Middle fingers to the sky, Lady Gaga takes San Jose for an artRAVEy ride

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Lady Gaga, being Lady Gaga.

There are a lot of critiques that I can make about Lady Gaga’s Tuesday night performance in San Jose — the sports arena acoustics, the horrifically boring opening acts, the focus on her new and less popular album Artpop, $80 sweatshirts, the fact that she performed some of her most popular tunes in truncated versions and neglected to play “LoveGame” altogether — but the fact is, none of these shortcomings made a dent in the incredible energy and impassioned performance that Gaga dished out. The show was fucking incredible.

Lady Gaga doesn’t do concerts. She does productions. With a full band, an elaborate set, a dozen or so backup dancers and as many costume changes, her artRAVE tour is a feast for the eyes and ears alike. The set, bulbous, white, and otherworldly, looked straight out of Tattooine and the dancers’ eye-catching array of outfits reflected this extra-terrestrial theme. Part of artRAVE’s spectacle is simply witnessing Gaga’s amazing ability to dance in five-inch pumps and a leotard with shiny black tentacles sticking out in all directions. These theatrics, however, are in no way a crutch or a form of compensation. Lady Gaga’s talent is stunning.

From the moment that she rose out of the stage floor in angel wings and a rhinestone bodice, it was impossible to tear your eyes from Lady Gaga. Amagnetic presence, impressive dancer, and truly powerful singer, it’s easy to see why she’s made such a lasting impression on pop culture. Mixing her set with dance anthems and ballads, Gaga was able to show off her versatility as a singer; her voice is unbelievable — its clarity and power are not adequately represented by her highly-processed recorded material. Live, it soars between roaring rock growls and deep, rich vibrato, all in perfect pitch.

Though the surface of Gaga’s persona is all rhinestones and superstardom, the show was peppered with heartfelt moments and breaks from the highly organized and choreographed show. Some of her fortune cookie-wisdom lines (“Welcome to a place where we judge no one tonight. We criticize no one. We hate no one.”) are clearly rehearsed, but also clearly strike a chord with her fans, who roared appreciatively with every mic break. In the best moment of the show, Gaga pulled two fans out of the audience to sit on the piano bench with her as she sang an impassioned ballad version of “Born this Way,” as each of the girls she pulled up sang along, weeping openly.

Lady Gaga embraces and uses her status as a queer icon to spread a gospel of love and acceptance that actuallly feels incredibly urgent and genuine, and clearly impacts her fans deeply. At one point between songs, she paused to read aloud a letter that a fan had thrown on stage. In a deeply emotional note, the fan credited “Born This Way” for getting him through high school and allowing him to survive being bullied for his sexuality.

In one of her most impassioned moments, pointing out how many people had come out for her show despite warnings early in her career that she was too queer or warnings from her label that Artpop (which was indeed a flop compared with her previous albums) was too artsy, Gaga roared, “just because we’re gay or like art doesn’t mean we’re fucking invisible, ok?” with both middle fingers to the sky.

In addition to her dedication to supporting her LGBT fans, I found myself extremely inspired by Lady Gaga’s unapologetic sex-positivity and her disregard for gender roles. Her dancers wore unisex outfits that drew heavily from the gender-bending Club Kids of the early ‘90s, and Gaga herself sang openly about masturbating and even deconstructed her own typically flawless image by doing her last costume change onstage, topless and wigless, with a crew of people to help her undress and redress into a truly awesome Derelicte-Harijuku-raver oufit. Before she dirobed, Gaga joked, “Just in case we didn’t make any of you uncomfortable tonight, we’re about to.”

While the production of artRAVE is an airtight spectacle of choreography and stunning visuals, it’s the candid moments that make Lady Gaga’s stage show something special. Underneath the glitter, tentacles, and rainbow dreadlocks, there is something very real and emotionally raw.

Her messages of equality and universality are both genuine and revolutionary in an artist as mainstream and financially successful as she is. Artpop may not have been a huge success, and the Haus of Gaga certainly doesn’t hold the same untouchable status as it did in 2010, but Lady Gaga’s refusal to compromise and willingness to stay strange are truly inspirational.

Comments

Come on, This is not a review! This is a paid PR ad. :)~ Here is a real review from Rollingstone and I quote: Pop star's latest spectacle is short on hits, heavy on motivational speeches! Although it was billed as Artrave: The Artpop Ball, it wasn't
much like pop or a rave — more like a run-of-the-mill arena-rock show,
the kind where a band has a shoddy new album to flog.

