***THERE ARE JOANNE WORLD TOUR SPOILERS IN HERE. DO NOT READ IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED. IT’S DEFINITELY WORTH THE WAIT (but please come back after!!!).***
Soooooo my half-year resolution for myself was to update this more often. I wrote this whole thing about my trip to Croatia in July when I got home, edited and SEO'd the whole thing TWICE and Squarespace wouldn't save it either time (it's still coming DW). I also just moved, which has been crazy (plus I'm still not done with everything) and just began a new job, so it's been a lil hectic up here in SF.
Anyways, back to Gaga.
Wow. That’s the first word that comes to my mind when I reflect on Lady Gaga’s Joanne World Tour. You’d think after seeing Gaga twice this year already at Coachella and five times before then, I would be over the shtick and know what to expect. It is actually quite the opposite.
Something Gaga does so well is really changing it up from era to era and tour to tour. Even between Coachella and JWT (and the Super Bowl, which she is nominated for SIX Emmy's for and is now the most watched musical event in history -- no, like, I'm dead serious), I was amazed at how different they were. While there were similar aesthetics and visuals, the shows really did vary. Her choreographer and creative director, Richy, noted that Coachella would focus on Gaga’s more popular songs rather than just pushing the newer tracks from Joanne. However, when it came to the setlist for JWT, I knew to expect more Joanne.
I always try to stray away from spoilers when it comes to new Gaga tours. I want to be able to experience it first-hand for myself, not knowing which twists and turns she takes. Even though her W1 show was the first, I was FLOORED at the deep cuts (“Scheiße,” “Teeth,” etc.) she included in her set. Plus, who does love a good state of being shook? I feverishly muted and unfollowed every Gaga fan account I followed on Twitter and Instagram and called for JWT blackouts in various group chats until I attended my first of two JWT shows. Luckily, the shows I caught were in the first few, so I didn’t have to live with the suspense for two long.
The tour starts in the US and then will travel internationally before returning back to the US for the final round of shows, as it is set to complete in December (sad!). Gaga is playing both arenas and stadiums (think The Forum vs. Fenway Park) all around the country, which I think is super interesting. I was blessed to see both versions of the show, the arena version in LA at The Forum and the stadium version in SF at AT&T Park. It was definitely very interesting to see how each compared, but more on that later.
While this was my eighth and ninth times seeing Gaga, I still was equally as amazed as the first time I saw her. I mentioned on my post about Joanne back in October about how seeing Gaga the first time was truly a pinpoint moment in my life that would change everything for me. It was incredible to see how far she has come in those seven short years and reflect on how much my life has changes and how much I have grown since then.
Los Angeles — 8 August 2017
I recently moved to San Francisco for work, but I knew I needed to make it down to LA for one of Gaga’s two soldout shows at The Forum. After some blood, sweat and tears on the ticket hunt, I was able to track down some GA tickets for the first LA show. I was excited to finally attend a show with some of my hardcore Gaga-fan friends, Joe and Buck, and Sarah, who came along as well. I hopped on a plane the morning of the show at SFO in my #JoanneVibes pink satin track pants, star boots, Gaga Coachella hoodie, pink Joanne hat and Gaga’s Workshop (tbt) tote eager to see Mother Monster in action.
We made the voyage to Inglewood and enjoyed a (not so) classy tailgate in the parking lot before heading into the venue. I had seen a small spoiler that showed the layout of the stage and checked in with my friend, Wes, who had gone to the show a few nights earlier in Tacoma so that I knew where was a good spot to stand. In the arena version, Gaga has one flat main stage in the front, with two circular stages in opposite corners of the floor and one last stage in the back with her epic piano on it. She would travel between each with walkways that would come down from the ceiling. TLDR: we knew we would move a lot, so we tried to be as central as possible.
We waited about two and a half hours before the show started. She did not have a single opener and still soldout the shows. Around 9PM, Gaga’s infamous show countdown clock appeared and the whole crowd got ready for the ride. She opened with “Diamond Heart,” and I could not have been more excited. I literally had been saying since the album came out that it needed to be the opening tour song.
The show featured various sections separated with different video interludes and band transitions. The video interludes this time were very dark but still tasteful and artistic. I loved the one that featured Gaga in a small hallway-looking space as the camera moves at different angles capturing her in changing lights as she struggled to escape the tight space. She did include lighter ones, like her driving around in a car with clouds of pink smoke.
