Lady Gaga has made a name for herself by defying stereotypes, living bizarrely and taking sensitive social issues headon. Many people would more than likely describe Gaga as a freak who doesn’t own a pair of normal sweatpants and makes music videos that are peculiar to say the least. Most radio listeners would say all her songs are about money and sex. Though there may be some merit to these claims, there are sides of this icon that most people cannot guess or care not to know. Which is a shame. I felt that way before seeing Lady Gaga in concert on March 17 in Omaha.
Walking into the Qwest Center, spectators were immediately hit with conflict in the form of 15 Christian Fundamentalists damning those entering the concert, holding signs that claimed she was the Antichrist. It did little to stop the buzz of the defiant St. Patty’s Day crowd.
Opening band Scissor Sisters performed with a lot of energy, catchy electronic-pop sound and said, “You probably haven’t heard of us unless you’re gay or British.”
It was shocking how loud the roar was as the lights dimmed and Gaga appeared on stage. The people at this concert truly loved Lady Gaga, and it was incredible to see the connection she had with the sold-out audience for her entire two-hour performance. She constantly shouted, demanding that we put our “paws in the air and dance.” Everyone was more than obliged to do so. She was also surprisingly humorous, making sarcastic jokes that ranged from questions of her gender to concerns about her mental health. When a Barbie was thrown on stage, Gaga responded, “I usually kill Barbies, but she looks like me.” She then proceeded to rip off the Barbie’s head and even did the same with a stuffed animal saying “I don’t like these things because they’re fake.”
I know everyone wants to know is what she was wearing and what she sang. All of her top hits were covered as well as some lesser-known favorites. She didn’t always wear a lot of clothes, but she changed her wardrobe often, averaging about two songs per outfit. They were perhaps not as crazy as some were hoping, but they all were loosely based on what she wore during each of the songs’ corresponding videos. Her group of around eight male dancers followed suit. The dead time of costume changes were filled by pre-recorded videos played of Gaga dancing to dubstep arrangements. Though technically great interludes, they were also the weirdest part of the concert, some involving blue vomit and blood.
Some people don’t know that Gaga is truly a talented musician. Her vocal power on “Show Me Your Teeth” was far more soulful and gritty than what one would expect. At three different points in the concert, she rocked a wildly decorated black keytar, played a synthesizer, and hammered on a synth-organ, adding extra layers. Her piano-led versions of “Born This Way” and “You and I” were so musically astounding and moving that they brought a middle-aged woman seated two rows ahead of me to tears. Besides those two selections, Gaga was ferociously adamant about keeping the show a blend of energy and inspiration. She tricked the audience into thinking her only encore was “Bad Romance,” but after a few minutes she proceeded to come back on stage without warning and give a second encore, bringing the show to close with the original version of “Born This Way” and a firework-shooting bra as the exclamation point.
Perhaps the thing that most people at the concert will take away is the sheer inspiration they derived from Gaga’s messages and performance. One monologue in particular stands out. After talking about being bullied in high school, she went on to tell “her little monsters” (the crowd) that “you can overcome all your doubters who say you’re not pretty enough, you’re not skinny enough, you can’t sing well enough . . . you’ll never win a Grammy, you’ll never sell out an arena, or ‘Born This Way’ won’t be number one because it’s too gay.” Gaga’s use of her personal story was fantastic. She pleaded for acceptance of those ousted from society, citing, “I’ve always been told Jesus loves everybody.” I got chills in my spine when she essentially preached for the crowd to “be whoever you want to be, Omaha. Set yourself free because that is what the Monster Ball is all about.”
I have a newfound respect for Lady Gaga, and though she is weird, outrageous and bluntly honest, she is also a brilliant musician, an electric performer and a bonafide inspiration to people from all walks of life.