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This Week’s Best Twin Cities Events: 2D Gamer Con, Green Day, and… the MN State Fair?

This corn is social distancing!
Courtesy Minnesota State Fair

For our second installment of Event Horizon we’re going big: big concerts, a big convention, and the biggest get-together of the summer, the Minnesota State Fair. Vax up and mask up; we’re going in.

MONDAY, AUGUST 23

Green Day, Fall Out Boy, Weezer 

Target Field 

Welcome to the golden age of marketing nostalgia to still-not-that-old millennials. Delayed by COVID-19, the Hella Mega Tour is finally bringing a triple bill of rockers who’ve reached middle age (with varying degrees of awkwardness) to the ballpark. Green Day is remembered by Gen Xers as either the ultimate pop-punk band or, since they’re the last generation to consider such things, the ultimate sellouts. To millennials, they’re the arena-rocking Bob Dylans of the ‘00s, the band whose ambitious rock-opera offered the definitive characterization of George W. Bush as an idiot. For the past decade, Green Day’s third act has consisted of low-stakes garage rock and powerpop, as heard on 2020’s brief and breezy Father of All Motherfuckers. Initially deeply indebted to Green Day, Fall Out Boy, somehow, became the last guitar band on Top 40 radio thanks to trend-chasing tweaks to their clever pop-punk. Weezer… well, nobody can take those first two albums away from ‘em; their 2021 offerings, OK Human and Van Weezer, respectively feature Rivers Cuomo dabbling in orchestral rock and throwback metal. L.A. ska-punk band the Interrupters open. $59-$649. 5:30 p.m. 1 Twins Way, Minneapolis. More info here–Jay Boller

THURSDAY, AUGUST 26

Minnesota State Fair

Minnesota State Fairgrounds

Did you ever imagine there would be a day where recommending Minnesota’s Great Get-Together would be a controversial move? Look, we know the buzz around this year’s event is a bummer. COVID is still very much a thing, the Fair opted out of a mask mandate, and the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus wants people to be able to conceal and carry on the Fairgrounds. Yikes. That said, there’s also a lot of good to be had at the Fair. There will be delicious eats, for starters. New foods this year include gluten-free cheese curds and funnel cake, a Peaches and Cream Milkshake IPA, deep fried paneer, a waffle burger, and, uh, locally sourced crickets. The giant Ferris wheel is back (great for social distancing!), and plenty of free music can be found outdoors. Our recommendation: wear a mask, stay outdoors, and keep your damn gun at home. And if you’re not comfortable with that? Stay safe and stay home, there’s always next year. $13. 6 a.m. to midnight; 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Labor Day. 1265 Snelling Ave., St. Paul; 651-288-4400. Through September 6 –Jessica Armbruster 

Miranda Lambert 

State Fair Grandstand

Country stars who play the fair are typically either on the rise or on the wane, but Miranda Lambert is 16 years into a career without a significant stumble. If the setlists I’m seeing are any indication, don’t expect too many new songs from her latest, The Marfa Tapes, a terrific acoustic album recorded with singer-songwriters Jack Ingram and Jon Randall. (Maybe for the best: “Waxahachie” might wreck you, and no one should be a blubbering mess at the fair.) Instead Lambert will likely mix her back catalog with some new cuts from her 2019 album Wildcard, as she did at her most recent Xcel Energy Center show, which was a great one. With Lindsay Eli. $40-$65. 7:30 p.m. 1265 Snelling Ave., St. Paul. More info here. –Keith Harris

The great thing about video game characters is that so many of them wear masks… (Photo by Eddie Zhang/Unsplash)

FRIDAY, AUGUST 27

2D Con 2021

Hyatt Regency Minneapolis

For three days, a downtown hotel conference center will become geek heaven: 2D Con features 36 E-sports tournaments, Minnesota’s largest arcade with over 120 free cabinets and pinball machines, and 100-plus retro consoles. Two practitioners of “nerdy hip-hop”—local favorite Nur-D and Philly’s Mega Ran—will perform live music, as will video game cover band Masters of Unlocking, ‘90s cover band Fistful of Datas, and others. Attendees can also enjoy a cosplay fashion show, YouTube karaoke, tabletop and card gaming, charity auction, and vast vendor market. $10 for youth ages 5-12; $40 for ages 13 and up. 1300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis. Find more info here. Through Sunday —Jay Boller

A Tribute to Shania Twain

Turf Club

When Twain was hitting her commercial peak in 1997 or so, the idea of the Turf Club hosting a tribute to the pop country star would have been as unthinkable as… well, as First Avenue owning the Turf. But times change, and not always for the worse. Tonight a panoply of local singer-songwriters will belt the hits they grew up with, and you’ll know all the words. So color your hair. Do what you dare. The lineup: Jillian Rae, Faith Boblett, Savannah Smith, Jaedyn James, Diane, Laura Hugo, Cecelia Erholtz, and Leslie Vincent, backed by the (just slightly movie-misquoting) A Little Too Short To Be Stormtroopers band. There will also be a DJ set from Hold Your Lady Tight Night. $15. 8 p.m. 1601 University Ave., St. Paul. More info here.—Keith Harris

Red Hot Fridays

Stevens Square Park

In the “before COVID” times, Red Hot Art was a yearly two-day event. Surprisingly, this summer the rocking fest actually expanded, becoming a monthly series showcasing artists and offering services to the community. This month’s installment will feature tasty eats (La Tortilla Food Truck, MaraBee’s Cupcakes, Red Wolf Chai), and tunes and entertainment will be provided by FreeQueenSee & Friendz, Ashley Mari, and DJ Sci-Fi. There will be an artists’ market; makers include jewelry, pottery, rugs, and other artsy oddities. Added bonus: Red Hot Arts will also host Red Hot Shots. So if you are in need of a vaccine you can not only score one for free here (administered by Black Nurses Rock), but they will also give you cash and vouchers that can be used on the food vendors tonight. Free. 4 to 8 p.m. 1801 Stevens Ave. S., Minneapolis. —Jessica Armbruster