Ascending, Shaft-like, from behind a painted, lighted mural of a huge middle finger flanked by two voluptuous women, Kid Rock with the Twisted Brown Trucker band down on the stage floor entered the mayhem of this Motor City stop on his "Between the Legs Tour." Outfitted in a white suit with hat and cane which can now be coined the Spin magazine look Kid Rock moved to the front of the stage. It looked like the Ladies Mans wet dream with pyrotechnics, flashing red lights and off-duty strippers wearing just enough to keep from getting arrested or tipped.
Kid Rocks signature sideshow decadence might have seemed over-the-top, but thats just another mirror image of the consumer culture vacuum in which he and his following gasp for identity. On stage, he was and always is cowboy, white rapper, Elvis Presley and trailer park cracker spontaneously crafting a tribute to that evasive promise of rock n roll that the party never ends. Perpetuating that myth is a full-time gig, as tough as selling discounted affluence in the authentic packaging of suburban teen folk art. For those who cant bring themselves to utter, "Oh my God, Kid Rock is the bomb," there is always, "Holy shit, this is somebodys real view of the world" to fall back on.
To rock "Bawitaba" for this size crowd, while basking in the warm accolades of Aerosmith, Hank Williams Jr. and Run-D.M.C., must be the high ideal of that art along with getting laid a lot. And while the talk was about the nonstop party, all the kids in "Fuck You Im From Detroit" T-shirts found their common ecstasy in something more than the Detroit tradition of never leaving home without packing a joint. Kid Rock might not speak to everyone, but he mesmerizes masses with an unusual mix of conviction and drive.
Props to fans and memories of being old-schooled on the east side streets flowed out on wafts of pot smoke and that familiar back-in-the-day tone between covers and songs from Devil Without a Cause. They made Kid Rocks performance an opportunity to blow minds, which it did with equal measures of showmanship, talent, visual effects and hype.
But this was also a rite of personal victory for the top dog who played underdog for years, running his own label out of his basement with a network of interns and the taste of that Jive Records deal still lingering in his potty mouth.
The sentiment a country boy can survive twanged loudly with authenticity, and Kid Rocks classic rock medley was as much about wearing influences as finally being a contender, now wearing the big, beglittered shoes of those old rock stars. He is big, but not unsympathetic. "Are you getting your $22.50 worth?" he called out.
The audience screamed back at a stupid question.
Did he overlook the fact that the venue was overflowing with smart shoppers, kids who carry Visa cards and get their half-price Hilfiger at TJ Maxx?
Toward the end of the show, he stopped at each instrument on stage, playing the drums, scratching, then hitting the bass, guitar and keyboard. Maybe it was to prove his stakes are as high as his shit is real. Unlike opener Powerman 5000, getting by on a fraternal connection to Rob Zombie and not much else, Kid Rock entertains as if he learned something the first time around about being a star: If you happen to be one of the lucky few to get your 15 minutes, work it like its 15 seconds. Norene Cashen writes about music and visual culture for the Metro