Like a frog being boiled slowly, Nashville never responded to the increasing crassness of Lower Broadway’s bar industrial complex until it was too late. Now Music City is stuck with Kid Rock showing his ass to the world.
Or at least a cartoon caricature of a woman’s derriere. The image is the centerpiece of a 20-foot lighted sign that is set to grace Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse, the rap-rock-country performer’s new mega-venue on Nashville’s main drag. Last week, the city’s Metro Council got involved because Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse — KRBAHTRNRS for short — needed permission for an aerial encroachment. And if this signage were just the garden variety of stupid that hangs off the sides of some of Lower Broad’s bars, it would have been fine.
But the KRBAHTRNRS sign is not your garden variety of stupid.
The collage somehow manages to incorporate a donkey, a guitar and the aforementioned ass — all of it a good representation of what’s inside.
Two twenty-foot shotguns emblazoned with the words “Born Free” run the length of the giant main-floor bar inside KRBAHTRNRS. An ego wall of show posters and giant televisions runs down the other side, while a giant brass eagle inscribed with the words “American Bad Ass” looms over the entire thing. The female bartenders wear black pants with neon green or fuchsia tiger stripes designed to pick up the black lights mounted under the bar. It’s a weird mélange of testosterone and tackiness that will make you pine for the relative good taste of Florida Georgia Line’s nearby FGL House.
When it came time to vote for the aerial encroachment, three Nashville Metro Council members opposed hanging a woman’s bare buttocks over the city’s busiest tourist area. Alas, the sign was approved anyway. Council member Kathleen Murphy voted no even though the council’s lawyer had warned that KRBAHTRNRS enjoyed first amendment privileges regarding the actual content of the sign, if not the placement of it. Most of the council felt like they had to vote in favor even if it was in bad taste.
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“Now we’ve got a big ass sign,” Murphy tells Rolling Stone. “What’s next? Should we expect other parts of the body to be shaking and wiggling on our skyline? We need to decide what we want to be. Do we want downtown to look more like Vegas? Or do we want downtown to be somewhere that people of all ages can go and feel welcome.”
The sign fight caps a month of controversy for Rock, who just showed up one year in Nashville like a real-life version of Christmas Vacation’s Cousin Eddie. After being installed as grand marshal of the Christmas Parade by the Lower Broad bar owners who have heavy influence over the event, Rock was removed after calling The View co-host Joy Behar a “bitch” on Fox & Friends. But controversy is good for tourist business and now he and his partners — who own several other Lower Broadway establishments of varying taste — will get their lighted cheeks.
Nashville’s tourist boom of the last decade has been accompanied by an influx of celebrity bars, each one gaudier than the last. But now with Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Jason Aldean and FGL all slinging the same mix of bachelorette-friendly drinks, hot chicken and bro-country tunes about sippin’ on some of that good stuff, the city is on overload. Kid Rock’s self-styled stupidity is just the naked cherry on top.