The woman that wasn’t Kesha’s mom

Brian Gibbins
Oct 7, 2017 · 9 min read

I had the exquisite pleasure of watching Kesha perform live to a sold out audience at the Coca-Cola Roxy in Atlanta on the last Friday night of September. I chaperoned my teen daughter and her high school friend, but really I was there for myself too. I’ve followed Kesha since her first album and was really looking forward to the concert.

We naturally assumed it was not general admission since we were required to pick each of three seats from a map of still available seats through the online interface months prior when we purchased them. This suited me fine because I often have a hard time remaining standing for long periods. I’ve never been to this venue, but the seats looked to be well located as noted by the assignments on the three tickets when they arrived in the mail.

We set out from home at an appropriate assigned seat time and arrived at the Roxy with plenty of time to spare for buying shirts and finding our seats. As we looked for parking I spotted a long line of people sprawling toward where we were headed.

As a frequent concert-goer you might have guessed that this was a line for general admission and you would be right. We parked and joined the glittery throng. Other concert goers confirmed our general admission questions.

Security personnel were checking IDs and attaching wristbands on the owners. Just in case I decided on a drink, I reached for my wallet and was told I didn’t need it. Apparently it was obvious I was chaperoning. I took no offense.

After some magic wand waving by more security we entered the main lobby and my daughter’s friend exclaimed in excitement “they have a pit!” We moved quickly together to buy T-shirts for each of us, giving me time to figure out how I was going to stand for two hours (or so).

It turns out that there are seats in the balcony and that any gray colored seat was open to general admission. Decision time now. Do I make the girls sit with me further away and safe by my side? Or do I let them join their younger generation on the rapidly filling concrete floor? I’ve been on several just like it, in my younger days. I look around, up at the balconies and wonder where a terrorist might hide. I tell the girls to check in via text, advise them where to meet either in an emergency or after the show and head up the stairs. I pass the VIP lounge and laugh out loud as one girl says to another, “Oh, how bougie!”, they sure know their Kesha music.

Around the corner, there is the bar (I’ll come back to that later, I think) and then toward the center of the auditorium to find the best seat.

She sat there, alone. Just off center of center stage. In the spot I would have chosen. With what looked like a black hand bag separating her from the vacant seats to her left.

“Are these seats over here taken?”

“No”, she says. I tell her that I thought I had an assigned seat and she agrees. She holds up her VIP pass on the lanyard around her neck and tells me that she thought that it would allow her to sit even closer. She points to the rows that were on the other side of the aisle we sat in. They were blocked off and the usher said she could not sit there when she asked. She’s okay where she is and doesn’t seem too upset by the change.

Not a bad spot, I took the one closer to her with her bag next to me, between us. A barrier to an unwelcome male if she needed it. Not many people were here on the upper deck yet, best to get a beer and get back to my still available seat. Good.

The Roxy is stunning with the chandeliers all lit up in blue.

The girls were having a great time and had met some friends on the floor below. I could see them in the tie-dyed t-shirts they made days before the concert. Still plenty of room between everyone to talk and laugh and have a good time… and for me to pick them out in the crowd.

Meanwhile it was time to people watch. I saw a lot of glitter. A big guy wearing a white t-shirt with rainbow angel wings walked by with his adult beverage of choice. A girl with light up soles on her clunky white shoes sits next to me with a seat between, I admire them and she says she had to order them from China. I comment appreciatively, then her boyfriend comes back and hands her a drink from the bar.

The woman that I sat near hasn’t moved. She looks around and occasionally gets out her phone. Checking for a text? Is she waiting for someone? I like to observe random people and make up stories about their hidden lives.

She wears her longish blond hair in loose braids. I think that’s awesome that she did her hair for the concert. I wish I could have sprung for the mohawk like I did for the Culture Club concert two years ago. She looks to be about my age. I tell her that “we kind of stick out at this concert” wondering if she is chaperoning anyone like I am. “Do you like Kesha then?” She laughs and says yes, she likes her. “The party don’t start ‘til she walks in”. I nod and agree.

I look surreptitiously at the black handbag on the chair between us. It looks like it has a Kesha logo on it. She never touches the bag. All night. I never do see what it says for sure. It just sits there on the chair between us. She even leaves it when she walks away for a bit and comes back later. Who leaves a purse like that?

A girl walks by with her oversized unicorn head in her arms. She is catching up with a friend. The boys here with girls don’t appear to have as much fun as the boys that are here with boys.

