Ke$ha and LMFAO's IQ-lowering dance party is best served by a spacious outdoor venue like Festival Pier at Philly's Penn's Landing, as it was last night (Aug. 17) -- more room for all those balloons and glitter.
Every LMFAO song has the word "party" in it; your move, Andrew W.K. At an LMFAO show, "girl" always rhymes with "world," and no matter if you're in Philly or New York or Reykjavik, if someone asks, you're "in Miami, bitch." If you follow these anti-rules, you're rewarded with inflatable zebras. One thing that keeps the big-haired dance duo afloat is their willingness to objectify themselves as much as any of their costumed cohort onstage -- one dude stripped down to an elephant trunk thong halfway through. Everything's fair game for their all-inclusive party: dubstep breakdowns, panda suits. But shouldn't they be funnier? I danced heartily but I didn't LMFAO. They thanked all the fans who put their "Party Rock Anthem" at Billboard's Hot 100 summit for six straight weeks, which I think they were surprised about as anyone.
Video: LMFAO performs "Party Rock Anthem" in Philly, 8/17/11
Ke$ha, on the other hand, her genius is that she objectifies men. And she doesn't do it because she's a feminist or a horndog, she just sees a lopsided score to even. Thus, even the sole time she dipped into straight bullying -- about an ex's small penis, natch -- it feels ridiculous to whine that she's unfair when an act like 3OH!3 (of "don't trust a ho" fame) can still have hits.
"Grow a Pear," the song in question, was a highlight, with her tying up a not-so-lucky volunteer ("Are there any boys here tonight that like to be abused?") for not a lap dance but to be helplessly grinded on by dudes costumed as a giant pear and a penis. "Santa, get him off my stage," she growled at the end. A big roadie in a Santa hat obliged.
Video: Ke$ha performs "Grow a Pear" in Philly, 8/17/11
This set piece only paled to the one where she shackled a backup dancer to the stocks and ate him, spinning it around and leaving only a skeleton, while she drank from a lifelike human heart that was probably filled with Jack Daniel's. She gleefully compares herself to Jeffrey Dahmer in "Cannibal," and why shouldn't she? Lots of rappers compare themselves to Tony Montana without the gall to act out a scene onstage.
While most pop stars are driven by the need to appear superhuman, the line between Ke$ha and audience is never too strict, judging by the wobbly, drunken cartwheels she pulled off at the end of "Blah Blah Blah" and her irrepressible urge to hump a cymbal stand in "Party at a Rich Dude's House" or wear stupid hats for night highlight "Your Love Is My Drug."
Video: Ke$sha performs "Take it Off" in Philly, 8/17/11
She unleashed confetti from various weaponry, strummed guitars shaped like rifles and dinosaurs and her idea of crowd participation averaged out to "When I say blah, you say blah!" She announced "TiK ToK," her biggest hit, with an appropriate plaint: "I don't have enough glitter on my titties." But the two best moments were her most human. "D.I.N.O.S.A.U.R." is as cruel as "Grow a Pear" on record, but she admitted she's just pretending to be grossed out by the attention from older creeps: "I secretly like it." Creeps are her people anyway, and she capped her best song, "We R Who We R," with a plea to "be ourselves unapologetically f*cking always." Then her band launched into the Beastie Boys' "Fight for Your Right (To Party)" while she swung at a piñata of -- what else? -- a zebra.
Ke$ha's Setlist, Philadelphia, 8/17/2011:
"Take It Off"
"F**k Him (He's a DJ)"
"Blah Blah Blah"
"Party at a Rich Dude's House"
"The Harold Song"
"Your Love Is My Drug"
"Grow a Pear"
"We R Who We R"
"(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)"