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Lady Gaga's SXSW Antics Get Bizarre... Even for Lady Gaga

Lyndsey Parker
Maximum Performance
March 14, 2014

Oh, you thought Lady Gaga's meat dress at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards was bizarre? Think again.

The star's stunt- and shtick-filled career certainly hasn't gone vegetarian since, judging from her meaty Thursday performance at Austin, Texas's South By Southwest festival. However, there was one part of her bizarre-even-by-Gaga-standards SXSW gig that probably made even the audience's most iron-stomached carnivores lose their appetites.

The night kicked off normally enough (for Gaga, anyway) with the star's visit to "Jimmy Kimmel Live," arriving in a puffy, white dress made of coffee filters. "I really just wanted to be comfortable for the interview," she explained.

But when showtime came later in the evening, Mother Monster was clearly not looking to make her audience comfortable.

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After an opening number featuring an enigmatic brunette suggestively eating sausages alone onstage (it was a sausage fest! literally!), Gaga made her grand entrance at Stubb's BBQ shortly after 10 p.m., belting out "Aura" while rotating on a giant barbeque spit, as her minions attended to her roasting flesh with basting brushes.

So, typical Gaga, then...

But soon, Gaga would be basted in another, much less appealing sort of liquid.

After an entertainingly punk-rock "MANiCURE" (during which the newly dreadlocked, proudly "unshowered" Gaga showered the crowd with Austin beer and sausage links), and a surprise appearance by Twista on "Jewels 'n' Drugs," it was time for another collaboration. This time it was "Swine," with a spooky London painter named Millie Brown.

But Millie wasn't just any sort of painter. Millie was a…VOMIT PAINTER.

Fans should've known something was up when Gaga prepared for this wild number by covering her barely-there black bikini with a Sweeney Todd-worthy apron. Then, as Gaga bashed a drum kit during the angry anthem (introduced as being about "rape and rage"), Millie guzzled a large jug of neon fluid. And then, Millie vomited on Lady Gaga. Yes, really.

Thirsty for more, so to speak, Gaga and her ill sidekick then straddled a scary mechanical bull (well, actually, it was a mechanical pig) that looked like something straight out of a David Cronenberg flick. And a seemingly motion-sickness-stricken Millie continuted her performance art, spilling an inky, staining black liquid all over Gaga's torso. (Watch the NSFW performance here.)

At this point, executives behind this show's very conspicuous corporate sponsor, Doritos, were probably having second thoughts about this whole partnership. Because chances were no one in the audience was ever going to want to eat anything Cool Ranch-flavored again, after watching this icky spectacle.

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There were moments of the show that were decidedly more pleasant. There was a countrified, fiddler-assisted version of "Bad Romance" (the only pre-"ARTPOP" song on Gaga's setlist) that didn't quite work, but was still a cute and well-meaning homage to the Texan surroundings. There was "Monsters for Life," a sweet a cappella ode to Gaga's dear old friends Semi-Precious Weapons, the Dirty Pearls, and Lady Starlight, the latter two of which had opened for Gaga's SXSW show. And there was an emotional dedication of "Gypsy" to victims of the previous night's horrific hit-and-run tragedy, during which she said, "We all just want to have a good time and suck every bit of love we can out of life, and it's so short sometimes, and it's unfair. So I think we should take this one moment where we put our phones away and just look at each other, right now in the moment."

[Related: Musicians React to SXSW Hit-and-Run Accident]

But in many ways, the hourlong concert left a bad taste in some people's mouths (no pun intended) and reeked (OK, pun intended) of trying too hard. Was this the career moment when Lady Gaga, who is also set to deliver the South By Southwest conference's keynote speech on Friday, hopped on a figurative mechanical pig and jumped right over the proverbial shark? Probably not… but this weird show probably won't do much for "ARTPOP's" slagging sales. Or for Doritos' sales, of course.

Lady Gaga's full Stubb's BBQ setlist was:
"Jewels 'n' Drugs" (with Twista)
"Swine" (with Millie Brown)
"Bad Romance" (country version)
"Monster for Life"

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