Last night my husband, Mark, and I went to the Lady Gaga Monsters Ball tour in Nashville. It was Mark’s birthday and that’s what he wanted to do. Don’t ask me. I’m 99% sure he’s not gay, but he does like to listen to dance music when he works out. However even if he is gay, I will support and love him no matter….wait. I’ve taken a wrong turn with this concert review!
We started our evening getting drunk at Bella Napoli. Their pizza is amazing and I ate a whole one. By myself. Then we had Tiramisu (the best I’ve EVER had…and I’ve had it all over the world). While delicious, our getting drunk was completely thwarted by eating. I need to remember not to eat when I drink.
We headed off to the Sommet Center or the Bridgestone Arena or the Gaylord Entertainment Dome or whatever corporate Nazi has named it this week to get our Gaga on. I have to admit that I’ve been poopoo’ing this experience from day one. Mark bought the tickets for the show without asking me. Since it was his birthday, I couldn’t argue, but I thought it was strange. You see, Mark goes to concerts for a living. He HATES going to concerts unless he’s being paid. He doesn’t even like to go to concerts when he can get free tickets. In the 15 years we’ve been together, I don’t think we have EVER paid to go to a popular musical concert like normal people. Ever.
So why Gaga? I think I know why. In October of 2009, Mark (and his musical partner Howard) were asked to perform in a charity concert being produced by Bono and Hal Willner (SNL). During that trip, Hal invited us to come watch a mid-day SNL rehearsal. The musical guest that week was Lady Gaga. Admittedly, Howard, Mark and I mocked her as we sat alone in chairs and cast/crew scurried around us rehearsing sketches. We hadn’t even seen her yet, but…come on!…we all know she’s horrible.
Yeah, she’s not. We apologize.
When it came time for her to rehearse her two SNL numbers, she came out in one of her crazy costumes (a movable gyroscope that required 20 minutes of just practicing how to SIT DOWN at the piano because she couldn’t reach the keys without one of the sphere’s bars hitting her in the head) and we practically went blind rolling our eyes at each other. But when she finally got the “technical” issues out of the way, she started noodling on the piano. Just Gaga. No one bothering her. She seemed comfortable and intimate sitting there, singularly playing unbelievably beautiful melodies. If I were an 1800s poet, I’d say something cheesy on how her fingers battement glisse’d all over the ivory. But I’m not. I am an 80s television kid, so I’ll say her fingers were like that episode of The Littles where Dinky tries to rescue Lucy from that leaf that’s being washed down the sewer water.
ANYway, we only continued to be impressed with m’Lady that day at 30 Rock. She began to sing as she played the piano. Gorgeous voice. Soulful. Throughout her rehearsal time, she was extremely professional and not diva like at all. She even came over to where we were sitting and chatted with us for a few minutes while they prepped for the next sketch (that she was in with Madonna – we were right there for that, too…but that’s a different story). Gaga was down-to-earth and normal. Sure, she was in her underwear as we talked (where I happily made mental note of her thigh cellulite), but you could tell she was not what she perpetrated to be in the public eye. The three of us admitted later that we were wrong. She actually is quite talented.
Now cut back to last night. Why, given my new found respect for her, did I dread going to her concert? Because I had seen her perform already and anything else would now be over the top and annoying. Especially with all her “little monsters” around. And I was right. Little monsters were everywhere. Looking just like monsters, actually. But these monsters were not Gaga fans. These were poor, teenage African-American girls who were clearly “encouraged” to stand in front of the entrance to the concert wearing the following:
I say “encouraged” because as we passed by, they listlessly muttered “God hates gays…Sinners Repent. God hates gays…Sinners repent.” as if they worked at Walmart and had to tell each passing customer about the clearance sale on bananas. I even asked to take this picture of them and they perked up (Someone was actually TALKING to them!), said “Sure!” and posed like I was yearbook editor for Homophobe High. They were sweet, and I almost felt badly making fun of them. But I did anyway. God probably hates comedians, too.
We entered the insanity that was the arena lobby. Gagas everywhere. Male Gagas. Females Gagas. Not-Sure Gagas. They even had a Little Monster Pix booth, so you could one day show your kids how ridiculous you were when you were 42.
