by Steven Sanchez
A lot of things have returned since the lockdown has been lifted, and the one event people have been most looking forward to was The Big Fresno Fair. It’s been a local mainstay for 137 years and is the fourth largest in the state; the community marks on their calendar every October. When the pandemic happened, citizens were relegated to a free, drive-thru pickup of fair food out of desperation to keep the spirit of the fair going. It’s 2021, and the fair came back in full form. All the familiar activities, sights, and smells took place that it didn’t feel like a year had passed. The cinnamon rolls were steaming, the joyous screams of the people on the rides could be heard loudly, the vendors frying every type of food imaginable, and the community was together once again.
Kings River Life Magazine had the privilege of witnessing all of this by being one of the main media sources to cover the Table Mountain Concert Series of Shows. And man, what a lineup it was! Every artist represented each genre to fans of all different types of music were satisfied. There was a mixture of either old school or new school each night. No matter the genre or the time period, there was always a good turnout of patrons wanting to enjoy a great night of music. This year would definitely be one for the books for not only was it the return of the fair in full form, but just by the lineup itself. We had front row access to majority of the shows and here’s a recap of the concerts Kings River Life was most excited to cover.
The pioneers of thrash metal brought the boom to the intimate and mighty crowd on the first night of shows on October 6th. They supplied the audience with a fistful of metal and left everyone in a state of euphoria (all puns in regards to name of their albums). One of their defining hits is “Caught in a Mosh,” and even though the Paul Paul Theater has assigned seating, the music was so loud and thunderous that the audience would’ve started one if they had the space. The band consists of Scott Ian on rhythm guitar, Charlie Benante on drums, Frank Bello on bass, Joey Belladonna as the singer, and Jon Donais on lead guitar.
They’re considered one of the leaders of the thrash metal scene from the 1980s and is part of the “Big Four” of the genre, along with Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer. Anthrax sold 2.5 million records in the United States from 1991 to 2004, with worldwide sales of ten million. They originate from the east coast, but they received nothing but west coast love from the Fresno audience.
The band is also innovative in the nu-metal genre as they infused a metal-rap combo through their collaboration with Public Enemy on the song “Bring the Noise.” Needless to say, they definitely did. The group definitely did set the tone for the rest of the following shows coming up.
YOUNG THE GIANT
Young the Giant performed on October 7th. This was their last show for a while they announced so know this made the night extra special. The band’s line-up consists of Sameer Gadhia (lead vocals), Jacob Tilley (guitar), Eric Cannata (guitar), Payam Doostzadeh (bass guitar), and Francois Comtois (drums).
The setting had a Coachella or Bottlerock vibe because they have that kind of appeal. The indie band from Irvine has been on the road celebrating the ten-year anniversary of their self-titled debut album. They played favorite tunes like “My Body” and “Cough Syrup” much to their fans’ delight. A highlight of the night was them performing their own rendition of the Fleetwood Mac classic “Dreams.” Every song on their playlist was greeted with the cheers and screams from the audience. A definite stand out moment was when they exited the stage thinking the show was over and the crowd was drumming on the aluminum benches chanting for an encore, in which they did.
It was another great show as a complimentary follow up to the previous act which was Anthrax and kept the good vibes going as the other artists followed them.
MYA, JON B., BELL BIV DEVOE
Jon B. then brought soul and emotion to the night. He sang, danced, and played keyboard. He left his heart on that stage. He serenaded the crowd with classics like “Someone to Love” and “Pretty Girl.” He’s had a very interesting career from being nominated for a Grammy and even collaborating with the late great rapper, Tupac Shakur. Before he became famous, he used to be a songwriter and wrote songs for After 7, Toni Braxton, Michael Jackson, Color Me Badd, the Spice Girls, and others. He definitely got the crowd going.
Then came Bell Biv Devoe. The group was formed from their previous group, New Edition, and have been a consistent touring act for thirty-one years. The group consists of Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Ronnie DeVoe. They were a part of the new jack swing movement of the 1990s that combined elements of traditional soul and R&B with hip hop. The crowd was so hyped up before the show and then they came and brought the house down with hits like “Poison,” “Do Me,” and “B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me).” The combination of dance and swag made for great entertainment. Everyone in attendance felt the love and after hearing all those songs, it more than likely carried over after the show as well.
NELLY, BLANCO BROWN
Things got turned up on October 14th when Nelly and Blanco Brown came to town. The night was definitely poppin’. Blanco Brown is new to the game as a rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer who has produced for Chris Brown and Pitbull. He has struck out on his own recently. He started the night with a combination of rap and country with his chart-toppers such as “The Git Up,” “Just the Way,” and “Do Si Do.” He posted a YouTube video with country artist Lainey Wilson to teach people how to do the dance which was “The Git Up” Challenge. It increased in popularity after the video was released and was featured in over 130,000 videos on TikTok and reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. He informed the crowd that he recovered from a motorcycle accident that broke his wrists, arms, legs, and pelvis. He underwent a twelve-hour surgery and successfully recovered one month later. He said it was great to be performing again. His career is just getting started, and he’s got a great future as a cross genre artist in the future.
Then came Nelly. The rapper, singer, and entrepreneur took us down to Nellyville with club classics like “Air Force Ones,” “Ride wit Me,” “Shake Ya Tailfeather,” and then turned up the heat with “Hot in Herre.” He won Grammy Awards in 2003 and 2004 and had a supporting role in the 2005 remake film The Longest Yard with Adam Sandler and Chris Rock on a list of great accolades. He’s the best fourth best-selling rap artist in American music history, with twenty-one million albums sold in the United States and Billboard ranked him as the number three Top Artist of the Decade of the 2000s. The show may’ve been outdoors, but everybody was movin’ like it was a nightclub. His performance proves his longevity in hip hop.
Smokey Robinson serenaded the audience on October 15th. The Motown legend sang through the whole inventory of Motown classics like “My Girl,” “Get Ready,” and “Cruisin,” to just name a few. His resume includes being a singer, songwriter, record producer, and former record executive director. He’s been performing since the 50s. Robinson was the founder and front man of the Motown vocal group the Miracles, for which he was also chief songwriter and producer.
You heard that right, and he hasn’t missed a step. He was dancing and jivin’. It was an eclectic crowd of young and old and of all nationalities, and the unity together showed just how much Smokey’s music has impacted generations of music lovers. It didn’t matter what age you were, everyone one sang in harmony to the music and everyone had a great time. And he shows no signs of slowing down.
It was great getting the chance to cover the shows this year. One we’ll definitely remember. We’ll keep you updated on the other shows we’ll be covering later in the year. Much appreciation for The Big Fresno Fair to have us. Looking forward to next year.