Lana Del Rey At Amoeba, Wednesday July 26th 2017
Saying that I don’t get the Lana Del Rey phenomenon is an understatement, the Born To Die singer had scheduled a special performance at Amoeba this morning – and who does this at 11 am beside Lana? – and of course the ticketed event had sold out before I was even aware of it. Her fans are ultra-über fans, they take their fan job very seriously and they basically adore, venerate, worship her as if she was the second coming. I saw girls hugging each other and crying after the performance, and this is a special, a very special reaction. The show had sold out to full capacity and I didn’t expect to get in, but I hang out around the store, and an opportunity came in.
Before getting in, I observed the very long line around the block, the sleeping bags and breakfast leftovers abandoned on the sidewalk, as some fans had obviously spent a few hours there. You have to earn your 6-song performance by Lana Del Rey after all, because this is how long she performed.
I finally could get in, just as Lana was getting on stage, and the strangest thing of the morning was that I had bumped into Dave Grohl a few minutes ago, when he was entering Amoeba – is Dave a fan?? I guess so! Finally, I was able to see Lana the goddess, surrounded by two musicians, and barely singing her songs. I say barely singing because she takes this ethereal out-of-this-world voice and murmurs her lyrics with her thin voice as if she was about to faint the next minute,…but this is why they all love her. I am not saying she doesn’t have a beautiful voice, she even got into a few elegant heights but there is something affected and strange about her, does she really speak with this soft, vaporous tone in real life? Because that was also the way she talked to her fans, and that always sounds totally rehearsed to me.
She did a few songs of her new album ‘Lust For Life’ released a few days ago (you had to buy the album to get in for this very special performance), and she even did a few of them A Capella for a maximum emo effect. At this moment, everyone was suspended to her fragile and emotive vocals and this was probably what she expected. Pitchfork called the album ‘sincere’ and at this point I have no idea what they are talking about, she is a walking myth, she talks about a city in decay, a sepia nostalgia mists all her songs where Charles Manson still lives in Topanga canyon. So may be Lana Del Rey is sincere but she is all about nostalgia for a time when her fans were not even born, nostalgia for a time when drugs, bad guys’ muscle cars, crimes, and life on the edge were the thing, without even experiencing any of the dangers. It’s a series of safe phantasms and Hollywood host summer cliches that Lana distributes to her adoring crowd with her soft voice, slow gestures and big fucking smile illuminating her face all the time. She is the queen of the scene, moving like an icon and putting a spell on everyone, she makes adult men wear flower crowns for god’s sake! I have seen a few on line and I am not sure they were all gay men.
The problem with such a show, it’s that it is very short, very crowded and people are screaming all the time: ‘I love you Lana’… ‘I love you even more!’ Please! Jesus! Can’t you stop screaming for a minute and just listen! Her soft sexy voice (especially because she was singing A Capella) was often covered by the crowd’s endless enthusiasm and it was even worst when she did two older songs ‘Video Games’ and ‘Born to Die’, there was a long moment of hesitation before this last one, people were requesting songs, and it was an awkward moment. Then, she decided it was time for an impromptu Q&A with her fans. You mean, that’s it? That was it? Fans were so happy to be able to talk to her, but I could not get most of what they said and what she was answering as the scene became wild and noisy: everyone was shouting to get her attention and have a chance to ask her a question! What would you ask to Lana Del Rey? Does she listen to hip hop while taking a shower? Does she study philosophy? yes to both… But beside the fact that she might be releasing a record of 25 of her favorite unreleased songs, as well as Yosemite, Roses Bloom For You and Best American Record as separate singles, I didn’t get much of the conversation, people were constantly screaming. One other thing, despite her large smile on the cover, she said that this new record was not about ‘being happy now’, that would be too easy for Lana… no, it’s about change, Lana apparently doesn’t want some people to be around anymore.
It’s simply amazing that Lana Del Rey was able to build this glamour level of adoration around her, but I felt a bit robbed of a real performance, her set was very short, the rest was not that interesting, and some people had been waiting for hours to hear only 6 songs? She may hate Trump as much as your average American liberal (she has said in a recent interview she has used witchcraft against the US president), but at this point, she is a bit like him during his presidential campaign in front of his supporters, she could do and say anything and people would receive every one of her statement with the same blind admiration. Of course, this may sound ridiculous, Lana is not Trump, she was surrounded by a crowd of LGBT people the day Trump was escalading his clash with the community! Lana is their queen of love and acceptance and nobody can rob them from this.
Heroin (A Capella)
Love (A Capella)
Born to Die