Ke$ha Proves To Be More Human Than Human

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 1, 2011 7:20PM

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Ke$ha played here last week to a sold-out crowd at House Of Blues and we have to admit we weren't sure what to expect going in. While her records keep us happy and display a songwriter cannier than most reductionist critics are willing to give her credit for, her public image is a confusing mix of a gal that's just one of the guys and of a woman who consumes men whole, only to spit out their skateboards. Adding to the confusion is a history of televised live appearances showcasing a performer who often seemed unsteady and out of place.

2011_03_kesha_02.jpg What we got was an amalgamation of all of the above personae and then some. Ke$ha took the stage amidst criss-crossing metal frameworks studded by backing musicians and dancers who would give Mad max a run for his money. They churned out her hits in a muscular fashion and Ke$ha herself was often pounding on keyboards or manipulating synthesizers or stroking the air around a theremin or bashing away on drums or strumming away on a guitar or, you get the idea. The resulting image -- and we honestly don't care if any of the above instruments were even plugged in -- was of a woman serious about her music, providing the illusion that what was being created onstage was immediate. And it was in these moments, when choreography took a backseat to the power of her unassailable pop, that the show really sparkled.

At other times Ke$ha played the sexy provocateur, changing lines that are playfully suggestive in her songs to crass come-ons leaving nothing to the imagination onstage. These moments seemed designed to provoke but they fell flat slightly flat. On one hand you can discount Slutwave because the responses from her audience at these points was real, probably because teen angst has always had a strong connection between the hips and the head. So of course the kids are going to want to get down to music to get fucked to. On the other hand we've always believed Ke$ha's true strength was in mini-anthems that allow the listener to feel empowered. The sexy come-ons she tossed off seemed to redefine that empowerment and place it within an erotic cage.

So we're left with a number of impressions of Ke$ha in the context of last week's show. First, she now puts on a hell of a performance, devoid of any self-doubt or caution, and that's thrilling. By placing herself in the context of a larger band of musicians she also allows cohesion between the songs in her set. That cohesion grew clouded whenever Ke$ha seemed like she was trying to force the sexy to supersede the party. But the more we think about it maybe that makes sense? Ke$ha is no dummy so perhaps she understands imperfection and inconsistency in some matters is what makes her human, and we certainly walked out of last week's show feeling we'd been treated to something real instead of some impeccably staged pop spectacle.