Lady Gaga w/Semi Precious Weapons at Bridgestone Arena, 4/19/2011



Editor's note: Some rather complicated photo restrictions scared off our photographers. Our words and this cell-phone picture of an especially fanciful Little Monster will have to suffice.

Broadway was crammed full of Little Monsters last night — the Lady Gaga fans came out in full force, many dressed to the nines in creations that were both impressive and a little sad: One can’t help but be impressed by the ingenuity it takes to whip up a fabulous Lady Gaga outfit made from nothing but cigarette butts and bubble wrap, but at the same time, isn’t the Lady’s mantra all about telling fans to be themselves? Hard to be yourself when you’re looking like somebody else.

Nevertheless, the crowd made a downtown drink an impossibility, so The Spin et al. headed SoBro way for a pre-show pitcher of margaritas and terrible service. We headed back to Bridgestone just in time to spot members of Cheap Time (haha) and catch the opening act’s opener — a scarlet-clad “DJ” who somehow managed to nab the sweetest gig in the entire music industry. As far as we could tell, her entire job was to “play” '70s and '80s glam and metal hits and then perform little interpretive plays around the stage. How much does she get paid to dick around with a tomahawk with “Run to the Hills” in the background? Cushy setup, lady.

Semi Precious Weapons were next, a trashy techno dance group that featured a handsome, leggy lead singer and the most balls-shittingly ridiculous bass player The Spin has ever seen. Like some kind of unholy combination of Flea, Rufio and The Situation, every clomp this kid made around stage caused enough laughter to induce actual pain. His poor mother.

We don't often find ourselves at full-on arena pop shows — sure, we’ve seen countless rockers and pyro and falling banners, but never anything with, like, a costume change. We were immediately sold as soon as the curtain rose on the first set — an inner-cityscape that looked almost identical to the video for “Uptown Girl.” Gaga’s performance was one part World’s Biggest Pop Star — full of electric harps (!) and those long-desired costumes changes — and part Tony Robbins for theater nerds (or "theatre," as they'd likely spell it), highlighting crowd members and hollering “Give it up, my Nashville gays!” Surely that's the first time such a command has been uttered in Bridgestone.

If there’s one artist who’s championed LGBT equality as the civil rights fight of the day — which, quite frankly, it is — it’s Gaga. As she and her onstage entourage of dancers fought through the cold hard city to find their way to The Monster Ball — where all are accepted; “born this way” — the show’s prevailing theme was for her monsters to create the world of acceptance they want to live in. As we witnessed drag queens relieving themselves at urinals next to cowboy hat- and Western wear-sporting good ol' boys realizing this wasn’t the phantom tenth Garth show, it was clear that Bridgestone Arena was most definitely that Monster Ball, if only for a few hours.

And throughout that 120-minute myriad of dizzying disco lights, Rent-worthy choreography, mascara-smeared poker faces, keytar solos, Elton John impressions from behind a literally flaming piano, encores in gyroscope orbit and two-piece, form-fitting, bikini-like body armor emitting chest and crotch sparks, one thing was clear: This was no empty spectacle. And, yes, it was victory for us all when Gaga and her crew slayed the Fame Monster — a stage prop not unlike the bat from Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell Tour.

Maybe it was that final refreshing $10 Budweiser, but The Spin’s cynical little heart grew about three sizes when Gaga called an audience member and invited him to meet her backstage — yes, she gave the pat speech about being yourself and about how being gay is A-OK, and we know that it’s all marketing genius, and we know that it’s a persona, that there’s no real thing as Lady Gaga. (It’s just Stefani Germanotta: mediocre dancer, good singer, rich lady.) But honestly, there’s never been a pop artist of this level of fame to so explicitly support the gay community, and that’s a damn cool thing. So yes, we teared up a little when we watched that kid freak out over the prospect of getting to meet his idol. Sometimes it’s just nice to watch other people be happy for a while.

Then she played “Telephone” and we put down our notes and danced out the rest of the show.

PS: We may have also teared up during “Bad Romance.”

PPS: We were told by one of our companions to use the joke, “Like a Virgin Mobile.” So there it is.

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