His love is like a ramblin' rose.
photo: David Atlas

Pimp of Redneck Nation makes it on wings, wheels, steel

Kid Rock
Jones Beach
June 11

Balling yer fiancé on his truck's tailgate as prelude certainly prepares the way for Kid Rock's message of love for rock 'n' roll and the American Way. At Jones Beach June 11, the sometime Robert Ritchie illustrated his personal credo, aided by the Twisted Brown Trucker juggernaut featuring Bob Seger siren Laura Creamer. Rap legend DMC also blessed the urban-meets-Dixie proceedings from the wings. The twang-bangin', trash-talkin' Pimp of the Nation strutted the "Hilfiger" stage reminding throngs of bikers, feather-haired babes, 12-year-olds, and assorted brave brown-skin renegades of ball games and tittie bars. Kid Rock's paeans to factory and child care workers—he proposed the latter deserve an annual paid holiday—via his medley o' hits from "Midnight Train to Memphis" to "Lonely Road of Faith" reconstitute Middle America in hazy, pot-filtered post-Vietnam light. What our "redneck" Son of Detroit pondered in "If I Were President"—hint: Skynyrd on every radio, bootylicious action in the Lincoln Bedroom—was answered with a blistering encore eschewing Bush-esque John Wayne–isms in true antihero form: "Cowboy."

Monumental backdrops abounded: a Confederate battle flag, the American Bad Ass eagle, pyro, and cannon shots, plus Jason Krause's mighty flying V, aswirl with glittery red, white, and blue psychedelic fireballs. Drummer Stefanie Eulinberg sat in for Sheryl Crow on the blockbuster ballad "Picture," adding bubbling brown sugar to the mix. A gaggle of multiracial strippers shakin' what they mamas gave 'em provided devil-horn-brandishing males with something to ogle during heavier numbers like "Hillbilly Stomp" and "Devil Without a Cause." But even amid all the hedonism a-go-go, MC Kid stayed in the forefront, vaingloriously quoting "Free Bird," shouting "Fuck Radiohead, Clay Aiken, Britney Spears, and Madonna," boasting "Revolution is my name," tripping name-that-riff-style through Queen and AC/DC songbooks, and cockily demonstrating proficiency in everything from steel guitar and drums to organ while switching easily between mackin' fedora and John Deere cap. Even if his audience lagged a few steps behind, and segues between raucous and mellow didn't quite jibe, we've never met a motherfucker quite like him. Kandia Crazy Horse

Three out of five kickers of ancient jams back in the U.S.A.

Bowery Ballroom
June 14

It's a celebration of the music," Brother Wayne Kramer insisted. "It's a traveling repertoire company performance art experiment." He wasn't talking about an illegal loft rave, but rather DKT-MC5, a group reuniting him with ex-bandmates drummer Dennis Thompson and bassist Michael Davis. They're joined by Marshall Crenshaw, Mudhoney's Mark Arm, and indie pinup Evan Dando; late members singer Rob Tyner and guitarist Fred Smith are hopefully available in spirit.

On paper, this Frankenstein's monster looks questionable, and reviving the anarchist context of the Detroit legends is hardly realistic. But brushing aside the unrepeatable historical moment, the almost entirely post–Aquarian Age crowd at the Bowery Ballroom last Monday was undoubtedly drawn by the music, the myth, and curiosity about whether these survivors would pull their rebirth off or simply embarrass themselves. This, not the disputed recent biopic A True Testimonial, would be the closest the kids would ever come to seeing the '5 alive.

Kramer's striped button-down shirt and Crenshaw's electric-orange top and fishing cap made clear these weren't the old days, anyway. And the sound was tighter than it used it be, but still fierce—Kramer's solos, convulsing with each note, suggested Chuck Berry on speed; Thompson attacked his kit with such gusto that he had to change a snare mid-set, suspending the launch into "Kick Out the Jams." Still, all that dirty slop and those walloping Smith chords that put the original MC5 on the edge of implosion/explosion were inevitably missed.

Since Tyner was never much more than a fair singer fronting a powerhouse, the rotating DKT-MC5 microphone cast didn't have much trouble filling in for his sadly absent beatnik-yippie-jazz soul. Dando only really made sense on ballads like "Let Me Try," but Arm (who dove in the crowd to dance with a threesome) provided full-throated howls to "Human Being Lawnmower" and "Sister Ann." Kramer led an inspired "Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa" shout-along, but it was the Dictators' gloriously unsubtle Handsome Dick Manitoba who almost stole the show with his "Call Me Animal" and "American Ruse." Minus any revolutionary agenda about America's latest ruse, part of the buzz that once made the '5 newsworthy was still accounted for. Jason Gross

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