Posted by Smith on Jun. 06, 2014 @ 5:38 pm

Seriously are you going to troll and repeat this for every good review Gaga gets? It's one review from one person. It's Rolling Stone. Their current fave is Miley Cyrus (mainly because she dovetails nicely with their pro-Marijuana stance) who - even at the peak of her Wrecking Ball fame - has had REAL trouble selling tickets in some cities. Look at the ticket availability for the Charlotte show that she canceled 30 minutes before showtime. http://www.ticketmaster.com/miley-cyrus-charlotte-north-carolina-08-06-2...

Posted by Guest on Jun. 07, 2014 @ 10:54 am

I think all us little Monster's must face the fact's that Lady Gaga has lost her Mojo in music with the artpop album and fewer people want to see her in concert just sing the old songs we have already heard before!

Posted by Face the facts!!! on Jun. 08, 2014 @ 6:31 am

Gaga was dope 3 years ago and now all she has is a big fat Azzzz. You can not be a dance Queen with a big fat azzz and a big belly and she does not even know how to dance now. Gaga looks pathetic on stage now!

Posted by (___i___) on Jun. 08, 2014 @ 6:42 am

Sounds like someone has an agenda here.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 07, 2014 @ 11:50 am

I was there and I must say although i love Gaga that the show was a little disappointing and it was not sold out!

Posted by Mike on Jun. 08, 2014 @ 6:23 am

Great show! She's incomparable! The show is full of energy and life...

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2014 @ 5:59 pm

Lady Gaga Is Cool She's Great.

Posted by Roy Burton on Jun. 07, 2014 @ 10:00 am

The San Diego concert was equally impressive. Bright colorful dynamic. Gaga is the finest performer I have ever witnessed. And yeah I saw the Who when they dressed as tarts and saw Hendrix many times etc. Forget it! Gaga is just it. She gives back. financially, emotionally and She gets it done. Thank God she sang The Artpop album. The old hits are great and yes she will do a medley. But it's Gaga. On to the future, up with the new. #gaga2015liftoff

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2014 @ 6:12 pm

Lady Gaga is absolutely an inspiration to so many people. Her music is so much fun. She cares more about the music and the bling, ensuring that her artistic vision isn't compromised for chart sales.

ARTPOP is her best album to date, especially after listening to her vision behind each song. They all mean something to her, they are all her vision. She lives for her fans, and her music and that is to be respected.

Though she wears many "crazy" outfits, they are an expression of who she is. I think self expression should be commended, not judged. Thanks for all you do, and teaching everyone to be themselves.

Posted by Rylee on Jun. 06, 2014 @ 6:47 pm

As a longtime fan, I have to admit the show seemed a bit less impressive than her previous tours at first, but by the end I found it to be just as great as the BTW Ball and almost on par with the the once-in-a-generation Monster Ball.

The difference is that this show, though heavy on theatrics compared to most artists' shows, is relatively straightforward and streamlined by Gaga standards.

That's what bugged me initially but it proved to be a welcome change of pace for her as the show went on. ArtRave really shows off Gaga's raw talent as a singer and dancer, and for once, her incomparable stage presence is able to stand on its own legs.

Truly an outstanding show and a remarkable effort for a tour supporting a so-called flop album.

Posted by Scott on Jun. 06, 2014 @ 10:51 pm

Yes, a true talent, that is why so many people talk about her. Including older less popular pop stars like Madonna.

Posted by Janice on Jun. 07, 2014 @ 2:00 am

Born this way was a great show ,,,,, Artpop was NOT a great show :(

Posted by Guest on Jun. 07, 2014 @ 5:43 am

What a waste of my money this concert was ZzZzZzz

Posted by What a waste on Jun. 07, 2014 @ 5:49 am

Obviously you didn't go Hater! Stop trolling get a life!

Posted by Guest on Jun. 07, 2014 @ 5:01 pm

Despite the fact that BTW Ball was miles away better in terms of production and props, the show manages to make the viewers' eyes a feast of laser colors and inflatable flowers. (Of course that was a metaphor of a truly great show!)

It is a fact that her past tour kinda buried her undeniable talent in dancing and singing through giant fishes, castles and birth-giving devices. Anyway the past shows were really a critically acclaimed one, and I think, this "artGRAVE" tour, as named by haters, will be another over-all positively reviewed Gaga spectacle.

p.s. This is my opinion and I respect others'. Anyway I currently had seen two negative reviews in wikipedia aside from the tons of praises and positive feedbacks.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 07, 2014 @ 6:19 am

It is to bad that Gaga has no new hits with this concert. Her last album artpop was not very good I am sorry to say

Posted by Guest on Jun. 07, 2014 @ 7:34 am

Reading this review is like reading a fan mail to gaga. Come on she doesn't seem to care about perfecting her art.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 07, 2014 @ 3:40 pm

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