Lady Gaga returns to South Florida for two concerts (one at the BankAtlantic Center this Tuesday and another at the American Airlines Arena the next day) almost exactly three years after her impromptu gig at Bill's Filling Station where she performed for perhaps 50 people. At the AAA, she will perform for nearly 20,000. And the show comes at a weird moment in Gaga's career. It's one of the final performances of the 18-month Monster Ball tour, and her new album, Born This Way, is still a month away. Its title track has come and gone from the airwaves. Unlike her previous work, it was earnest — a ready-made gay anthem meant to bolster the flagging egos of self-loathing gay kids in places like Nebraska and Tennessee. It contained no obvious artifice. Fame, it seems, has given Gaga a sufficiently monstrous ego to sing what's really on her mind, and what's on her mind is depressingly normal. "God makes no mistakes" is one of that track's many stacked banalities, and it's nice to hear if you're a closeted American eighth-grader, maybe. But growing up, Stefani Germanotta was never a closeted eighth-grader. Her whole life experience to this point seems to have made her an expert on precisely two things: a desire for stardom, and the construction of provocative art. (In college, Germanotta wrote an 80-page treatise on Damien Hirst.) When she sings about the former, or plays around with the latter, no one can touch her.

There is no surviving record of Gaga's appearance at Bill's Filling Station. But there is a video of her concert at Winter Music Conference a few days later. It's daytime and sunny, and there's Stefani Germanotta with her two dancers, backs to the camera, and a DJ cranking up the intro to "Filthy Dirty Rich." When Germanotta spins around, she's a pure pro, mugging like crazy, moving with an ease that would disappear temporarily when she graduated to bigger stages a few weeks later. Everything about her performance screams: I am a rock star!

Gaga makes a stadium-size return to SoFla.
Mariano Vivanco
Gaga makes a stadium-size return to SoFla.

Location Info


American Airlines Arena

601 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33131

Category: Attractions and Amusement Parks

Region: Downtown/Overtown


8 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, at the American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 786-777-1000; Tickets cost $52.50 to $178 plus fees via

But she's not. Near the end of the song, the camera pans to the right and we see the faces of the spectators. They're bemused. A woman in the foreground, not five feet from Germanotta, looks hostile. Germanotta must have noticed, but she gave no sign. She was not singing to this small crowd. She was singing to the cameras, to the millions of little monsters beyond the lens, who on that day in 2008 only she could see.

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