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Live Review: Nothing’s Shocking With Lady Gaga at SAP Center

In Music
Photo courtesy of Lady Gaga.

Photo courtesy of Lady Gaga.

Last night a leather daddy tossed a beanie baby named Cancun to me while strutting 10 feet in the air across the SAP Center. That’s usually a weird thing, but I know that many other people at the Lady Gaga show last night (and others across the country) had their very own leather daddy throw them their very own beanie baby from their very own spot under the lucite catwalk. So that makes it mundane? Less fun? Ironic? Extra fun?

“Do you think she cries at every show?” I asked my friend on the ride home.

“Oh yeah for sure, I think she can cry on command,” she answered immediately.

During her encore performance of “Gypsy,” alone at her piano, Gaga started sobbing and had to start over. What does one make of that?

If it’s real, it’s admirable. If it’s not, isn’t it still admirable? It makes for a good show after all, and whether fans suspend their disbelief or not, Gaga and her connection to them obviously means a lot.

In a legit touching moment, Gaga brought two fans up to sit beside her at the piano while she performed an acoustic rendition of “Born This Way.”

Both fans, dressed Gaga chic with bejewled vest and crop top, hands over their mouths, lost their shit while singing every word, and then got to go down the trapdoor beside Mother Monster.

Oh yeah, there were trapdoors—all over the stage in fact, which extended far across the crowd via interconnecting transparent catwalks, about as high off the ground as an average guy wearing heels and a peacock headdress.

Gaga would go down the trapdoors to thunderous cheering, letting her five-piece band vamp for a couple minutes, then reemerge as a black leather octopus or in a bejewled bikini, still to thunderous cheering.

At one point, different trapdoors opened, unfurling what were supposedly the native flora of Venus, for her song of the same title. For a planet supposedly devoted to the feminine, it’s native flora is very, very phallic.

But this is all the usual Gaga stuff: the signifiers of sex, kink and transgression without the actual substance.

She changed her costume on stage just as all the recent breathless headlines reported, promising that “If we haven’t made you uncomfortable yet, we will now.” But when I had already spent 30 minutes before the show dodging skinny dudes in nothing but boxer-briefs and heels and the smattering of pasty-only ladies, plus an hour-and-a-half of staring at Gaga’s butt, it didn’t make me uncomfortable so much as bored.

By the end of the show though, I couldn’t walk away un-entertained. Really, someone would have to try pretty hard to not enjoy the spectacle.

She absolutely killed it on the older hits like “Bad Romance” and “Alejandro,” though this might have been because the dozen new Artpop songs in the setlist still don’t measure up to her previous work, even with a huge soundsystem and 12 scantily clad back-up dancers.

The set looked great, with her band housed in what looked like an unpainted set from the original Star Wars, which was periodically covered in video projection matched to the huge screen behind it.

Gaga played the hits and brought the show. If a Little Monster paid the hundred-something bucks to get onto the floor, it’s no doubt they had a good time. At one point Gaga sang happy birthday to one lucky fan with her best Marilyn Monroe impression, and later she read a note tossed on stage, in which a fan thanked her for writing “Born This Way” and making him feel loved.

So I can sit here all day and think about whether Gaga is cynical or authentic, whether her attempt at transgression is empty posturing for monetary gain, or whether she already thought of all this and this is the point of the whole enterprise, she’s a genius, blah blah blah whatever. I think her fans already know what she means.

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