Before Lana Del Ray took the stage for her in store performance at Amoeba San Francisco on Thursday Feb. 9, people were being turned away at the door. With a crowd of over 1,000, mostly teenagers and young 20 something’s, the record store was at capacity.
One couple that made it inside was of particular notice, not just because they stood out as being older than most, but because they looked the way Andy Warhol and Nico might up in heaven. He with silver hair, wearing white rectangular framed glasses and a white tie over a black button down. She much taller than him, especially in her high-heeled boots, with long blonde hair and a curtain of yellow bangs covering her forehead.
The ghosts of the pop artist and his Bavarian muse were a fitting presence at the show. Warhol, whose paintings would often include the repetitious printing of a particular image of a celebrity, would surely take interest in Del Ray.
A Google search of the 25-year-old singer returns 182 million results. Nearly 181 million of which are images or videos.
A clue that the Del Ray’s fans at Amoeba were truly there to see the singer, whose album “Born To Die” is the number 1 album on Billboard’s digital chart, number 2 overall.
An hour before the show was set to start, Amoeba was already full from the tee shirt section to the punk section in the back of the store and people were trying to map out ways to get closer to the stage. One group of girls (who made up the majority of the audience by the way) said, specifically, in order to “see her body and face.”
A young man said he would have bought 10 albums for a chance to meet Del Ray and see her up close. He was hooked, he said, after watching the video for her song “Born To Die” after a friend posted it on Facebook. Why? “She’s different,” he said, “She’s beautiful.”
Del Ray’s looks were sited by another fan as her initial draw as well. “She really is quite beautiful,” the young woman said. But, she continued, Del Ray seems to lack the ability to express some of the basic human emotions that we all have. The young woman said she wanted Del Rey to “project my emotions” in the performance of her songs.
Which may be one of the down falls of Internet super stardom. The web is more like television than it is like radio in that it is a highly visible medium. While you can listen to a song on radio and be satisfied by the emotions you feel, triggered solely by the music, it seems, in this fan’s opinion anyway, that if you hear the same song online accompanied by a visual element, and the visual element does not match your emotional expectations for it, that disconnect can leave you unfulfilled.
Then again, maybe it’s all part of the Lana Del Ray craze, as there seems to be a disconnect in her as well. Del Ray has the luxury of being remarkably more stunning in real life than on the pages of Maxim. Really, she is complete knock out. But she doesn’t do anything with it on stage. She seems so unsure, the voice in her music as shaky and unsure as a teenage girl desperate to be liked.
The five songs she performed at Amoeba-“Born To Die”, “Blue Jeans”, “Video Games”, “Million Dollar Man”, and “China Doll”- conjure up the image of an incomplete young woman trying to find fulfillment in the company of punks who drive their dad’s BMW’s to school, where they sell their mom’s prescriptions in the parking lot.
A song like “Video Games” is the anthem for young women who can only find a sense of self in the company of boys. Beer drinking, cat calling, gamers at that. “You like the bad girls, is that true?” she asks. If yes, she answers, with her delicate delivery that lands somewhere between forced sexiness and baby talk, than I’ll do anything to be bad for you.
The characters in Del Ray’s songs purse their lips in crowds, look at their reflection in every mirror. The characters in Del Ray’s songs are the Ophelia’s Mary Phipher was trying to revive.
At the Amoeba performance, it was hard to tell if Del Ray was playing one of the parts that she created, or simply being her self. The cheers from the crowd seemed to fill her up, make her whole, and give her confidence. And when one guy in the way back shouted for her to “take it off” she seemed genuinely flattered that he would ask.