If pop music demands an element of theatrical presentation, then Ke$ha angled toward a literal interpretation of her raucous, sexualized pop songs in her first U.S. live show supporting upcoming album Warrior. The singer performed Monday night at a special Casio event at the El Rey Theatre to celebrate the launch of her Baby G watch line, which she announced at a press conference earlier in the evening, and toed the boundary between glitzy pop spectacular and dramatic Broadway pageantry.
The performance, which was heralded by a questionable DJ set from Herick Hell (Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “The Other Side” does not need a remix), consisted of seven tracks from Ke$ha’s prior releases and a closing rendition of her new single, “Die Young,” the first track to impact off Warrior. Despite the comparably small size of the venue, Ke$ha presented a stadium-ready show, her first employing the futuristic tribal queen aesthetic of her new album, out Dec. 4 via RCA. These visuals were immediately apparent as the singer, clad in a rhinestone leotard and giant golden crown, was carried in by four muscled dancers dressed like exotic serving boys as green lasers shot around the room. After the dancers (two of whom are twins) set Ke$ha onstage and she launched into “We R Who We R,” the single off 2010’s EP Cannibal, the theme of the evening was clear: Ke$ha is queen of whatever situation the music dictates.
This extended into the musical-like interpretations of her songs, particularly “Cannibal,” during which Ke$ha pretended to rip a giant heart out of one of her dancers and dripped blood all over mouth and neck. “I have some dating advice,” the singer said as the song opened. “Don't fuck with crazy bitches because we’ll eat you.” This sort of amazingly garish outrageousness pervaded as Ke$ha threw a literal onstage party during “Party At A Rich Dude’s House” (complete with beer coolers) and danced with two giant human penises during “Your Love Is My Drug.” It was unabashed, unapologetic and truly compelling, much like the singer herself.
With the exception of the visuals, Warrior was largely ignored throughout the evening. The singer has only released one track from the disc so far and a sponsored event that lacked a sold-out crowd was presumably not the right moment to unveil any additional numbers. Ke$ha pretended to close the show with “Tik Tok,” the super-single off her 2010 debut Animal, shouting to the crowd as gold glitter coated the room, “I fucking love you guys. Now go get laid.” But she was back moments later, noting, “You guys didn't really think I was gonna leave without playing my brand new single did you?”
The song, “Die Young,” received a celebratory flamboyant stage treatment as Ke$ha, now in a gold outfit likely designed by an Olympic figure skater, strutted around stage with her dancers before leading a drum line. The drums, primal and urgent, mirrored the track’s lyrics (“I hear your heart beat to the beat of the drums”) and rhythmic buoyancy. From choreographed dance moves to the rippling pectorals of her dancers, Ke$ha’s performance was a sexually-charged romp, a raucous party charged with intent – all led by the queen who has created it. And even in a small room with an uneven crowd the singer managed to build this literal interpretation of “Tik Tok”’s most telling line: “Now the party don't start ‘til I walk in.”