“Nothing outside these 4 walls matters right now,” Kesha declared at the beginning of her sold-out show on Thursday night. “I’m talking about your rent, I’m speaking about your homework, I’m talking about your shitty ex-boyfriend!” The glitter-covered crowd in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, had been screaming at the leading of their lungs. “I’m talking about my FUCKING LAWSUIT!” Kesha howled, raising two middle fingers to the sky, as a giant lit-up “FUCK THE WORLD” tour sign gleamed behind her.
She has headlined two world tours because 2010, playing from New York City to Japan, but the Kesha of 2016 is attempting one thing distinct with her Fuck the Planet tour. For the previous two years, Kesha has been in an ongoing legal battle with producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald for alleged sexual assault, harassment, and emotional abuse (he has denied the allegations). As she is also signed to Gottwald’s Kemosabe Records, an imprint of Sony Music, Kesha is fighting to be released from her contract so she can make music that in no way rewards her alleged abuser. In February, Kesha was denied an injunction against Dr. Luke, a ruling that she has considering that appealed.
That fight continues — but rather than sit and do nothing at all while she waits for a opportunity to get out of her contract, Kesha has decided to tour. And with no new music to premiere, she’s crafted a set list of reworked past hits and new covers of her preferred songs, playing them with her backing rock band The Creepies. Clad in a fringed black-and-red Western cowgirl ensemble, with her backing band in suits, bolo ties, and cowboy hats, Kesha presented her own Grand Ole Opry on acid. “Your Love Is My Drug,” with Kesha on lead guitar, became a pop-punk anthem. “Cannibal,” devoid of its rubbery synth backdrop, had her descending into Alice Cooper–worthy screams down on the floor. And “Timber,” played proper alongside a soulful cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” became a classic country ditty. The stage at Warsaw — a Polish community center that doubles as a slightly fusty music venue — was strewn with Christmas lights. With band members operating in and out among songs to throw confetti into the audience and doing synchronized dances in rubber dino heads for “Dinosaur,” the overall vibe felt like an impromptu DIY party.
Her covers, from Lesley Gore’s “You Do not Personal Me” to a beautiful, slow version of Britney Spears’s “Till the Planet Ends” (which Kesha helped create), had been a likelihood for Kesha to really showcase her pipes. “That’s for absolutely everyone who says I can not sing,” she screamed after her Spears cover. From the goofy, yodel-y vocals of “Tik Tok” to her gravelly rendition of Iggy Pop’s “Nightclubbing,” it was clear that even though Kesha’s music may well be on the freeze, her voice undoubtedly isn’t. The free-spirited, giggly 22-year-old who climbed up the charts with “Tik Tok” back in 2009 hasn’t gone anywhere. And neither has her committed fan base, who brought the singer to tears after they led a chorus of “FUCK HIM! FUCK HIM!” for what felt like a blissful eternity.
When Kesha 1st blew up in pop music, she felt like the mainstream trickle-up version of girl power–happy, electroclash weirdos like Peaches and Chicks on Speed. And Fuck the Planet could have effortlessly played like a vacuum-sealed reenactment of the early-to-mid-2000s. Rather, Kesha utilised her reworked and remixed songs to make an undeniable case for her personal timelessness. Right now, the sort of jokey misandry that runs through songs like 2010’s “Dinosaur” and “Cannibal” is rampant, and messy ladies are celebrated onscreen. And even though at occasions it was almost impossible to ignore Kesha’s legal cage, the lesson of the Fuck the World tour is that even without having new material, the pop star is nevertheless obtaining new methods to be exciting and bold. Kesha has refashioned herself as a band-leading nation rock star most importantly, she has identified a way to be right here, in your face, speaking out about the rights of female artists chained to labels and male producers. Fuck the Planet is not the best way to see Kesha — the excellent would be without tears, with new music, on a worldwide tour. But for a musician whose only path to freedom also seems like a trap, her ideal selection appropriate now is to reinvent her past, generating her old hits into new windows by means of which to see an empowered new Kesha.