AUSTIN, Texas – Lady Gaga kicked off 24 hours in the spotlight at South By Southwest in typically memorable fashion.
The 27-year-old pop provocateur began her appearance at Stubb’s BBQ on Thursday night during the annual music festival and conference by appearing to be roasted on a spit like a gutted pig as her dancers basted her with barbecue brushes – and then things got really weird.
Part S&M sex club homage, part affirmational session, the show included moments meant to provoke and others meant to inspire.
Gaga began the evening by taping a segment on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in which she wore a puffy white dress complete with a huge hat that mostly obscured her face. By the time she hit Stubb’s a little after 10, she’d stripped down to a black bikini on an unusually chilly night at the outdoor venue. She was to finish her moment at SXSW when she was set to give the conference’s keynote speech Friday.
Gaga’s set began with an attractive woman eating barbecued sausages in a provocative manner. Soon after completing the smoked meats portion of her hour-long show, Gaga invited friend Millie Brown onstage to assist on “Swine.” Brown, a “vomit painter,” proceeded to drink a full bottle of neon green liquid before forcing herself to throw up on the singer as she played drums.
The pair then climbed aboard a mechanical bull-like pig equipped with a ball gag and a keyboard. Gaga straddled Brown atop the pig and played the keys as they bucked in circles. Brown then painted Gaga with a black liquid that stained the singer’s skin throughout the performance.
The entire show wasn’t meant to titillate, however. There were moments aimed at inspiration.
“I love my fans because they always let me be myself and they don’t care what anybody says,” Gaga told the crowd.
A little while later she set up her somber song “Dope” with a self-reflective moment.
“It’s so much easier to be yourself than it is to be somebody else,” she told the crowd as she played melancholy notes on the piano. “Because then you have to pretend to be someone else and like things that you don’t like and do stuff that you don’t want to do.”