May 13, 2014 at 10:29 am EST | by Mariah Cooper
Gaga’s ‘RAVE’ spectacular
Gaga, gay news, Washington Blade

Lady Gaga at the Verizon Center Monday night. (Blade photo by Mariah Cooper)

Monday night little monsters flocked to the Verizon Center to sing, dance and rave the night away at Lady Gaga’s (aka Mother Monster) “artRAVE” tour. And a rave it was.

The tour, whose D.C. stop was bumped up three days to accommodate a playoff game, promotes Lady Gaga’s latest album “Artpop,” a notable flop in comparison to her previous two albums. “Artpop” sold only about 250,000 copies in its first week and made a sharp 82 percent decline in its second week. Gaga had issues with her now ex-manager Troy Carter that led to delays on releasing music videos for the album. However, Gaga appeared in good spirits during the show as she transformed the Verizon Center into an underground warehouse-esque dance rave.

But the party was slow to start. Hatsune Miku, an animated Japanese cartoon that looked like a Final Fantasy character reject, began the show. The cartoon character sang high-pitched electronic/pop-rock songs while projected onto a big screen. After that, Lady Starlight, longtime friend of Gaga, performed an agonizing DJ set of techno music while dancing awkwardly from side to side. The two acts performed for a combined never-ending hour and a half.

Finally, Lady Gaga joined the party with all the crazy antics and out-of-the-box fashion she is known for. Gaga sang “Artpop” while dressed in a shiny gold bodysuit with golden wings springing from her shoulders and a shiny silver ball protruding from her chest. Shirtless male dancers followed her around dressed in shiny shorts and carrying silver balls.

“Put your fucking hands up!” Gaga screamed after her opening number. The rave had begun.

Gaga exchanged the wings for a see-through cape with gold sparkles as she launched into songs from “Artpop” including “G.U.Y.,” “Donatella” and “Fashion!” After a quick wardrobe change into a silver clam bikini top and big wig, Gaga launched into “Venus” and giant mushroom trees popped out of the stage.

There was no shortage of crazy antics. Gaga grinded on male dancers, sang in a giant clear hand with purple nails and writhed around in a gray body suit with pink spots and tentacles. The most insane parts of the night included Gaga snorting like a pig as she crawled on stage with dancers wearing pig heads for her song “Swine” and changing outfits on stage with her stylists on hand as she ripped her wig from her head and slipped into a psychedelic pink and neon plastic dress to perform her hit single “Bad Romance.”

However, as entertaining as those antics could be, the most memorable moments were the ones when Gaga showed her human side and got personal with fans. In a stripped down piano performance of “Born This Way,” Gaga told a story about how she was bullied in middle school. She also revealed the not-so-glamorous side of performing when she admitted, “If you only knew how much I was sweating under this latex you would die.”

Gaga paused to admire gifts fans had thrown on the stage and to read fan letters. The two letters she read were from two young gay men who had been depressed and suicidal because of their sexuality. Both wrote about how much Lady Gaga’s music had helped them through their tough times. After reading the letters, Gaga invited both men and their friends to join her backstage. In response, they and their friends burst into sobs.

The rave part of the show came in full force with one of the closing numbers, “Applause.” Gaga admitted that despite the hatred she has gotten she keeps performing for the love of the applause and that’s why she wrote the song. The strobe lights blinked on and off as Gaga and her dancers ran around the stage clapping. For the first time during the show, the entire venue seemed to be jumping, dancing, clapping and singing along. The show felt more like a party than a concert.

Despite the rocky start with her opening acts, “artRAVE” proved Lady Gaga has gotten as far as she has because of her great performances. Little monsters young and old, some dressed in crazy outfits and others dressed in simple jeans and T-shirts, were squealing over the fun they just had after the show.

“My music and my fans, I feel like we have a heartbeat,” Gaga said during her “Born This Way” rendition. “I wanted you to be transported to an alternate universe. A place where in case you aren’t being yourself you can just check yourself for two hours.”

Mission accomplished, Gaga.

SETLIST

Artpop
G.U.Y.
Donatella
Fashion!
Venus
Manicure
Cake Like Lady Gaga
Just Dance
Poker Face
Telephone
Paparazzi
Do What U Want
Born This Way
Aura
Sexxx Dreams
Mary Jane Holland
Alejandro
Bad Romance
Applause
Swine
Gypsy

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