All of what is below was written last night but I was unable to edit and send out until now. It should be noted that at Lolla Day 2 MANY people were overheard espousing the same opinions and just as strongly so this is not just me…I speak for MANY music fans here at Lolla.
I suppose I should do as we are taught in the south and follow the axiom of…”if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all”. I, however, will take my direction from Clairee in Steel Magnolias who says…”if you don’t have anything nice to say about somebody, come sit by me!”.
As I say with my students…let’s start with the good stuff.
Lady Gaga CAN sing and well…maybe one of the best voices in popular music. She possesses a strong and powerful voice capable of many styles.
She writes solid, well-crafted pop songs.
She plays a pretty good piano and when she was at the piano…singing with her wonderfully interpretive voice (that is in between the screams at the audience) is when I saw an artist truly capable of greatness. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of that and what we did see was what we all HATE…what is WRONG with the mainstream music business.
I had the choice of The Strokes who I know and like very much or Lady Gaga of whom I only know what we all have been assaulted with on the TV and radio airwaves, music publications, the internet…hell anything that will hold ink or produce a transmittable signal. I made the regrettable choice to try and be informed. I wanted to be able to debate the merits (good or bad) of Lady Gaga with first hand knowledge and I PROMISE I went into this, yes with trepidation but also with an open mind.
My issues, as I have stated above, were not musical at all but with the contrived, calculated, fake, insipid, derivative and unoriginal “show” that went along with it. “She’s a performance artist…” people will say to me. Well, certainly it is subjective but NOTHING that took place on the main stage last nite was art in my humble opinion.
Most disconcerting was actually a lack of music. 45 minutes after the “show” started only 5 or 6 songs had actually been played due to the forced dialogue and borderline incoherent rants that were forced on the audience. We were forced to listen to obviously well crafted yet poorly executed monologues about her struggle to get to where she has in the music business. Forced emotion, nearly to the point of fake tears occupied much of the lengthy time in between songs. It was all about “how hard she had worked”, “how much negativity she endured”. Guess what Lady G…NOBODY CARES!!! People were there to see a show and listen to music not have the most popular artist in music talk about how hard she had it and feign a near breakdown. Who does she think she is Eddie Vedder? From behind me someone yelled…”what the hell is she talking about?” I could not agree more.
IN between the sob stories the audience was also verbally assaulted with screams the likes of “you motherf***e*s!” Certainly disdain for the audience is a tact used often by punk, hard rock and metal bands but it’s part of the allure and the fans dig it. Word to Gaga…you can’t have it both ways sister! Either you are Sally Field and want the audience to “like you…really like you” by honest teary emotion or you are Simon Cowell and the whole schtick is to say things that has everyone hating you on purpose.
We were also treated to well placed moments of interaction between the Lady and a sweaty, shirtless, Fabio-looking guitar player. These moments took place obviously on a specific mark in front of a fan to blow dude’s long product filled hair just right to create a romance novel cover image. I’m VERY certain no other guitar player was better for the gig.
The GREAT stage show!…where was it??? She did ride a circular platform about 20 feet in the air but so does the drummer of Slipknot and this AMAZING feat has taken place every nite for the last 25 years in CATS!
Oh but we did have lots of beautiful, shirtless, androgynous, dancing boys. Hmmmmm…I don’t think anyone has EVER done that before. We had so nice scripted (meant to look spontaneous) dialogue with one of the boys. Look… If I had wanted to see a play I’d have gone across town to Steppenwolf .
One entrance gave us Miss Gaga in a nun’s habit…hmmmm no one has EVER mixed Catholic imagery with pop/rock music before.
And ohhhhh the screaming….it was like a bad Courtney Love impersonation at least Courtney’s was real. At one point she screamed…” I’M LADY GAGA!!!” Really???? that’s all the GREAT performance artist can think to say???
Bottom lines…(in my opinion)
Art is not contrived, controlled and created by false manipulated emotion with NOTHING behind it.
If I want to see performance art and rock music, I’ll go check out Fischerspooner.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again ( I was so hoping for this not to be the case) but we have seen this ALL before and it was called Madonna. I can say it and believe it now as I have seen it…LIVE and for myself.
After 1 hour and 15 minutes it was all I could take before I started to break something. As I walked away some yelled…”hey psycho, back it off!” Similar comments and the steady stream of people exiting the stage area is evidence that I was not the only music fan that felt as I have described.
What more is there need be said.
C’mon all you Gaga fans out there…have at me! I am armed and ready for you now!