The warm up band comes on stage. The lights are dimmed and the crowd gets louder. Someone behind and to the right in the balcony starts chanting, “Kesha, Kesha, Kesha” before friends tell them that this is the warm up band.

I tweet something about respecting the warm up band. It has to be hard for them to come on before an icon like Kesha. They have to start somewhere. This is more like what I would call metal with a lot of distorted guitar. I wonder why they were booked as their style doesn’t fit in with what I would expect for Kesha. I try to understand the words through the guitar and clap politely between each song.

An apparent couple sit down in the extra special seating in front of our aisle. They both remind me of a friend from years ago. One of them wears a metallic gold hat backwards.

I daydream, the lady next to me seems familiar. Wouldn’t it be a hoot if it was Kesha’s mom? LOL. Wait. Is it? Seriously, that’s what I would do if I were Kesha’s mom. Hide anonymously in the audience. Surely I can find a picture. I get my phone out of my pocket and keeping it close to my body I type “keshas mom” and then push go. I click the Images tab on the Google results. Holy crap. Slam the phone down in my lap. Sip of beer. I look again at my phone while trying to be sure the folks behind me don’t see we are sitting next to Kesha’s mom. Is it? That is soooo what I would do.

I wonder about it during the rest of the opening band’s songs. The VIP pass, the strange barrier bag, being alone (not that there is anything wrong with it, I’m just adding things up), the blond braids, the cute comment about the party not starting until Kesha walks in. Hmmm.

It must be nearing the end of their set by now. Light up shoe girl and her boyfriend aren’t interested and the-lady-that-may-be-Keshas-mom has made a couple of funny faces toward the end of the set. She doesn’t think it goes with Kesha either I guess. I give her my best, “I know, right?” face.

Intermission of sorts as the stage is changed a bit, more people are here. I guess they showed up late. No available seats are around me and folks come by asking about unoccupied seats waiting for their people to come back to them. Always polite.

I ask maybe-Keshas-mom if she would mind watching my shirts and my seat while I go to the restroom and back. No, of course she doesn’t mind. She doesn’t want the water I offer to get for her while I’m gone either.

I did have to go, but I also wanted time to get away from my seat and look at the photos on Google. Wow, it really looks like her. I mean really, really. I decide I definitely don’t want another beer after seeing the long line made of of those who did want one. I’m also grateful to is-it-Keshas-mom for not wanting that water.

I return to my seat and the waiting shirts, deciding that if I don’t say something I will forever wonder. I also figured that if I was wrong, I had nothing to lose. Worse comes to worse she has a funny story to tell about this crazy guy at the Kesha concert.

What would you say? Not wanting to reveal her to everyone else if she was trying to hide, I leaned in and spoke quietly…

“Excuse me. I’m not saying you are, but you really look an awful lot like Kesha’s Mom.. I’ve thought about it a lot and if you are I would want to tell you something. So, again not saying that you are or are not, and you don’t have to answer either way, but if you were I would want to tell you that ‘you must be very proud of her right now’”.

As you may have guessed, she laughed. Others have mentioned it and they do share some of the same features, but she was “not Kesha’s mom.”

I laughed too and told her that I had to take that chance. She asked if I’d heard of Herman’s Hermits. I sang the chorus of Henry VIII. She’s going to see them and the tickets are much less than the Barry Manilow tickets she also priced. I showed her pictures of my daughter and didn’t tell her that the photo came from the Kesha article I submitted on Vexteo earlier in the week. I’m still not convinced it isn’t her, or perhaps her aunt or something.

Kesha walks in and the party starts. The crowd has been waiting for this and so have I. She opens with the power song Woman with the middle finger on both hands held up high for the world to see.

I stand up with the rest of the crowd, singing and dancing through her entire performance. Most every song on Rainbow was represented as well as several of her standards. She shot glitter out of a glitter gun and covered the audience. Taking time to comment on something a fan said to her in front of the stage and signing what looked like CD liners for craving fans, Kesha is in touch with her Animals.

Not-Keshas-mom stood occasionally too and enjoyed the show. I clapped especially loud after Godzilla not just because I love the song, but because I know who wrote it too.

She left before the end of the concert and I didn’t get to say goodbye to not-Keshas-mom.

So, to Keshas-real-mom, wherever and whoever you are, know this from one parent to another… You did good. Thank you.

Brian Gibbins

Written by

Brian Gibbins is a husband to his soulmate, a father, a grandfather, consultant, writer, thinker, and maker of things based outside Atlanta.

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