Kesha gets a new sound just in time for OwlFest

Program Board secured the artist to cater to a pop audience, but students may not like her rock music sound


Photo by Jeff Denberg

Tucker Berardi, Features Editor

Corrections: In the print addition of this story, Richard Mahler’s position was incorrectly listed. Mahler is the assistant director of Student Activities and Involvement, not the assistant director of Student Involvement.

Also, Kesha was listed as the first non-hip-hop headliner at FAU. That fact was incorrect, as several non-hip-hop artists including Yellowcard and Pitbull have headlined fall shows in the past.

For this year’s Homecoming, Florida Atlantic’s Program Board has secured Kesha to headline OwlFest, breaking the streak of hip-hop performers who have been featured in past events.

While the decision to move from hip-hop headliners to a top-40 pop act was the result of several factors, one fact seems to have been overlooked: Kesha is no longer a pop artist. OwlFest advertisements have failed to mention that Kesha will be bringing bandmates from her new rock ensemble, Kesha and the Creepies, to perform alongside her at the Student Union outdoor stage on Oct. 26.

So why the change from Program Board’s usual headliner genre?

The student-run organization collected data during summer orientation and the Summer Splash event season — a time from June 26 to Aug. 12 dedicated to encouraging student involvement — to determine what genres of music FAU freshmen prefer. The results showed that students favored top 40 hits, followed by hip-hop and country music, according to the Assistant director of student activities and involvement Richard Mahler.

“After careful consideration of the options available, use of the data collected and the reality of a limited budget compared to larger Florida institutions, Program Board decided that Kesha would provide remarkable name recognition and a top-tier performance for Florida Atlantic students,” Mahler wrote in an email to the University Press. “She will be one of the largest names Program Board has ever brought to the campus and the first female headliner in over two decades.”

FAU is not the only school to have Kesha perform for Homecoming. Her performance at Kent State University left students a little puzzled over her new rock sound.

“A lot of students were surprised she’s not doing pop anymore,” said Rachel Duthie, a features reporter for the Kent State University news site Kentwired.

Duthie covered the Homecoming concert for her school which Kesha headlined on Sept. 29. Much to her and her fellow students’ confusion, Kesha used the concert as an opportunity to promote her new rock band.

“She’s a lot different now,” Duthie said. “She looks different, she acts different … Some people really enjoyed it, but there were a lot of people who really wanted the pop performance.”

According to Rolling Stone, Kesha and the Creepies is an opportunity in which the “EDM- and hip-hop-leaning pop star will transition into more ‘dirty rock and roll and country music’ with her sound.”

The new rock group was revealed for her Fuck the World Tour, the first full-fledged tour for the singer since her legal battle with producer Dr. Luke and Sony. The band is hitting other schools along the way as well, including Colby College and the University of Minnesota.

Kent State paid $175,000 for Kesha and the opening act PartyNextDoor, charging students $35 for floor seats and $30 for upper level. The University of Minnesota sold tickets for $25 to students and $45 for general admission.

According to Mahler, Program Board has yet to finalize Kesha and her band’s payment, but student tickets for OwlFest are free and available in the box office.

When first unveiled, the announcement that Kesha was performing at FAU received mixed responses on social media — and this was without the announcement that the singer would be performing alongside her new rock band.

“School got Kesha to perform damn Kesha lmao FAU lame as shit,” Mavrik_sochill1 tweeted.

Ella_ticheri tweeted, “still mad FAU thought Kesha was ok for homecoming.”

Radparis, who was a bit more excited about the announcement, tweeted, “FAU HAS KESHA FOR HOMECOMING EIGHTH GRADE ME IS CRYING ITS LIT.”

In the past, artists like Big Sean, B.O.B. and T-Pain have taken the stage during Homecoming. However, students upset with Program Board’s choice and who would prefer a hip-hop performer can look forward to OwlFest’s opening act, LunchMoney Lewis.

Mahler wrote, “[LunchMoney Lewis] is a budding Hip Hop star who not only has his own musical successes, but has been featured on numerous hit singles such as BO$$ by Fifth Harmony, Trini Dem Girls by Nicki Minaj, and most recently Greenlight by Pitbull.”

Despite students’ mixed opinions, the FAU Box Office has still seen a lot of traffic in the weeks following the Kesha announcement.

“We are ecstatic to have an artist of her caliber on stage and if ticket pick up continues the way it has in the past two weeks, we will be sold out for the first time in years,” Mahler wrote.

We got Kesha, but …

Don’t brag just yet. Here are some of the big names that performed at nearby state schools.

  • 2 Chainz came to the University of South Florida in Tampa on Oct. 6. Tickets were free for students. There was also the option to buy $10 guest passes.
  • Ten days after his USF performance, 2 Chainz, joined by Maki and Lil Dicky, will perform at Florida International University in Miami on Oct. 16. Tickets will be available for $40 online and $50 at the door for students and visitors.  
  • The University of Central Florida in Orlando had Ludacris perform on Oct. 13. Tickets were free for students while general admission tickets were $25.
  • Rapper Waka Flocka Flame performed at the University of Florida in Gainesville on Oct. 14. He was joined by DJ Whoo Kid, pop group Timeflies and country duo Maddie and Tae. Student tickets cost $15 and public entry tickets were priced at $25.
  • Florida State University in Tallahassee had Chance the Rapper perform as part of the “Magnificent Coloring World Tour” on Oct. 12. The hip-hop artist was joined by special guest Francis and the Lights.

Tucker Berardi is the features editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @tucker_berardi.