Photos by Brendan Sullivan/Star Tribune
She’s the most polarizing pop artist in a decade. And boy, does she want you to know it. So it was no surprise that Lady Gaga’s first of two concerts/spectacles/runway-shows Monday at Xcel Energy Center offered as much to applaud as it did to boo.
Loved… All the teens and preteens wearing Gaga-esque wigs, face paint, bubble-wrap dresses, coke-can hair rollers, etc., all very reminiscent of Madonna’s young Material Girl copycats from 25 years earlier. Hated… All the women around Madonna’s age who were wearing the same things.
Loved… When Gaga twice dissed the value of money, including her introduction of “Teeth” when she said, “Do you know what I hate almost as much as money? The Truth.” Hated… The truth was, her merch stands were some of the costliest and crassest money-driving machines ever to accompany a pop tour, including $100 “Gaga Heart Beats” headphones, $40 T-shirts, $30 programs and $10 for cheap little glow-stick bracelets -- the latter of which is probably all the fans in the $177 seats could afford.
Loved… The idea of calling a fan in the crowd from the stage on a cell phone mid-concert. Especially when the fan here turned out to be named Alejandro (for real). Hated… That it was such a shameless shilling for Virgin Mobile. Especially when Gaga and the fan had a little trouble hearing each other via the Virgin reception.
Loved… The fact that you had to sometimes closely watch her backup dancers on the Jumbotron to know if they were male or female. Hated… That there was very little doubt who the male dancers were when they donned the package-enhancing white shorts during “Boys Boys Boys.”
Loved… How often Gaga strayed from the hokey scripted bits (i.e. “Look up in the sky… What is it? … Is it a rainbow?”) and talked directly to the crowd between songs. Hated… How loudly and painfully she would scream in her New Yorker nasal voice to make her point, coming off like Estelle Castanza from “Seinfeld.”
Loved… When she finally sat down and proved how well she can sing and play piano during “Speechless.” Hated… The fact that Kiss didn’t previously think up the flaming piano top that burned through that song (imagine how it would’ve enhanced performances of “Beth”).
Loved… Opening band Semi Precious Weapons’ attempts to shock the crowd with its androgynous glam rock. Singer Justin Tranter’s message to parents: “Don’t hate us for being offensive. Thank us for bringing real rock ‘n’ roll back to your children.” Hated… The fact that Tranter believes dropping F-bombs Nickelback-style increases his shock value, i.e., “We’re from New York [F-bomb] City, but we [F-bomb] love the Midwest because you [F-bomb] love rock ‘n’ roll.”
Loved… Gaga’s many canned speeches about being yourself, especially, “Let go of all your insecurities. Reject anyone or anything that ever made you feel like you don’t fit in.” Hated… The fact that no other pop artist of late has made me feel like I personally don’t fit in more than Gaga has.