Lady Gaga & Her Minnesota Monsters

A rainbow cab took us from the bar in Minneapolis to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.  What better way for two guys to get to a Lady Gaga concert?

We were in Minnesota for work, it was a Tuesday night and the most exciting thing going on was the second night of popstar’s Twin Cities stop on her Monster Ball Tour…and I figured, why the hell not?

We exited the cab to a sea of scantily clad teenage girls, scantily clad gay men, parents with their daughters and boyfriends with their girlfriends.  Shower curtains, crime scene tape, glitter, grease, leather and ripped fishnets were in abundance, but it also seemed that mini-dresses, sundresses and even just jeans and a t-shirt were acceptable attire among Gaga’s ‘little monsters’.  No one seemed to judge the other except for the ‘Jesus-freaks’ out front screaming that we were all going to ‘HELL!!!’ and that Lady Gaga was the ‘epitome of  slutness’…to which a tattooed, pierced, 20-something girl yelled ‘that’s why we love her…how are you not getting this!’

Before even entering the venue, this was turning out to be an entertaining night.

I do have to preface my review by saying I only know Lady Gaga’s  hit songs and was slightly intoxicated before entering the arena and our first stop after getting through the ticket check was the nearest bar for a double vodka-7 and shot of Captain.  This level of intoxication was definitely necessary in order to handle the awful, awful opening band…Semi Precious Weapon.  I won’t even take the time to explain what they sound like and luckily we only caught the tail end of their set.

After a few more drinks, a quick smoke break and a quick walk around the arena (which allowed for some of the best people watching I have experienced in quite some time)…we were back on the floor, the lights were off, the screen was down and it was time for the pop show!  I knew it was time for the show because the short gay man in front of us was jumping up and down, waiving his hands all around and screaming like those girls you see passing out in the films of The Beatles performing in the States for the first time.

Diversity, being yourself, letting your freak flag fly…these were the common themes and messages through the performance.  A performance that was part concert, part art, part burlesque and part Broadway play.  At any given time there were at least 15 people onstage.  Lady Gaga was always the center of attention, but she surrounded herself with a master of ceremonies, a pretty incredible rock band (the drummer was insane and one of the long-haired guitarits looked like he could have played for any number of 80’s metal bands), a whole troupe of dancers and various props including a ‘fame monster’ that could only be killed by having it’s photo taken by the thousands of fans in the audience.

I can count on my two hands how many people I know that would go to a Gaga show, but I would need a least 20 hands to count how many of my friends would question my sexuality and even my taste in music for going to this show.  It’s funny though, those same friends would have no problem attending a Prince concert or going to see Rent on Broadway.  And in all reality, that’s what this reminded me of more than any other concert I’ve been to.  It was not just a concert, it was a production.

So, how was the actual show?  It was good.  Damn good.  Over a 2 hour, 20-song show Lady Gaga and her circus of entertainers performed every one of her Top 40 hits including Telephone, Let’s Dance, Paparazzi, Alejandro and the closer, Bad Romance.  She also performed quite a few songs I didn’t recognize, like the piano-ballad, Speechless, a song she wrote ‘for all the drunk assholes in my life…if they didn’t exist, I probably wouldn’t write so many songs…so keep drinking assholes!’Monster, where her diverse crew of misfits attacked her like a scene from True Blood.  And Glitter and Grease after a broken-down car skit that looked like a scene from a bad porno.

Speaking of porn, this was not a show for small children.  I know the young kids love Gaga, but I would not have been comfortable having my 8-year old daughter attending this show.  There was blood and sex and language…‘c’mon fucking hippies, do what I say!’, ‘I hope you all get laid tonight’, ‘I’m like Tinkerbell, I’ll die if you don’t you want me to fucking die!’ and my personal favorite…‘the freaks are outside and I locked the fucking door!’.

Overall, it was very entertaining night; an amazing technical and explosive performance by a world-class performer.  Real instruments, no lip syncing and high energy.  Everything a good pop show should be.  And aside from the sex, drugs and violence, Gaga really does have a good message of tolerance and acceptance.  I can see why she appeals to the masses.  The mainstream love the pop songs and the kids on the outside; the kids who get picked on for being different, have a new icon…someone who speaks to them.  It’s ok to be a freak…in fact, it’s cool to be a freak.  It’s ok to be different.  Coming from somewhere like San Francisco, this is a given.  But when you’re standing in St. Paul, Minnesota and see thousands of people from all walks of life cheering the fact that ‘gay boys love Gaga…it’s nice to see the kids are a lot more open-minded than they were when I was growing up.

If only those Evangelicals out front could have been so open-minded.

Lady Gaga Setlist St. Paul Civic Center, St. Paul, MN, USA 2010, The Monster Ball Tour