Kid Rock's bawdy swagger shatters the envelope for RNC parties


TAMPA — Kid Rock, that Detroit player, that self-proclaimed "American Bada--," made political history Wednesday when the hip-hopper became the first musical act at a Republican National Convention to open his concert with the lyrics: "F--- all you h---!"

Okay, I can't exactly confirm that historical marker. It's late as I write this, and the Oak Ridge Boys have been known to throw down. But you know what, let's go with it anyway. Indeed: RNC history was made by a potty-mouthed Kid Rock!

Rock's show at Liberty Plaza, the tented insta-venue set up a few blocks from the RNC stronghold at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, was the most buzzed-about gig of the week, and that makes sense: Has such a relevant, swaggering act ever played the RNC? Perry Como he is not.

Thousands stuffed the tent for the man born Bob Ritchie's raucous 75-minute set. It was a tough ticket to snag, but wow, it was worth the struggle. Backed by his sprawling 10-piece Twisted Brown Trucker band, Rock came on 'round midnight and launched into Devil Without a Cause, which includes that highly profane put-down.

The swarming throngs of ruddy-cheeked young Republicans huzzahed at the naughty words — and then they flat-out roared when Rock spat out this on-the-fly rap: "They say Obama is lyin' / That's why I'm voting for Romney and Ryan."

Okay, that's a pretty weak zing from a pretty clever cat. After that, though, Rock kept the politicizing to a minimum: "I'm not here to give any speeches," he said. "That part of the evening is over." Instead, he worked through the highlights of his eclectic, enduring catalog: the Skynyrd-biting All Summer Long, a countrified "Cowboy" that eventually morphed into an acid-rap breakdown.

At the end of the night, as Rock jumped from DJ turntables (he scratched records while swigging Jim Beam) to the drum kit to an electric guitar, he played the opening riff of Cat Scratch Fever by fellow Detroiter and noted conservative Ted Nugent. There was an immediate buzz, the cheers swelling. Could the Motor City Madman be here too? Was all Obama-skewering heck about to break loose? Should we hide the women and liberals?!

Alas, no Nuge. But by that point, it didn't really matter. Rock's GOP crowd, so used to tame entertainment during these shindigs, was in love with the rap-rocker, especially as he ended his show by unfurling a huge American flag and hollering, "Do you still believe that you live in the greatest country in the world?"

Could Kid Rock's show lead to bigger, better, bawdier acts in the future? You never know. Paul Ryan is a huge AC/DC fan after all.

Whole Lotta Rosie at the RNC? Bring it on!

Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.