There was a moment, about six minutes into Bubba Sparxxx’s 45-minute set at the City Lounge in Cudahy on Saturday, that I realized I was not going to be capable of writing the article you might expect to be appearing in this space. As I bopped along to Bubba doing his verse on Archie Eversole’s one-hit-wonder “We Ready,” all the sideshows of seeing Bubba Sparxxx in Cudahy—the townie venue, the crowd of people showing up like this was the only concert they’d be seeing this year, the ubiquitous pitchers full of radioactive liquor, the downward career trajectory—really didn’t matter. Bubba Sparxxx may have only about seven songs you actually want to hear, but those seven rule in a concert context, to the point where all the other stuff was just wallpaper. I was not going to be able to write the “Can you believe this shit?” article that the situation, frankly, maybe deserved.
See, I have listened to Bubba Sparxxx at least 100 times of my own volition. I copied The Deliverance from my local public library when I was 17. I listened to Bubba’s 2014 country rap album Made On McCosh Mill Road before I even considered seeing him play the brick patio of a suburban bar in a city made out of bacon, and even liked a third of it. Not only that, I am also intimate with the music colloquially known as “hick-hop,” and enjoy some of it. I unironically like a lot of country artists that are indebted to it (peace to my boys Florida Georgia Line) and even like some of them that make it (peace to Colt Ford and Big Smo).
Which is to say I am basically the ideal audience for an $18 ticket price ($15 pre-sale) to see Bubba Sparxxx do “Ms. New Booty” twice in a row, including once with about eight of the 30 women in attendance (seriously, Bubba Sparxxx drew 80-20 men to women) partaking in a Ms. New Booty contest. I am the ideal audience for watching Bubba Sparxxx fan the embers of what is left of his time as a person who is able to barnstorm around the country playing in the yet-to-be gentrified surroundings of mid-sized American cities. Despite not wanting to see myself in the crowd, I was one of them.
Which, for some reason, makes me feel like I need to apologize here. Because I assume many of you have clicked over this story expecting a blow-by-blow of how miserable it was to be at the Bubba Sparxxx show at City Lounge this weekend. And to be sure, there were parts of it that sucked: the venue basically tricked everyone into coming to the show three hours before it intended to start, and the weird hanging booth things at City Lounge are the worst tables I’ve ever sat at in my entire life. I watched a very hostile guy get kicked out after being belligerently drunk and pouring a pitcher of UV Blue on himself and then later vomiting. I watched a couple seductively rap lines from “The Real Slim Shady” into each other’s ears. Cudahy’s “best local rapper” was the opener, and apparently “best” means he does overly aggressive rap-rock covers of Black Sheep songs. I saw at least 10 people vaping.
And I’m sure you were expecting the too-easy, knee-jerk reaction to Bubba Sparxxx playing in Cudahy instead of at, like, The Rave, or some dive bar that books music in Milwaukee proper. (I don’t know, Yield or something? I live in Madison.) I could have written some thing about how Bubba Sparxxx is stuck playing in Cudahy—a fact even he found hard to accept; he kept yelling “thank you Milwaukee!”—but to mock that would be a waste of time. Sure, Bubba isn’t selling out the Rave, but he got 150 or so people to pay $18 apiece to see him in a tent on Saturday night. What did you do? No one is paying to see me do “Ugly.” And Bubba Sparxxx has lived a much cooler life than I will ever hope to live; this is a guy who has worked with Outkast, Timbaland, Timberlake, and the Ying Yang Twins. He still gets paid to tour the country playing music every night—even if the emphasis on “country” has increased.
There’s a quote I saw on Twitter once that I can’t find now, that said something like, “I don’t hate things now because I don’t know what I’ll like or what I’ll be like in the future.” It’s something I’ve taken to heart. I wish I could have come through, delivered the r/jokes about Bubba Sparxxx playing in Cudahy, and been done with this. Instead, I had a good time seeing Bubba Sparxxx in Cudahy. Ask me anything.