Ke$ha: 90 minutes of excess at the Midland

02/21/2011 11:00 AM

05/16/2014 5:29 PM

It’s easy to see why so many music fans and pop-culture observers despise Ke$ha. There’s plenty to loathe, from the dollar sign in her name to her trashy-chic fashion to her lyrics, some of which revel in their inanity.

After watching her incendiary show at the Midland on Sunday night, it’s easy to see why she is on the verge of becoming the next Lady Gaga. The show was initially booked at the Uptown Theater. It was eventually moved to the larger Midland so that an extra 1,000 or so tickets could be sold.

Nearly 3,000 fans filled the place, some of them children who looked as young as 8 years old, others in glazed in glitter and other states of fashion that paid homage to the headliner.

She gave them 90 minutes of excess: lights, garish costumes, dancing, profanity, R-rated props, wafts of fog, blizzards of glitter and confetti and the kinds of catchy electro-pop/disco bombs that turn a crowd into a giddy, celebratory mob.

From her perch in the rack of platforms, in the center square, where she was surrounded by her band mates, she opened with the soft-core porn anthem “Sleazy.” After the third number or so, she made her way onto the stage floor, where she would remain most of the night, singing, playing guitar, dancing with her backup dancers (she nailed a cartwheel during “Party at a Rich Dude’s House”) and generally acting like an alpha-skank.

The energy in the room waned only once or twice – when she played a slower tune, like “The Harold Song.” Otherwise, the mood was the kind you get when a band tears into a hit during the encore.

Her songs are relentlessly primal, both musically and lyrically. Most sound like three minutes of nothing but choruses set to pop melodies and thunderous dance rhythms. Lyrically, things can get sexually crass and profane. During “Grow a Pear,” she used a phallus as a stage prop, something the parents of the 8-year-olds must have winced through.

Vocally, she sounded processed and affected most of the night – artificial, which is in line with her entire shtick. She is all about artifice, escape, self-indulgence and fatuous decadence. She ended the evening with a call to arms for her fellow-misfits, “We R Who We R,” then launched into the Beastie Boys’ declaration of independence, “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party),” both of which blur the line between freedom and the right to be irresponsible.

We’ve seen this before many times, from Kiss to Madonna to Marilyn Manson and Gaga. Ke$ha may have lowered the bar musically, but for its relentless energy and visual assaults, her live show raised it. Give her credit: The gal with the $ in her name gave her fans more than their $30 worth.


Setlist Sleazy; Take It Off; He’s a DJ; Dirty Picture; Blow; Blah Blah Blah; Party at a Rich Dude’s House; Backstabber; Cannibal; The Harold Song; C U Next Tuesday; Animal; Dinosaur; Grow a Pear; Your Love Is My Drug; Tik Tok. Encore: We R Who We R; (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party).

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