Lana Del Rey’s Polarizing Mystique

Lana Del Rey’s Polarizing Mystique

Near the end of her performance, Lana Del Rey expressed her appreciation that many of the audience members had bought a festival ticket just to see her. After surveying the many flower-headed Lana devotees all weekend, I can affirm the veracity of Del Rey’s statement. Her fans are legion, and that legion almost crushed me when they stampeded to the front of the Outdoor Theater stage after Neutral Milk Hotel finished up. Even if you find her lyrics laughable and her persona insufferable, it’s easy to see why she compels so many people: Nobody would have bothered to investigate the story behind “Video Games” if it hadn’t so completely nailed its aesthetic. Del Rey had expertly updated this old-fashioned character — a tragic noir glamour queen with a steady diet of cigarettes, cocktails, and cheap sex — with just enough modern flourishes (video game references, hip-hop slang) to make it its own thing. Since then she’s refined her live presence (those high notes really soared last night) and accumulated a handful of powerful songs (the new “West Coast” is wonderfully ridiculous) to the point that last night’s show would have been genuinely entertaining even without all the subtext of Lizzy Grant playing the character Lana Del Rey. And with the added booster of all the layers of allure and psychodrama that come with that character, she became some transcendent form of performance art, a living Rorschach blot.

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