Kid Rock at the Minnesota State Fair, 8/23/14
|Kid Rock at the Minnesota State Fair|
Minnesota State Fair Grandstand, St. Paul
Saturday, August 23, 2014
There is one vestige of the felled rap-rock era that just refuses to shrivel up and go away. This artifact of one of popular music's more unfortunate trend cycles remains so popular, in fact, that he still manages to sell out massive concerts. This past Saturday at the Minnesota State Fair, he proved his immortality once more by performing to a sold-out crowd of 13,123 America-loving, black bandana and sequin-wearing, fair-going "motherfuckers."
Ladies and gentlemen, Kid Rock is still very much alive and kicking. Included in his ridiculous assortment of hats that he so generously showcased throughout his performance: the fedora/top hat (a marriage of the two most signature hipster hats), the trucker hat, and of course... the cowboy hat. "I wanna be a cowboy, baby," he sang to the drunken crowd, most of them double-fisting in efforts not to spend half of the show waiting in line for another cold one.
Atlanta five-piece Southern rock/country band Blackberry Smoke's set was a pleasant start to the evening. The Americana vibes felt appropriate for the environment of the concert. Small clusters of fans stood apart among the mostly seated stands and sang along to each song, raising their fists in devotion to the long-haired five. It seemed like having flowing, well-manicured locks was a requirement to be a member of Blackberry Smoke.
Lead guitarist and vocalist Charlie Starr's beautiful guitar had designs burnt into its lacquered surface. The band played a laid-back rendition of the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want," then he switched over to an acoustic guitar and went into their song "Ain't Got the Blues." "I ain't got the blues anymore, I don't toss and turn at night..." Starr drawled while casually strumming. Their musicianship was unquestioned, but Blackberry Smoke brought no antics to the stage whatsoever.
|Photo by Mike Madison|
When Kid Rock initially got on stage, all of the lights in the house went off, plunging us into complete darkness. The strains of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" rose over the speakers, and people jumped to their feet cheering. He strutted onstage while some sort of prayer played over the music, and giant bald eagles were projected onto the massive screens at his sides. "This is not just another concert in another town," he yelled at us. "This is St. Paul, Minnesota!" Everyone screamed in delight and admiration as if Jesus himself had just risen on the stage before them.
Unfortunately, Kid Rock performed every song along with a backing track that already included his vocals. This allowed him plenty of opportunity to either lip sync or just allow the pre-recorded voice to do the singing while he swaggered around the stage, shouting out lyrics at random. His saxophone player was the true star of the show, and blew frantically through complex solo after solo, stealing our attention. A wide banner of a bald eagle hung behind the band, a re-enforcement of the America theme that was going on. The band was fairly large, consisting of three backup singers, two guitarists, two drummers, a keyboardist, bassist, and the saxophone player. Occasionally, one of the backup singers picked up her own guitar and played along. They played through all of his big hits, including "Devil Without a Cause," "American Bad Ass," and "Rock Bottom Blues."
The formula made itself apparent. Most of Kid Rock's songs consist of samples from big American hits, like "Sweet Home Alabama." After taking a huge hit like this, or creating a rock song that sounds vaguely like another famous rock song, he then adds his frantic rapping on top, making sure to utilize the F-word as many times as possible. He's kind of like the Girl Talk of rock.
|Photo by Mike Madison|
Basically, if you like one Kid Rock song, you are subconsciously forced into liking all of them -- because all of them are actually the same. A lot of people took that leap of faith and liked that first Kid Rock song. They were all there, screaming their heads off along with him and waving their beers in the air, to lines like "I'm the illest fool/ Cooler than the bottom of a swimming pool."