Lady Gaga’s Chromatica Ball offers an ‘Enigma’ in nation’s capital

The powerhouse entertainer is spending the summer with her Little Monsters

Lady Gaga has spent most of her life as a superstar. And that shows no sign of ending. In fact, if her Monday night show (Aug 8th) in Washington, DC is any indication, her endearment to her fans only grows with each new album. It was the North American kick off to her Chromatica Ball Tour.

The Chromatica Ball is a limited summer stadium tour in support of Chromatica, her cyberpunk-inspired sixth studio album released in May 2020. Remember those pink and green Oreos we were OBSESSED with during lockdown? Yeah. That album.

The literal diversity of the crowd was more varied than one might expect for one who rose to fame in the 2010’s, when Millennials were clamoring for an artist that spoke up for their individuality. Gaga somehow transcended being a voice and vision of the marginalized, and became a beloved cultural icon. Everybody from gays to grannies turned out 40,000 strong at Nationals Park to see Gaga belt out old and new hits.

Hearing “Poker Face” and “Telephone” live, they have a surprising hard rock edge. Gaga and her stellar band know how to arrange so that these numbers that register poppier on records don’t sound canned when live. But Gaga is at her most powerful when delivering her pointed story-led ballads, like “Always Remember Us This Way,” and “Shallow,” both from her film A Star is Born, the movie that cemented her legacy as a Liza or Streisand-like Icon. Both the latter songs were performed on the B-stage. Nosebleeders rejoice: Gaga spends over 30 minutes on a very tall stage toward the back of the park.

However, by the time she reached the new slow number “1000 Doves,” her third in a row, the crowd was begging to rock again. The lively group next to me said, “We need to up these BPMs!” meaning beats per minute! She thankfully obliged, offering “Fun Time” and “Enigma.”

Of course, the entire show — especially the first few “Acts” — are heavy on theatricality. No longer interested in shocking with meat dresses or confounding with birthing eggs, the show offered stylized segments replete with tight dance moves, intricate costumes, and maybe an antennae or two.

The showstopper of the night was the song that has become her signature, and her mission statement as an artist: “Born this Way.” All that can be said without spoiling the surprise is: Wow. Just. Wow.

There’s not much that can be said about Lady Gaga that hasn’t already been said. She has gone from shock and awe in her early days, to a classy woman with a jazz act and a close relationship with crooner Tony Bennett. Lady Gaga now seems to revel in striking a balance between aesthetic-driven artist and thought-evoking musician. And it is a journey that her most devoted “Little Monsters” have eagerly taken with her.

At the end of the night, Gaga said, “I hope you don’t leave here loving me more, but leave here loving yourself more.” But it was clear, Gaga left DC loving both.

Now, where did I put those Chromatica Oreos…

Matt Bailey
Matt Bailey

Matt Bailey is podcast producer and writer located in the Northeast. Since 2013, Bailey has produced more than 160 episodes of his own online radio show, Talk For Two. In 2016 alone, he interviewed Kevin Bacon, Crystal Gayle, Bob Barker, and Gilbert Gottfried, among several other stars. As a Correspondent for The Music Universe, his focus is Broadway, country music and concert reviews.