Tell friends you're going to a classic-rock show in San Francisco and bands like Furthur and Journey might come to mind. The last thing they'd expect is a gun-toting Glenn Beck pal with a ranch in Texas, unless they knew that 62-year-old Ted Nugent regularly swings through town on his US tours—which have been happening for 40 years and counting. It's no surprise that a guy who draws cheers from his audience by exclaiming, "Let's hear it for dead shit on the fucking grill!" once got in a tiff with SF animal-rights protesters that ended up with a 21-year-old activist being hauled off to jail. That was 11 years ago. In an email after his most recent show, Nugent told me he hadn't run into any trouble this time around. "But I was lookin'."
I arrive outside The Independent, a venue that's a bit small for Nugent's oversized persona, 15 minutes before the doors open. There are about six dozen people waiting in line, mostly middle-aged white guys, some donning an assortment of wide-brimmed hats and camo. It's not exactly the mix of youthful hipsters and aging hippies you normally encounter at shows around here.
Most of these guys it seems, have been Nugent fans since the 1970s, but up at the front of the line, I spot an anomaly: a young couple from San Francisco's Marina District. "We're very conservative," explains the man, noting that he, like Nugent, is an avid hunter. There probably aren't many people here from the city, he wagers.