Kid Rock uses Trump and Biden to tour Blossom’s party

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio – Kid Rock knows his audience, but if a Friday night party at Blossom Music Center is what he really wants, 20,000 people might be wrong.

The man made his way in about two hours. Yes, that included photos of Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and an image of a face mask with a middle finger on it, leading a hymn in “We the People” for “Let’s go Brandon,” a thinly veiled insult to the incumbent president.

Some of those were expected, but perhaps not the appearance of the 45th president himself, who appealed to the near-amplitude crowd in a pre-recorded video of “Make America Rock Again.” But it wasn’t Kid Rock’s hateful display of politics that advanced so quickly. It was the amount of pandering.

And the crowd ate him.

Kid Rock stopped in Blossom as part of his infamous tour, taken from the name of his new album. The trip made him play across the country with opening performances long after their heyday. (Friday night was all foreigners go through in 2022, which unfortunately I missed while getting stuck in the place’s notoriously awful traffic. I heard “I want to know what love is” on the radio while driving to the show, though).

If anything, the show has cemented the reputation it has gained in the past decade by changing enough to stay relevant to a certain audience. He was a leading rap-rock financier in the late 1990s, and is now in his fifties. However, he is still a seasoned businessman, and because of that now he caters to the masses who love American flags and own lippies.

To be clear, it’s totally unfair to paint his audience with that wide brush. But on Friday it wasn’t hard to meet partygoers wearing pro-Trump or anti-Biden T-shirts. There was even a bumper sticker on one truck with Chief Waho punching the new Guardian mascot for the Cleveland baseball team.

As for Kid Rock, it’s now a mix of Bob Seger, ’70s country rock and arena, complete with headless lyrics like “Oh, I’ll fly like an eagle, my wings will carry me away.” There are no dynamics, it’s just loud and noisy.

With that said, his voice remains intact and backed up by a 10-piece backing band. He can still do his trademark leap while holding his hat on his head. He loves to use fire, lasers, and huge lights on stage, all of which made the show an amazing spectacle.

But pimping has always been around. Of course he had to take a gulp from Jim Beam’s beautifully lit bottle on purpose and smoke a cigar during a little DJ set. Of course he had to limp through Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever” and “La Grange” clippings for ZZ Top and of course he had to scream Cleveland out every chance he got.

Also, did he really need to thrill the crowd by blasting John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and Machine Gun Kelly’s “Bad Mother F****r” before hitting the stage? Was he really worried that his showmanship wouldn’t be enough?

What’s most frustrating about Kid Rock and the show is that the guy doesn’t lack musical talent. Many of his songs are essentially similar to the postmodern style of Beck or any other hip-hop artist experiment. After all, the Creative Beastie Boys Without Borders sampled AC/DC’s “Back in Black” for their early single “Rock Hard,” and Kid Rock used the same song during Friday’s opening performance of “Devil Without a Cause.”

But those elements don’t make his music good. There are only too many tracks from the 1970s, too many poems of strength to cry on and too many references to weed one can make.

The show had a few brighter spots, and they mostly came when Kid Rock opted for simplicity. Notoriety was a special tribute to Seeger. “First Kiss” made me wonder how pop-punk fans would receive the song if it was played in their preferred style.

Some of his early songs like “Bawitdaba” and “Cowboy” still retain their guilt-pleasing status.

But for every one of those songs there were performances of a hit song like “Don’t Tell Me How I Live,” complete with a video clip that showed CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and a bald eagle flying over a shimmering flat of water.

Is Kid Rock, for all his success, really interested in wearing a mask or whatever the news anchor said? No, he just knows it will piss people off and sell more concert tickets.

mission accomplished.

Eric Heisig is a freelance writer in Cleveland. He can be reached at eheisig@gmail.com