Its been a little while, but while at the Lady GaGa show last week I found myself thinking about concerts in general and what I think makes for a good show.
First off the opening act, Semi Precious Weapons, was pretty much terrible. I've never heard an opening act work so hard to get applause by talking about the headliner before in my life. Their music was uninteresting and their schtick just didn't work for me. The glammy pseudo cross-dressing? Been done soooo many times before. Asking the parents in the crowd not to hate their offensiveness but to thank them for showing their kids how to rock? Well, first off they didn't do anything offensive unless a guy in ripped stockings and occasionally jerking off a bottle of water is offensive- which neither have been for decades, and secondly they didn't "rock". Going around with the Horses for several years and seeing many acts along these lines it just felt like they were ripping off the imagery and attitude (not well either), but offering nothing to make it their own artistically or musically. The only way they seemed capable of getting a reaction was offering free stuff, or sucking on Lady GaGa's nuts as Nessa put it so succinctly.
Then came the GaGa show, and this is where I felt like I needed to do a little soul searching. I realized that I have never been a stadium show attendee. I've gone to a few in my life but compared to the number of concerts I've attended in my life the number is utterly inconsequential (I think maybe 5 or so total). So maybe I just don't understand the dynamics of such a thing. I don't know the language or vocabulary of stadium shows, and particularly for solo artists of the pop variety. Is it normal for there to be large gaps in between songs where a curtain drops with just a video projected onto it? Are the band members always split up all over the place and wireless so as to make it look like they are just playing the latest version of RockBand? What about dancers? Is it standard to have a bunch of lithe bodies prance about in various costumes, generally looking like something a high school theatre production? And along those high school theatre lines- cheap ass set pieces? I just want too know if these things are normal so I can make sure to continue avoiding stadium tours in the future, though I have to say that Bowie, Prince, the Cranberries, White Zombie, and even KISS seemed to pull off the feat with much better aplomb.
By now you're thinking I hated the show. You're wrong. It was okay, but nothing more than that and definitely not worth the price tag. First off I have a thing about Lady GaGa- the way she talks drives me crazy as everything coming out of her mouth sounds rehearsed and frighteningly reminiscent of an art school freshman on serious downers. Her music is catchy but her aesthetic is that of someone trying way too hard and it translated directly into her show. On top of that there was this really strange cult of anti-personality thing going on with all of her little speeches that bordered on brainwashing technique- "don't worry about going out there and loving yourself because I'll always love you..." which isn't a terrible message but gets creepy when being said by a giant projection of someone who has never met you, particularly someone who has been quoted that they'd rather die young having been famous than live a long happy life without fame. Oh and the opera element of the show, well saying after each set change that you were on your way to the Monster Ball but blah, blah, blah happened and we found ourselves in a scary place and didn't know where we were doesn't actually make for a story, libretto, whatever.
In the end though it was just a mediocre concert where the spectacle wasn't spectacular enough, though the tornado of flames on the piano was pretty cool, (go see Cirque de Soleil, Blue Man, a Broadway show, etc.), and the concert wasn't concert enough (go see almost any live band on the planet).