Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lady Gaga woos Little Monsters at the St. Pete Times Forum

TAMPA — Like prom night for the adorably demented, the Little Monsters arrived en masse and en fuego, dressed to impress their preferred pop star in DayGlo wigs, mommy-frazzling thigh highs and police-tape sashes.

And why not? With Lady Gaga, singer of ubiquitous hits Poker Face and Bad Romance, it's not about who you should be, but who you long to be — even if who you long to be might get you arrested in Utah.

In the buzziest concert of the year, Gaga, Top 40's reigning queen of question marks, brought her "Monster Ball" to the St. Pete Times Forum on Saturday, throwing an expectedly eye-bugging party that commenced (at 9:55 p.m., no less) with a massive throbbing wraparound screen revealing a silhouetted purple Gaga cooing Dance in the Dark.

Soon enough, the star, prone to frozen poses and purple body suits and lemon hair and rump flashes (eeeeee!), frolicked on a multitiered neon-lit stage made to look like a trashy metropolis, complete with a beater car with crucifixes on the windshield and a piano under the hood, a slick touch in a night full of 'em.

Oh yeah, it was fun and goofy and sexy and loud. And when Gaga cued the bass thump for Just Dance, the packed crowd of 16,373 screamed for Mother Monster as loud as they could, as if sheer volume would finalize that last bit of their own Gaganian transformation and self-realization.

In a rather smirky coincidence, Jimmy Buffett performed at the same time across town, at the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre, where fans also dressed up. But with all due respect to followers of the revered beach bum, who usually owns this town when he shows up, Gaga's sartorially gonzo Little Monsters could devour those Tommy Bahama'd Parrotheads like a bucket of old chicken.

Just ask monster-in-training Evan Lacasse. The 33-year-old from Clearwater, striking in thick eyeliner and stick-on jewels highlighting his cheekbones, originally had tickets to Buffett. But in the end he just couldn't miss Gaga, her fleet of backup dancers and her insistence of letting that freak flag fly.

"I like her message and what she promotes," Lacasse said. "Be yourself."

Or, for that matter, be a topless nun grinding on a subway car. Or a dominatrix playing a piano with one boot. (Yeah, she went there.)

As well as trumpeting individuality — "You can be whoever you want to be!" she promised repeatedly — Gaga also celebrated aiming high. In fact, not since Babe Ruth has someone called their shot so defiantly and successfully: Her 2008 debut album The Fame was a braggadelicious stab at overnight fame. And it worked.

Since then, the 25-year-old New Yorker born Stefani Germanotta has been pop culture's most captivating force, not just in sales but style as well. When her new album, Born This Way, comes out May 23, that too will almost certainly go No. 1.

Her formula is both otherworldly and familiar, and these days, that's apparently just what we want. Imagine if Gloria Gaynor had performed I Will Survive in a bear suit. (Just go with me on that one, okay?) That's a good idea of Gaga, who mixes deliriously "huh?" outerwear with fiendishly catchy club bangers and earnest crowd love. "My religion is you," she said.

Gaga's skintastic shenanigans went well beyond this newspaper's deadline, but the coolest stuff we caught included Gaga praising Jesus while wearing a high-priestess frock and thunking a guitar contraption that would freak out Prince.

She bit the head off a Barbie that was hurled onstage, ripping into any "idea of beauty" that's strictly exterior. To punctuate that point, she performed a touching piano version of the song Born This Way. It was quite moving — even though she wore a leather bra and panties while she did it.

The most shocking thing about the show might have been Gaga's myriad moments of breaking with her space-girl persona and connecting on a no-guff, regular-gal level. She was charming, sweet and funny, at one point even chatting with a fan via cell phone. She dedicated new song You and I to her fans; her affection for us was so hot, it even set the piano on fire.

Say what you will about Gaga, but she's a tireless entertainer. A runway stretched far into the crowd, and Gaga worked her tuchus off on that sparkly sucker, wailing aplenty on hits like Telephone and imploring her Little Monsters to join her saucy calisthenics, the adoration of Gaga being a full-contact sport.

Sean Daly can be reached at or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at

Lady Gaga woos Little Monsters at the St. Pete Times Forum 04/17/11 [Last modified: Sunday, April 17, 2011 12:07am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility


    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia


    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber


    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant


    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]