September 20, 2010

Concert Review: Lady Gaga (no, like for realz)

My anniversary gift to my wife this year was two tickets to see her current favorite artist; Lady Gaga at the RBC center ( the real gift being that I would go with her). So, as long as I was there, I thought I'd take the opportunity to write a concert review for my friends here at the Rock Report (I'm assuming I'm the only one reading this who actually made it out to this one).

Full disclosure: I don't dislike Lady Gaga, in fact most of her stuff that I've heard is pretty catchy, danceable pop. I also think that she's far more talented as an artist that 90% of the pop acts out there now. She used to be a songwriter for other pop stars, so she obviously writes her own stuff, plays multiple instruments, and actually does sing in concert (no lip-syncing for her!).

Anyway, upon arriving at the show, I could see that the crowd was more-or-less what I expected. The breakdown was probably 80/20 Female/male with probably half of those males dressed sort of like females (OK...that last part's a bit of an exaggeration). I figured there would be a few folks in costume trying to pull off their best Gaga impersonation, but I was a little surprised by how many people gave it a shot...and how miserably they failed.

It was a little like Halloween on Franklin Street in that many of the girls were aiming for "crazy", but most missed the mark and instead landed on "slutty". Others didn't try very hard (a silly hat isn't really a costume, it's just a silly hat). A few, however, nailed it. The girl wrapped only in yellow police "crime scene" tape comes to mind. Needless to say, I was vastly under-dressed in jeans and a blue t-shirt.

After the parking lot show, we were treated to an opening act by Semi-Precious Weapons, who sounded promising for about 20 semi-precious seconds. The lead singer was quite a showman, but the whole act seemed forced. His idea of being a rock star was to say "fuck". Like...a lot. As in, "Helllooo, fucking Raleigh!!" or "Are you ready for some Lady fucking Gaga??!!!" It got old; pretty fucking quickly. At the end of their set, he asked the parents in the audience not to be angry at them because they're offensive. I couldn't tell if he was referring to his "rock star" act or his offensively horrible music, though.

Lady Gaga hit the stage around 9:00 and ripped through 4-5 songs I had never heard before. The sets were elaborate and fascinating, though. And, she quickly set up the narrative of the show: She and her friends are trying to make it to the "Monster's Ball" (conveniently in Raleigh, NC) but they keep running into problems that Gaga must sing a song to overcome. Things picked up when she got to her first hit "Just Dance", but then slowed down again as she went through another 4-5 songs I had never heard.

The whole night then followed that cycle, which is a problem when a new artist has a handful of hit songs, then tries to headline a 2 hour concert; there are lags. The songs I didn't recognize were still entertaining, for the most part, however, because the show was so interesting. The concert had at least 4 major set changes along with multiple costume changes by Gaga herself (no surprise there).

The stage sets are pretty tough to describe, but they did include: an 80-foot-tall wrap-around screen that surrounded the stage, an LCD "chandelier" that dropped from overhead and played videos, and (at one point) a 20-foot-tall angler fish (see photo).

Pulling off such elaborate set and costume changes has it's downsides, however. One being that it breaks up all of the shows continuity. There were periods where everyone was left sitting for 2-3 minutes watching videos on the huge screens while sets were swapped.

Also on the laborious side were Gaga's monologues, all of which centered on one of three themes: 1. Gays are awesome, 2. She loves her fans, or 3. It's OK to be yourself (don't let the man get you down!). nauseam.

In Conclusion (I'll wrap this up):
Was this the best concert I've ever been to? No. But, I'm not familiar with all Gaga's songs

Was this the best show (purely theatrics) I've ever seen?: Yes. I mean AC/DC had a huge wrecking ball and a 40-foot inflatable devil on stage for the Ballbreaker tour, but even that doesn't really touch this show.

If I were a huge Gaga fan would this have been the perfect show? Probably. And I guess that's what really counts.

Here's a pretty decent clip that someone on the floor caught. (Sorry...can't embed, but not bad for camera-phone concert footage)


  1. Reports like this are why The Triangle Rock Report put the franchise writer tag on Marko.