Honestly, I’m not quite sure where to begin with last night’s Paper magazine event at the Roseland Ballroom, featuring Rye Rye and Ke$ha — before I get into how immeasurably pissed off I get about having to substitute the “s” in Ke$ha with a dollar sign, I figure I should begin with some positives.
That applies to pretty much everything other than Ke$ha herself. The show started out cool with Spank, a DJ trio who describe themselves as “art fags” and regaled a relatively mellow scenester crowd — a bit more docile and slightly more dressed up than your typical concertgoers, with sneakers and tank tops swapped for high heels and cocktail dresses, giving the show more of a lounge-y feel. But then Rye Rye took the stage. Fully equipped in blinged-out Converse sneakers, shiny grey tights, a bright-patterned dress, and a striking blond bob, the Baltimore MC gleefully assaulted the too-cool-for-school crowd: Alongside two dreadlocked male dancers (who I spent most of the night confusing for twins) in bright-orange Doc Martens and shirts that read “Rye” and “Rye,” respectively, she reaffirmed the notion that a banging live show doesn’t require much more than a ton of energy and a few unchoreographed-looking choreographed dance moves. “Shake It to the Ground” got the demure crowd bumping and grinding; I also thought it was kind of awesome that unlike the ladies she’s often compared to (M.I.A. and Santigold, mostly), Rye Rye didn’t feel the need to wear her sunglasses while performing . . . at night . . . indoors.
Unlike someone else we know. After an intermission, the stage, now filled with skeletons and American flags, lit up. I went into this with a pretty open mind: While not exactly a fan, I will freely admit that I’ve shaken my ass to “TiK ToK” before, and was thus hoping that Ke$ha’s set would be one awesome dance party. But then she appeared, in a cockatoo-like red-feather helmet and fishnets, and I just couldn’t fake it anymore. Unlike the persona-shifting intrigue of, say, Peaches or Lady Gaga, there was no substance to back up her ridiculous and excessive wardrobe choices. She came out crazy as ever, rumbling through “Blah Blah Blah” et al, switching between headbanging dance moves and more Gaga-esque outlandishness. It just didn’t make sense: There was no cohesion, no point. But at least the light wasn’t in her eyes.