Before we could grab our seats, I had to get earplugs. I’ve never worn earplugs to a concert before and only did this time because I’ve been having some eustachian problems lately…but now that I’ve worn them, I may never not wear them again! They’re great!! I might even wear them at home, at church…there are so many uses!
We arrived at our seats just in time to be tortured by the opening act. Semi Precious Weapons….which the leader singer elongated every time he said their name…which was a lot. The Andy Taylor-esque lead singer called us bitches about 10 times within a minute. As a performer, I usually like to have people like me, so I’m not sure I would choose his audience-warming technique. But he seemed comfortable with it. AS comfortable as he seemed in his very high heeled boots. He did the splits and a cartwheel in them…that is, after he ripped off his regular pants to reveal only nylons. It was impressive…and painful looking. If, by chance, I were to run into him personally at some point in the evening, I would’ve have already felt like I had intimate relations with him. We’d all seen everything he had to give.
Wait! Not everything! He had t-shirts to throw to the crowd!! Oh man, did I want to get one of those….hold up…did he just wipe his crotch with that shirt? I don’t want it anymore. But thank you.
This act went on at 8:30 (concert was supposed to start at 8PM) and lasted about 40 minutes. They were set up in front of Gag’s stage, so the turnaround should’ve been quick. Nope. We sat there…and sat there…and sat there. Mark and I began a discussion on how Lady Gaga would enter for the first number. I voted in a giant peanut shell as Mr. Planter. Mark voted as a cowboy on a real live horse. “You know, for Nashville!” he said.
That conversation grew old quickly, especially since I kept screaming “WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU WITH MY EARPLUGS IN!”
As we patiently waited, the nice young flamboyant gentleman next to me touched my arm and leaned in, saying “Do you have any gum? My mouth is so dry.” I did! I always have gum! … And I’m guessing me, sitting quietly with my earplugs in, my big mom purse (which I prefer to call a “tote”) clutched on my lap gave this fact away. If I had been grading papers as I waited, it would have completely clinched the becoming-your-parents transformation.
During this time of silent observation, I noticed a suspicious absence of beach balls in the crowd below. Is that concert phenomenon passe? Please don’t tell me! I so enjoy standing (at 5’3″) in a crowd, barely breathing beneath the taller nostrils stealing all oxygen before it reaches me, only to be suddenly smacked on top of the head by colorful fun! Please say I will experience this again at my future Jessie J concert!!
Finally, at 10PM, Gaga starts her part. Oh shit. We have to stand. I mean, I knew it was coming…but so soon? I should’ve used that precious hour and a half between Semi Duran Weapons and now to bribe my section with glitter! I could have gotten them to sit the entire time! WHAT WAS A I THINKING!?!
Too late. I’m standing. Tote clutched. The curtain is rising. Oooh, this is gonna be BIG! I can feel it! I’ve been cringing at the thought of this moment for weeks, but now that it’s here I’m excited. I almost WANT to be standing!
WTF?? No pod. No peanut shell. No horse. Just a shitty ridiculous looking green prop car with smoke machines under the hood. And Gaga’s not even in it. She’s up on a riser, singing, making poses.
And her outfit? Nothing to write about. (Although I guess I will…since you’re still reading. You’re kind of diehard for doing so, by the way. You’re my Little Diehard.) She wore a bikini with fishnets and a Michael Jackson military jacket with pointier shoulders. Black. Boring.
I have no idea what this first song is. Then I don’t know the second song either. I sit back down. It’s not like I don’t know any of her songs. I know the hits. Who doesn’t! She has not sung one of those yet. All of the sudden the music stops dead. The crowd goes wild. What am I missing?? I stand back up. Oh, she just dramatically turning to face the audience. That takes approximately 18 seconds. The crowd loves it. I can’t decide if I’m the douchebag or they are.
Wait! I know this one!! JUST DANCE…IT’LL BE OKAY…RECORD BABY…DANCE…DOO DOO DOO DOOOO. I’m dancing…with my purs, er, tote. I think my husband has fallen asleep. I look over and he gives me a tired look and mouths “I’m ready when you are.” What! I finally know a song and he wants to leave? No way. I’m dancing so hard, I don’t even notice that the stupid green car is gone and now Gaga is wearing a funny purple hat. It’s not a great hat. But it’s funny looking, so it serves its purpose. She sings another song I don’t know, so I sit down.
