“I’m going to bring the planet an epic dance party,” Ke$ha promised SPIN last week, and Tuesday night’s kickoff of her Get $leazy tour at Portland, Oregon’s Roseland Theatre lived up to her word.
The 23-year-old comic-provocateur-musician gave the tween-filled crowd wall-to-wall electro-dance jams, costume changes, fake blood, 8-foot penises, and two tons of glitter -not to mention a generous amount of lovingly applied baby oil.
Opener Beardo — who sadly didn’t sport a beard, but rather an ironic mustache-and-mullet combination — delivered a few of his own silly, yet danceable tunes. Armed with only a Korg drum-machine and a microphone for most of his set, Beardo (born Jeramy Gritter) got the crowd warmed up with bass-heavy rap rock, including his most well known song “John Lennon,” which includes the refrain “John Lennon got shot / That’s what happens when you talk.” Good thing the crowd of 1,400-plus had a sense of humor.
Then Ke$ha made her way onstage in ripped fishnets and what looked like a heavily bedazzled unitard, backed by her merry band of cyber-punks, whose get-ups were a cross between Mad Max and some sort of prehistoric birds. The group led off with the one-two punch of “Sleazy” from her latest EP Cannibal, followed by “Take It Off,” both of which got the floor bouncing with their laser-pitched synths and club-ready beats.
By song three — the dance floor rave-up “Blow” — Ke$ha and her troupe had already brought out the glitter guns, spraying the sweaty crowd members up front.
“I wanna see you on your absolute worst behavior tonight,” she yelled through her white headset, a line that will no doubt be repeated every night for the rest of the tour. The set was a cross between a rave and a GWAR concert, filled with good-natured camp, and mixed with tightly choreographed moves and occasional ramshackle moves where Ke$ha would break from script.
One strong moment came during the relatively subdued “Cannibal.” Bathed in red light, one of the dancers came out tied to an X-shaped post as Ke$ha — now wearing an American flag ensemble (along with ripped fishnets) — pulled a red, glowing heart from the dancer’s chest. She swigged from it like a bota bag, as fake blood ran down her chin (has Ke$ha met Gene $immon$ yet?). It was well-executed schlock, but even this stunt would be topped.
During “Grow a Pear,” her synthy ode to dudes with vages, one of Ke$ha’s dancers emerged wearing a pear costume, soon to be followed by another dressed as a flesh-colored shaft with a pair bobbling pair of testicles for feet. Both pranced over a hapless audience member who was strapped to a chair throughout the song. You have to give credit where credit is due — Ke$ha wasn’t taking herself too seriously.
Ke$ha’s ridiculously catchy, easily disposable pop might have a shorter shelf life if not for the onstage antics. But she did play it smart by saving her biggest hit “TiK ToK” for last — a song whose inescapable melody has actually incited epic dance parties around the planet, charting in some 25 countries (including Slovakia). The crowd erupted, and the floor pulsed once again as glitter rained down.
Then Ke$ha and her posse launched into the encore of the Beastie Boys “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!).” The night was such good, sleazy fun that you’d never guess Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline is her favorite album of all time.