I recently have become a big fan of Lady Gaga, in particular right after her Saturday Night Live musical guest appearance on 10/3/2009. I felt she gave off a great energy while singing live there, and I also loved her off-the-wall NYC song, too. It was just real. What an up 'n comer. I heard she was coming to Boston for a concert, so I was all ears. I haven't been to a concert in ages. She did perform at House of Blues, Boston not only a few months ago. I did know of that show at that time, but didn't know who she was at that point. She probably had only her first couple of hits out back then, including "Poker Face", the one I had first liked. She now has broken records with four #1s from a debut album ("The Fame"), one for each single she has released so far, emerging onto the pop scene with full force. What great songs they are, too. At this rate, she will probably never play such a smaller venue like this ever again. Considering I missed her HOB show and that she would probably come back only to play a much bigger venue like the TD Garden next time around?, I figured the medium-sized venue of Citi Wang Theatre (aka Citi Performing Arts Center), Boston at this point would in fact be my best bet while I could still grab it. So she turned out to be playing two nights for her “Monster Ball” tour here (both Tues, 12/1/09 and Wed, 12/2/09). Great, so I should be able to find a ticket, right? I did miss the on-sale date as I didn't think I was going to be able to make the show at that point, but then things changed closer to the show dates. Ok, I would have to find a ticket on the secondary market then.
Getting a Ticket
About a week prior, I started looking for tickets on eBay, StubHub, Craigslist, whatever will do, even signing up for Jammin’ 94.5 FM’s contest. Of course I first checked Citi Wang's website to verify both shows were indeed sold-out, and they were, of all ticket types. In fact, Gaga's upcoming show next month at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut (almost a 2-hour drive away) was also sold-out as well. So Boston it would be then, somehow. Most of the tickets I could find were 2-3 times face value. I guess hosting such a hot star who has risen so fast, this Wang venue (although medium-sized) is now justifiably a small venue for her and hence accounts for the higher demand and likewise higher ticket prices in this case. Face values were $43-$53 for balcony, $53 for mezzanine, $63 for orchestra, and $385 for VIP (seat in first 2 rows, backstage ”meet & greet” pass with photo op and autograph before the show, pre-show hospitality, and free headphones, CD, and laminate) + normal ticket fees. I saw some balconies go for about $110 or so on eBay on the low end and orchestras for $150 on the low end. But none of those lasted long. Also StubHub and other lesser-known ticket scalper sites had exorbitant costs like $150 on the low-end even for balcony, all the way up to $600s and higher for better seats. Then you've got big fees on top of that which go to the house, too, as high as $33/ticket in some cases on other sites, then a big shipping fee for $15/tkt on top of that, too. No good. Craigslist from time to time would get some honest folk who would put up their tickets for face value, and you had to be one of the first ones to respond in order to even have a chance there. Also I found tickets for her 2nd show to be somewhat cheaper in general than her 1st show. I guess people would rather see her first, and also this 1st Boston show is also the 1st stop of her American tour as well. After a few tries, I was able to snag a balcony ticket to her 2nd show for face value off Craiglist. Not bad. It cost me $70, which basically covered the face value plus normal fees. Someone had answered my "wanted" ad, and just before posting their own ad. Since it was in my email, I was one of the first to see it, and hence ended up with first dibs. Later on, after the show, that seller mentioned to me that she had gotten 75 emails after mine from potential buyers for that one ticket. That goes to show just how high in demand this concert really was. By the way, I also had had a chance at a VIP ticket for face value, too, but didn't take it. I had called and offered the seller $300 (vs. $385) but without any of the extra gifts, but she had put me on her waiting list in case nobody else wanted it. After checking Craigslist again the next day, it was already gone, and I would never see one of those ever posted again anywhere for any price. If Gaga does in fact become the next Madonna (she's certainly on the road to that), then this may have been a big mistake on my part. Also I re-checked all the sites closer to the show dates and noticed that the prices gradually got higher and higher. So a tip in general then is to find a ticket early on if you can.
I took the T (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Subway system) in to avoid a parking nightmare. For the $3.40, it's certainly worth it. Last time I parked near this theatre, my window was smashed in when I returned, too! Yeah, T. I exited the station and walked past AMC Loews Theatres where a guy on the side had flyers exclaiming, "Free movie... Free movie at 8... go right in". I was like, "I'm already doing something". When I was within 1-2 blocks of the theatre, I was already being accosted by scalpers, "Do you have tickets to sell? We are looking for tickets to buy right now". Further up the street they were already at, "Anybody need tickets? tickets?". I overheard another one of them tell his peer, "I better do good tonight. I put my life savings into this". At the front door was a girl holding up a sign, "I need a ticket". Obviously the scalpers must've been charging too much. I didn't ask. Since I did have a few minutes on my hands, I went back around the corner to the stage door. Three to four big tour buses lined the side street. There were some guards at the door as well as some groupies hanging around, but obviously she was already inside. I knew the meet&greet was before the show anyway, after 4:30 pm or so. As I'm walking back around the corner I hear someone ask, "Where is she from anyway?", to which her friend replies, "I think she's British". "British?...", I say to myself, "British?!... No she's Italian and from NYC, dummies". What the hey? Of course, they could've been talking about someone else, though. I could hear the opening band (whom I now know to be Semi Precious Weapons) playing on the other side of the bricks. Plenty of time here. I walked around a bit taking pictures before making my way in.
