Ted Nugent Pasadena Fairgrounds July 11, 2010
It was one of the most offensive shows that Aftermath has probably been to, but that didn't stop us from buying a T-shirt. It was a show that would have made the cast of liberal pundits on CNBC shake their fists in self-righteous anger, and warm the heart and soul of Fox News Nation.
Welcome to Nugent Country, where freedom of speech and the right to bear arms are exercised to their fullest while your eardrums get pummeled with pure American rock and roll raunch, and clips of animals going back to the holy manufacturer in a hail of bowfire glaze over your eyeballs.
Nugent's headlining gig Sunday night at the Pasadena Fairgrounds was a fundraiser to help benefit the Bay Area Home Builders Association's "Operation Finally Home," which helps vets get mortgages on housing. On hand were current and former members of almost every military branch to lend support to the cause.
For nearly two hours, the Motor City Madman gave everyone under the pavilion on the fairgrounds their money's worth, playing every hit you could imagine at eardrum-fucking volumes and spouting off on all manner of political matters in between. It was all Aftermath hoped it would be and then some, with a light dusting of the right-wing vitriol and saber-rattling that we were hoping to see.
Nugent is a performer of the highest degree; the only difference being is that his message is only tolerable or popular for a small group. But these people are active and they do vote, making him. Call him the Lady Gaga of NASCAR nation, willing to lay bare everything he feels, knowing that he has a gaggle behind him waving the same middle finger to polite society.
Here's our play-by-play of last night's show from beginning to end from @hprocksoff. You had to have been there to get the breadth of the situation and this is the closest we can get you.
Stage backdrop has every Democratic politico being run down by Nuge in a tank. It's like the Animal House poster.
We aren't sure if you can have a painting of yourself running over the President and most of his cabinet as your stage backdrop, but manners didn't stop Gwar from eating a Dick Cheney effigy on stage for the better of four years in the Bush reign. The best part was the looks on Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton whilst being run down by a tank. Sort of reminded us of that Genesis video for "Land Of Confusion" but covered in chaw spit.
Street Fighting Man playing while a Marine Honor Guard is on stage. Bitchin'.
The Nuge opens with Star Spangled Banner. Sleeveless black pearl snap.
The sight of a Marine Honor Guard coming aboard the stage with Nugent while he played "The Star-Spangled Banner" on guitar was oddly inspiring. We aren't sure where that feeling came from at the moment but it was like being at a church service. Naturally, Aftermath made sure to take off our hat during the song.
Opens with "Stormtroopin." So much screaming and skullets.
"Wango Tango." People are going ape shit.
I picked the drunkest and most sadistic part of the crowd to be in. I love it.
The section we were standing in had members of 10th Grade Cutie and Cop Warmth, three dudes sporting skullets, and a crazed ex-Marine yelling "Ooorah!" in our ear for the entire five minutes of "Wango Tango." The dirt on the ground turned into mud with all the spilled Bug Light and sweat and we didn't want to leave our spot.
Three thousand people just screamed for poontang. Sweet poontang at that.
Say what you want about his politics but this show is loud and beautiful. He's like a pastor.
"Free machine guns for the kids," Nugent screamed while wielding what we rightfully assume were real machine guns. This was the Nugent that we had been hearing harried and scared reports about for years now. It's like when you finally get to see Alice Cooper in the guillotine or Slayer's blood shower during "Reign In Blood."
What followed was the mother of all tirades against the mayor of Chicago, President Barack Obama, most Northerners, gun-haters and every "Chairman Mao motherfucker in the White House." We don't remember hearing this sort of language directed towards Dubya during his tenure in office, at least with not this much volume and hate.
Shit is getting real. He's preaching. Fuck this and fuck that. He's railing. It's awe-inspiring.
I don't think he likes the President much. I'm swimming in hate.
I don't regret buying the t-shirt though. I can separate music from stage banter. This is freedom of speech for better or worse.
At this point the little liberal part of Aftermath's brain wanted to bolt, but instead we walked to the merch booth and bought a shirt for $35. It's strange how the more heated and aggressive the show, got the more proud we were to have bought the shirt. Free speech isn't always clean and peaceful, but Nugent believes this stuff, even if there seems to be a pinch of bandwagoneering going on. He didn't touch on immigrants last night, which would have just confused his message.
