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State Fair Grandstand endurance test, day 1: Niall Horan

Niall Horan

Niall Horan Associated Press

Minnesotans, temper your excitement.

The State Fair is back, and so is the time-honored tradition of booking underwhelming artists at the Grandstand. This year I’ll be attending all 12 concerts, a stunt that’s sure to trim more years off my life than a steady diet of pronto pups.

The marching spectacle of B-listers, has beens, and almost was-es kicks off with Niall Horan. Formerly of One Direction fame and now of post-One Direction post-fame, Horan has recast himself as a brooding pop-country man who’s safe for the whole family.

8:21 - Opener Maren Morris closes her set with mega-hit “The Middle.” And with that the one culturally relevant moment at the 2018 State Fair Grandstand has come and gone.

9:02 - The guy who isn’t Harry or Zayn or the guy with the fake baby establishes his dominion at the State Fair. Massive cheers from the nearly full Grandstand erupt.

9:06 - Horan says, “Good evening Minnesota State Fair!”

Translation: “Choke on a curd, losers. You’re in for 90 minutes of featureless, derivative folk-pop and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”

9:12 - Niall Horan makes Ed Sheeran sound like Cannibal Corpse.

9:18 - Not even a casual weed smell at this large scale outdoor concert. Aggressively fresh air over here.

9:20 - A woman up front has a sign that says, “I missed my first week of college for this,” which reminds me that I’m missing New Order tonight for Niall Horan.

9:25 - I just wrote a Niall Horan song that I’d like to share, and it goes a little something like this: “Baby girl, you’re my baby. Please come back to me, baby. I’m so very repressed. Sleep with me or I’ll kill myself.”

9:27 - Niall covers Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” a welcome reprieve from the music of Niall Horan.

9:32 - Relevant pop singer Maren Morris returns to the stage for a duet. As an outsider, I’m perplexed that the billing for this concert wasn’t reversed.

9:36 - Morris is thanked. The crowd is thanked. We’re told that our (frankly, quite believable) energy tonight is unbelievable.

9:38 - Niall Horan has the ecstatic grin of a pop star who’s never turned down a hand job. Horan seems like a nice enough guy and is game to please his audience.

9:42 - Uff da. These ballads are wearing thin.

9:44 - I’m bored now so I’m turning to Horan’s Wikipedia entry for nuggets of interest.

9:45 - Holy shit, this entry is comprehensive. Squint and you could mistake this for the Vietnam War wiki.

9:48 - I have just learned about Horan’s parents’ divorce. Jesus. I feel like if I, at gun point, had to write the salacious details of my own life, I’d have to add some fluff to reach this word count.

Speaking of fluff, what do you guys think about the new food at the fair? Will it have dramatic peaks like last year’s amazing egg-roll on a stick? Or will it fall flat like … a Niall Horan concert.

9:55 - Niall Horan is 24 years old and worth over $46 million dollars. There is no justice in this world and the wicked are never punished.

10:02 - I don’t have the setlist in front of me but I’m guessing this song is called “Dry White Rice (Remix).” The band is introduced at its conclusion and the roll call takes a really long time.

10:09 - I’m bored now so I’m turning toHoran’s thesaurus.com entry for nuggets of interest.

10:15 - Set break. They’re selling 11x17 portraits of Horan’s face at the merch table for $5.

10:19 - You can tell this is the encore because the song is slightly less unremarkable than what came before it.

10:30 - End of set. Fireworks!

Ryan has 11 more Grandstand concerts to get through. Check back every day to see if he has perished, fled, or unexpectedly become a rabid 311 fan.