Concert review: Kesha @ The Fillmore

On Friday night, Kesha’s “Rainbow” tour hit downtown Silver Spring, with the singer performing songs off her new album and several old crowd favorites, including “Tik Tok” and “Your Love is My Drug.”

The opening band was interesting, to say the least. Of all the concerts I’ve attended, I’ve never seen an opening act so vastly different from the headliner. Black Lips, a garage punk-rock band from Atlanta, had solid instrumentals, with some songs sounding similar to The Black Keys. I’m hardly a music critic, but I believe their vocals can best be described as a combination of yelling rock, the indistinguishable mumbling of modern rap, and the way CeeLo Green whines “why, oh, why” in “Forget You.”

Their engagement with the crowd was minimal, which could be because they were aware they weren’t exactly the crowd’s style. While the lack of engagement made for a less entertaining performance, it was certainly preferable to stunts they have performed in the past, including vomiting, urinating, and nudity.

It appears that they were not on tour with Kesha, but an outside opener booked by The Fillmore. Their tour dates show a few more performances at other Fillmore affiliates (where Kesha will also be) before heading to Europe, though Kesha has posted about liking the band. Regardless of who chose the match, it seems like an odd one.

The Black Lips

The Black Lips

Kesha’s performance, on the other hand, was passionate, engaging, heartfelt. Her voice is still strong and beautiful live; when she sang “Praying,” seeing her was the only way I knew for sure that I wasn’t just listening to her album. After performing “Woman” and “Boogie Feet,” she thanked her fans for their support over the past years.

“You all know a lot of the shit I’ve been going through,” she said. “I just wanna say thank you and I’m so grateful. This album wouldn’t have happened without you guys.”

Kesha has previously said that her song “Hymn” is for people who feel like they’ve never fit in in this world:

This song is dedicated to all the idealistic people around the world who refuse to turn their backs on progress, love and equality whenever they are challenged. It’s dedicated to the people who went out into the streets all over the world to protest against racism, hate and division of any kind. It’s also dedicated to anyone who feels like they are not understood by the world or respected for exactly who they are… I hope this is one of those songs that will find and connect with people who feel like outcasts.

Before performing this song at her show, she dedicated it to the LGBTQ community and to Dreamers, adding “I love all of you and you are always be welcome at my show.”

Later in the night, she delved into pressing issues again, saying how sick she was of people not being able to freely be themselves.

“I’m talking about going to the bathroom you want; I’m talking about basic fucking human rights,” she yelled. “Until I’m six feet under, I just want to spread as much love, equality, glitter, and rock and roll as I can.”

Kesha’s outfits throughout the concert

Kesha’s outfits throughout the concert

Kesha is a naturally entertaining and engaging performer. Her performance included male backup dancers in suits and glittery western bow ties (the same as her band) and throwing cups of glitter into the audience while singing “throw some glitter make it rain” in her song “Blow.”

But what made her show so compelling was not the colorful stage or catchy lyrics. It was the heart she put into it.

It’s a performer’s job to give a good show and entertain the crowd. But Kesha’s emotions were real and raw. When the crowd perfectly sang the chorus of “Rainbow,” she became choked up with tears.

“It means so much that I got to do this,” she said. “I wrote this song alone on the floor of a rehab facility.”

Kesha in a sparkly rainbow flag given to her by fans

Kesha in a sparkly rainbow flag given to her by fans

In my recent article about Kesha’s comeback, I explain why it’s such a powerful and important thing. She’s someone who has been through hell and is triumphantly rising from the ashes. She’s loud, passionate, abrasive, honest, heartfelt, and that makes for a fantastic performance.

Originally published at by Emily Milakovic on 10.10.17.
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CultureEmily Milakovic