Her costumes for each section were un-fucking-real. She looked so incredible (as did her dancers), and it was very interesting to see what looks will end up becoming staples for this era. My favorite was either the black catsuit that she strips down to earlier in the show, the red bodysuit and boots or the crystal bodysuit at the end of the show which she then covers with the long crystal coat and crystal pink Joanne hat.
I was pained to only hear an abbreviated version of “Perfect Illusion,” especially since she didn’t play it at Coachella, but I know that it is not one of her favorite tracks. I was most shook to hear “Bloody Mary,” a very deep cut from Born This Way that I never thought I would ever hear live in my life. Top song overall for me, though, was “Dancin’ in Circles,” the track Gaga did with Beck for Joanne. I was so shook at the choreo and how spectacular she looked and sounded.
I loved how high energy The Forum was, and it was fun to feed off of my friends also, whether that was when we embraced during “The Edge of Glory” (the piano version) or screamed at the top of our lungs for “John Wayne.” It all really helped to make the experience that much more special. I was really bugging out for this show as it was going to be my eighth time seeing her, and the show fell on 8/8.
I left the show on an absolute high with a croaky voice so excited to do it all again just a few days later in SF.
San Francisco — 13 August 2017
I knew this show would be something else, mainly because it fell on the Sunday of Outside Lands — a three-day festival in Golden Gate Park — that I was going to be attending for a second year. The OSL lineup was terrible compared to past years, which was super disheartening considering how much fun I had last year when I went. I was drained from the first two days but knew I had to pull it together for Sunday (more on OSL 2017 to come!).
After a riveting afternoon and evening that finished with watching (and dancing like a pack of hooligans to) Lorde on the OSL main stage, I was off to AT&T Park with Camille, Wes and Michael. All of us but Wes were sitting on the field in seats, which I thought was interesting considering Gaga almost always does GA for her shows. When we got to the park, however, we noticed that there was a sort of Monster Pit (tbt BTW Ball) that was filled with the hardcore, super dressed up fans (and then we pouted because we really wanted to be in there, too). Instead of having the separate stages with suspended catwalks, Gaga had her main stage that moved up and down to different levels like in the arena. This time, however, she had one long catwalk with another stage at the end.
DJ White Shadow opened up for Gaga at this show, and it was super fun to hear him play some womps and hits as a warmup for the queen herself. Many of you might not know DJWS, but he has produced some of Gaga’s biggest hits and does a lot of the music for her video interludes (like this amazing one for Coachella).
It was interesting to observe the crowd at this show. I think there was a wider demographic in terms of age and level of stan-ness, but I also just went right into the floor in LA. Since the show was outside and right by the water (and there was a slight drizzle), most people were bundled up in dark clothing and didn’t look like they were going to a concert and nonetheless to see Gaga. I proudly strutted into AT&T Park in my little pink fringe two piece and star boots as I eagerly sought out other hardcore Monsters. I love seeing what people come up with at Gaga shows, and the fans that did go out of their way to dress up at this show did not disappoint.
Again, around 9 PM, the countdown clock started. The opening cords of “Diamond Heart” started and the whole stadium began to roar. We were in the last row of our section, which kinda sucked at first, but provided a very interesting view at the show and allowed us to have even more room to dance, as we chose to sand behind our seats for optimal dancing space.
Everything about this show was bigger and better. Some of the costumes were different. She spoke a lot more and definitely went a lot deeper to discuss the current climate in the US and about love and acceptance, speaking out and taking action to make things better. Additionally, Gaga mentioned that this show was her first stadium show in the US, ever, and I was freaking shook (mainly because I was now part of history!!!!) — and it was 100% soldout. I was so incredibly proud of her. (Side note -- she has soldout 10/10 of the shows, meaning each show until 8/22, as of 8/22.)
While the show still followed a lot of the same as the LA show, something was stirred in me. As she began her speech right before “Come to Mama,” something ignited and my tears automatically began to flow. I always think about how much has changed in my life since I was 15 and seeing her for the first time. I think that this time, however, I was experiencing a new level of that reflection. I moved to a new city to begin my life in the “real world” with a new job — a major new chapter in my life. Not to mention the quarter-life crisis I feel like I’ve been having for the past year and a half or so.
