Ke$ha Flood Benefit w/Heypenny & Space Capone, 6/16/10



  • Photo: Ashley S. Wright

We were just at Bonnaroo, so we should be used to bizarre, sweat-drenched scenarios, but Ke$ha's way-sold-out flood benefit made Bonnaroo look like a temperate day at the church picnic. We knew shit was going to be hectic when we had to wait in line for 15 minutes just to pay for parking. (Seriously, it seems like a bunch of people skipped their remedial button-pushing class. It ain't that tough, folks.) When we actually made it out of the parking lot and into the venue, event staff were already pulling out limp, convulsing, heat-stroked bodies to the strains of Heypenny's quirky indie pop.

Now, we'll admit that Heypenny has made us limp from time to time (for completely different reasons, obvs) but we have to say that watching a hot, hazy club full of people who obviously don't spend a lot of time in clubs totally enraptured was really endearing. If we had a dollar for every person we heard talk about how cool their set was when we were outside getting some desperately needed oxygen, we could have gotten really drunk and bought a bunch of hot dogs. Whatever jokes we might make about our favorite local TV-toting marching band, we were proud as hell to see them rock that crowd.

Same goes for Space Capone. We missed their set at Bonnaroo because John Fogerty insisted on not only playing center field but also screwing up our whole damn schedule, but it was really nice to see them make the people who like popular things move like Space Capone was a thing that was popular. And we mean “popular” as in “on TV” or “on the radio,” because we're guessing that telling most folks in that audience that Space Capone bring a lot of people out to Mercy Lounge would be like reading baseball stats in Cantonese at a Polish wedding — let's just say that all of our area malls were probably understaffed last night.

For reals, if it had started raining before everyone tried to get inside, we would have been waist-deep in glitter and runny eyeliner. If there had been a fire, the whole city would have smelled like burnt sequins and day-glo half-shirts for weeks. If the club had been struck by lightning, all of the hoop earrings would have created a impromptu Tesla coil and generated enough electricity to open up a rift in the space-time continuum like something out of that movie My Science Project. Dinosaurs! Aliens! Abe Lincoln!

And there were children! Everywhere! Not that The Spin wasn't listening to sorta-explicit, sorta-raunchy pop music when we were a wee lil' Spin-ling, but seriously: Why was there a 6-year-old standing on the bar? It was like Coyote-Ugly-meets-To-Catch-a-Predator with midgets screaming, “Show me where your dick's at!” Totally, absolutely bizarre. And awesome. Who doesn't love kids saying inappropriate things in public? We definitely heard a tween get scolded for dropping an F-bomb, and we're gonna go out on a limb and say that kid is going places. Y'know, like juvie. And she'll probably end up at the free clinic once or twice before all is said and done. Welcome to the club, kid!

Now, we're not gonna lie: We know all the words to all of the songs on Ke$ha's debut album Animal, and our expectations for her performance were really high. Again, we were just at Bonnaroo this weekend, and we had seen Eli "Paperboy" Reed wreck shop at Mercy on Tuesday, so anything less than a great performance just wasn't gonna do it for us. Luckily, Ke$ha and her band know how to turn out the party. Of course that's also way easier to do when you've had a No. 1 record and you're playing for a hometown crowd who — based on our rather prodigious eavesdropping — are abso-fucking-lutely insane about you. There are not a lot of local acts that bring out such slavish devotion and utter adoration.

Her set was basically a one-two punch barreling through most of the tracks on her album, lots of flashing lights and crowd participation. “Your Love Is My Drug” was particularly anthemic, but we're still not sold on “Stephen” — it's our least favorite track on the record. Still, there's no denying that pretty much everyone else in the sweat lodge of a night club was belting it out at full blast. By the time she played “Tik Tok,” her monster of a monster hit from this past winter, we were delirious, sweaty and super-super-stoked.

Maybe you don't like that song. Maybe you'd be happier with your Wilco records. But give us a fist-pumping party banger any day of the week. And give us a Ke$ha show, too — against our better judgment and a serious desire to stay out of the heat and humidity for at least a week, we had one hell of a time, and can't wait until she's back again. But maybe next time they can do it at the Cannery, or somewhere there's at least a little bit of air circulation.

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