At her July headlining debut at Madison Square Garden, Gaga showed her gratitude by dedicating songs to her father, her fans, her native New York City and her friends. "My name is Lady Gaga, and I used to sit right over there, way far in the back and way up top," she said, pointing towards the nosebleed seats. "So, every second you watch me on this stage, you remember I was sitting where you are."
"We did it, little monsters," she told the crowd after the night's closing number, "Bad Romance." "We made it to Madison Square Garden. Thank you for making my dream come true."
In August, Gaga used the Phoenix stop of her tour to speak out against Arizona's controversial immigration law SB 1070, mincing no words as she told thousands of her screaming fans to "actively protest prejudice and injustice."
"I got a phone call from a couple really big rock 'n' rollers, big pop stars, big rappers, and they said, 'We'd like you to boycott Arizona...because of SB 1070,' " Gaga told the crowd. "And I said, 'You really think that us dumb fucking pop stars are going to collapse the economy of Arizona?'" Gaga's stance contrasted with that of The Sound Strike, an organized effort by dozens of artists, including Rage Against the Machine's Zack de La Rocha, to refuse live gigs in the state until SB 1070 is repealed.
"I'll tell you what we have to do about SB 1070," Gaga said. "We have to be active. We have to actively protest, and the nature of the Monster Ball is to actively protest prejudice and injustice, and the bullshit that is put on our society."
"I will not cancel my show," the star continued. "I will yell, and I will scream louder, and I will hold you, and we will hold each other, and we will peaceably protest this state. Do not be afraid, because if it wasn't for all of you immigrants, this country wouldn't have shit."
In between her official tour stops, there were also memorable one-off performances. On May 13, Gaga teamed up with Elton John at New York's Carnegie Hall for the annual Rainforest Fund benefit show, hosted by Sting. John joined Gaga onstage for a second go at their 2010 Grammy Awards duet, gliding from her own piano ballad, "Speechless," to one of his classics, "Your Song." The night was capped off with a star-studded group of performers -- including Gaga, John and Sting, as well as Bruce Springsteen and Blondie's Deborah Harry -- singing Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'." At John's White Tie and Tiara Ball on June 24, Gaga unveiled a new song, "You and I," that she'd later add to her Monster Ball setlist. Gaga described the song as "a bit of a rock 'n' roll tune" and performed it in signature theatrical fashion, pounding the song out on piano with her stiletto boots.
On August 6, Gaga brought her Monster Ball to Lollapalooza in Chicago and became the festival's most-talked about headliner. Her first Lollapalooza performance had been on a small side stage in 2007, where she received more than a few bewildered stares and was unapologetically called a "trainwreck." Three years later, wearing the same silver-jeweled bra she wore at that first performance, she wasn't going to let anyone forget where she started. "I had no record deal. No one believed in me," she said, tearing up. "But we did it. Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart, for coming to this show tonight."
Her two-hour set was high drama and, unsurprisingly, not quite appropriate for the younger Gaga fans seated on their parents' shoulders, as she mused, "I don't know if you've heard, but I have a pretty tremendous dick -- so get your dicks out!"
Earlier in the day, Gaga made a flashy cameo during a set by Semi Precious Weapons, diving from the stage into the crowd wearing torn fishnets, flesh-colored shorts and hardly anything else, to the delight of her fans. When she wasn't singing, dancing, or soaking herself in blood during her own set, Gaga testified about her struggles with self-esteem and her rough start in the music biz. "I didn't used to be brave," she said. "I was made fun of in school. I got told 'No,' but you have made me brave, little monsters. I'm gonna be brave for you."
Reporting by Ray Waddell, Mariel Concepcion, Laura Leebove, Monica Herrera, David J. Prince and Courtney Baldasare