by Bao Le-Huu
Caveman rock: The Nuge back when this was presumably considered more manly
That’s the thing about being a blow-hard. Everyone always has their yardstick out to see if you – every microscopic thing about you – measure up to all that bluster. The bigger the mouth, the greater the scrutiny. And for a grade-A gas bag like Ted Nugent (Aug. 12, The Beacham), that’s quite a corner to be painted into. Like answers over a megaphone to questions no one asked, this fucker has spent a lifetime cramming his opinions down the public gullet with eye-rolling relentlessness. At this point, perhaps only a saint can dissociate his politics from anything else he does.
But the music fan in me is willing to try to look past his chronic and gaping assholery because I’ve never seen the Nuge live. So, walking in, the question is whether he – by sheer force of talent and show – can move this listener away from the distraction of his attention-whoring blather and toward whatever greatness he’s said (mostly by himself) to have.
It turns out, the old coot’s still a flamethrower as an axeman and still helms his loud, screaming guitar-rock with command. But was it badass enough to outweigh his self-packed baggage? Well, let’s see, there was lots of salty jingoism and almost as much cheap flag-waving as a Toby Keith concert (I’m guessing on that one since I’ve never been to one and can’t conceive of ever going – everyone has their line). But, basically, there was enough hawkish, entitled patriotism to be dubious for a draft-dodger like Nugent. And let’s not even get into the false macho of being all poster-boy gung-ho and shit about popping off guns in a civilian context but pussy in the face of possibly seeing some real action in Vietnam. But, wait, that’s beside the musical point. See how those loud politics can get in the way?
Anyway, there was also lots of Obama-hating. Oh, and there was that reference to the black hollow-body Gibson he used on “Cat Scratch Fever” as his “black girlfriend.” Goddamn, that dude’s hard to like and even harder to take seriously with each spoken word. That’s why I’m thinking my agnostic ass is at least halfway to sainthood by acknowledging his onstage power despite his bottomless bullshit.
On a procedural note though, I’ve been to some rough, sometimes seriously dangerous shows amid everyone from skinheads to gangbangers. But never before have I appreciated the Beacham’s metal-detecting entry protocols more than at this Yosemite Sam parade.
Read more This Little Underground: