being primary debaucher of the nation's youth--if you're young now, you can even bring them second-hand--they'll bring the loud, fast, aggressive music.
Original Members: Dave Mustaine and Dave Ellefson. Drummer Shawn Drover has been around since 2004, and guitarist Chris Broderick since 2008.
Old School Jam - Friday, November 1 The '80s hip hop equivalent of those alt-rock package tours Art Alexakis wanders the country with all year features Zapp, who is not an '80s hip hop artist at all but did influence a significant amount of it. With them are the Sugarhill Gang, the ominously billed "Grandmaster's Furious Five Featuring Melle Mel," Rob Base, Candyman, and Mellow Man Ace.
You might not have been into all of those singles, but these tours are more about recreating a moment in time than they are any one hit; if you liked something in the vicinity of these acts and their hit songs, it's probably worth ducking inside. (Otherwise, tickets are $15 for this 8 p.m. concert.)
Original Members: The Furious Five is difficult to suss out but will certainly be without Grandmaster Flash. The Sugarhill Gang's story is even weirder--apparently the real gang, Wonder Mike et al, lost the rights to the name to an imposter Master Gee and the real Big Bank Hank, which is terrible.
Kidz Bop Kids - Saturday, November 2 Yes, this is a real thing, and no, I can't wait. The Kidz Bop Kids are apparently a little like Menudo--five members, names not especially important, who are constantly shifting as they age out of the group and struggle to find their place in the Adultz Bop Adults. The product, per the press release, is a "fully choreographed, high energy, interactive show that guarantees a fun time for both kids and parents!"
Please note that we at New Times are not offering that particular guarantee. (But their latest single was apparently "Call Me Maybe," which I'm pretty into, all things considered.) Tickets are $15 for this 5 p.m. concert.
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Original Members: One alum, Zendaya, has her own solo show scheduled for October 25. Does that count?