If any pop star in the world is suited to SXSW, it's Lady Gaga. An equal mix of arty intentions, dancefloor libido and Warholian premeditation, Gaga brings an aura of joy and inspiration wherever she goes.
Case in point: Lady Gaga Live at the Doritos #BoldStage, her debut performance at SXSW on Thursday night. Gaga transformed Austin's Stubb's BBQ into the Doritos #BoldStage for one night only in order to give an intimate Gaga experience to 2,000 fans, and it was a night that combined her arty inclinations with her pop sensibility and her loyalty to her roots.
Even in a venue as intimate as Stubb's, Gaga didn't lighten up on her stage show. The concert opened with a leather-bikini clad Gaga roasting over an open spit while her dancers rejoiced around her.
Obviously, she escaped her stage show ropes to perform a variety of ARTPOP gems, from "MANiCURE" to "Swine" to an ebullient "Gypsy" that was the ecstatic musical highlight of the night.
Performance-wise, the most memorable moment of the evening was undoubtedly when Gaga sat down at a drum set and began pounding away while her NYC friend Millie Brown—a self-described regurgitation painter—drank bright green paint and proceeded to puke it directly onto Gaga. Jaded industry folk remained unperturbed, but for those actually enjoying SXSW, it was safe to say no one had seen anything like that during this year's fest.
Ultimately, Gaga's attitude—equal parts preacher and confidante—was the real secret to her SXSW success. Without seeming pretentious or demanding, Gaga demanded her audience give up on cell phone pics. "Do me a favor—don't take my picture," she said during her set. "Put your phone down and have a good time. F—k your cell phone. F—k your friends instead."
Shockingly, most of the audience—who had completed a Doritos #BoldMission to gain access to the sought-after show—acquiesced. It's not often that a pop star can effectively command fans to keep the phones dormant, but Gaga isn't any pop star—she's one of the arty freak people she performs for and inspires. Except, ya know, she's ten times more talented than the rest of us.