When I walked into Met Life Stadium at 7:30 on Thursday night, I was a casual fan of Lady Gaga who could list the hits and fondly remembered her Super Bowl halftime show in 2017. When I walked out at 11:45, I was a fully converted, absolutely obsessed Little Monster. In that four-hour time period, my mind, body, and spirit ascended to some other plane of existence where we all live in harmony wearing golden mylar capes, fleshy bloody bodysuits, and insect headdresses.
I had bought a ticket to see Gaga about five hours before doors. I wanted to see if she’d interrupt her performance to talk about abortion rights, like she did during “The Edge of Glory” at her Washington, D.C., concert on Monday. Gaga’s activism is not particularly newsworthy, but these days, I’ll take any opportunity to hear someone talk about how fucked up our country is—especially if it’s in a place where I can scream at the top of my lungs.
Since I first heard “Just Dance” at a frat house in 2008, I’ve considered myself a casual fan of hers. My favorite songs are “Yoü and I” and “The Edge of Glory.” I enjoyed Joanne, and I really, really enjoy Chromatica. (I did not enjoy Artpop.)
The reviews for Gaga’s tour have been insane, so it’s not like I didn’t expect to be entertained. But no writing can do the nearly three-hour freefall into Lady Gaga’s wonderland the justice it deserves. Before the pop star (meteor? supernova? There has to be another word for her level of astronomical power) appeared on stage, a five-minute video of graphics, shapes, movements, and sounds broadcast into the stadium. The base was so loud I felt my heart rumble.
“I’m scared,” I heard a woman next to me say to her friend, who responded, “You should be.”
Gaga opened with a trilogy of her earliest hits (“Bad Romance,” Just Dance,” and “Poker Face”), almost as if she was saying to us casual fans, “Come in, the water’s wonderful, we’re all mad here,” before launching into a five-act Shakespearian masterpiece that began with Chromatica’s “Alice”—an Alice In Wonderland-inspired escapist banger with the lyrics “Take me home, Take me to Wonderland, Wonderland.” And took me home Gaga did!
She didn’t interrupt any of her songs to talk about abortion rights, but she did to talk about gay rights. “I just wish to remind everybody here what you already know,” she said to a roaring crowd in the middle of “Born This Way,” accompanied only by piano. “If this country comes for gay marriage, you know what’s gonna happen.” Paws UP.
“It’s been a rough couple of years, huh? I think it’s pretty clear after the last few years that this world is already brave,” she later said. But “this world is also kind,” she added, before launching into the tear-jerking, soul-crushing “Remember Us This Way,” which she dedicated to Tony Bennett and his “wonderful” wife, Susan. (Before you Google it, he’s still alive.)
There were performances of “Free Woman,” “LoveGame,” “Shallow,” “Stupid Love,” and “Fun Tonight,” all equally mesmerizing and transformative. During “The Edge of Glory,” Gaga paid tribute to Clarence Clemons, the E Street Band sax player who performed on the track and died in 2011—the same day the song’s music video premiered.
Even sitting in the last row of section 331—the nosebleed of the nosebleeds—I felt so fucking loved, protected, and embraced by this woman who will definitely never know I even exist (although, on some level, I’m fully convinced she’s already known exactly who I am for years).
Thursday night was the Sturgeon full moon in Aquarius—the last supermoon of 2022. It was also the final evening of the Perseids meteor shower, typically considered the best star show of the year. But it was Lady Gaga—my newfound lord and savior—who was the biggest celestial event in the universe last night.
“We’re here to celebrate music that’s about dancing through your pain,” Gaga said to a crowd of 54,000—her biggest U.S. show ever. But Gaga didn’t just guide us through our pain of the day, the week, even the last few years. She took it all away. (I’m not kidding!! I feel great today!!!)
About halfway through the show, there was a gust of wind. Not a light, refreshing, summer breeze—this was wind from the second coming of something not of this Earth. People in my section asked, “Did Gaga create this breeze herself?” We laughed—but we all knew the truth. The breeze infiltrated every pore of my skin, it rejuvenated me, it gave me chills, relief, and hope.
It was my Gaga baptism.