So the Washington Post sent me to a Kid Rock show. One of the best things about working as a critic is that it forces you to broaden your taste! It was my first visit to the Fillmore Silver Spring, the new Live Nation concert venue across from the AFI Silver Theater that finally opened its doors two months ago after years of preamble. Here's my report of what all went down. Kid Rock is 40 years old. His most recent album, the year-old “Born Free,” was produced by late-career rejuvenation specialist Rick Rubin and evokes 1970s Bob Seger more than it does the Clinton-era rap-rock that made Rock a multiplatinum star. He hasn’t been arrested at a strip club or a Waffle House in years. He’s recorded a duet with Sheryl Crow. Twice, actually.
But chin-and-middle-fingers up, Kid Rock fans. While these harbingers of mortality are unmistakable, Rock’s 105-minute set at a tightly-packed Fillmore Silver Spring last night demonstrated that maturity hasn’t laid its liver-spotted hands on him just yet. Though he played a few ballads, including “Care,” which provides the name of his current tour -- wherein he’s arranged for businesses from his hometown of Detroit to donate to local charities in each city on the itinerary -- the show found its raison in throw-your-Blackberries-in-the-air-like-you-care-not-a-whit jock jamz like “Bawitdaba” and “All Summer Long.”
Rock’s 10-member Twisted Brown Trucker band seemed at least 50 percent overstaffed, offering sludgy, indistinct versions of the hits that didn’t feel any more rhythmic for the contributions of two percussionists and a DJ. The two burly bros in front of me dressed in T-shirts from the firearms manufacturer Glock playfully punched each other to the beat all the same.
Introducing “So Hott,” Rock did the time-honored practice of slipping the venue’s name conspicuously into the lyrics one better, namechecking Silver’s Spring’s Quarry House Tavern as the site where he’d picked up a lady companion to ease the loneliness of the road the prior evening. His encore traded the personal for the political, with explosions of red, white and blue confetti to accompany “Rock and Roll Jesus” and the unfurling of a giant Old Glory across the back of the stage for “Born Free.” It was an evening free or sarcasm or irony, at least until an exiting patron shouted “Let’s go see a foreign film!” in the direction of the American Film Institute, the Fillmore’s neighbor across Colesville Road.