The Summer tour co-headlined by Kelis and Robyn is called “All Hearts” but Friday night, when the tempestuous twosome thumped and pumped it up at the Music Box, it was more like, “all boys,” the ratio of male to female appearing to be about 90% (gay) male and 10% female. The place was a sweatpit of mostly pretty, perspiring young men, and we must say, it was the freshest, sweetest smelling pit we've ever been in. As one well-groomed hottie told us while we waited for what felt like an eternity for a drink (note to Music Box honchos: open more than one measly bar for big shows), “smelling good is important to us gays.”
He was stereotyping of course, but there are certain things you can expect from the gay dance club, which The Music Box totally resembled Friday: giddy atmosphere, sassy moves, sing-alongs, flamboyant visuals. Kelis might be best known for her vampy image during the “Milkshake” era and for being one half of hip-hop royalty, but Nas' ex has definitely reinvented herself for a new audience with her latest release Fleshtone and stage show (which she debuted to LA audiences during Gay Pride in WeHo last month). She's giving the kind of Lady Gaga-proven glitz and electro-dance blitz that appeals most to non-straight males, though with less obvious pop appeal and a more euphoric techno feel.
We prefer the freaky funktress of Tasty and her previous work with The Neptunes and N.E.R.D. to most of the new stuff, which feels like manufactured diva-house fare at times, but Kelis was obviously having a blast onstage and she looked hot in her Rick James-like beaded headdress and holographic pink jumpsuit.
She worked the multiple guises of her career thus far with gusto. There was an overuse of backing tracks (there were two DJs on stage with her after all) but her smoldering vox shone through enough, during groovy mashups (a cover of “Holiday” into “Milkshake”) and especially on new anthems “4th of July” and “Emancipate” (which the waify fella in front of us declared, “the gayest song ever!”).
Robyn is the stronger singer of the two, and the Swedish blonde also has the better moves (if less exciting outfits; she wore high-waisted floral leggings). Her latest stuff (off Body Talk, Part 1 and Part 2, the latter to be released in Sept.) is potent. “Fembot,” which opened the set, is the stand-out cut from Pt. 1, a tropical flavored cocktail bursting with futuristic-pop flavor that could/should be as big as anything Gaga's ever released.
While Kelis' boy bump appeal seems fairly new, Robyn's always been a fave in the circuit and her evolution has unquestionably been for the better. She was just another Euro-pop tart back in the '90's. Her hit, “Show Me Love” was schmaltzy fun at best; and don't confuse it with that other Robin's soulful disco anthem “(You've Got To) Show Me Love”.
After moving in a more snappy-rappy direction on her self-titled '08 release (highlights of which included an inspired cover of the Teddybears “Cobrastyle” and the blippy, baddass “Konichiwa Bitches”), she put herself on par with the likes of Peaches, Gwen Stefani and M.I.A., subsequently garnering a bigger gay following than ever. “Dancehall Queen” another island-groove filled track she pulled out Friday, was produced by Diplo and it was just announced that Pt. 2, will have an obligatory Snoop Dogg collab. Gaga-like pop icon status seems one mega-hit (or mega-tour) away, but after the passionate response we saw on Friday, it appears both ladies scored gay love and dance divadom before “All Hearts” even began.