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Arizona State Fair

Week One Wrapup

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Weezer image by Ben Garcia.
Concerts Take Center Stage: Amidst The Giant Corn Dogs, Turkey Legs, $10 Beers, And $20 Rides, The Amazing Headliner Concert Series At Veterans Memorial Coliseum Is A Cacophony Of Wonderful Treats


By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine

Oct. 22, 2014 — No one goes to the Arizona State Fair looking to get a good bang for their buck. It’s pretty much universally known that it costs $10 per person just for admission to expensive games for cheap prizes, overpriced beers, novelty items that cost a fortune, and you can pick the euphemism for expensive for the cost of rides. But they always make it worth it with the magnificent concert series they bring every year.

This year is no different, and while they had an early event stinkaroo in Sublime With Rome. Check out the full review here.

The concert series really got into stride last week with big time performances by Darius Rucker, Weezer, Wiz Khalifa, and the legendary John Fogerty.

Darius Rucker
The former Hootie and the Blowfish frontman took on a Wednesday night at the fair and had no trouble drawing in a headliner caliber crowd. Rucker is one of country music’s premier superstars, and in a city that loves country music he was welcomed with open arms for his state fair performance. Rucker may not be pushing new music, but he doesn’t need to be in a city that loves him.

Weezer played the Thursday night and they played it to perfection. Rivers Cuomo and his troupe are pushing their new album Everything Will Be Alright In The End and many are saying the album represents a return to form of their almost mythic album, Pinkerton.

As for their live performance, it’s speaking for itself.

Weezer’s last foray into the Arizona State Fair saw an extremely uninspired set by the alt rock icons. Cuomo seemed bored with the show and did not seem very connected to his music.

This go round was the exact opposite.

Weezer was completely alive and in love with the sounds that were emanating from their instruments, and not just on their brilliant new stuff. But also on their timeless hits like “Hashpipe,” “Pork and Beans,” and “Island In The Sun.”

Wiz Khalifa
Arguably the biggest act of the entire headliner series took on the Friday night headliner slot on Oct. 17 at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Platinum rapper Wiz Khalifa rolled through the State Fair in his first appearance in the Valley since headlining True Music Festival. and he was stupendous.

Khalifa’s first appearance in the Valley sold out the Celebrity Theatre, and his most recent sold out the Coliseum. Sell out shows aside, this is the fourth time I have seen Wiz live and quite frankly the first time he has ever impressed. The first three at Bonnaroo 2011, Coachella 2012, and December’s True Music Festival were rather lackluster: It was a tatted-up skinny guy running around the stage smoking weed and mumbling out lyrics.

But for this performance the purple-haired pothead was hitting his lines like a jackhammer, and annunciating with authority. He bounced around the stage madly to the dolcett tones of his band Kush & Orange Juice and DJ Ebonics.

Many artists take a State Fair gig as a time to bring their ‘B’ game, but even though Wiz left a lot of the fanfare — i.e. the tour laser beams, and the giant pot leaf they’ve been schlepping around the country — locked in the trailers outside he compensated marvelously by being a total rock star on stage. He hit the classics like “Black and Yellow,” the new stuff fresh off of his new mixtape, and ended with “Young Wild and Free.”

John Fogerty
As if a platinum selling rapper giving his all at a truly energetic barebones show at the state fair wasn’t enough, the next night brought in a true musical legend in John Fogerty. At nearly 70 years old Fogerty took the stage at 7:05 and kept on rocking straight through 8:30. He played every Creedence Clearwater Revival and Fogerty solo hit in the book — an hour and a half of the platinum hits. But the real gem of his set had to be the fact that the San Francisco southern boy had his signature blue plaid shirt for sale at the merch booth for a cool $70.

Coming Up
Silly merch and Sublime with Rome aside, this year’s concert series has been spectacular and I would wager that no other state fair in the county is seeing a concert series as good.

Coming in the next week will be the Barenaked Ladies on Oct. 22, Colbie Caillat on Oct. 24, Dave Pratt’s 1980 Something featuring Berlin, Tom Keifer, and John Waite on Oct. 25, and Josh Turner on Oct. 26.

Jeff Moses a senior contributor at Modern Times Magazine. He can be reached at
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