Last night, June 6th, 2015, I attended my first Lana Del Rey concert. I had a lot of expectations for what it would like and for the most part I was completely wrong. Everything about the experience was unexpected, and not necessarily in a good way… but not necessarily bad either. But, before the Lanalites (or whatever they may be called – I made that up) attack, please put your claws down and/or unclench your pearls: I am not about to bash Ms. Del Slay.
My first expectation was for the crowd to be filled with a mixed bag of male and female, gay and straight, hipster 20-somethings… tipsy off alcohol or buzzed from some sort of drug, dressed in vintage finds from the thrift shop or Urban Outfitters; you know, basically Williamsburg.
But… that is not what I walked into, at all. Instead, I was met with teenage and barely 21 teenage white girls, adorned with flower headdresses (clearly, I missed the memo), usually arm-and-arm with their gay best friends; or simply with a gaggle of other white girls. I. Felt. Old. They were mostly still drunk, though, probably wearing stuff from Urban Outfitters (their outfits were wannabe Coachella chic), and during the show someone was smoking weed. Nothing against it, but I’d rather not catch a contact, dahhhlings.
Next, I must admit that I basically have never watched Lana give a live performance before so I really was unsure of what to expect from her. Her music is so atmospheric, moody, dramatic, heavily produced and… slow. Her band was wonderful; they truly sounded great, though they were unfortunately a bit too loud in comparison to Del Rey’s soft, often-mumbled vocals.
As for stage presence, I think I was expecting her to mope around the stage and lay strewn across a couch or just be as weird as most of her lyrics. On the contrary, I was pleased to find that she was rather, well, normal and dare I say, fun? She bopped around the stage (rather aimlessly, albeit) and grooved to her music. Though, my only complaint is that the lyrics (despite the fact that I knew most of them) were unintelligible and she frequently tossed the microphone to the crowd in what felt like “oops” moments of her not knowing the words herself. Funny, but, girl… I came to hear you sing, not these little girls.
What I am sure was exciting for all the little Lana lovers in the crowd was the fact that she performed “unreleased” (officially) tracks that I assume are fan favorites. These included “Serial Killer” and “Us Against the World,” as well as covers of “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” and “Why Don’t You Do Right?” – which I did not know, nor understand due to her tendency to Mumble Del Lyrics.
However, Lana came through tenfold when she responded to the fervent request of the crowd (myself included) and performed “Ride” – which is not normally part of the setlist – following “Born to Die,” “Ultraviolence” and “Summertime Sadness”. This latter half of the show, beginning with “Die,” was the better half of the show. On all of the aforementioned tracks, she sang clearly and it was all that I could have ever wanted from a Lana Del Rey concert experience. While I indeed got my life from her singing “my pussy tastes like Pepsi Cola” live, in front of my face, the rest of that performance was kind of lackluster. Though, in further effort to make us all gag (in the good way), she changed the lyrics of “Born to Die” from “let me kiss you hard in the pouring rain” to “let me fuck you hard in the pouring rain.” Needless to say, countless YASSSSSes ensued following this realization. On “Ride,” meanwhile, she understandably requested our help on some of the lyrics because, she explained, it had been a while since she performed it. At the end of “Ride,” she commented that it was “worth it” – an understatement, indeed; however, “Ride” came at a cost: “Brooklyn Baby” had been removed from the setlist.
She closed the show with “Video Games” and “Off to the Races” but not before singing the cover of “Why Don’t You Do Right?” while going to the general admission barricade to take selfies with fans and give autographs. It was a humble and humanizing moments from an artist who’s personality seems so detached from her theatrical and fantastical music. Both performances were highlights of the show, as well, but “Off to the Races” was especially epic.
Despite the numerous unfamiliar songs and the sometimes mumbled vocals, Lana Del Rey’s Endless Summer Tour was an enjoyable experience that I wish was indeed endless. Next time, I would love to see her experiment with some of her songs more by changing the tempo – perhaps a more uptempo moment in the setlist would break the monotony of the set. Alternatively, stripped down or acoustic versions of a few of her songs would be interesting to hear, as well. But, would I go see Lana Del Rey live again? Absolutely, and if you enjoy her music, then I’d recommend you do as well.