10.07.2009

The State Fair Circuit

As I alluded to in a recent post, a few weeks ago we were considering attending the Utah State Fair. I was perusing the grandstand performers, but none of the names stood out—until I came to those early '90s purveyors of soul pop, Boyz II Men. I mentioned this to Kristen and we both agreed it could be a night to remember, at least for unintentional comedy's sake.

As we toyed with the idea of attending, Kristen mused, "What if they play a bunch of new stuff we have never heard of, and not all the hits we know?" To which I responded, "That is why they are playing state fairs. They don't have any new stuff."

Further research confirmed this. The last few albums the Boyz have released exclusively feature cover versions of Motown classics. So not only do they not have any new stuff to speak of, they have resorted to recording other people's old stuff.


The State Fair Circuit is really the final step as a performer before you are hauled off the Compound. I am reminded of The Simpsons episode "Saddlesore Galactica," which sharply hammers home this point when Homer heckles Bachman Turner Overdrive during their state fair performance.

video
Unfortunately, we didn't end up making it out to see Boyz II Men at/near the end of their road. Arriving only a few days later was my Spin Magazine (which has been mysteriously coming every month for the last year and a half without a subscription). The cover story was on one of my favorite bands, Pearl Jam, and their new album, Backspacer. I was surprised to read Eddie Vedder and his interviewer touching upon this very topic:
Eddie Vedder: There were a few years when I'd meet people and they'd say, "So, what are you guys up to?" And we had just done, like Riot Act—we'd done a couple good records. It was like they thought we were some band that only existed for a few years.

Spin: Like, "I remember you guys—1992, right?"

Eddie Vedder: Exactly. And I feel like if we were a niche band, then we'd have our little thing now and that would be fine. But we're bigger than that. I think these songs are worth hearing. And it's not like the airwaves are cluttered with the greatest music. What—if we don't do it, American Idol will? A lot of what we're doing now is about getting new ranks of kids coming in, and not just playing for old people all the time.

Spin: Because then you're Foghat at the state fair.

Eddie Vedder: Right. Which is great, too, 'cause it's Foghat, and we're at the state fair, and we're waiting for "Slow Ride," and then it's, "Baby, put down your chili cheese dog, it's 'Slow Ride'!" I just don't ever want it to be, "Baby, put down your chili cheese dog, it's 'Jeremy'."
Well Eddie, after immersing myself in the excellent Backspacer over the last few days, I don't think Pearl Jam has anything to worry about just yet. But when the inevitable day comes that you can avoid the State Fair Circuit no longer, I'll be right there in the front row with a chili cheese dog, hoping to recapture 1992.

The '90s might be long gone, but flannel is forever.

2 comments:

Krissy said...

I'm not sure many people can pull off the flannel shirt look like Eddie Vedder can.

Also, I promise to be right there next to you at the state fair, saying, "Baby, put down your chili cheese dog... it's 'Jeremy.'"

Jessica said...

I saw Weird Al at the STate fair a couple years ago... not sure what that says but it sure was fun!!