Review: Kid Rock Blends Rap, Rock and Country at Taste of Country Music Festival
Kid Rock's message at the 2016 Taste of Country Music Festival swung wildly on Friday night (June 10). Early on it was "Be cool, keep pimping." Later he was lamenting turning 40 amidst the most country arrangement imaginable.
He was at once a "Cowboy" who urged the crowd to scream before reminding them, "You ain't never met a motherf--cker quite like me!"
"Don't worry, I'm as confused as you are," Rock said after a handful of songs at Hunter Mountain in Hunter, N.Y. The pre-show song selection and his opening number served notice that his was not a family show. Indeed, that sent a few fans to the campgrounds to prepare for Saturday's Kenny Chesney set. The remaining thousands were more than enthusiastic, responding again and again when he called out for more noise.
Few entertainers can name-check Willie Nelson and George Jones, tell stories of beers with Hank Williams Jr. and sing Motown-influenced rock songs before going into R-rated hip-hop riffs. In a way Rock is the perfect representative of what modern day country music is: rooted in songs by godfathers like Willie, Hank and Johnny Cash (the title of one of the more subdued songs he sang midway through the set), but also looking forward and outward to other genres for influence and inspiration.
The 45-year-old is truly Detroit-fed, with an Iggy Pop-meets-Bob Seger swagger onstage that's impossible to turn away from. He celebrates hard work, pride and American freedom ("Born Free") but also excess and hedonism. "Picture" and "All Summer Long" were two songs country fans expected and heard. Others like "Rock and Roll Jesus" and "Wasted Time" hit the sweet spot, as well.
"Bawitdaba" was Rock's encore, after closing his first set with "Born Free," from his 2010 Born Free album. Those wondering why he was booked as a headliner didn't have questions by the end. Kid Rock is one of country's (or whichever genre) best frontman, with a live show that rivals Garth — and maybe surpasses him.
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