Panties on fire

Gaga on a Q-tip.

Gaga on a Q-tip.

Photo By jamie soja

Here’s the thing about Lady Gaga: The pop icon does everything to the extreme. Hello, meat dress!

So it came as no surprise that her sold-out concert at the venue formerly known as Arco Arena last week was quite the spectacle—and, truth be told, simultaneously over- and underwhelming. I’m sure thousands of “little monsters”—a term of endearment Gaga uses for her fans—will be pissed when they read this review, but what can I say? I’m certainly not one to sugarcoat things.

Lady Gaga spent a hefty percentage of the show commending her fans for being uniquely themselves. She commanded them to be brave, strong and a bevy of other empowering adjectives. Gaga is an ardent supporter of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community and has been influential in raising awareness about youth homelessness, all of which should be praised. Still, there’s an appropriate time and a place for promoting such causes, and it isn’t in the midst of a concert I paid a lot of money to see.

Yet she brought it up after nearly every song—interrupting the flow of the show and making the whole thing a little too preachy for my blood. Then, after a friend who’d already seen Gaga perform as part of the Monster Ball tour told me the whole thing was scripted, I was even more annoyed by it.

Preachiness aside, there’s no denying the power of Gaga’s vocals and unique, riveting choreography. When she actually combined the two talents, the show was amazing. Songs like “Telephone,” “Bad Romance” and “Just Dance” were standouts. When Gaga took to the piano for a rendition of her new ballad “You and I,” the crowd was captivated.

Still, the show’s visual extremes often overshadowed the singer’s true talents. Perhaps the over-the-top costumes (a spark-shooting bra and thong) and elaborate sets (a larger-than-life, creepy angler fish) could have been toned down a notch. Then again, if it doesn’t push boundaries, it isn’t for Gaga.

While the show left me feeling a little unsatisfied, I’m certain thousands of little monsters left satiated. And if imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, then Gaga should have felt the love: A number of devoted little monsters paid tribute to the pop singer by sporting studs, spikes, lace, colorful wigs, caution tape and flashy sunglasses—and not much else. They raised their “paws” when she asked, jumped when she told them to and screamed with elation when Gaga grabbed her crotch (which she did a lot).

Lady Gaga was the mama monster they wanted, nay, needed her to be.