When I first saw photos and videos of the Born This Way Ball, I admit I was originally put off by the whole look and overall feel of the show. I was very critical. Wrongly so, considering I hadn’t truly experienced it for myself. But that all changed on February 6, 2013, when Lady Gaga played a sold-out show at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. It’s truly something else when you’re standing with 400 other screaming super fans in the Monster Pit, who are dancing in circles as Gaga plows through “Americano,” a performance worthy of its own telenovela.
This show is a different kind of beast compared to The Monster Ball. The fans at the Born This Way Ball are a new breed, as opposed to the fans you’d see at a Gaga concert 3 years ago. The sense of unity and joy is amazing and Gaga is giving everything she can and her fans giving everything back to fuel what she is right down to her core: an artist. This isn’t just a show; this is who she is. Gaga sported a lime green glow-in-the-dark wig for the show and said that it’s one of many things she plans to do that takes the Ball to another level as the tour comes to a close in the next few weeks.
As the set started to wind down after witnessing a giant vagina birth Gaga and her dancers, Gaga floating across a foggy stage, and Gaga as a motorcycle, her dancers rolled out a large piano covered in what looked to be the spiked balls from a one-handed flail. Gaga got candid with us and let us know that she was feeling down about her late grandfather as she lead into a vey emotional rendition of “The Edge of Glory” in place of “The Queen.”
35 minutes and seven songs later, Gaga defeated Mother G.O.A.T. and finished off the main set with “Scheiße.” By song’s end, I was trying to pick myself up off the floor and compose myself, so I could make my way towards the left side of the pit, to go backstage and meet Lady Gaga. As other fans and I waited, we got to see Gaga give her encore performance of “Marry the Night,” which she performed mostly in a stripped-down arrangement, up until the very end, when the track exploded into an underground, New York City-esque club and the fans on-stage and off broke into choreography from the music video. Now it was time to go backstage.
After about an hour of waiting for her to decompress after a rigorous show, a relaxed Gaga entered the room still donning her lime green UVglo wig, paired with a black pantsuit and an oversized fedora, both from Saint Laurent’s Spring 2013 collection.
Gaga greeted us all with a big hug and took photos while exchanging small talk. When that was done, she sat in her chair and answered questions for what was supposed to be 20 minutes, but turned into an hour. During the conversation, Gaga spoke about ARTPOP, saying that she was much happier while writing and recording it, compared to the last record – a process that started directly after she finished Born This Way. She said she knew Born This Way was a challenge to most of her fans; that we endured a lot. Gaga said she created the album, which ultimately became a movement, as a form of therapy. She has no regrets about Born This Way, but feels she is now able to move on as a happier and more mature person.
When asked if she felt pressured about the new record, Gaga said she would be worried if there wasn’t any pressure, because it helps her work. She said she knows what we want; and that’s fun, dirty, dance music, and there’s no shortage of it on ARTPOP.
She explained that the album is pretty much done: there’s vocals and music on all the tracks, but she wants to take 3 weeks after the tour is over, during her "creative break", to re-record her vocals with her coach Don Lawrence, so that the album is the best quality it can be, because it’s forever. Gaga mentioned that she considers ARTPOP her first real album, that it’s about a phoenix rising from the ashes, and is worried if she’ll ever be able to top it because she knows it’s that good.
As our meet-and-greet wrapped up, Gaga told us to ignore all the bullshit and get ready for ARTPOP.
Thanks to Bobby and Lane from Atom Factory, who made the meeting possible and also the amazing fans I met during the show and at the Born Brave Bus, who made the experience even more enjoyable.