I did it. I won. I made it through all 12 concerts at the State Fair Grandstand this year. You’re welcome.
Day 9: 311, the Offspring
I’m of the mind that this concert was an unmitigated disaster. However, fans of both bands seemed thoroughly entertained, which prompted me to explore the headspace of a 311 fan.
After the dust settled at the Grandstand I talked with a millennial fan who told me 311 was “mind-blowing” and “awesome.”
This fan wasn’t overly impressed with the Offspring, but he remarked that “the lead singer’s hair plugs looked great.” He also stated the obvious, that the group hasn’t aged well.
Then he told me about bonding over 311 with friends in his youth group, explaining his longtime fandom. I was told that while this fan wasn’t sure what to think of the band’s more recent output, he was thrilled to hear songs from their ’90s heyday. He was also happy to see other fans in 311 T-shirts.
“Everything was awesome,” he says. “I was blown away.”
He added, “They talk about weird space stuff. Not that 311 are a relevant band, but they’re probably one of the more relevant bands talking about aliens.”
Would he see 311 again? “Definitely, I super want to go on the 311 cruise.”
So, there you have it. What a beautiful, diverse world we live in! One man’s bullshit is another man’s treasure.
Day 10: Hairball
8:48— Concert begins. I can already tell this is a new low in my dalliance with journalism.
8:49— Pyrotechnics spew fire into the night sky for no discernible reason.
8:50— This is such pathetic booking, maybe even less defensible than Jason Mraz.
8:52— Hairball have brought crotch-less chaps to the State Fair.
8:54— There’s no way I’m going to last an hour. Here’s a Van Halen cover.
9:00— A Twisted Sister cover rings through the air as I exit in search of yet another Pronto Pup.
Day 11: Amateur Talent Contest
The talent contest was by turns inspiring, adorable, and mortifying. Some of the acts were unquestionably excellent. Some were painful to sit through. The show was like watching the Mr. Rogers documentary but subtitled by your parents talking about their sex lives. The Grandstand was surprisingly full for the event, partially due to this year’s record fair turnout.
This was easily the most purely entertaining Grandstand performance of the fair. Even the disasters were interesting to watch. There was operatic singing, some amazing hula hooping, and my single favorite act: a guy in an American flag pant suit juggling pizza dough.
I will absolutely attend this again next year.
Day 12: Culture Club, the B-52s
8:10— The B-52’s are playing “Roam.” The air is so much lighter knowing this is my last night at the Grandstand.
8:15— Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson are dressed like extras from Amazon Women on the Moon.
8:17— Fred Schneider gives Labor Day a shout-out.
8:20— After 12 days at the fair, “Love Shack” sounds like a song of emancipation.
8:25— “Rock Lobster” because why the hell not? Cheesy pop detritus has never sounded so good.
8:30— The B-52s should have headlined.
8:54— Culture Club open with... David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”?
8:59— Boy George does some crowd work. “I get odd looks from some of you. What do you think I’m going to look like? I’m Boy fucking George.”
9:00— That said, Boy George’s outfit is absolutely ridiculous.
9:05— “I’ll Tumble for You,” in all its faux Caribbean glory.
9:19— I’m finding it impossible to describe the bass player’s outfit but I’ll attempt to paint a word picture anyway. The closest I can get is that he looks like one of Al Capone’s henchmen was transported to the year 2035. But, you know, less subtle than that.
9:23— Michelle Obama is referenced in a new Culture Club song the audience was not asking for.
9:25— “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me.” Kinda feels like Culture Club are blowing their loads a little prematurely in their set. Isn’t this one of their biggest hits?
9:28— If that last note passes editorial it’ll be the fourth time I’ve snuck a version of “blowing their loads” into a City Pages music review. Hi, I’m in my 30s. #savejournalism
9:30— First Avenue is given a shout-out to massive cheers. Then Los Angeles venue Staples Center is mistakenly given a shout-out too. You were halfway there, George.
9:35— Culture Club are really leaning into a Caribbean sound again. Steel drums this time around.
9:39— Boy George’s stage banter is legitimately great but it can’t save this concert from feeling increasingly redundant. I don’t really care though because it’s my last day at the Grandstand.
9:57— Culture Club return from their encore break with a cover of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” because... who fucking cares? I made it to the encore!
10:01— The band closes their set with “Karma Chameleon.” In my ears it sounds like “Ode to Joy.”
10:06— Spoke too soon. Culture Club return with their rendition of “Purple Rain.” What a time to be alive!