I went to the Lady Gaga concert here in D.C. this past Monday with some of my clergy pals. Our Gaga name: Little Clergy Monsters. Gaga put on a great concert with lots of dynamics added since I saw her a couple of years ago. These dynamics hit upon some key liturgical principles.
Here's my reflection:
1) Lady Gaga's Body: Two years ago when I saw Gaga she looked like a stick--incredibly skinny. This time around she had lumps, bumps, and curves. She still wore revealing costumes, strutted her stuff, and moved with power in a changed, mature body. Gaga's body is a key part of the show with the costume changes, and she gave us her whole self with the sense if you don't like her body, you can *uck off. No pretending or hiding of self.
2) Using the Entire Space: Beaming lights from end-to-end, confetti in the shape of shells, hearts and stars being pumped into the air, sound permeating the Verizon arena, Gaga working a huge stage with lots of movement and color.....she utilized the entire space of the Verizon center. It was sensory-palooza for 2 hours and Gaga took advantage of the huge space and took up every nook and hook.
3) Performing in a Multi-Purpose Space: The Washington Wizards, Capitals, Georgetown Hoyas and a hoard of other groups use the Verizon Center. Up in the rafters the Baltimore/Washington Wizards banners gave witness to their (lame) playoff history. These were up during the concert and while I tried to catch floating stars from the confetti machine, the banners caught my eye and they quickly moved into the background. The Wizards have zero connection to Gaga (except the concert being moved due to a play-off game) yet those banners weren't a distraction---more than one reality existing in a space at once.
4) Storytelling: Gaga sang "Born this Way" as a solo while playing the piano.
In the middle of the song, she paused to share her experience of being bullied growing up. Kids were crude. People discounted her talent. Gaga talked about persistence and resiliency in the face of mean shit. A few minutes later, Gaga was on a chaise lounge while people tossed rainbow unicorns stuffed with handwritten letters up on stage.
She called for "story time," picked up a unicorn, and pulled out a letter. It was from Hunter, and he wrote about being suicidal as a gay youth, listening to "Born this Way" every night on the steps of the Washington Monument, and gaining strength from her music. Hunter closed with "I love you, Gaga."
She picked up another unicorn, read the letter with a similar story: young, gay man who had been addicted due to self-loathing. "I love you, Gaga."
20,000 people at the Verizon Center were at complete attention. The intimacy she created in an arena stage with a never before gathered group of people was incredible. Two years ago she didn't seem to care who she was singing to. This time around, she created community with her deep connection to queer culture and advocacy.
5) Vulnerability: Gaga wore her typical, lycra-based costumes. After the rainbow unicorn experience, she said, "You've shared so much with me. I'm going to share as much of myself with you as possible." Out came 3 guys who made up her costume transition team. They stripped Gaga down to her underwear and re-costumed her in a Rainbow Brite type ensemble.
Gaga was pretty much bare-butt naked in front of us. For those 2 hours, Gaga gave us her everything.