"I wrote this song when I woke up one morning and couldn't find any toothpaste..."
Approaching the 9:30 Club, I had discernible pit in my stomach. Having gone through the ritualistic process of parking my car and making the short stroll around the corner to the entrance, one might find my level of positive anxiety to be unusual. This night, however, was unlike any other. I was about to see my first Ke$ha show. Huddling with the masses to stay warm, I waited for my friend and facilitator, Mary Beth, who is vital to this story not only for it was she who gained me access to the event in question, but it was in fact Mary Beth who committed us to a front and center position. We were on the rail.
If we were going to do this at all, we were going to do this right. With our arms draped over the metal barricade and our feet in a Larry Craig-like wide stance, we had carved out territory and declared it ours. Our approach was not entirely adversarial. Before being coaxed into a relatively frenzied state by DJ Jazzy Jeff's set, we made friends with other Ke$ha devotees. Conversations surrounded excitement levels and favorite songs. Unable to pick from her perfect, albeit relatively small, oeuvre, I rejected this Sophie's choice and devolved to a topic with which I was more comfortable, attempting to pick the opener. Turns out, not only was I was wrong, but others were not particularly amused by my attempts to start a guessing game.
After the crowd greeted Ke$ha and her patriotically adorned dancers and band with a warm and thunderous ovation, she responded in kind with a nod not only to the diversity in the audience, but to the more significant events of the day. Validating Ke$ha's pop clout, "We R Who We R" resonated with the "kids" in the front to the young at heart scattered about sporting their best suits, tuxes, dresses and gowns. Even if she hadn't shown her hand earlier in the day by dipping her toe in the political twittersphere, it was clear to artist and audience alike that for tonight, "We R Who We R" was pop prologue to the president's message of a journey not complete.
From there came my failed opener-call, "Blow," a call to arms for the sake of the party. This was, after all, a Ke$ha show, what should be a raucous affair. We had banded together not only to mark the peaceful reaffirmation of presidential power, but to dance. And dance we did to pop chart behemoths like "Your Love Is My Drug" -- a sensible dedication to President Obama, as we were all riding a high on giddiness fueled, in large part, by our personal admiration for our Commander-in-Chief and "Die Young" -- the song that found our beloved songstress caught in the middle of a recently manufactured controversy. The audience helped return the song to its intended meaning, reveling in being doused by confetti cannons, not worrying if hints of glitter would be spotted by co-workers the next day.
It wasn't long. In fact, it was quite short. Clocking in at under an hour, Ke$ha's performance was, like great punk shows in this town, a fast burning star. (Admittedly, I remain slightly unsure about the clock, as one can hardly be expected to be beholden to limits such as time when in a state approaching euphoria.)
It was what the crowd wanted. More importantly, it was what we all needed -- flawless execution that felt like spontaneous revelry. Many in the audience at the 9:30 Club had spent most of the holiday weekend on their feet. Sure, the extended periods of being up-right was spent in moments of joy, but this was different. If the majority of private, invitation-only events littered throughout the weekend were examples of self-congratulations, Monday night was a celebration of self-indulgence. Sure, we were gathered in our nation's capital to celebrate the second inauguration of our president. Yes, we were huddled within the safe confines of the 9:30 Club to benefit Musicians on Call. But when the informational video ended and the introductory remarks drew to a close, we were there for the party. And since the death of Keith Moon, could you imagine a better host or hostess?
Follow Ben E. Kessler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ben__k