Lady Gaga's fans are legion, and many of them are part of the tween set. We went straight to the source -- fourth-grader Clara, 10 -- for our first review of Tuesday's Monster Ball at the Viejas Arena at San Diego State -- Ed.
SoundDiego: So tell me about [opening band] the Scissor Sisters:
Clara: They were really good and they were from my birthplace, so that might have increased how much I like them, but they were poppy, they were enthusiastic and they were cool. I liked their music; I liked how they were out there. They weren't trying to blend in. They were trying to make themselves look different. They didn't try to be like Lady Gaga perfect, poppy, you know? They tried to be their own.
SoundDiego: What about Lady Gaga? Did you like the show?
Clara: I loved it, but I got really weirded out because at the end she still hadn't played "Paparazzi" or "Bad Romance," then she plays "Paparazzi" and the curtain goes down and I think, "That's it," and I'm shocked. Then she comes back out in a spinning ball that's red and what other colors I can't remember, and starts singing "Bad Romance." Then, as we were leaving, she did the [full] version of "Born This Way," which was a phenomenal song. Give my regards to her for that song.
She played "Born This Way" twice -- once she herself was the pianist and the other time she was the singer.... I kind of liked the piano [version] better. I liked the piano way because it had a lot more expression. When you're singing, you're singing, but when you're creating the music, it's just a different thing. [Whispers] Next question.
SoundDiego: What did you notice most about Gaga?
Clara: I noticed -- it was very odd, actually -- she said she had been bullied her entire life, and what I noticed most was that she's a brave person, and she's a kind, charitable person, and I've never seen a performance by her, so there was no way I could have known that.
SoundDiego: What were some of the best songs she played?
Clara: I don't know if it's just the ones I knew, because I knew them, were "Born This Way," "Bad Romance," "Paparazzi" and "Pokerface."
SoundDiego: What did you think about Lady Gaga's band?
Clara: Lady Gaga's band is phenomenal. She has highly trained musicians, including herself, and her dancers are amazing. I've only been dancing for five years, but I can tell they are amazing, and they have obviously had classical-dance training, along with many, many other types.
SoundDiego: What about the outfits? What did you like?
Clara: I loved her outfits. I don't see who couldn't. They were unique, funny and yet a tiny bit practical in the sense that they were actually wearable, which, for Lady Gaga, you know, is better than a dress made of steak. The best? The "Pokerface" outfit was very, very good. It was kind of black tights over cool high heels with a black bra and a kind of funky vest. The "Tear My Heart Out" was very good. It was just a bra, underwear and, again, black tights, but she the blood and the special effects, so that definitely made that noticeable. And then, for some of the other ones, I recognized the costumes actually from her music videos. For "Paparazzi," she used the fire bra she used for the music video of "Bad Romance," and that was definitely weird.
SoundDiego: What was your favorite part: The music, the costumes, the dancers?
Clara: I kind of liked when she talked, so you could -- it's kind of interesting, because you always think of stars as people with a lot of money, you know? And it was amazing, because she donated $20,000 to her favorite charity because somebody picked up the phone in the audience.... About halfway through the show, she picked up her phone, called someone in the audience, and someone picked up, and she said, "Well, thanks for picking up, because if the person I call picks up, I give $20,000 [actually, tour sponsor Virgin Mobile makes the donation] to my favorite charity, which is the charity for the homeless [and the LGBT community]. It was very, very nice.
SoundDiego: What else did she talk about with the audience?
Clara: She talked about how at the performance you could be free, you could be who you wanted to be. She talked about how she had been bullied, and, like, her mom told her one day she would build her a stage and she would sing on it. She reminded us that all of us could build our stage.
She talked about her new album, which is coming out. She played us a new song, which is called "You and Me" [actually, the song -- and the album -- are called "You and I"] ... she played it on the piano, so it was very, very good.
SoundDiego: Did Lady Gaga do anything you didn't like?
Clara: I didn't like when she swore, because an artist should know that swearing is just a word. It may express something, but there are more things you could say instead of, "You, San Diego, are 'beep.' You could say "You, San Diego, are the most fantastical people I've ever met. You're supportive and wonderful," instead of just swearing, because it makes it a lot more meaningful.
SoundDiego: Was there anything else you didn't like?
Clara: One thing is when she kind of stopped a song and then started it again, and also when the curtain came down [a large, curved piece of white fabric spanning the width of the arena, on which still and moving images were projected while Gaga and the performers conducted quick-changes and sets were switched out].
I suppose that was necessary, but it was very, like, "Is it over now?" The curtain was pretty, but it was a bit annoying.... I liked the element of mystery, of, "What was going to be behind it?"
SoundDiego: Did you like what was being projected on it?
Clara: Sometimes yes, but your heart beating and you swallowing the blood? Not so much.