Kid Rock Gets Down, Dirty And Then Sincere

Pays homage to fellow Michigan musicians, from Bob Seger to Eminem, at club show.

NEW YORK -- At first glance, Kid Rock does not appear to be the

most complex of artists.

The Detroit-based rap-rocker's show at the Bowery Ballroom here Wednesday

night was performed under a large, brightly lit sign bearing his name

and a hand with its middle finger upraised -- a gesture that Kid Rock

himself appropriated more than a dozen times during the show.

A good part of his set was dedicated to simple-minded odes to misogyny,

misanthropy and mayhem, including "Balls in Your Mouth" and "Fuck Off."

But by the end of the night, the tall, lanky Michigan native (born Bob

Ritchie), who does his best to rap like a circa-1986, New York old-schooler,

revealed himself to be more than a one-dimensional musical cartoon -- even

if some fans didn't seem to demand more than that.

"Kid Rock rocks -- what more could you possibly say?" Jeff Bonna, 27,

of Brooklyn, N.Y., said after the show.

Kid Rock -- in a loose white T-shirt, red, pimp-style hat with a feather

and red leather pants -- took the stage around 11 p.m., as samples from

his own records, Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" and the movie "Goodfellas"

echoed through the club. He and his band, Twisted Brown Trucker, kicked

in with the title track of Devil Without a Cause (1998), his

fourth album.

Like many of his songs,

"Devil Without a Cause"

(RealAudio excerpt) found Kid Rock rapping over his band's heavy-metal

groove, which briefly incorporated a riff from AC/DC's "Back in Black" -- the

first of the evening's many homages to classic rock.

Joe C., a diminutive rapper who normally performs with the band, wasn't

at the show, but during "Devil Without a Cause" Kid Rock brought out

another featured guest -- a well-toned young woman whom he identified as

a porn star. The crowd, which included quite a few women, cheered as

the woman shimmied provocatively on the side of the stage, wearing a

sparkly, silver thong bikini.

The woman continued to dance as Rock and his band played "3 Sheets to

the Wind (What's My Name)" from his obscure, 1992 album, The Polyfuze

Method, and segued into his recent hit,

"I Am the Bullgod"

(RealAudio excerpt).

Throughout the show, the band, which included two guitarists, a DJ, bassist,

drummer and organist, added unexpectedly rootsy touches -- a soulful

organ lick here, a guitar fill there -- to what otherwise might have

been generic, late-'90s rap-metal grooves.

Kid Rock introduced the next song, "Balls in Your Mouth" -- another

track from The Polyfuze Method -- by saying that although he

sings about "bitches and hos," he doesn't "hate anyone in this world."

"I'm into trailer parks and top-shelf liquor," he said, pausing to call

Monica Lewinsky a "ho" and President Bill Clinton a "pimp."

One woman left in apparent disgust, but most of the females in the

audience didn't seem to mind Rock's less than politically correct stance.

"I don't pay attention to it," Rae Ann Derosse, a 23-year-old from Long Island, N.Y., said.

A less provocative song, "My Name is ROCK," from Early Mornin'

Stoned Pimp (1996), turned into a show-stopping, genre-hopping set

piece.

After Twisted Brown Trucker lead guitarist Kenny Olson played a squealing,

'80s-style solo, Rock displaced his DJ at the turntables and played a

funky, scratching break. Then he appropriated Olson's guitar -- which

Olson was still wearing -- and played riffs from ZZ Top's "La Grange"

and Aerosmith's "Walk This Way." Rock ended the song by taking over the

drum kit, clumsily bashing out arena-rock fills like a high-schooler

practicing in a suburban basement.

After a few more rap-metal songs, including "Fist of Rage" and "Wax the

Booty," Kid Rock donned a guitar and began to shift gears with "Cowboy,"

which added rockabilly and country to his trademark sound.

After a speech about "being proud of where you come from," Kid Rock led

the band in a medley of Michigan hard-rock classics. He did his best to

actually sing the MC5's "Sister Anne," Grand Funk Railroad's "We're an

American Band," Bob Seger's "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" and Ted Nugent's

"Stranglehold." Finally, he did the chorus of fellow Detroit rapper Eminem's inescapable "My Name Is."

Rock ended that bit by shouting "My name is Kid Rock," as the band began

his current hit, "Bawitdaba," churning up a mosh pit that had grown

quiet during the medley. Much stagediving ensued.

Many of the same fans lifted lighters into the air, seemingly without

irony, when Kid Rock sat down with a guitar and began the pained,

surprisingly melodic and soulful ballad "Only God Knows Why," which

found him repeating the line "take me to the river" with as

much sincerity and grit as he could muster.

After leaving the stage, Kid Rock and band returned to familiar

territory with the harsh "Fuck Off," which briefly segued into a riff

from Black Sabbath's "Iron Man." In the middle of the song, in a gesture

of solidarity with the star, many fans held out their hands, middle

fingers raised high.

Another Detroit group, the modern-rock band Sponge, was in the audience.

Sponge lead singer Vinnie Dombroski said he and his bandmates "loved"

Kid Rock's music, which differs wildly from their pop-rock sound.

"Detroit's so diverse, man," Dombroski said. "It's all part of the whole.

I think it's wonderful that [Rock is] getting all this attention. He's

been at it a long time."