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Five surprises from Pitbull and Kesha at the Hollywood Bowl

June 19, 2013|By August Brown
  • Recording artist Ke$ha performed as an opening act for Pitbull at the Hollywood Bowl, June 18, 2013.
Recording artist Ke$ha performed as an opening act for Pitbull at the Hollywood… (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles…)

Tuesday night's Pitbull and Kesha double-bill at the Hollywood Bowl was one of the oddest pop shows of the year. Two distinct crowds, two different ways of tackling danceable pop, and a venue built for sylvan music royalty upended into a salacious grind-down.

We'll have a full review in a bit, but here are a few initial surprises from the night -- besides the bar tab we awoke to this morning.

1. Pitbull says, "Jump," stars ask, "How high?"

The rapper, born Armando Perez, made his career as the third-verse pinch hitter for a huge catalog of pop rap and Latin acts looking for a little bawdy banter in a single. Now the tables have turned. For this headlining gig, Chris Brown, Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias and Jennifer Lopez all showed up to support him on various collaborative singles. If you can surround yourself with that many superstars at your beck and call, we suppose that makes you one yourself?

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2. Kesha's even more of a hipster than we thought

We knew she loved beards and the Gold Room. What we didn't know (until she recounted one sordid tale on stage) is that she hung out at the earliest incarnation of the DJ and producer Ashland Mines' freaky-house-music Wildness party, at the Westlake transsexual-gay-Latino-whatever-as-long-as-you-came-to-throw-down dance club Silver Platter. Kesha's cred card just got upgraded to Platinum.

3. Pitbull loves covers. Just loves them.

It's as if he fashions himself as a dance-rap Jeff-Buckley, covering 30 years of rock and EDM and pop staples. The guy and his band made quick passes at tunes from Beastie Boys, Ozzy Osbourne, Martin Solveig, Guns N' Roses, Duck Sauce, Survivor and Calvin Harris, among others. A strange move for a headline set, but it proved he has a hit squad of versatile bandmates.

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4. Kesha's mom carried her around in a guitar case as an infant

So we learned when Kesha recounted her first visit to the bowl, on a night her mom (a working songwriter and musician) was playing. Not to get too Freudian, but we think that early imprint explains a lot about her taste in productions, fashion, collaborators and her preferred vehicle for romantic interludes.

5. Pop tribalism lives

In one way, this double bill made a certain sense. Both artists are signed to RCA, each has a huge quiver of mainstream electro-pop hits, each has major draws in L.A. But the two distinct audiences seemed like ships passing in the night -- after Kesha's early-evening opening slot, her crowd of glitter-flecked ragamuffins promptly decamped to the Bowl's byways to hit the bar (and stayed there), while Pitbull's crowd showed up at the last minute for his humid EDM raps.

One unfortunate crossover was when a few knuckleheads in the men's room made some oafish cracks at a group of cross-dressing Kesha fans. One hopes that both artists would have called them out for being jerks -- and that Kesha would have an extra-barbed riposte at the ready.


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