The spectacle of Lady Gaga is almost as intriguing as her music. The lady born Stefani Joanne Germanotta cut her teeth in New York City's Lower East Side clubs and at burlesque shows, where she honed her flamboyant sexuality, outrageous fashion sense and theatrical moves. These characteristics elevate her music above the pop-tart fray, although she dominated radio last year with avant-techno, forward-thinking pop hits such as "Paparazzi," "Poker Face" and "LoveGame." (The latter put the term "disco stick" into the mainstream.) Gaga's new eight-song album, The Fame Monster, is a grower in the very best sense of the term. "Alejandro" is a cross between Ace of Base's "Don't Turn Around" and Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" (that's a good thing), while "Monster" and "Dance in the Dark" are stomping bits of cheesy goth-techno (also a good thing). More interesting is Monster's closer, "Teeth," a steamy cabaret strut that underscores Gaga's nuance and versatility. Reports from her current headlining tour — a spectacle full of costume changes and elaborate choreography — cement prevailing wisdom that she's a performance artist as much as she is a performer. After original opener Kid Cudi left the tour in mid-December, Gaga wisely kept on her recent warm-up act (and kindred souls) Semi Precious Weapons. The outlandish NYC band, fronted by Justin Tranter, specializes in sleazy urban-glam and hip-swerving rock riffs — all delivered with a sassy, take-no-prisoners attitude. A new album, produced by Jack Joseph Puig (Rolling Stones, Green Day), is due later this year. Jason Derulo also opens.
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