Posted signs at the doors read among other things, "No cameras or recording devices". I will say that although I had my camera in a hidden pocket, this was still the easiest venue to ever sneak a camera into even had i not! They didn't even really check anything. I had bulges in every pocket. The lady frisked me in less than a second, then let me go. She didn't even ask what the biggest bulge was under my jacket left side. I said after I was already practically through, "binoculars... that's binoculars". It didn't matter, she was already waving me by. Wow, simply too easy. And my ticket had already passed the checker as well. I’m thinking now it must have had something to do with Gaga’s people allowing cameras, but off-the-record sort of. I entered into a swarming lobby of patrons hanging around and getting drinks. Very nice building with intricate, ornate walls, ceilings, chandeliers, and staircases. I'd never been inside until now. I had no cash with me, and that was probably a good thing. Beers were $7-something, and mixed drinks were $9-something. Had I known that, I might've grabbed a drink outside first, but despite security being so easy to get through, I figured I still didn't want to risk going back out and in again. Also I found a trick to avoid the long lines for drinks, guys. Go upstairs to the first level balconies. There are bars hidden in the walls like closets. I went there and talked to the bartender. It was a full-fledged bar like all the others, but no line. She said, "Nobody comes here cuz I'm in a closet". I responded, "That's a good thing! [for me]". But once I heard those prices, I was done anyway. Too bad.
I made my way up to my seat, first walking up many stairs. The balcony in this venue goes up at a high angle, so everybody can see, by looking down. I was in the 2nd Balcony (way up there) on the right side, Row Y, on the aisle. Not a bad seat at all, well for the price anyway. "Not bad", I said to my neighbor, who agreed. And everybody had cameras, everybody. If not, then iPhones or camera phones. It was really just nuts with all these devices in hand and security doing absolutely nothing about it, the way it should be, actually. As far as ages in the crowd, I would say the average fan was in their 20s here, some younger, some older, but that's about it.
Kid Cudi came on shortly after I arrived. He was 2nd act. I immediately threw in my ear plugs when I heard how loud it all was. It was funny nobody really had them here. After many a time suffering from ringing ears for 3 days after concerts, I finally succumbed to putting them in and looking a little weird while doing so. It's worth it. At a previous concert one guy once asked me, "But with those how can you hear anything?!". I explained to him, "Oh no no no, it's not like that at all. You can still hear everything, just that now I have my own volume control [by how deep or not you put them in]". He nodded, but hopefully understood. Anyway, Kid Cudi rapped some songs, then when he started to sing "Day 'N' Nite", I really knew whom he was now. I think that's a great song and actually heard it on the radio on my drive to the T this evening. Once Cudi left the stage, the house lights came on, and Michael Jackson's music began to fill the room. It must've been about 8:45 pm now. Show started at 7:30 pm. I got in about 8 pm, then Kid Cudi came on about 8:15 probably. Lady Gaga should be out no later than 9:15 then. And I had called the venue in the afternoon, asking the show's end time, to decide whether I could take the T or not. The lady had said it ends at 11 pm. Ok, so since last T is just after midnight, we should be all good here.
Actually, after writing all this, I had gone back to the venue's website (citicenter.org) and noticed that they had added in band times, something I hadn't seen at the time I had been looking for my ticket.
the Wang Theatre
12/01/09 at 7:30pm
12/02/09 at 7:30pm
International pop superstar Lady Gaga kicks off her North American tour "The Monster Ball" in Boston at the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre with Kid Cudi and Semi Precious Weapons opening the shows.
'The Monster Ball' is a multimedia artistic experience in the style of the first-ever 'pop electro opera.'"
Lady Gaga released a re-package of her breakthrough album, The Fame,
called The Fame Monster, on November 23. The re-package includes eight brand new songs, including the club-banging first single "Bad Romance."
7:30-7:50 pm - Semi Precious Weapons
8:05-8:35 pm - Kid Cudi
9:00-11:00 pm - Lady Gaga"
Note that they are incorrect about her kicking off her North American tour in Boston, though. She actually had some shows in Canada just prior.
