Ke$ha + Pitbull - Golden Nugget Casino - Atlantic City, NJ - 5/26/13
Devon Maloney Ke$ha
Better Than: Frankly? Probably any other reason to go to Atlantic City, ever
"Ke$ha and Pitbull are playing Atlantic City over Memorial Day Weekend." Is there any part of that sentence that isn't perfect? No. No, I tell you. Here are a few reasons why.
- Because the last time so many sequin-skirted/outrageously coiffed/shutter-shaded twenty-somethings and dyed-blonde/party-shirted/low calorie vodka-tipsy moms and blazer-and-tie'd/travel-in-packs/casino-pro "family men" were all in the same room was your senior prom at the local Marriott. (There, however, there were fewer 12-year-olds in facepaint and recently purchased tour t-shirts.)
- Because nowhere else in America (probably) can you see two of the most successful arena pop stars on the planet perform on a glorified tabletop in a carpeted ballroom, complete with low-rent, Times Square pervert animal costumes.
- Because your bus ticket to Atlantic City comes with a free $25 casino voucher?
- Because this happened.
But most of all, because Ke$ha, our RiFF RaFF-cornrowed goddess of DGAF, and Pitbull, elite-grade happy-hypeman robot supreme, are two sides of the same proudly obnoxious, deliriously successful American coin, and Atlantic City is the one place where we all can be truly happy together.
At this point, we lesser life-forms should know better than to underestimate Kesha Rose Sebert. Her pair of 2010 releases -- full-length debut Animal and follow-up EP Cannibal -- outraged and disgusted many a critic (and generally, any anti-popstar aficionado) for their manufactured, unladylike approach to dance-pop; her 2012 sophomore album, Warrior, by contrast, mollified many of them. At best, it shocked skeptics and made them believers; at the very least, it destroyed the notion that Ke$ha was anything less than a very smart artist who knows exactly what she's doing and how she's going to do it. The Ke$ha of 2013, in other words, can do whatever she wants, with whatever effort level she wants -- letting whole lines in songs drop onstage because she feels like it, trailing behind her dancers' choreography and laughing about it -- and you know it's not because she couldn't, if it would serve her better.
How could any human person have anticipated that a woman who grinds with furries and sing-raps lines like "Come gimme some of that/ Yum, like a lollipop/ Baby don't be scared," would introduce "[her] favorite kind of ball -- eyeballs!" and parade around a pack of dancers dressed as none other than eyeball-masked, 1980s avant-garde art collective the Residents? Who could've predicted that those same -- now unmasked -- dancers would later wave gargantuan Illuminati flags alongside the Stars and Stripes? Whether or not it's intentional, Ke$ha and her team have tailored her show to appeal to the widest cross-section of fans imaginable, giving each demographic something to make inarticulate, gleeful noises at.
Still, if it's been said a thousand times, it still wouldn't be enough: Ke$ha is at her best when she embraces her white-trashiest chakra. Her delivery of songs like "Gold Trans Am" and label-rejected rare gem "Machine Gun Love," is less anthemic than, say, "Warrior" or "Crazy Kids," but those performances are the ones that set her apart from her top-40 contemporaries. Even in an intricately stitched, (probably) thousand-dollar bodice, even with couture rhinestones all over her face, she all but bursts into flames of fearlessness when indulging that down-South, backwaters tendency that so many have loathed from the get-go. It is revelatory, and it is glorious. (Relatedly, her Purple Rain-esque band's destruction of a metal riff on "Tik Tok" is offensively good.)