AUSTIN — An oversized roasting spit. Erotic maneuvers on a mechanical bull. Fake vomit.
And that was all in the first 15 minutes.
Pop superstar Lady Gaga brought her theatrical musical road show to the South by Southwestmusic festival Thursday evening, rousing up a crowd that had made mini-sacrifices to see the star.
The one-hour show, sponsored by Doritos to benefit the performer's Born This Way Foundation, drew more than 2,000 enthusiasts to the open-air patio stage of Stubb's BBQ in downtown Austin. To get into the free show, fans had to perform a "Doritos Bold Mission" — such as change their Facebook relationship status to an untruth or share a piece of clothing with a stranger — then share the act on social media in order to be eligible for a ticket.
The show kicks off a two-day Doritos-sponsored concert series at SXSW with artists such as Far East Movement and Ludacris.
On Thursday night, band mates wheeled out Lady Gaga onstage hog-tied to a large roasting spit — an apparent nod to Central Texas' BBQ culture — from where she sang her first song, Aura. Dressed in a black bikini and fishnet stockings, she rocked through the song with her band.
"I've been having such a good time all week," she said. "I haven't showered. I've been drinking all week. And eating." Then she launched into Manicure, swinging her blond dreads as green lasers raked across the smoke-filled stage.
She doused herself with Lone Star beer. She sprayed the crowd with water from a bottle. She urged the mostly young, tech-savvy crowd to put away their cell phones and enjoy the performance. "Do me a favor and don't post this show," she said.
Drawing from her most recent album, ARTPOP, she performed the song Swine with a friend on stage who drank from a paint bottle and puked the colored liquid all over Lady Gaga, first as the pop star played the drums and later as the pair pawed one another amorously atop of a slowly-rotating mechanical-bull-like pig with a ball-gag.
Then, still splattered in black and green paint, Lady Gaga sat down to a heart-felt, confessional rendering of Dope. Alone at her keyboard, the performer showed off the range and strength of her voice and her keyboard talents in ways often lost in large stadium shows. The crowd swayed along to the tender lyrics — "My heart would break without you, might not awake without you" — then roared with approval.
"She's a trailblazer," said Hruby McHugh, 38, a Los Angeles entrepreneur enjoying the show. "I love the theatrics. She has a tremendous creative vision."
Austin fiddle player Ruby Jane later joined Lady Gaga on stage for a rousing rendition of Bad Romance that got the entire crowd waving their hands and jumping in unison to the beat.
For her final song, Gypsy, she brought out her New York-based friends and musicians who opened the show for her. As the menagerie crammed onstage for the final tune, the fake vomit drying on instruments and the mechanical bull-pig resting nearby, it was clear Lady Gaga had done her part to keep Austin weird.
And then some.