Preview: Kid Rock, ZZ Top hit the road on inflation-busting tour


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Pearl Jam will be remembered as the band that took on Ticketmaster, although it ended up losing in the end.

Kid Rock can now take credit for messing with Live Nation's concert economics and having everyone come out a winner.

The hard rocker from Detroit, whose hits range from the rap-metal stomp "Bawitdaba" to the breezy Southern rock song "All Summer Long," swung a deal with the concert promotion giant to get his fans a ticket, a T-shirt and a beer for less than $55. He even threw onto the bill the once-monstrous still-great Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band ZZ Top and his former sidekick Uncle Kracker.

Kid Rock

Where: First Niagara Pavilion, Burgettstown.

When: 6:45 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets: $20; ticketmaster.com.

Kid Rock explained the whole thing, saying, "Everyone knows the economy is still hurting people across the country, but I didn't want that to be a reason why everyone couldn't get out and enjoy themselves on a summer night. So we're going to throw the biggest and best party ever, with prices across the board that are reasonable and transparent. No hidden fees, no gimmicks."

So, will it be kind of a low-budget "biggest and best party"? Nope.

"We're not sparing any expense on this tour," he added. "We're going over the top as always, but that doesn't mean we're going to ask the fans to pay more. If this works we're going to play to packed houses of fans who appreciate what we're doing. If it doesn't, it might be a long summer. But someone has to go out there and fight these high prices and change things up, and I'm lucky enough that I can afford to take a pay cut. $20. Best night ever."

• The tickets are $20, with a ticketing fee of $5 and a parking charge of $4, all detailed up front. That's $29.

• T-shirts, which normally run $35 and up at a concert, will be $20.

• There will be special $4 draft beers, plus value food packages, free samples of Jimmy John's sandwiches at select venues and free coffee at the end of the show for a safer ride home.

• To combat outside scalping, Kid Rock is doing his own scalping by setting aside 1,000 tickets from each show as Platinum Tickets sold directly to fans.

The win for Kid Rock is that his crowds have bumped up from about 11,000 to more like 20,000.

"Rock's goal was to give back," wrote blogger Bob Lefsetz. "To return concert going to what it once was. A regular habit as opposed to a vacation. That's how the business revitalizes, by getting people to the show. If it's so expensive they can only go once a year, they're gonna save up for the superstar extravaganzas, which must feature production as opposed to music to justify the cost, and ultimately everybody else loses."

Rock isn't skimping on the performance. His Twisted Brown Truckers band has two guitars, drums, bass, three backup singers, sax, percussion and DJ, with video screens, confetti showers and pyrotechnics. He released an album, "Rebel Soul," last year, but his 18-song set includes only a song or two from it, and goes heavy on his classic material.

Same with ZZ Top, of course. The trio of Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard has been intact since 1970, amazingly enough, and it's almost hard to believe, given the band's status and the fact that it once sold out two straight nights at the Civic Arena in 1991 that it's not a headliner in its own right.

ZZ Top has been doing a 12-song set that rips through such classics as "Got Me Under Pressure," "La Grange" and "Sharp Dressed Man" (now known as the "Duck Dynasty" theme) while mixing in songs from the Rick Rubin-produced "La Futura," the band's first album since 2003.

One of them is "I Gotsa Get Paid," which was probably the first thing they told Rock. Somehow, at 20 bucks a pop, they worked out a price that maintains their lifestyle of good barbecue and fur-lined guitars.

music

Scott Mervis: smervis@post-gazette.com; 412-263-2576. First Published September 5, 2013 4:00 AM


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