BY MARK BIEGANSKI
The last time the newest mistress of pop music performed in Chicago, she was almost arrested for prancing around town in hot pants.
But during Tuesday night's sold-out double performance at the House of Blues, Lady Gaga had no qualms about going sans pants -- a signature staple that's followed her from the interview circuit to the dance stage.
Gaga kicked off her 11-song set with "Paparazzi" -- the third single from her debut album "The Fame."
While some may say she is nothing more than a regurgitated mix of pop queens Christina Aguilera and Gwen Stefani who came before her, Gaga showed she's more than a dancing lyric box. She's someone who can sing and put on a choreographed show but doesn't become overwhelmed by doing both.
If you've been to one pop music concert in the Britney Spears genre, you've been to them all: over-sized arenas, theatrics to distract from the fact the singer usually isn't singing and an artist's usually non-compelling relationship with its audience.
But that's not how it was for Gaga's concert.
Fans -- including myself -- knew what they were signing up for before Gaga's show: an hour-plus dance party to the tune of some of her chart-topping singles, including "Just Dance" and "Poker Face."
"My name is Lady Gaga and I've got no money because I've spent it all on my show," she said. "But tonight, Windy City, I feel beautiful and dirty rich."
But the sex-charged lyrics and rhythm that attracted many to her breakout hits carry through the rest of her songs and show that her album is actually pretty good.
Although Gaga is relatively new to the overcrowded pop music scene, she skillfully commanded her performance (literally at times with a lighted scepter) during her debut concert tour and early on showed there's a new diva on the scene to be reckoned with.
Surrounded by a trio of male dancers, her mysterious personality was reflected through a wardrobe use of scantily-clad leotards and outfits that made you think they were straight out of the '80s children's cartoon "The Jetsons."
Sporting a dress made of plastic bubbles, Gaga surprised the audience halfway through the show with an acoustic and showtunes-esque rendition of her hit "Poker Face" on a piano designed to look like her dress. At times, Gaga even used her foot to play the piano.
By mixing it up, one thing Gaga did prove is that her music and performance aren't always just a shuffle of pop-centric tunes that sometimes blend together in theme and sound. She can actually sing -- and isn't shy to show it.
BY KYLE KOSTER
I'll never forget the first time I heard Lady Gaga's music. I was waiting for a girl to get ready and the song "Poker Face" came across her stereo. The lyrics were laughable.
For heaven's sake, they talk about her "bluffin' with her muffin."
In short, she's kind of laughable.
On the other hand, it goes against everything in my nature to sit here and rail against an unbelievably gorgeous pop star performing her radio-friendly anthems to a packed house on an otherwise boring Tuesday night.
But, as wrong as it feels, I have to do it.
Lady Gaga, the wig-wearing, dance-inducing sex symbol responsible for such drunken anthems as "Just Dance" and "Poker Face," shimmied her svelte little body into the House of Blues Tuesday to prance, dance and sing in front of a full house. And, despite the neon-electric sex dripping from her every move, the pop star exhibited the lack of depth needed to make her a transcendent star.
In the first headlining tour of her young career, Gaga exhibited a lack of direction that could be expected from a jaw-dropping diva who has suddenly been asked to interject depth into an overwhelmingly superficial act.
The First Lady of mindless pop shook her perfectly formed backside as she sang forgettable Christina Aguilera-inspired songs to a riled up crowd before busting out her radio mega hits Tuesday night. And as everyone in attendance began to shake their inhibitions to the infectious "Just Dance," I couldn't help but notice that the pants-free babe was just that -- a pants-free babe.
Britney Spears and Christiana Aguilera have already conquered the too-sexy-for-school angle, but Lady Gaga is still tackling it.
Admittedly, the sold-out crowd seemed to enjoy the histrionics, but if you stripped down the already stripped-down Gaga's sexy show, would you find any true talent?
This is the question that plagued me as the 23-year-old gyrated her perfect body on stage. I wanted to like it. I wanted to get lost in her hips and uncovered thighs. But the superficiality of the entire experience hung over each hip swivel and booty-shake.
For one moment, we'll place artistic integrity aside. There is no doubt the overflow crowd at the intimate House of Blues enjoyed every dip and arched back, but these sexy moves only take an artist so far. For the meat-and-potatoes crowd, there was little sustenance in Lady Gaga's show.
Perhaps it's too much to ask of a woman who proudly hides her hand behind a stoic poker face, but it sure would have been nice to have some artistic ingenuity behind the sexy moves. For those looking to get lost in mindless lyrics and kinetic sex, the pop star delivered.
For those looking for anything more, she left them to play a losing hand.