Concert Reviews

Chainsmokers Were the Headliner, But Kesha Got All the Love at Last Night's Jingle Ball

Kesha has a new album out, but she closed her set with her first single, the more superficial "Tik Tok."
Kesha has a new album out, but she closed her set with her first single, the more superficial "Tik Tok." Getty Images for iHeartMedia
Jingle Ball
with Kesha, the Chainsmokers, Hailee Steinfeld and more
American Airlines Center, Dallas
Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017

It was a who's who of young pop acts Tuesday night at the American Airlines Center, which hosted KISS-FM's Jingle Ball. Kesha declared she's a nasty woman, Charlie Puth rocked out behind the keyboard, two former One Direction members continued to make names for themselves as solo artists, and boy band Why Don't We danced — and even sang a little.

The Chainsmokers headlined the night, performing last. By the time they took the stage around 10:30 p.m., many people had left the arena, either hoping to beat traffic or simply disinterested in the duo. While the crowd comprised mostly young girls and women, the Chainsmokers seemed to attract an older audience. The woman next to me, who took puffs from her e-cig throughout the night, didn't stand up until the Chainsmokers came on.

click to enlarge Actress-turned-singer Hailee Steinfeld's outfit was a work of art. - GETTY IMAGES FOR IHEARTMEDIA
Actress-turned-singer Hailee Steinfeld's outfit was a work of art.
Getty Images for iHeartMedia
Behind me was a group of couples, donning elf hats and sunglasses, who appeared to be having the time of their lives. Jessica and Gabe Ellett flew from Missouri to see the concert. Jessica said she bought the concert tickets for her husband as a Christmas and birthday gift. He is a big fan of all things pop music, and not ironically.

Gabe said he was most excited to see the Chainsmokers. And Jessica, well: "I'm excited to see him excited." She followed her statement up with a kiss.

The best part about Jingle Ball is that the artists typically only play three or four of their songs, and they stick to the hits. This ensures the audience is standing and having a good time throughout the concert.

Because the sets are so short, unnecessary banter with the audience is also cut out. The rotating stage allows for one act to set up in the back while another act is performing, so the lag time between acts is rarely more than five minutes.

Hailee Steinfeld, an actress known for her roles in True Grit and The Edge of Seventeen, was a standout. The 20-year-old performed her hits "Love Myself" and "Most Girls" and commanded the stage in an over-the-top outfit that looked more like an art piece.

But Kesha easily took the night. Although she wasn't last to perform, the crowd showed her the most love. She started off the set with "Woman" from her new album, Rainbow. However, she censored her lyrics "I'm a mother fucking woman" and instead sang, "I'm a nasty woman."

When it was time to sing her big hit "Praying," she dedicated it to her fans — her "animals" — but said she didn't want to end on that note. To finish off the set, she took the crowd back a decade with her first single, "Tik Tok." 

While "Praying" is being critically praised, it was a nice reminder of how far Kesha has come. At one time, she sang about boys trying to touch her junk and brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack Daniel's whiskey.
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Paige Skinner has written for the Dallas Observer since 2014.
Contact: Paige Skinner