Kid Rock shows musical chops at fair gig
August 2, 2011
If someone said I could be any rock star I wanted, I would probably take Sammy Hagar. After attending Wednesday’s Kid Rock concert at the California Mid-State Fair, I may have to reconsider.
The Kidster, born Robert James Ritchie, put on a powerhouse 110-minute performance in front of over 10,000 hard-partying fans in the Main Grandstand Chumash Arena, his first appearance ever on the Central Coast.
The suburban Detroit native has come a long way since his early 1990s start as scrawny, trailer-trash rapping singer/ DJ. But there is probably no other artist who crosses and melds as many pop music genres as Kid Rock: Hip hop, roots and southern rock, acoustic ballads — he’s got it all covered.
And the show reflected this artistic evolution as Rock went from old “lassics like “Cowboy” to “Lowlife” and his newest good-time anthem, “God Bless Saturday,” both from his latest release “Born Free.”
A new trend with live performers is mixing verses from popular songs into their original numbers. Rock somehow managed to include “Midnight Rider,” “Cat Scratch Fever,” “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” and even Tupac’s “California Love” in various song renditions during the show.
Not only did Rock pay homage to these musical influences but he seamlessly transitioned from country-infused ballads to guitar-driven party rock. How many entertainers can play a reflective piano ballad like “Lonely Road of Faith” then charge into a raunchy, hard-rocking “So Hott” and pull it off?
One moment Rock is showing sincere appreciation for the hard-working middle class, the next minute he’s flaunting his reputation as the American bad ass. But none of it seemed contrived or phony. The 40-year old is obviously a complex artist who can’t be easily stereotyped or categorized. That would explain his humorous a capella version of an unrecorded new song “F*&^%* Forty,” on which he laments a recent birthday milestone.
Still, he should maybe change his name to Kid Chameleon as he ably demonstrated his musical versatility making the rounds on stage to the piano, drum set and even strapping the guitar on a few times. The stage was also nicely arranged, featuring saloon doors, a huge longhorn and bald eagle, stripper poles, a DJ turntable, a Jim Beam mirror/sign and other trinkets.
Plus it didn’t hurt to have the Twisted Brown Trucker Band, a very underrated group whose solid musician-ship allows Rock to do his thang.
Rock also maximized the three large video screens showing a chronololgy of his life and career. He even poked fun at himself while singing his big hit “Picture” when the screen cackled with Beavis and Butthead mocking him for being Soft Rock instead of Kid Rock. The crowd, fully-baked at this point, laughed and cheered at the ruse.
The night culminated with a three-song encore of “All Summer Long,” “Purple Sky” and the title track from 2011’s “Born Free” as a huge American flag cascaded over the back of the stage.
A perfect fit for the outdoor, country-rock party vibe that is the Mid-State Fair, Kid Rock promised to come back soon and do it again. Let’s hope he’s a man of his word.