Anyway, it was Michael Jackson song after Michael Jackson song. There were two African-American girls in the center balcony area who were creating quite the storm dancing at their seats. They were doing wild moves, etc., and attracting a lot of attention. They pretty much became the waiting act. You could see everybody turned towards them, hundreds of people forming a big area ring around them while all still in their seats, too. It was amazing. Some guards came to stand by and be a presence but didn't bother the patrons. Good move, guys. So they didn't bother them as long as they were staying at their seats, I guess. There were some who wanted to join in the fun by dancing with them at the aisles, but they didn't last long before being escorted back to their seats by security. Keep the aisles clear I guess is always a rule, and rightly so. The dancers soon got tired and stopped anyway, though. Still, Michael Jackson kept spinning. Then an African-American guy dressed up as Lady Gaga [transvestite] proceeded up the stairs right near me in my balcony area. He was a big hit. People kept taking pictures with him and wouldn't let him go. At this point I will say that there were a lot of gay guys at this show in general. So Gaga has a strong fan base in that sense as well. There was a girl dressed up as Gaga who took a picture with him, too. From now on, I’m going to call these people “Gagabees”. I haven’t heard the word yet, so perhaps I’m the first to coin it? I haven’t checked any of the boards, though, so can't be certain.
Anyway, it was a very, very long wait. What the heck was going on?! Was she sick or something? After what seemed like an eternity, some girl announcer came on stage to rev up the crowd, "Lady Gaga was just nominated for a Grammy!", she bellowed, followed by, "She's gettin' ready to come out right now, so sit tight", or something to that effect anyway. But now, this was like already 45 minutes after she was already supposed to be out. About 15 minutes later, the house lights went dark and everybody got up and cheered. The stage was lit up. This lasted about 2 minutes, before the house lights came back on again. Huh? Everybody sat down again and boo'ed. Was this show going on or not? I was already thinking "ticket refund" to myself and how would I do it. But what about all these other people who paid way more than face value? Would they get screwed in the process? Or maybe they would just reschedule the whole thing. Yeah, that would be better. But then all these people were already here spending their night. Geez. The guy sitting next to me was like, "What are we gonna get... 2 songs?". More Michael Jackson came on. Even with Michael's vast resume of songs, I was thinking they would soon run out of those, too. Then what? Anyway, about 10:15 pm it must've been, the house lights went dark again, the stage lit up, and this time it was for real.
Everybody stood up, yelling and screaming. Lady Gaga was appearing on stage amidst smoke, screen, and bright, strobing lights. I took some initial video, then switched to my binoculars. Now these binocs easily increased the value of my seat by 100%. Being in the balcony and with no big screens to look at, they helped to a great extent. I could see her very close, even down to it looking like her heels were too big for her feet. Were they? Anyway, I was surprised nobody bugged me to borrow them as in previous concerts. I guess taking them out while it's already dark can help in this matter. So Gaga did her thing, a lot of dancing, with a great set of 10 backup dancers, and she changed costumes and backdrops for quite a few of the songs. They put up avant-garde type video interludes on the stage screens in between songs. She hit on all her #1 hit songs: "Just Dance", "Poker Face", "LoveGame", and "Paparazzi". She also performed her newest song "Bad Romance" which is #2 right now, approaching her 5th #1. And I was happy she did the full version of "Poker Face" as well. She had done the piano acoustic one prior, so I wasn't sure if she was going to do both or not. She did some other songs I guess off her new album (I don't know them all yet), and also a couple other piano pieces. This is where her true singing voice came out, actually. And that said, I'm quite sure a few of the other songs were lip-synched as well. I'm always a fan of live, but sometimes when they're dancing so much, don't they have to do it that way? She also did a cool duet with Kid Cudi. It was nice to see them performing together while on tour together. I took a few video clips in general, but then ran out of memory card space about halfway through the concert. Actually, I had brought only a 256 Meg SD card purposely to avoid spending too much time with the camera. That way, I could be forced to rather enjoy the show (for once). Also I know the quality is low here on my photo and video clips of the stage, but if I tried tinkering with my camera settings to get it better, then I'm sure I would've missed a bulk of the show in the process.
My quick take of the evening in photos and video clips...
