PINK at the Kool Haus, July 13. Tickets: $28.50. Attendance: sold out. Rating: NNNN
That sound you heard around 9pm Thursday night echoing through the parking lot at Queens Quay and Jarvis, drowning out the rumble of traffic on the Lakeshore and even the pounding pulse of the pop party van shilling top-40 CDs? That was the roar of crazed fans trying to prove their love of bubblegum brat princess Pink .
Based on the high-pitched mega-decibels, I expected the walls of the Kool Haus to be lined with euphoric tweens in Stupid Girls T-shirts. But walking into the packed Haus, the shocker was the astoundingly eclectic crowd. Fifty-something cougars clad entirely in hot pink rubbed shoulders with suburban dads piggybacking their four-year-old daughters. Lunkhead frat boys grinding against their dates peered over the heads of nervous twinks and Slack's-style dykes.
The currently platinum-haired pop star formerly known as Alecia Moore skipped onstage in an aura of - yup - hot pink lights, playfully flicking a riding crop at the front row while she flounced her Marilyn Monroe crinoline to the beat of 'Cuz I Can, the tongue-in-cheeky celebration of bling, the hit single off her new I'm Not Dead disc.
Unlike the tepid dance-'n'-karaoke performances of her stadium-filling Mickey Mouse Club alum peers, Pink can actually belt it out like a woman. She's got that great trashy R&B burr in her voice and a powerful delivery that commands respect.
Too bad the Kool Haus sound was skewed to the point of making the drums sound like overprocessed shit, while the treble levels were buried in thunderous bass and tinny keyboards - a holdover from the Sounds Of The Underground metalfest that touched down at the club two nights earlier, perhaps?
Ultimately, the technical stuff didn't matter, especially since every person there - from the cougars chanting with their eyes closed to the wee wannabes whose parents winced every time a "fuckin'" or "bitches" issued from the pop star's lips - knew every lyric in Pink's catalogue and mouthed the words unselfconsciously. The girl chose her set list well, alternating surefire hits with newer, reflective tracks, and saving her Dixie Chicksesque political ballad (Dear Mr. President) for the encore.
When Pink reached her crowd-pleasing cover of What's Up, a tribute to mentor Linda Perry (to whose hook-savvy songwriting skills Pink owes a ton of credit), the official go-ahead to sing along hit like Niagara Falls. Arms waved, cellphone cameras flashed, and even the kids too young to have heard the 4 Non Blondes original bellowed the chorus as though it was the cathartic high point of their troubled kindergarten lives.
There's something kinda beautiful about seeing such a mix of fans adore a star who represents the closest thing to active female agency you can find in mainstream pop.