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[whitespace] Kid Rock

Trailer Trash Flash

Kid Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker Band kicked out the jams at the Compaq Center

By Sarah Quelland

Photographs by George Sakkestad

Kid Rock has carved a sweet little niche for himself with his hard-rocking mack daddy attitude, blue-collar ethic and jones for those '70s Southern rock bands. Though the Compaq Center was half full and the whole upper section was closed off, everyone who made it out to his show last Sunday (April 7) was clearly having a blast. His fans' overwhelming enthusiasm made the arena seem packed from the moment Rock took the stage.

Celebrating the white trash lifestyle without apology, Rock's stage was strewn with pink flamingos and those plastic whirligigs that spin when it's windy; old tires and hubcaps; neon beer signs; and lines of laundry. A silver trailer home served as the backdrop behind a Romeo City Limits marker and a Beware of Dog sign perched on the drum set. Girls would periodically appear onstage to dance two to a cage in skimpy bikinis. Rock's colorful show took on the feel of a back yard barbecue and rock & roll jam rather than an arena rock concert.

Rock appeals to an all-American working class crowd--equal parts men and women--that appreciate Rock's patriotism and verbal fight for the common man. To many he's become both a hero and an inspiration. He's a scrappy, scrawny little punk who rose up from the streets of Michigan to become a rock star living large with none other than Pamela Anderson on his arm.

Kid Rock Rock played champion for the blue-collar cause well: "I wanna thank everybody for comin' out on a Sunday night [and] spending your hard-earned money," he told the crowd. Later he played a bluesy tune titled "If I Was President," where he said he'd "give the working man back his money," a sentiment that elicited wild cheers.

During "President" he added "I'd make the day Joe C. died a national holiday," which prompted somber reflection. Rock lost his pint-sized partner in rhyme almost two years ago due to complications from Celiac disease and Joe C's death did not go unnoticed at Sunday's show. During "Devil Without a Cause" a huge picture of the little rapper descended from the rafters. Rock kneeled silently with his back to the audience in honor of his friend's memory while Joe C.'s taped vocals played overhead: "I'm a freak ho, call me sick/Three-foot-nine with a 10-foot dick." His absence has created a noticeable void on Kid Rock's stage.

Rock also played the part of the patriot. He announced, "I'm so proud to be livin' in the USA" and sang "America the Beautiful." While the confederate flag was in questionable taste, the American flag was an appropriate enough symbol.

Kid Rock With pride not just in America, but in American music, Rock played as many covers and medleys as he did his own original material. He paid tribute to some of Detroit's finest with an extended medley that included Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock & Roll," Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever," the Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go," Grand Funk Railroad's "We're an American Band," the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams" and Eminem's "My Name Is...." Other songs that snuck into the set included Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll," AC/DC's "Back in Black," the Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider" and the theme to The Dukes of Hazzard, a song penned by the late Waylon Jennings. Rock even did a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" in earnest.

Throughout the night he led the audience in clap alongs, sing alongs and chants like "Ki-id" "Rock! Rock!" while spark showers, explosions and bursts of flames heated up the arena. It was a pyro-spectacle on par with KISS' fiery shows.

Rock's done something rather remarkable by updating the blues and country traditions of Southern rock to create something that's new and yet familiar. He seems to be on a personal crusade to revive the genre and introduce those classic rock sounds to his younger fans. Whether or not you believe his posturing and strong alliance with blue-collar values, he definitely gives his fans their money's worth. Concertgoers seemed more than satisfied. The roar of rugged American-made trucks and motorcycles was loud as drivers exited the parking lot, still charged by Kid Rock's performance.


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Web extra to the April 11-17, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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