Why We're Excited For Lady Gaga's Dive Bar Shows: A 'Joanne' Preview and a Return to Her Roots
The intimate run of dates previewing her new album starts tomorrow (Oct. 5).
Lady Gaga’s been arena-level for years. She’s even reached Super Bowl status in 2017, recently confirming a halftime performance on America's most widely watched night of television. But for now, she’s taking it back to the old school, with three small upcoming shows -- set for Oct. 5, 20 and 27 -- to be performed in intimate, and thus far (as of Oct. 4) undisclosed locations. That’s the essence of Gaga’s Dive Bar tour, a (very) short run that kicks off Wednesday in support of her fifth studio album, Joanne.
Out Oct. 21, Joanne channels a “raw Americana” vibe, which Lady Gaga promises will bridge country, pop, funk and more; a departure of sorts that sees her looking backward in order to move forward. The album, like her father’s New York City restaurant, is named after Gaga’s aunt Joanne Germanotta, who passed away from Lupus in 1974 at the age of 19. Gaga’s latest effort is showing us her more emotional side -- building on personal connection, rather than performance, for her fans and for herself.
Finding a way to bring people together is important to her. ”This record was about me trying to understand my father, and his grief," she explains in a statement. "It's also a record about me trying to understand myself and wondering where I'm going next in life. Because truly, the thing that I'm searching for the most is to feel connected to humanity, to feel connected as a person. So Joanne is like, you know, Lady Gaga if you erase all the fame."
Watch Lady Gaga perform at NYU during the mid-2000s:
So let’s take away the fandom, the shock element, the superstar stature: Underneath is dark-haired Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, who was not handed fame on a silver platter. Quitting New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (where she was studying music) to follow her lifelong passion, Gaga worked three jobs just to make ends meet, one of which was go-go dancing. She immersed herself in neo-burlesque culture, putting on “Lady Gaga and the Starlight Revue" -- a pop-burlesque fusion rock show, with her performance partner Lady Starlight -- at small clubs throughout the city. And long before her name was ever associated with fame, Gaga’s success rate auditioning for New York City shows was at an all-time low.
Watch Gaga perform with Lady Starlight at Lollapalooza in 2007:
That’s the original Lady Gaga -- someone who will stand on a tiny stage in a tiny bar three feet from your face and sing right into your eyes -- and that’s the person she’s bringing back now. She’s taking Joanne’s “raw Americana” makeup and breaking it apart by hunkering down in America’s most American bars, thanks to a partnership with the country's best-selling beer, Bud Light.
So what can we really expect? A simple Lady Gaga stripped away of the things that make her famous: her elaborate stage production, her out-of-this-world outfits, her army of dancers. It’ll just be Stefani, maybe holding an acoustic guitar, sitting on a stage in a quiet bar with mediocre speakers and even-more mediocre drinks. No frills, no strings attached.
While the bar audiences will be made up of concert winners, a sneak peek of select album tracks will be part of four TV spots airing nationally this month. During the three stops, Gaga will be performing the album’s lead single “Perfect Illusion,” along with the yet-unreleased track “Million Reasons.” Tomorrow’s performance is going to be streamed live via the Bud Light Facebook page, as will the next two shows on Oct. 20 and 27.
And if you’re pining for louder guitars, a bigger stage, better speakers (and, well, the same drinks) -- there’s always that other concert Gaga announced this month.