AUSTIN, Texas -- Twelve hours after she came offstage at Stubb's -- covered in sweat, paint and who knows what else -- Lady Gaga sat down in a ballroom at the Hilton Austin as the keynote speaker for this year's South by Southwest music festival.
She did dress formally for the occasion, though, in a billowy number made from what she described as "tailored plastic." (Following Thursday's hog-roast spectacular, perhaps her signature meat dress was too much to ask.)
Which is fine, and probably also true, as anyone who saw her sing the stuffing out of "Dope" at Stubb's on Thursday knows. But there may be no more boring subject of discussion than talent. I mean, what, really, is there to say?
"I'm sorry I didn't sell a million records the first week," she said with a little laugh. "I have before." The singer went on to insist that she's held "to such an insane standard" in terms of her commercial performance at a moment of overall collapse in the record business. "When it comes to me, everyone forgets where the music industry is now," she said. "You come see me and it's like you're time-warped to the '70s."
On that subject, she defended her controversial decision to team with Doritos for Thursday's performance, saying that anyone who criticized her alliance with a corporation doesn't know jack -- she used a more colorful word -- about the state of the business. Record labels, she said, can no longer afford to fund the kind of lavish productions she's interested in, so she simply found help where she could.
She captured my attention again near the end of the talk when she acknowledged how hard it's been to retain her drive to innovate even as her success encourages a kind of creative stasis.
"Once you have so many people's attention, they think that as a female, it's better for me to make inconsequential music ... and just look beautiful," she said, referring to her handlers. Being told to look beautiful, she added, "poisoned" her in 2013 and led her in part to devise the intentionally rough-edged show she played Thursday night.
"I wanted to look ugly all the time," she said. That's an idea worth its own keynote address.