He just covered Soul Man ten minutes after the hate-parade. I love cognitive dissonance like whoa.
Hearing a cover of Sam & Dave's R&B raver "Soul Man" after everything before was jarring. But separating the stage banter from the music was integral at this point in the show. It was a loud and blistering cover, for what it's worth.
Normandy vet onstage can't hear Ted talking to him from two inches away. God bless him.
Playing a new song with a video playing with pics of MLK and some old Nuge loincloth clips. I'm so jaded to the irony now.
The footage of the paralyzed Marine sniper is pretty cool though.
Everything that came after the halftime tirade was icing on the cake. It's interesting how the new right wing uses Martin Luther King Jr. as an icon for its perceived struggle, and Nugent interspersed a few photos of the slain civil-rights leader with footage of himself teaching kids about hunting animals. "I celebrate killing shit!" he exclaimed right after the song and video were over.
Footage of Nuge's daddy and killing deer with bow guns. It's like an art installation.
I just watched about ten deer and two bears get shot. Can you eat bear meat? Just asking for a friend...
We must have seen a whole family of deer and at least two or three bears meet their maker over the course of the next five-minute clip. We didn't know how deeply ingrained in bow-hunting Daddy Nugent was until we saw this. It seemed to be more of celebration of father-son bonding than the straight-up killing of woodland creatures.
Nugent says he eats everything he kills, but we can't see eating bear steaks or brisket. From our research it tastes sweet and according to hunters the taste correlates with what the bear's diet and sex are.
It wasn't for the squeamish, but we have seen worse in horror movies and more adventurous art installations in the Museum District here in Houston.
"Cat Scratch Bieber." I mean fever. Sorry.
"Stranglehold." So many vasectomies in this crowd are rejoicing. Somehow it got louder.
Who hasn't screamed FREEDOM while holding a Tommy Gun aloft?
In keeping with the meat motif, "Fever" and "Stranglehold" both cooked nicely onstage. At this point, the straight-edge Nugent had played two hours straight only breaking for Gatorade or water breaks. For the two songs he put down the hunter imagery and the show was a rock show again, breaking out some of the most iconic licks he is known for.
New backdrop has Nuge riding a middle finger like a horse. Great White Buffalo.
Cochise! Sitting Bull! Crazy Horse! He's in an Indian headdress. What the hell are you doing with your life, Twitter?
A quick encore break and the Nuge returned in a Native American headdress, the likes you may have seen in old archive footage of his lithe loincloth days for "Great White Buffalo." The song is a sort of prayer to the endangered animal, which Nugent has claimed an affinity with.
"Buffaloes take no shit and have attitude. They run towards storms, "he said in between guitar lines. It summed up the feelings for the crowd assembled to, who feel left behind by the current state of the country of which they feel they have lost control of. Spirit animals are an easy thing to latch onto. Aftermath needs a spirit animal. Any suggestions for what ours should be?
He's sacrificing a "buffalo" onstage with a flaming arrow and an explosion. The buffalo is his guitar in the corner. I don't want this to end.
He's a one-man GWAR. The End.
For all the railing and bluster, we really wanted to keep hearing what he had to say. We became riveted, but where others see a call to action, we see a segment of America that is shouting into the heavens for something, even they aren't so sure they probably want. Nugent is a great mouthpiece for this and will be for a long time.
We need someone like the Nuge out there to scream for these people. Aftermath doesn't count ourselves in with Nugent Nation, but we sure as hell are glad someone like this exists for them.
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Personal Bias: None to speak of, other than the fact we love a good spectacle and we had been listening to the Cat Scratch Fever LP for the better part of the past two weeks.
The Crowd: Your standard Pasadena crowd: Folks in wifebeaters, older gals sporting sweaty cleavage, younger guys in leather vests and a healthy dose of bikers.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Fuck you Obama!"
Random Notebook Dump: Nugent really wants you to call him "Uncle Ted," and he loves Texas the way a fat kid loves cake, or a hunter loves his favorite skinning knife.