Something changes when you take a music festival (or just a super stacked concert, curated with artists you love) and put it on a boat for five days. The barrier between audience and artists is stripped away when you’re jammed together on a cruise ship. Paramore, Skrillex, and Weezer have done it, to great enthusiasm and success. And this February, on the 17th through the 21st, Kesha’s fans will have the chance to get closer than ever to their hero...on a boat.
Why a cruise, Kesha? “It has to be a cruise because, in a past life, I was a pirate captain,” the singer jokes to Refinery29. “Also, I think I left some booty in the Caribbean….I mean buried pirate treasure, of course!”
In all seriousness, Kesha’s Weird & Wonderful Rainbow Ride is an LGBGQ+ friendly adventure (that Kesha insists is “for everyone” who wants to “feel free as a bird on the open seas”) with a lineup that also includes Betty Who, Superfruit, Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye, RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Bob The Drag Queen, Detox and Thorgy Thor, plus Big Freedia, Wrabel, Girl Talk, and Matt and Kim. Fans will get all of this and more, including time to interact with the artists as the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship floats from Tampa, FL to Nassau, Bahamas. The ship has 15 dining experiences, 11 onboard bars and lounges, a casino, an outdoor pool, hot tubs, and a full menu of spa treatments. With all of that going on, you can get wild, or you can decompress. but Anthony Diaz, CEO of Sixthman, who are presenting the fest, promises you will never feel out of your element.
“Initially what happens is a fan finds the cruise, they love Kesha and want to go on this adventure with her,” Diaz explains to Refinery29. “When they get there, they recognize that they’re out with a like-minded group of people who share similar goals and dreams and a path in life. They’re with their people.”
As Diaz puts it, when an artist puts on a concert there is a one to many dynamic. Fans, even those sitting right next to each other, won’t necessarily talk. But on the music festival at sea concept, Diaz says, fans are “going to meet, a drink together, and there's a good chance we'll become social friends.” Diaz says that often fans who bond on these cruises meet up on land throughout the year.
For her part, Kesha promises it will be “the best time ever.”
“If you are a hater, then we will make you walk the plank,” Kesha teases. “But, if you aren’t walking the plank, you can join me in all the fun, including karaoke, competitive lip syncing, boogie time, drag racing, live performances from me and all my friends, of course, and much more.”
The Weird & Wonderful concept was crafted and booked with direction from Kesha’s team, but what Sixthman brings to the table is security, including against sexual assault or harassment, at their events. As Diaz explains, the Norweigan Cruise Line ships are all loaded down with security cameras, surveillance and in-house security officers, plus venue and stage security, along with paramedics and EMTs. Harassment and assault of any kind are not tolerated.
“Sixthman brings on around 120 team members in shirts that say ‘CREW’,” Diaz says. “If at any moment anyone isn’t feeling comfortable or is having an issue, they can escalate it. We will escalate it to security and it’s handled immediately.” The music festival at sea is smaller, more intimate, and packed with experiences in a way that the average concert is not. And, if you’re open to it, you might leave with some lifelong friends. And maybe get some life advice from Jonathan Van Ness, which is something we all want.
As for how Kesha is preparing for this unique concert experience, it’s certainly weird and wonderful. “While rehearsing we are doing the ‘spinning bat challenge’ where you put your forehead on a baseball bat that’s touching the ground and spin around 5 times before playing each song,” Kesha deadpans. “That way, we know we shouldn’t be phased by any choppy waters.”