May 5, 2011

GaGa a bit of a monster

Upon checking my mailbox on the glorious morning of Flunk Day, I discovered that Lady Gaga was coming to Knox.
My sleep-addled brain immediately tried to equate Knox’s slow course towards financial impregnability with booking modern pop music’s biggest superstar. My similarly confused friends came up with all sorts of explanations, ranging from “Maybe she was going to be in Illinois anyway” to “We just can’t read Union Board’s p-p-p-poker face.” After we had all woken up more, we read the flier more closely and saw that it was to be a tribute concert, not the real thing. Still, the Flunk Day evening entertainment is generally pretty sweet, so we eagerly crowded up to the stage at 7 o’clock and waited for the show to begin.
The first sign that this was not going to be good was the overuse of what I like to call the “rah-rah hand,” so named because of its frequent use in “Bad Romance.” Gaga is well known for her dance moves, which certainly range beyond the rah-rah hand. Not so for the impersonator. Her backup dancers were slightly better, if only because one desperately trying to follow the other’s moves was amusing.
A quick Google search reveals this to be the brainchild of Kimberley Dayle, who is widely regarded as one of the best Lady Gaga impersonators around—because apparently this is a career field now. Dayle also does impersonations of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera and has brought her live shows to unsuspecting audiences worldwide. To impersonate any of these pop superwomen takes guts, and Dayle has lots of guts; not just anyone can strut around in a completely see-through outfit. Hide your kids, hide your wife, because Gaga’s bearing it all tonight.
Commentary on Dayle’s singing has been conspicuously lacking from this review so far, so let’s talk about that. In the middle of the show, Dayle climbed on top of her keyboard stool and broke into a jumbled piano rendition of “Poker Face”—suspiciously reminiscent of the Glee version—which varied between a snail’s pace and a cheetah on crack. This was not only too musically inept for Gaga, but it also detracted from the one good part of the show: Dayle’s voice. Had Dayle stood still and sang, the music would most likely have been very good. But it wouldn’t have been Gaga, and as it was, it was a poor imitation.
My friends and I stuck around for a few more numbers after the “Poker Face” debacle and then wandered away to go make coffee. From the Quads, we could just make out Dayle’s voice. Without the distraction of her risqué costumes and the perpetually lagging back-up dancer, it sounded good. It sounded like Gaga. Ultimately what makes Gaga great is her status as a performance artist and a musician, not solely one or the other, and no one can perfect the combination quite like Mother Monster herself. Next year, Union Board, bring back the black light party and let us just dance. Trust me, it’ll be more than okay.

Anna Meier

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