August 11, 2012
Photos: Mike Forbes
One: you’re packed into a tiny little room with a few hundred people at most, with freedom to move and a bathroom and bar within spitting distance of the front of the stage.
The other: The first annual Boots and Hearts Festival held at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario. 40,000 rednecks drenched to the bone fighting for spots in front of the stage where row upon row of flimsy lawn chairs were set up to accommodate Scared looking elderly folk and pissed off rural visitors. These people clearly had no idea what was gonna happen when those 40,000 converged upon the stage to get closer to their favourite performers.
Last time I saw something so utterly stupid was at the SARS Festival in Toronto where people expected to sit comfortably in lawn chairs and have family picnics at the front of a stage with 450,000 animals gradually migrating towards the stage. What a mess. Never have I seen anything like it and I hope to never see it again.
Let’s face it, if you’re heading to a festival with more than 10,000 people, don’t bring a fuckin lawn chair if you’re planning on front row as your destination. Someone is gonna trip over the damn thing when it gets dark. You’re gonna get all pissy when someone else stands in front of you, and they will. It’s just plain dangerous, short sighted and moronic to expect back yard/camping conditions at the front of the stage of any big show. Why not start a campfire while yer up there and get out the hot dog roastin’ sticks too? Wake the fuck up people.
At one point I saw this poor old dude, must have been at least 70, making his way through the crowd at the front row. Using a cane to keep his old bones upright, he sadly had to argue with every asshole under the sun that wouldn’t let him back to sit down with granny who often looked around, wide eyed and worried about his whereabouts and wondering why she let her family talk her in to the “fun” front row arrangement. Thank God, as soon as Alabama left the stage in a torrential downpour, they had finally had enough and the whole family uprooted their seats and got the hell outta there. I guarantee, it would have been a bloodbath otherwise!
For the most part, it was Kid Rock’s fan’s who were poised to siege the ego ramp and claim the front rows so the makeshift seating arrangement was safe for the time being while daytime acts such as Shane Yellowbird, Sheryl Crow and Alabama whittled away at the time clock waiting for Bob to take the stage.
While waiting for Sheryl Crow to take the stage, I snapped a few pics of Shane Yellowbird, the smiling, bushy eyebrowed cowboy, who hung out at the front of the stage signing autographs and posing for pics with fans for at least an hour making sure everybody who wanted, got a piece of him. Anyone who knows me, knows I think that’s the shit. Doesn’t matter what music you make or what kind of celebrity you are, you gotta make time for your fans or you’re just an asshole. Well people, I am here to tell you that Shane is no asshole. He went way beyond the call of duty and earned instant huge respect in my books. But this rocker can’t even name a song of his though. Ahem.
Sheryl Crow is hot. Yeah I had to get that out of the way immediately. Had to be said. The 50 year old, smokin hot mother of 2, would never get kicked outta bed for eating crackers. She took the stage with a giant smile that rarely left her, or her bandmate’s, collective face.
She played all the faves even braving the rain for a good portion of her set. The rain got a little heavier and she still took to the ego ramp and danced, shaking her beautiful ass and beaming with delight that perfect smile, while the wind and rain whirled its own special effects into Miss Crow’s set.
Alabama, one of country’s most respected and revered acts, hit the stage firing up their most recognizable hit, “Mountain Music”, and ripping through a load of their classics including “Dixieland Delight”, “Angels Among Us”, “Roll On 18 Wheeler” and “Feels So Right”. It was another one of those bands that before the show I couldn’t name a single song they played but realized as they served em up, we all know a truckload of em.
Halfway through their set, the downpour hit. I mean it REALLY started raining. Caught founding member, singer/guitarist Randy Owen out on the ego ramp and he took it in stride whipping his towel around and poking fun at us “wallerin in the mud”. Original bassist Teddy Gentry, let his hands do the talking while he caressed his bass with more runs and fills than you could shake a stick at. His old hands were in fine form while he effortlessly showed anyone watching that this boy knows how to make use of a bass guitar and then some.
As Alabama left the stage, the rain hit bucket status. The cats n dogs were drowned out, and I think most of us feared the worst. Was Kid Rock gonna get rained out? The torrential downpour lasted about a half hour while Bob’s stage was set up and readied for what might not happen anyway. I looked to the sky the whole time thinking only one thing… no lightning please. And there was none. Finally the announcer took the stage and told us that they’d been tracking this system and that in 5 to 7 minutes it would stop and Kid Rock would be with us.. hang in there. Yeah whatever.. the rain continued.
Finally about 2 minutes later, like Jesus himself walked into the venue, the rain stopped. Dead stop. The air was clean and clear. And Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”, Kid’s intro song, was welcomed by the crowd with huge appreciation and relief. After the lyrics “just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit” cut off , the Twisted Brown Trucker band kicked into “Devil Without A Cause”, blowing the figurative doors off the venue’s virtual walls.
The whole place went nuts and I made my move to the front, past the giant asshole cowboy right next to me who threatened to break me in three if I tried to get past him, past and right through the pathetic folding chairs with no occupants, right up to 2nd row and a great spot for shooting yet another kick ass Kid Rock show. Little did I know until I arrived at my new seating arrangement, that I’d picked up a hitchhiker along the way.
An extremely hammered young lady with about 9 friends somehow saw me make my move and grabbed on for dear life. I dragged her barely standing, pickled frame 40 feet along the front of the stage towards the ego ramp with all her friends pushing us both along. They were very grateful and gave me plenty of hugs and adulation for my heroic efforts. Pffft. I was heading over there anyway.. they just rode the coat tails and thought it was amazing that this fat bastid could move at all! A few minutes later I looked over and the pisstank was making out with some guy who came barreling through the crowd! When they came up for air, I looked at buddy and yelled, ” MY WIFE!!!!”.. he almost shit himself! Then he realized I was kidding and high fived me before diving back in for more.
Speaking of my wife, she was there too. But as soon as Alabama left the stage she took off through the crowd towards a more Kid Rock friendly position. She always does. One time she even opened for Kid Rock at the Kool Haus in Toronto with a Karaoke version of Janice Joplin’s classic “Bobby McGee”!
Kid’s (literally) watered down show with no stage props, gimmicks or pyro, lacking in showy bullshit, he always makes up for it with the amazing band and cool tunes that Black Bobby pulls out and throws at you. Whether you like him or not, Kid Rock can fill a night with some of the best music, be it his own, or a cover tune that he’ll dust off for you.
So again. Even despite the awful weather Kid Rock pulled off another great show, thanking us many times for being there and putting up with the storm. The first annual Boots and Hearts Music Festival was a fine success and you can bet next year will probably be huge as well.