Despite falling at the heart of a weekend plagued by tragedies and setbacks, Kesha’s Saturday night performance gave attendees of Pittsburgh PrideFest something worth celebrating.
After waiting almost seven hours for Kesha to perform, many disappointed fans poured out of the stage area on Liberty Avenue to catch the last buses of the evening. Due to the fireworks arranged for the Pirates game that same evening, Kesha’s performance was delayed to prevent fireworks from going off during her set.
Six acts opened for Kesha’s June 11 concert at Pittsburgh’s Pride in the Street, part of Pittsburgh Pridefest, but each act was notably spaced apart. The concert advertised a 6 p.m. start time, but Kesha, initially slotted to perform at 9 p.m., did not take the stage until almost 11 p.m. Impatient members of the crowd resorted to pushing and shoving one another and some even threw punches along with their drinks.
The Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, an organization that supports the LGBTQ+ community, blocked off Liberty Avenue between 9th and 10th streets to host the concert. Each year’s act is chosen from a list of selections from an entertainment working group that consists of community members. Kesha has been on the shortlist for the past few years.
“There was always some interest and the planets aligned and this year she said yes,” said Christine Bryan, director of marketing and development for the Delta Foundation.
A sea of glittered faces and colored locks beamed up at the 29-year-old pop singer as she finally arrived. The fans that endured the long wait belted out every lyric as they danced to Kesha’s upbeat party songs.
During the concert, Kesha stopped to acknowledge the passing of Christina Grimmie, the 22-year-old singer who appeared on the sixth season of NBC’s “The Voice” in 2014. A gunman had shot and killed Grimmie earlier that day at her own concert in Orlando, Florida.
“I feel so much love here tonight. I just really want to take a minute to package all this love we have and just send a little to the family and to the friends and to the fans of Christina Grimmie,” Kesha said before dedicating a song to the deceased singer.
Fans applauded Kesha for the sentiment and the concert continued with Kesha performing her hit songs. Because the concert was part of the weekend’s Pittsburgh PrideFest, Kesha’s wardrobe and props took on a colorful rainbow theme. In one song, she even had backup dancers clad in phallic costumes.
“Kesha’s music is all anthems. I think [the LGBTQ+ community] gravitates toward her music because they’re looking for something larger than life,” Josh Butcher, a 21-year-old attendee, said.
Kesha is a well known LGBTQ+ rights advocate and even received the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award in 2015. As an ordained minister, she has also performed commitment ceremonies for gay and straight couples.
“She’s been very active in speaking out against really specific issues in the [LGBTQ+] community since day one,” Butcher said. “She was speaking about [the issues] before it was cool to talk about.”