GaGa: Verdict

OK, so I didn’t enjoy GaGa. This is either because my stadium pop tour expectations are high, as a function of my intelligence and evolved aesthetics, or because I am now old. Old things first: it was just too loud. So loud that a) my eyes were uncontrollably blinking to the rhythm, b) the sound horribly distorted into a deafening scream, and c) I was indeed somewhat deaf after the show, and well into the next morning. Does it make me old to want my hearing? Possibly, but not necessarily erroneously.

It wasn’t just my extreme age dulling my enjoyment. Basically, it wasn’t a great show. Or, rather, it wasn’t a show great enough to match the truly great things GaGa is doing in every other sphere – her clips, visual imagery, appearances etc. Because the production was merely mediocre, everything seemed slightly duller than one would expect: her costumes weren’t nearly as interesting or avant garde as her award show costumery, the imagery seemed timid compared to her clips and there was the distinct scent of mediocre American pop stadium tour hanging in the air – or maybe that had seeped into the walls after Britney let off her giant mediocre stink bomb a few months back.
It wasn’t so much that GaGa was mediocre, but the production surrounding her was cheap and clunky. Rather than seamless costume changes, curtains were dropped between sets. The stage seemed straight out of Dracula’s theatre restaurant. The dance troupe veered awfully close to Britney stumbling around the stage. There were pyrotechnics. And oh so many guitars. Annoyingly, what made this mediocrity even more obvious were the flashes of genius scattered throughout – mostly in the pre-recorded GaGa imagery – that teased you with how the show could have been. Stark (to use my favourite pop word), adventurous, and musically aligned to dance rather than Jacko’s big-haired guitar drones (who seemed to have been cloned and released on stage, in a slightly dazed manner). Basically I wanted a show put together by Haus of GaGa but what I got was a show put together by (I assume) merely average touring veterans.
What I should keep in mind though is that even while the Monster Ball Tour was being put together, GaGa was evolving at a fast pace. I just don’t think the scope of the show, as it was conceived at that point in time, could handle how awesome, and artistically adventurous, she’s gone on to become. In future she needs to put Haus of GaGa in charge of everything, and conjure the anal perfectionism of Kylie’s creative team. That would then create the perfect arena spectacular.
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8 responses to “GaGa: Verdict

  1. you thought it was loud in seating? My organs were vibrating! haha
    And I agree, the costume changes were tedious. It was so hard to really get into a song and ride the high of it because the curtain dropped immediately afterward. I do remember thinking the show would be so much more enjoyable if she cut the cosi changes in half.
    As for the music? This is what I really liked about it, I feel like the heavy ‘rock’ arrangements were a nod to those who have come to appreciate Gaga from the ‘other side’. Peeps like me, who ain’t all that into pop.
    I dunno, I still thought it was pretty spectacular for a show that was $90 a ticket. Putting Britney’s and Whitney’s over priced bullshit to shame.
    Mehhh, I had fun.

  2. I take your point. This was a $90 show, less than half the price of Britters’ snooze session…

  3. Sorry about the delay. What you write surprises me. Lack of preparation or something more, like a lack of creativity? I was thinking that Gaga works so well because of the visual ingenuity of her videos and I cannot envisage how she would translate on stage (perhaps I have limited a imagination). I say it is lucky that you only paid $90. That is quite cheap.

  4. hmmm. This is all very interesting – I definitely agree that the shows have not developed at the same rate as per pop icon status. I must report back after lollapalooza later this year and see what she comes out with. Nothing bothers me more than too loud …

  5. Yes too loud is the worst. In fact, I could not have withstood it — I would have left because I have a low tolerance for any sort of physical discomfort!

  6. Interesting — was reading on wiki (am procrastinating) about the original version of the Monster Ball, which was much simpler… In that giant light box thing, less sets etc. Actually sounds much more cohesive than the new “stadium” version, which seemed quite cluttered and messy.

  7. Yes, the problem was mostly that in all of her avant garde award show costumes, “Telephone” video etc – she’s left herself nowhere to go. So the whole concert just seemed de rigeur.

    It felt like a creative development rather than a fully developed concept – i.e. here’s the half budget version of some early ideas where we work out which direction we want to go before creating the real show.

    I wanted some conceptual video art. Gliding dancers, seamless set and costume changes – she needs to ooze slickness and instead it was so clunky.

    It should be noted that what I want is not what the teenage girls or the screaming gays want. And she knows her audience.

    Yes it was cheap, but Ga Ga faces the issue of still trying to build an audience while claiming to be at the forefront of pop – this is going to demand a high ticket price to give the show the production values it needs. I.e. she should see herself as a premium product rather than a Target purchase.

    It wasn’t the loudness of the sound that bothered me, it was the awfulness of the sound – hideous distortion.

    And with all of that, I should note that actually I really enjoyed the show and had a great time – the problem was with our expectations as much as it was with the show itself…

  8. To be honest, I really enjoyed the show. It was very different to the usual pop concerts I’ve seen. It was like a rock show with a pop sensibility. I love that it was rough around the edges and raw. The concept and staging was clever. It wasn’t too loud in Sydney. I’d rank it as one of my fave concerts of 2010!

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