Music Notes: Arizona State Fair: Music Preview

Jason P. WoodburyOctober 1, 2018
Share This

Look ahead to the Arizona State Fair, with performances from Gary Allan, Pitbull, The Flaming Lips and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats.

What’s that smell in the air? Well, if you’re near the fairgrounds, that aroma is probably something being fried: Twinkies, pickles… they’re even dunking tamales in the oil vats this year. But that sizzling sound isn’t the only auditory pleasure to be had at the Arizona State Fair: The annual concert series at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum offers something for everyone, genre-wise. Admission to the shows is included with your entrance fee (fried Oreos cost extra). The fair runs October 5-28. See the full list of concerts at

NOT-SO-PURE COUNTRY: Gary Allan (October 5), Big & Rich (October 20)
Like a Flamin’ Hot Cheetos caramel apple served from a fair cart, modern country mixes flavors. Singer Gary Allan harkens back to traditional Bakersfield twang, but his recent single “Mess Me Up,” echoes the arena rock of U2. Meanwhile, duo Big & Rich, best known for “Save a Horse (Ride A Cowboy),” graft hip-hop, rock and electronica into their mutant country soup.

RETRO ACTIVE: 38 Special (October 10), The Wallflowers (October 11)
On the throwback front: ’70s Southern rock lifers 38 Special bring “Hold On Loosely” to the Coliseum, and ’90s favorites The Wallflowers, led by Jakob Dylan (Bob’s son), roll into town packing rootsy alternative hits like “One Headlight” and “Sixth Avenue Heartache.”

WORLD MUSIC: Pitbull (October 17), Paulina Rubio (October 19)
He doesn’t call himself “Mr. Worldwide,” for nothing. Pitbull’s instantly recognizable crossover hits like “Timber” and “I Know You Want Me” are global sensations. Rubio is no slouch, either. As the “Latin Madonna,” she’s racked up hits since the ’80s.

HEAVIER THINGS: Anthrax (October 18), Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (October 25)
On the heavier front, thrash pioneers Anthrax bring metal to the fair, and garage rock soul outfit Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats pack a throaty, distorted punch.

FAR OUT: The Flaming Lips (October 6), Sesame Street Live (October 27, 28)
The level of family-friendliness may vary, but both the psychedelic weirdness of The Flaming Lips and the live staging of Sesame Street’s “C Is for Celebration” promise theatricality on the Coliseum stage.

For more than 50 years, PHOENIX magazine's experienced writers, editors, and designers have captured all sides of the Valley with award-winning and insightful writing, and groundbreaking report and design. Our expository features, narratives, profiles, and investigative features keep our 385,000 readers in touch with the Valley's latest trends, events, personalities and places.