Ke$ha | Pitbull Gexa Energy Pavilion June 23, 2013
As the music wafted over Gexa Energy Pavilion's lawn, a tanned twentysomething sporting the uniform of the day (cutoff jean shorts, a sleeveless blouse, a drink in hand) was so overcome by the music that she managed to lose her balance mid-dance-move, causing her to tumble backward head over heels down the lawn. As fast as she fell, the young lady was on her feet. She collected herself, and told the throng of onlookers "Calm down, guys. Seriously, calm down. I didn't even spill a splash of my drink. It'll all be OK."
And with that she placed the straw of her frozen concoction between her lips, took a deep pull and went back to dancing. Nothing quite drove home the sense of excess and fun of the night quite like this moment.
Recklessness, excess and a celebration of making it. That might just sum up the air onstage as Ke$ha and Pitbull took turns driving their fans into a frenzy. Ke$ha's rather intricate, and at times insane stage show, came complete with inflatable animals, giant penises and Flaming Lips-like dancers in costumes (Ke$ha collaborator and Lips front man Wayne Coyne was even in attendance), and drove her fans into an almost hedonistic fever. All across Gexa ladies of all ages, and several gentlemen, all in various versions of the same outfit, many sporting custom-made shirts declaring their love for the artist, threw their arms in the air as they danced themselves into smiling, glittery sweaty masses.
This all culminated into furious dance off/sing along as Ke$ha launched into her chart-topping hit "Die Young" as glitter and streamers rained down all around. After wishing the crowd well, Ke$ha took a moment to tell us she hoped we'd "all get laid tonight," and with that she was off the stage. Her utter "fuck it, let's have fun" attitude is why she might be the most punk act performing right now
While Ke$ha's fans were a strong contingent there was no denying that the vast majority of the crowd was there for Pitbull, and trying to dance around the racial aspect of this would be foolhardy. Pitbull sits atop the pop world as king of all things Latin. He might be the most famous Latin American in the Americas right now, and with such a title comes love, adoration and a rather sizable fan base. The crowd was very loud and insanely excited for "Mr. World Wide."
As Pitbull took the stage in an all-black suit I noticed a twerk circle breaking out on the lawn. Amongst all the smoke and lasers on stage stood a smirking Pitbull, who took every opportunity to drop some Spanish on the crowd, going even so far to shout out various Latin countries so as to elicit a huge response. Needless to say, "Mexico!" brought forth a deafening cheer.
In between his stump speeches about making it and going from "negative to positive" (recognize that line from anywhere?) Pitbull managed to actually perform all of his hits. The crowd knew every word and carried most of the night with their unstoppable outpouring of love for the artist. The dancing never stopped, the energy never waned, the bizarre song intros by Pitbull never failed to confuse (songs partially covered: "Sweet Child o' Mine," "Fight for your Right," and "Crazy Train"). At the end of his set a sweat-drenched Pitbull took the time to thank Dallas for their years of support and for never failing to come out for him, the crowd let him know they were thankful for him, and with a "Godbless, goodnight, dale!" we were off to the exits.
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If you go to Twitter, you can peruse my short photo essay "11 Dads at the Ke$ha/Pitbull show." Spoiler alert, they all look pretty bored/bewildered.
It is very easy to dismiss these type of shows as trivial entertainment for the masses, but critics often forget that the masses have all the power. Simply going to a show like this and slagging away would be an insult to all the work these artists and their crews have put in. It would also be insulting to the people who spent their hard-earned money on the ticket for this.