Last Night: Lady Gaga At Toyota Center

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Photos by Marco Torres/ Click here for a slideshow
Lady Gaga
Toyota Center
July 25, 2010

For Lady Gaga's show last night at Toyota Center, the first of a two-night sold-out stand in Houston, she managed to meld blood, sacrilege, fire, pain, heavy metal, love, and the power of music into one mass of light and sound.

From a pop standpoint, Aftermath has always been a fan of Gaga. Big stupid hooks, weird-ass music videos, shades of icons living, dead or waning, and an almost punk attitude towards her industry. Seeing Gaga live is a whole different experience that watching a YouTube clip or downloading and burning a disc can't deliver.

Live, Gaga is a multidimensional force of nature. To lump her in with the Britneys and Christinas of the world is like lumping in Radiohead in with Nickelback because they both play what is generally designated as rock music. Same city with different zip codes.

Over the course of last night's show we tasted bits of Marilyn Manson, Prince, Peaches, Klaus Nomi, Carole King and Bjork. But these weren't even outright plagiaries. The ever-present Madonna comparisons are boring and extremely lazy, by the way. It's the equivalent of sticking an antique hearing horn up to your ear.

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It's very much a generational thing we have seen, with the older Madonna fans pitting themselves versus new-school Gaga kids in a laughable fight for supremacy. Spectacle is spectacle, through and through. Madonna used to offer that, and now Gaga does it for a whole new set of ears.

If anyone should be getting pissed at Gaga, it's Peaches and Manson fans. She's most definitely lifted more from them than she ever has from Madonna. But if you stopped listening to pop music in 1991, those two artists mean nothing to you.

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None of this takes anything away from what Madonna did and still does (slightly), but you have to understand that both women are dealing with entirely different pop-culture headspaces making their achievements almost impossible to compare now. Listening to people get almost violently ill when they talk about what they think Gaga is stealing from Madonna is hilarious.

It's pop music, people. Shut up and dance.

The night began at 9 p.m., with Gaga singing obscured by a gigantic curtain, her figure merely a shadow projected about 20 feet high. Appropriately, it was for "Dance in the Dark," and she soon came out from behind the curtain flanked by a gaggle of dancers behind her.

The stage set-up had her band in metal cubicles and a bombed-out car surrounded by racy signs advertising all manner of sins. Her dancers stalked the stage with her like a glittery gang. Our concert-mate described it is a demented, spooky version of West Side Story.

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