The Minnesota State Fair has got everything: corn, dogs, corn dogs, and giant inflatable swords that hyper-energized nine year olds can wail on each other with. It has especially got music. Here are just some of the big acts coming to the Grandstand this year — to see the complete list and purchase tickets, visit mnstatefair.org/grandstand.
Hootie & the Blowfish: Group Therapy Tour with special guest Barenaked Ladies
Thursday, Aug 22
When my neighbors hear me singing in the shower, I get a sternly worded cease and desist letter from my property manager. When Darius Rucker was heard singing in the shower by Mark Bryan, they formed a group that would eventually become Hootie & the Blowfish. Life ain’t fair. The band’s debut album Cracked Rear View went 16x platinum by the end of the 90s, and Rucker’s charismatic baritone in songs like “Only Wanna Be with You” and “Hold My Hand” will instantly transport you back to a time before you worried about checking your email or having your identity stolen. Rucker and company haven’t toured together as Hootie & the Blowfish for over a decade, making their big appearance at the fairgrounds all the more worth celebrating. That they’re bringing along Barenaked Ladies, who’ve enjoyed the kind of success that means having a million dollars is no longer a hypothetical to them, only sweetens the deal.
“Weird Al” Yankovic Strings Attached Tour
Tuesday, Aug 27
Weird Al got his big break when he was only 16 years old, boldly slipping a tape of his crudely recorded song parodies to Dr. Demento after the broadcaster spoke at his high school. Weird Al’s frenetic accordion playing, biting wordplay, and extremely masculine mustache would go on to win him worldwide acclaim, and many people including myself consider masterpieces like “Eat It,” “Amish Paradise,” and “Fat” to be vast improvements on the songs that they rib. Even Weird Al’s weirder original cuts like “Weasel Stomping Day” and “Attack of the Radioactive Hamsters from a Planet near Mars” are treasures of our time. The virtuoso’s Strings Attached Tour will be appropriately accompanied by a full symphony orchestra, because only classically trained musicians could ever capture the heart-wrenching beauty of pieces like “Living with a Hernia” and “Spam.”
Daryl Hall & John Oates with special guest G. Love & Special Sauce
Wednesday, Aug 28
Owing your start to a casual shower or a demo tape thrust into the hand of a celebrity is all well and good, but the origin of Hall & Oats reads like something out of a Buntline dime novel. Daryl Hall and John Oates were each heading their own acts while playing at a band competition at the Adelphi Ballroom in Philadelphia back in 1967. As they so often do in ballrooms, a gang fight broke out. Eager to escape the gun shots and flailing chains, Hall and Oates both took refuge in the same service elevator, where they quickly hit it off. They soon became roommates, and took their newly formed band’s name from the lettering on the mailbox that they shared. Hall & Oates’ debut album Abandoned Luncheonette gave the world “She’s Gone,” the absolute worst thing you can listen to after a break-up and the best thing you can listen to anytime else. Hopefully this year the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees will smash us with their other big hits including “Sara Smile,” “Maneater,” and “Say It Isn’t So,” but whatever they do is certain to make everyone drop their corn dogs in reverie.
Friday, Aug 30
The word “accomplished” doesn’t begin to do Lionel Richie justice. Had he only recorded “Hello” he would have been a legend, but this is the man who gave us tour de force after tour de force including “Endless Love,” “Lady,” “Truly,” “All Night Long,” “Penny Lover,” “Stuck on You,” “Say You, Say Me,” and “Dancing on the Ceiling.” Lionel Richie is one of only two songwriters to ever have had number one records in nine consecutive years, and has won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, four Grammys, and even a Kennedy Center Honor. On top of all that, Lionel Richie found time to carve out of his busy schedule to introduce his own line of bed and bath products, available at fine JCPenney stores everywhere. The master of soul just recently played to a crowd of more than 200,000 at Glastonbury — the Grandstand would surely collapse under the weight of that many concertgoers, but Richie’s performance is guaranteed to fill the thing up to the brim.
By David Scheller