Then it starts. The “thing” that will eventually ruin the evening. She starts talking…and talking. This is “the place” where all her “little monsters can be super free.” A “place where all the freaks are outside,” but SHE “has opened the door.” “FOLLOW THE GLITTER!” She’s making me hate glitter. And I love glitter!
All of the sudden, she’s gone again and suddenly there’s a subway car on stage. I get it! A transportation theme! Chiseled men in white jockstraps pour out of the subway car like an ejaculation scene in a Woody Allen movie. Gaga exits lasts wearing a…nun outifit? I’ve seen this one before. Lame. OOH! But she sings another song I know. The disco stick one! She has a claw or something on her hand, yet she never utilizes it. Curious. It doesn’t even come up when she randomly screams “Get your dicks out! I heard they make some pretty cocks in Nashville. Now DANCE YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!”
There’s something going on here that is just now starting to become noticeable. Before (and/or) After every song, she tells the audience that she loves them, for about 5 minutes. At this moment, she says that she used to not be brave “before her little monsters.” Before they did what?, I wonder inside my muffled head. She continues, “Forget your insecurities! I used to wear a mask because I was afraid and wanted to hide. I still wear a mask, but now it’s with pride!” She’s so full of shit. And it’s so obvious. I look back at Mark, who is no longer looking tired but annoyed that he’s still sitting there. I press on. I must know more!
The next song is “dedicated to all the Tennessee gays.” The handsome lesbian couple in front of me embrace. I suddenly feel excluded. I’ve never wanted to wear a mask and be gay more than I want to right then. But I am suddenly snapped back into my reality when the Jockstrap Joe’s take over the stage. That’s not dancing, I proclaim loudly to no one. Gaga leaves and comes back to sing another unknown song and breaks one of her nails on the keytar she played dramatically for a second. She notes the breakage to the crowd, and a dancer comes to take it. She stops him. “One of my FANS might want this!” And they do. They want her broken fingernail. Fabulous.
Someone is smoking a cigarette in my section. I do not like this, but I stop caring when Gaga announces something about a “Telephone.” The third song I know! Woohoo!! But before we can get to that, she pulls out a cell phone and says she’s going to call someone in the audience. Someone who has been selected, mind you, and placed in a perfectly lit spot. He is dressed like a flaming Capt. America. He cries a lot. She speaks fake British a lot. It reminds me of Swept Away. Gayptain America cries even more when Gaga announces she’s going to donate $20K to an LGBT organization…though I’m not sure why. HE’S not getting the money.
“Telephone sans Beyonce” is played. I like it. She calls us all bitches again. I’m starting to not like that. The acoustic portion of the program has begun. Mark and I hit a wall, which is punctuated by more pandering to the crowd. The fans are her “blood flow” and if you “cut them off,” her “heart will stop beating.” She loves them so much, she says. In fact, so much that she has written a new song (that will conveniently be on her new album available in the fall) dedicated to Nashville. That’s right. NASHVILLE! NO OTHER CITY!! ONLY US! She plays the song and starts pandering some more. Something about how a fan made a vest that was delivered to her dressing room before the show and she cried when she put it on (which must’ve been why she was so late…they were waiting for the bomb squad to dismantle the thing.)
We couldn’t take any more and left. How’s that for a full recap?! We left! We saw nothing more. The pandering was killing us. Appreciating your fans a couple of times is cool. After every song is phony. I wonder if God hates phonies. We went outside to ask the African-American girls still standing there. All they said was “God hates gays…sinners repent.” Then their wires short circuited. It was definitely time to go home.
Ultimately, I was disappointed with the concert. I was planning on thinking it was over-the-top and crazy, but really it was boring and wordy (just like this review!). It’s a concert…SING! Entertain me! We expected a Michael Jackson style “spectacle,” instead we got a Lee Press-On sleeper. Also, while she continued to inspire her little monsters, she called them bitches and motherfuckers at every opportunity. The entire show was filled with a bitterness and anger that could not be hidden by a plastic nun hat and cliche love poems. It was sad. She made me sad. She made me not want to take a ride on anyone’s disco stick. And, let’s be honest, that’s what I came for. Perhaps my husband did, too. Oh well.