Pitbull and Ke$ha are an unlikely touring pair. At times, the May 26 co-headlining show at Atlantic City, NJ’s Golden Nugget Casino felt like an awkward radio-station sponsored concert, the sort that combines acts with little in common aside from being on the charts. Ke$ha was there to rock, Pitbull was there to pop bottles and pump a megamix of club hits.
But hearing many of the songs that have dominated pop radio for the past several years in one place is a treat in itself. Factor in the carefree setting of the east coast’s favorite gambling town, and it’s no surprise Ke$ha’s glammy, sparkled-up “Warrior” and Pitbull’s fist-pumpers had no problem getting on. LMFAO may be no more, but last night’s show proved their “party rock” mantra is living on.
Ke$ha wanted to rock. Her live show showcased a side of her that’s mostly hidden on her albums and just starting to reach the masses through her MTV reality show, “My Crazy Beautiful Life.” It’s kind of like combining the musical “Rock of Ages” with a more grounded, self-aware Lady Gaga — playfully sleazy costumes, ’80s rawk debauchery, and the vibe of “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Backed by her band and a six-person dance crew (who shifted from samurai to Residents-like eyeball heads) Ke$ha tore threw her standard slew of hits — “Blow,” “We R Who We R,” “TiK ToK,” — before culminating with an encore of two of her most enduring: “Your Love Is My Drug” and “Die Young.” There were no album cut ballads, though she did play one song she claimed she’d only done twice before — a rocker titled “Machine Gun Love.”
Then, there was Pitbull. Though the 32-year old Miami native has been on the top of the club-pop-dance-rap hybrid game for several years now, he took the time to address the haters midway through his set.
“Sold out? Yeah, you’re right — I sell out every goddamn arena I go!” Why doesn’t he make music “for the streets” anymore? Because he made his music to get out of the streets, of course. And with that, his DJ played a 30-second sample of Icona Pop’s song-of-the-summer candidate, “I Love It,” beginning with the defiant chant of “I don’t care!”
Such was the tone for Pitbull’s set. At decibel-cranking volume, Pit borrowed liberally from his own catalog, and the catalogs of others; the Beastie Boys’ “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” and Harry Belefonte’s “Shake Shake Shake Señora” were among those worked into the set.
Pit’s many collaborators — Shakira, Ne-Yo, Chris Brown, Christina Aguilera, even Will Smith in “Men In Black III” — joined the party via the big screen. Though Pitbull’s verses make up only a small portion of most of his essentials, his set spared no expense in duplicating the complete experience — even the bootylicious dancers that can only be imagined via audio were there in the flesh. Of course, Pitbull’s set included all the essentials from his past several years of chart conquering: “Hotel Room Service,” “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho),” “Don’t Stop the Party, “Feel This Moment,” “Give Me Everything.” The latter got special attention as his first No. 1 hit.
“I make global music,” announced Pit in his mid-show soapboxing, and that theme was certainly evident, even if a good portion of it was being channeled into Atlantic City via jumbotron and the DJ booth.