A teenager casually took his seat before the Lady Gaga show, wearing a long-sleeve, button-up plaid shirt. He looked like any other high school boy.
Then he took off his shirt. Beneath the average plaid was a see-through, fishnet top covering his entire upper body. Around his waist hung circles of yellow caution tape. Underneath his nonchalant exterior was one of Lady Gaga's “little monsters” in disguise.
On Friday, 18,000 Lady Gaga fans turned out in Buffalo, N.Y., to experience the music of national superstar Lady Gaga. Her fans, the “little monsters,” are the die-hard spectators who come to her concerts dressed up in imitation of their “mother monster,” Lady Gaga herself. They don everything from the weird to the wacky, including facemasks of broken mirrors, skeleton makeup, Coca-Cola bottles in their hair, faux pieces of meat and even plastic horns glued to their faces. A few dozen of the most faithful lined up early Friday morning, outside HSBC Arena in downtown Buffalo, to wait for the doors to open that evening, wearing nothing but leotards over torn stockings and stiletto heels in the 40-degree weather.
Lady Gaga dedicated the Buffalo concert, dubbed the “Monster Ball,” to her fans. The fans Friday night were gays and lesbians of all ages, shrieking teenagers and even groups of giggling middle-aged women — moms out for a night on the town.
Opening for Lady Gaga was a New York-based band, the Scissor Sisters. The crowd erupted as vocalist Jake Shears appeared onstage clad in head-to-toe leather.
Shears and his vocalist counterpart, Ana Matronic, an artist with fierce crimson hair to match her attitude, opened the show with “Any Which Way.” Excitement in the crowd mounted as Shears steadily stripped, piece by piece, until he was gyrating toward the crowd in just a cheeky pair of leather underwear, singing, “You’re filthy, ooh, and I’m gorgeous.”
But as thrilling as Shears was in his underwear, the screaming was nothing compared to what came after the Scissor Sisters left the stage.
Lady Gaga burst onto the stage, screaming, “The Monster Ball will set you free!”
Encased in a skintight, purple leopard-print leotard and spiky high-heels, Lady Gaga opened with “Dance in the Dark.” The order of the songs followed a fictional story featuring Gaga and her dancers on a journey to reach the Monster Ball. A car breakdown in Brooklyn, a subway ride and a treacherous forest filled with a giant, glittering anglerfish named the Fame Monster stood between Lady Gaga and her fans at the Monster Ball. Sex was not just an undercurrent of the show but the main feature between Lady Gaga’s suggestive dance moves and outrageous statements.
Impeccable vocals despite the demanding choreography, movement and costume changes characterize her performances, and Friday night she again delivered a solid, crowd-pleasing show. She told the crowd she has never lip-synched a concert and took a couple of snarky jabs at some of her fellow pop stars, saying, “I’m not here to waste your time and money like some blond bimbo that lip-synchs to her own tracks.”
Videos flashed onto the arena screens during song intermissions showing clips of Lady Gaga’s… unusual tastes, including a girl with her fingers down her throat, vomiting green all over Lady Gaga, and Lady Gaga biting into a bloodied human heart.
Despite her controversial music videos, Lady Gaga has garnered a loyal fan base by sending messages of sexual freedom and gender equality in her music and actions, on and off the stage. In Buffalo, she took the time during a piano solo to give out the e-mail address of a New York state senator, Mark Grisanti, and asked her little monsters to bombard him with demands that he support the New York State Marriage bill, which would allow gay marriage in New York. She threw herself on the floor of the stage and began, “Dear Jesus,” before claiming Jesus loves everyone, not just straight people.
Many of Lady Gaga’s fans follow her obsessively because they connect directly with her message of self-love and bold, unapologetic individuality. She acknowledges that connection to her fans and appreciates it.
“Forget anything that made you feel like you didn’t belong,” Lady Gaga told her fans. “Anyone who told you that you couldn’t win a Grammy or that you couldn’t be a runway model in Paris — just remember you’re a superstar and you were born this way. Leave tonight loving yourself a little bit more than when you walked in.”
The bond between Lady Gaga and her fans seemed palpable as she took the stage to perform her final song, singing, “I’m beautiful in my way, ‘cause God makes no mistakes. I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way.”