Gaga also talked to us in between quite a bit, too. It's always nice when they come down [to Earth] and try to relate to the audience. She mentioned New York, and I was the only one cheering amidst a bunch of Red Sox fans who decided to boo her. Sure it's ok to be a die-hard Red Sox fan, but when you boo the star you're supposedly a fan of just because she hails from New York, that makes you a knuckle-head Red Sox fan. She also said her mother was in the audience, and that her dad would be at the next show on her tour, which would be in Camden, NJ the next night. She also apologized for coming out late. Let's see well over one hour late, my god, that is bad. She also mentioned she's just been nominated for 5 Grammys! That is such great news. I'm just hoping that that's not the reason she made us wait a whole extra hour and fifteen minutes for her to come out! I did verify with TV Guide afterwards to see that the Grammy announcements did happen to be right during the time she was supposed to be on our stage:
12/2/09, 9-10 pm, CBS
"Grammy Nominations Concert Live!---Countdown to Music's Biggest Night
Nominations for the 2010 Grammy Awards are announced in several key categories. LL Cool J hosts the hour, which includes performances by the Black Eyed Peas, Sugarland, Maxwell, and the debut of Nick Jonas and the Administration, singing "Who I Am." Broadcast from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. (CC)"
Coincidence or not?, hmmm. Not good, if not. If anything, they should’ve just broadcast that on the screen where we could all watch it live with her. Now that would've been something, instead of being bored the whole time.
Gaga also made it a point that it was all about the fans, multiple times. Great gal, so far. I won't say much more about the concert itself, other than that it was a blast. For just starting out on her own big tour (and yes, agreed good move for dissing Kanye West's headlining tour), she certainly has gotten the hang of things fast. I don't want to spoil it for all the rest of her stops on the tour (and again, after all, these two Boston show dates are the first shows of her American tour), but I will just say it's a dazzling treat, very colorful, artsy, and lots of stylish dancing. Also note some very skimpy outfits and some very, very dirty dancing moves. She also played the piano while standing up on the chair and leaning over, as well as at one point having her feet on the keys as well. Again, thanks to my binoculars for giving me all the details here. And Gaga really closely resembles Madonna here more than anybody else, and I said this to myself before reading any of the news articles that have been saying the same thing. I'm also a fan of Gwen Stefani, but she's different. Gaga is totally more like Madonna. It's the individuality, the strong pop/dance grooves, the sexuality, the rough-toughness, the cursing of the audience, overall confidence in herself, and even down to the gay following. It can be hard to put into words, but it's all there. And she's got the stuff to take her to the next level as well.
So as the show progressed, it was getting later and later. This is where the stress set in, for everybody. Not just that I was barely going to make the last T back, if at all, but even before that people had to start to leave early. These included mothers with their young daughters, people who had to work early the next day, etc. I even felt bad for the couple sitting next to me who had to leave early as well. I myself wanted to stay to see the whole show, too, and was probably stubborn enough to miss the last T for that as well. On her last song, Gaga and all her dancers bowed to the audience, and it looked like it was over. Encore had already passed, so people started to flee the joint. Only thing, though, was that the lights stayed low, and then more visuals started to come on the screens. Oh no, it's not over after all?! I waited now at the back of the upper balcony, watching for anything else. Another avant-garde movie bit came on. These were great, by the way, but harder to appreciate when in a hurry. I watched that last one, and then all the house lights finally came on. Ok, she wouldn't be taking the stage again after all. Then I said to myself, "Ha!, so that's her exit strategy", i.e. for getting out of the building alive. Anyway, it was now 12:15 am. Her concert had run the full 2 hours. I guess that's better than cutting material out, though! Hopefully this would all work out in the end. The last Ts usually run sometime between 12 midnight and 1 am, depending on the train and the day. Really it's not something you want to fool around with, though. The idea is always to be there by at least midnight or not much thereafter.
Leaving this venue was nuts, as there were just mobs of people everywhere. And there's at least 3 sets of separate staircases to get down from the 2nd balcony, too. It was all very tight and slow-moving. I was thinking if there was a fire in here, this would be hellish. Nobody would get out of there in time. All they have are those front doors. It took 5-10 minutes to get out, even weaving in and out between people and finding shortcuts, one of my strong points. On the way out I passed by the bars and then those expensive souvenir booths. $35 for a concert t-shirt, was it?! Been there, done that. Don't need to do it again. And some of the dancers were off to the side in a roped-off area signing autographs and taking pictures. I passed by them quickly as well. I needed to get to that damn T! It was raining outside. Even if I did happen to have the time to check the stage door for her exit, she'd be whisked out anyhow in the rain. Or she was probably already on the bus anyway, or perhaps even gone. No point then. I ran in a mad rush to the T station dodging cars. I even went down the wrong staircase. Needed Outbound, not Inbound. Went back out and around again, barely making it for the last trains. It must've been about 12:30 am now. The station was mobbed with Gaga show people. Within a few minutes, all the last trains came by, with people filling them up, one after the other. My train came, too. So made it just in time.
So in the end, was it worth the ticket price? For me, yes! How about even at a little higher price for my same seat? Yes. But much higher than that and you'd be pushing it.
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