High school must not have been an easy ride for Lady Gaga, the pop avatar who these days seems to be everywhere at once. And who didn’t manage to stand still much in D.C. either during a sell-out performance Tuesday at the Verizon Center.
By John Arundel
“Don’t let anyone torment you or dress you down!” Gaga exhorted the fans she affectionately calls her Little Monsters. “High school kids are mean and the other kids will call you a freak…Let go of your insecurities and be a superstar!”
The professed teenage pariah has said in interviews that she felt tormented in high school, where the rich students laid into her with mean-spirited jabs and the other kids dismissed her as a freak.
Gaga still wants none of the high school antics, indeed stopping her concert at one point and imploring two young ruffians to break up a stadium-floor fight which erupted while performing her mega-hit “Monster.”
“Stop fighting…do not fight at this show,” she said after stopping the song dead in its tracks. “I’m sorry, I just don’t want you to fight…Only fake monster fighting, okay?”
At 24, the Queen of Pop appears to have laid waste to her high school years, enthusiastically embracing the misfits who make up a large swath of her fan base.
The outreach included making time between spellbinding song sets and elaborate latex-laden dance numbers to praise the Freaks and Little Monsters who have helped propel her career into pop supernova. She sang happy birthday to a 15-year-old, and later randomly cell-phoned a fan in the audience to invite him backstage for a sweet kiss after the show.
“I hear they have some pretty big cats here in D.C.,” Lady Gaga mused. “But you don’t have to be rich to be a D.C. star. I’ve locked the doors to the outside…The Monster Ball will set you free, D.C.”
Gaga said that if she were walking through an airport, she’d never dare to deny a fan her autograph. “I will never say no to you,” she vowed. “Everything I am is because of you.”
The P.R. provided by a customer-friendly songstress appears to have only further fueled her popularity and CD sales.
Take note, Madonna.
In August alone, Gaga posed on the cover of Vanity Fair and received a record 13 nominations for MTV’s Video Music Awards. She released a third album, “The Remix” of hits from her blockbuster debut “The Fame,” and her followup CD, “The Fame Monster.”
Her D.C. performance was daring and imaginative. Gaga weaved in and out of her biggest hits like “Poker Face,” Bad Romance,” “Telephone” and “Alejandro” with a clean, studio-quality performance. This, between seven costume changes (with no intermission) and prancing about energetically with a dozen like-minded dancers trailing in her wake.
“I’m singing everything myself tonight…no audio backup,” she boasted, which may have been a subtle jab at Madonna, whose last Verizon Center performance suffered a glitch which revealed she had been lip-synching.
That may be, but Gaga is still no match for Madonna in the dance department. Both clearly care as much about creating performance arts as producing hits, but Gaga is still a babe compared to Madonna. This being Washington, Gaga inflicted her audience with a heavy dose of politics, as would be expected with any concert held equi-distant from The White House and Capitol Hill.
“What if we all just marched out of here and went right over to the White House?” she mused at one point, waving a disco light wand menacingly into the audience. “We can celebrate gay pride and have a sweaty good time!”
Earlier in the day, Lady Gaga spoke of meeting a Lesbian soldier wounded in combat and then tossed out of the military, and a gay cadet from West Point who lost her scholarship because of her sexual orientation.
“I’m not just going to prance around in gold underwear,” she said. “This really means something to me.”
A portion of the night’s proceeds, about $20,000 from concert sponsor Virgin Mobile, was being earmarked to the Social Defense Legal Network, which assists homeless LGBT teens asked by their parents to leave home.
“You can’t help it, you were born that way,” she exclaimed. “I just get really angry.”