That night I was so up and down with my emotions, but all in a good way. I reflected on my growth and successes I have seen in the last seven years, on how hard and dark the days I lived through in 2010 were for me, on how my life was about to change so much yet again.
I cried out of happiness because I have found a happy, safe space where I have been able to surround myself with the most incredible, supportive and inspiring friends I could ever ask for. How I used to worry that I would never find true friendship and now I was being embraced by two of my closest friends as we squeezed one another and dried each other’s teary cheeks.
I cried out of nostalgia because I have just moved away from home for who knows how long. I thought about how my parents have loved and supported me for the entirety of my life, even if we do disagree on a lot. I worried that my time with them is getting shorter and shorter and wondered if I was making the right choice being so far away from them — more than ever before. I remembered that I do believe everything is supposed to happen as it does, and I was right where I needed to be.
I cried out of hurt because of the changes in my family overall. When Gaga talked about who Joanne is/was right before she played "Joanne," the album's title track, I reflected on mine and my family’s own pain. I thought about my mom and how heavy her hurt has been in the last few years, especially. I thought about my dad and how much he has had to overcome in his lifetime and how he gave up so much to come to this country for a better life. I thought about my brother and the struggles he’s faced recently and how it has completely changed our relationship. I thought about my grandpa and how his days might start to dwindle down, thinking about how precious life is.
I sobbed and sobbed throughout the rest of the show as so much filled my mind. Overall, however, this was absolutely the best Gaga show I have ever been to. She REALLY turned it up for this show, in so many ways. Like I said before, this show went above and beyond any of hers I have seen live before. She truly is an artist and performer and knows how to cater each show specifically.
I have been touched deeply by her shows in the past, but this show at AT&T Park will also mark a very important point in my life. I can only hope that everyone feels this epiphanic moment at some point in their lives.
Because she took a while to get through her speeches and the transitions were hella long, she ended up cutting my favorite section of the show, which included “Bloody Mary,” “Dancin’ in Circles” and “Paparazzi.” As upset as I can be at this, the show still blew my mind, and I was lucky enough to see these in LA. Plus, she brought her mom, Cynthia, out on stage right before “Million Reasons,” which was so incredible to watch.
I left the stadium that night sore, puffy, makeup- and jewel-less and voiceless, but my heart was full. I knew that it was a moment that I would truly cherish for the rest of my life and would share with my children and their children. Gaga looked (and sounded) like a goddam rockstar, and I cannot wait to see when they write about her in the history books. (We also saw Gaga hanging out of her car waving goodbye to fans on her way out of the park!!!!! She went to give money to homeless people on the streets of SF right after like the goddam saint she is.)
I really tried to commit to various versions of #JoanneVibes lewks for the four Gaga shows I have seen this year. I wanted to switch up each lewk in terms of vibe and aesthetics. At Coachella, I went for a pink two-piece satin pants look from O’Mighty, accompanied by my Lady Fucking Gaga shirt I got at the ArtRave in 2014, pink hat and light-up sneakers for W1. For W2, I picked the matching pink satin skirt from O’Mighty with a metallic bralette and #JoanneVibes tee with the same hat and shoes.
For LA, I decided to go a little more “country” and wear a pink gingham two-piece I got from LF a few days before. I worried it would be too cold for SF, and the puffy sleeves on the top wouldn’t fit too well under my leather jacket. I also paired the lewk with my star boots from Daisy Street and my Joanne hat, of course. The outfit was a hit and I got a ton of great feedback.
For SF, I chose a pink fringe two-piece I got from (you guessed it!) O’Mighty a few months back that I anticipated wearing in Vegas for my birthday. I originally did not like the color and wanted to return the outfit, but the shipping back to Singapore was $100, so I decided to keep it. I’m very glad I did. I paired the outfit with my leather jacket and the same boots but went for mini buns, so no hat. I also did my pink long pom-pom earrings for a little extra touch. I definitely stood out against the crowd at OSL that day, but it was fine because I got photographed by Nylon Mag (YK HERE I AM).
I would 110% seeing the Joanne World Tour to anyone who can go. While I might be biased, I think even the smallest Gaga fans would be blown away. I am so grateful to have been able to see her live so many times, and I hope to be able to share these experiences with my friends and family over the years. I cannot wait to see where Gaga will go next, and I know that I will be there for every step of the way.
Thank you for forever changing my life, Gaga, and continuing to make the world a better place. I feel lucky to call myself your fan.