Because let's face it, there was no reason why Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA) should have played the State Fair. This year's lineup was surprisingly strong, with Wiz Kalifa and Weezer lending hip musical cred to the lineup, but Queens of the Stone Age is absolutely the highlight. There is no more important rock band to emerge in the past 15 years, and to see them as a sideshow to the garish display of lights and deep-fried garbage foods seemed somewhat demeaning to the group's legacy. Let's face it, most bands that play state fairs across the country are past their prime. But not QOTSA. There is no band that has carried the torch for rock 'n' roll's future while honoring its past better than Queens of the Stone Age, and during the 2000s, when guitar- and riff-driven rock was dying a slow death at the hands of nu-metal and electronic dance music, Queens of the Stone Age was there, cracking jokes, smoking cigarettes, and drinking whiskey and keeping rock alive.
For the band's part, they seemed to take the state fair thing in sardonic stride, even though they hardly mentioned the show at all on its website and social media leading up to it. Homme cracked jokes about the fair a few times, including during a lull in "Feel Good Hit of the Summer," when he sneered, "Arizona State Fair. My pig won the greatest pig of all. All I did was feed him one simple thing." (The one simple thing was drugs.) Homme also shared, "I used to live here, and in '91 I saw Nirvana play here." It was actually 1993, but dang. The state fair has a history in picking great bands, I suppose.
The set list, including the encore, featured 17 songs and kicked off with "Keep Your Eyes Peeled," the dark, murky, hypnotic opening track from the band's excellent sixth album, 2013's ...Like Clockwork. The set tapped the new album for seven out of 17 songs, which is no problem. ...Like Clockwork is a brilliant, album, the darkest and most musically mature album in QOTSA's catalog.