Lady Gaga: Monster Ball
I don’t need to introduce the hype that is Lady Gaga to you, you know it all much, much better than I do. You remember vividly what you thought when her first single came out, and the strong opinion you formed upon being confronted with her public image. Getting your nose shoved into her (supposed) whereabouts has lead you to the point of today, where you either love her to death or hate her with deep passion.
I take pride in doing neither; I respect Lady Gaga as I do all artists but the Backstreet Boys, and while keeping in mind that her image is carefully constructed by professionals hired by money-making multinationals, try to be open to it and the lessons it might bring about myself, others and music/pop industry in general.
With this mindset I went to see her live act recently: Open and gaze set to infinity. Whatever she would bring, I was counting on something I hadn’t seen before.
Stating the obvious: Lady Gaga and her franchise are built around a new sexual revolution, where horniness is a given, and gender is… well, optional. Men in high heels and make-up, women in rubber catsuits and All-Stars: the extreme is reeled into normality and anything goes from there.
As explained to her male black girlfriend Posh during the show, Monster Ball is an event where you can be yourself, freely, brazenly, unabashedly. “Just follow the glitter road.”
The first hint towards that idea was when I was with a few colleagues outside, smoking in the crew area while the support act, called Semi Precious Weapons by the way, climbed out of the limousine and gave us a friendly “hello” while passing us by into the wrong backstage entrance (as they metaphorically would). I tried to make my response a friendly one as I tend to, but I was terribly distracted by something. It took me a moment to pinpoint what was, in my eyes, wrong with the picture: It wasn’t the unusual hair or uncomfortably tight clothing; it were the high heels worn underneath. Not one member of this band was female.
I was very close to taking that back when I saw them onstage in their show outfit. I could have sworn that the lead singer, shaking that ass and doing splits with disturbing little effort was, in fact, a woman, right up until the point where “she” changed clothing onstage. Yikes. I had to take a moment to double-check my sexual orientation.
All in all, I have to say, the support act was quite phenomenal by most standards. They spent a little too much time whoring the crowd by barking “Gaga” in every possible pronunciation at the crowd if you ask me, but I’m willing to pass on that.
The first song of the evening was titled “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know,” or at least I assume it was. It made me pause and think that, in this review, it would be very hard for me to do so. When a transvestite in heels is doing jumps over subwoofers that even I would pause to reconsider, I don’t really feel I can tell them much that they haven’t already heard. They seem to have experienced a sense of liberation around the time when I was born, and from what I can tell, live their live as one big orgy with occasional breaks for eating and performing.
And then Lady Gaga herself kicked off. The first sight of her that must have triggered a few dozen orgasms among the crowd was a silhouette of her, striking several “luxurious” poses, and from that first moment, she lost my attention. What I was hoping to be an intellectual challenge and a sexual journey into the inner unknown (What do you mean- high expectations?) turned out to be a continuous string of American clichés and synchronized dance moves. Blah.
No, I was not satisfied. Not with her appeal, not with her charisma, and least of all with the endless weeping about being yourself and the shameless selling of her stage persona as something genuine. Unless of course she was very serious about having found her true love in the audience, in which case she will be so very disappointed when (not if) she will be spat out by the music scene as “last week”. Which I hope she will, we don’t need another Madonna.
What did manage to impress, ironically, were the distant references to actual class. Among the band’s instruments were a violin and a harp, and Gaga (what’s her fucking name anyway?) actually put down a charming performance on a piano set on fire (Unoriginal but effective). Even the high-heeled squat on her stool that she did and the one song where she, balanced over the instrument, tapped one single note repeatedly with that same heel, struck me as creative and showing a hint of real potential. It’s a shame that the business is so riddled with piano-playing little girls, because I think her talent shone through in these moments more than the rest of the show put together.
The set was surprisingly stylish, as well. I expected bombastic, penile overcompensation but saw no such thing, aside from the armored Cadillac that broke down onstage. The band, of which only the drummer looked heterosexual, was divided over several platforms held together in towers of scaffolding (One of these fell over during load-in, by the way). Props included a big-ass scorpion fish (how awesome is that) and enough designer clothes to feed Africa. Neon lights advertising,
and such, were all over, giving the whole a futuristic feel.
Because that is what Lady Gaga is supposed to represent? The future? The next step where fashion, sex and personal liberation collide in a new world where AIDS is cured and everyone can afford designer sunglasses? It’s such a shame then, that the performance was nothing more than the sum of its elements: airtight choreography, unconvincing emotion and a lot of hot air.
I think we can list this one with the regretful cases where the support act was more entertaining than the main. I got paid to be there and I’m still disappointed.
Here’s something you don’t know: Men in fuck-me pumps are nauseating.
Time to get real.