Concert review: Ke$ha fans get sleazy, and then some

[Originally published in the Boston Herald, April 14, 2011]

Barring a drastic makeover, newly minted pop star Ke$ha will never be accused of displaying class. Her worshippers wouldn’t have it any other way.

The 24-year-old’s Get $leazy Tour stopped at a sold-out House of Blues on Tuesday. There wasn’t much to figure out beneath the blue lipstick, American flag tunics and glittery leotards. If it’s lewd, crude and nonsensical, Ke$ha’s most likely made it a part of her repertoire.

The 85-minute show opened to the sounds of “Sleazy,” with Ke$ha perched inside a diamond-shaped light frame on the second tier of the stage wearing glow-in-the-dark goggles. She remained trapped in her music substation for the first four songs, pressing buttons that set synth riffs in motion and tapping on percussion boards with glow-in-the-dark drumsticks. She finally skulked front and center stage for “Blow” and brought the confetti guns with her.

The night was littered with profanity-laced declarations of love, directives to display “your very worst behavior” and — despite 9-year-olds in the audience — such inquiries as, “Are any of you drunk yet?” and “Have any of you made out with your neighbor?”

A scrum of dancers and band members crowded the stage at most times, dressed in post-apocalyptic grunge outfits that ranged from skeleton costumes with flannel vests to American flag boxer-briefs with acid-wash jean vests to dinosaur costumes for the fruity “Dinosaur.” A roadie dressed as Santa Claus tossed cymbals around and led an awful cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right” to close the show.

The height of inappropriateness came during “Grow a Pear,” when Ke$ha called a 17-year-old onstage to serve as her man-prop while she paraded out “Mr. Penis” dressed as — well, you get it.

Technically, the show was a success. Her vocals held up and big hits such as “Your Love Is My Drug,” “TiK ToK” and “We R Who We R” all knocked appropriately. But the music was overshadowed by Ke$ha’s insistence on seeming wild, crazy and amoral, which for anyone not drunk or ensnared in the Ke$ha web, was simply draining.

Opening act Beardo seemed a deliberately stupid choice. His songs sounded like the fumblings of a fledgling garage band, but it wasn’t really about his songs. It was about his multicolored mullet, ripped T-shirt, mauve spandex and his ability to push the party line via chants of “Drink!” and “(expletive) school!” He seemed to be the only one having fun during his set.

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