Lady Gaga

There was a time when I never, ever missed a single show that I wanted to see.  I would see at least a handful of shows each month, and sometimes, several each week.  That was well before I had a mortgage, two cars, and…well, you know, things other than concerts that need to be paid for.

These days, even though I still browse Pollstar and Ticketmaster, among others,  and make extensive lists of the shows I would like to see, it’s a rarity that Monika and I actually get to attend any of them.  We get to see a good deal of them because of the graciousness of our good friend Jim, who has the occasion to score free tickets and kick them down to us because he is awesome (and has two young children, and is a good husband).

On Thursday we attended the Lady Gaga concert together with 6 of our friends who were lucky enough to have a pre-sale password and score not great, but not horrible seats at the Susquehanna Bank Center, nee the E-Center, in Camden.  Thursday’s show had the back walls on the venue, so it was a relatively smallish to medium sized show for my standards.

So, perhaps one day I’ll also devise a rating system for concerts, since it seems that in my mad compulsions, it is inevitable.  But for now, we are going to get right to the point.  These are my impressions of the concert, which overall I would rate an entertaining show with some great highlights, but much to be desired.

THE PROS:

  1. Lady Gaga unequivocally sings all her songs live  (no lip synching), while dancing, in costume, and performing stage stunts.  This takes a lot of professionalism as far as being a true “entertainer” goes, not to mention she occasionally plays the piano at the same time.
  2. As a true showman (PC advocates, deal with it), she made many costume changes.  This was nice for several reasons.  First, it created an additional level of entertainment.  Next, it gave a minute or two to sit down between small sets of songs to rest while she got changed, which was actually pretty nice.
  3. She had pretty creative stage projections during her costume changes.  They were filmed like short movies, and were projected on a huge, stage wide scrim that they lowered when she exited for a break.  They kept us entertained in a multimedia kind of way, giving us something of substance to watch instead of smoke machines and circular drum machine loops.
  4. Lady Gaga’s show was concise.  To a long time concert goer, this is actually pretty important to me.  Concision is based on several things.  She didn’t waste very much time between songs, and when she had to for a costume change, there was other entertainment.  Furthermore, she did like to tell a short anecdote occasionally, but when she chose to, she kept it pretty short and to the point.  There was no endless rambling, which I can’ stand, nor was there zero crowd interaction whatsoever, which can be equally detached and, frankly, rude.  There was one long, nearly two hour set without an intermission.  Then, for the encore, we only had to wait 5 minutes or so for her to return to play her final two songs, and that was that.
  5. I had no problem with the crowd.  Sure, there was the one really tall girl (must have been 5’10”) that occasionally blocked all of our views, but overall, it was a perfect crowd.  To start, my crowd of 8 people alone was made up of all individuals that I’ve known and liked for some time, thereby avoiding any uncomfortableness.  Plus, really, how upset can a man be in a crowd of 90% women, cheering, singing along, swooning at the male dancers, and generally being perfectly elated?  There was no vying for seat space, fending off drunken douche bags, or having to tell someone to stop yelling because you would actually like to hear the artist you paid to see perform.
  6. The sound was fantastic.  There was a bit too much reverb on her vocals, but that is the only thing I can point out.  The bass bins were powerful enough to shake our insides, the mixes were clear and uncluttered, her vocals, whether on hand-held or headset, sat in the correct place in the mix for a pop diva, and I was happy with the overall dynamics of the show.

Okay, the CONS:

  1. My biggest disappointment of the night, quite frankly, was the shocking lack of musicians!  Okay, so you may not like Lady Gaga’s music, but these are facts:  She began playing piano at age 4;  she was playing open mic nights by 13, playing original compositions a year later; by age 17, she was accepted into the Tisch School of Arts at NYU; at 19, she was signed to Def Jam Records; she performed as a musician for the next few years in NYC clubs; at 21, she was writing original songs for major label acts;  shortly thereafter, her vocal talents convinced major label reps that she should be a performer, rather than a mere composer, for her compositions. Unfortunately, even with those obvious credentials, her show included very little actual musicianship.  It was mostly her background tracks being played over the PA with her singing the lead vocals.  Absent was any actual performance of the songs.  There was no guitar, bass or drum players, no backup singers, and no synth players or programmers.  She sung leads over her own, album-recorded backup vocals.  The lone exceptions were live drums, with a little guitar, on the two lonely songs that she played on a real piano.  Those few songs sounded great, and I truly wished that that setup would have been the majority of the performance, rather than the gimmick it was portrayed as.
  2. She kept bringing this whole “I despise money” thing.  Now, I know that she thinks about money a lot as she has more than one song dedicated to it, but to bring it up over and over during your show is tiresome.  And, let me point out, she was saying how she HATED money, that she absolutely despises it, that it’s what she “hates in the world most.”  C’mon Gaga, I know there were a lot of young teenagers at the show, but they’re not stupid.  She absolutely loves money, and fame, and crazy ass costumes, and record royalties, and Hollywood glamor, and all that shit.  To say that you don’t positively have a love affair with money is hypocritical at best and at worst, shows you have a truly distorted self-image.
  3. Okay, this isn’t really a con so much as an observation.  When I told my boss that I was going to see Lady Gaga, he mentioned that his daughter had really wanted to go to the show.   She’s 8.  This was not a show for an 8 year old.  Of course I expected there to be plenty of “sexual” dances going on, but she was downright vulgar at times.  Like I said, it doesn’t bother me and it didn’t detract from the show.  It’s just odd for a performer to ask the entire crown to “fuck me.”

One more wierd thing that I noticed.  On her website, and online, and at the concert, the name Philadelphia was never mentioned.  Now, we all know that technically the venue IS in Camden, but the show was a Philadelphia show.  It was clear that the promoter, Live Nation, made it absolutely clear to Lady Gaga that she was not to mention the name Philly at all and that she had to, instead, call it Camden every time.  This girl is from NY.  She definitely know that it was her Philadelphia stop on her tour and to have to refer to it over and over as Camden was off-puting.  Not her fault, of course, but strange.

Overall, I enjoyed myself and we all had a good time.  It was a solid 2 hour show that was basically all hits.  She kind of ruined Poker Face by letting that hack Kid Cudi rap over part of it, so that sorta sucked, but I would definitely go again.  That is, if her aversion to money sticks around and tickets don’t double in price as she gains more and more fame.

–~r

2 Responses to “Lady Gaga”

  1. She’s coming in a few months to NYC 🙂

  2. My Writing For Media teacher would have hated you….Just like he hated me!

    Also, definitely was not drooling over the male dancers, more like, trying to decide if they were gay or not. Which I have no problem with and support Lady Gaga 100% in the idea that her male dancers seem to always be homosexual since she is a huge supporter of Gay Rights. And most Gaga fans know this, so I don’t believe any other girl was drooling over them either, but I may be wrong.

    And yea, she totally knew it was her Phildelphia show… that “Camden” shit is ridiculous. When Craig and I saw No Doubt there back in June they did not call it Camden, but Philadelphia and I bet Lady Gaga As Stefani G. has seen shows at the E-Center back in her un-famous days. Really annoying to hear it called “Camden” gah.

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