In the Age of ‘Eras,’ Lady Gaga Kept the World Premiere of HBO’s ‘Gaga Chromatica Ball’ Small

When Taylor Swift took over The AMC at The Grove to debut “The Eras Tour” last October, cars wrapped around the block. With the official kickoff event for what would become a $261.6 million box office hit filling auditoriums with celebrities — while outside hundreds of screaming fans swarmed the luxury mall’s towering parking deck and famed Cheesecake Factory Observational Deck (seriously, look it up) — it seemed as though presidential motorcades had inconvenienced SoCal less than a single night at the movies with planet Earth’s favorite pop star.

No one is complaining about a visit from Taylor Swift, of course; least of all the film lovers who in 2023 rightly hailed her as a dark horse savior of cinema in a dire time. Still, when contrasted with Lady Gaga’s pared-down world premiere for HBO’s “Gaga Chromatica Ball” — a tidy event with an enthusiastic but small line on the sidewalk and a single-block road closure — the difference in the two mega-watt artists’ current relationship to live events and concert docs became apparent.

More from IndieWire

If “Eras” existed to capture an artist’s entire history in one epic timeless experience, “Chromatica” feels like a flashpoint of fleeting expression made for deep-cut obsessives seeking the catharsis of Gaga anew; its premiere matched that tone. “Gaga Chromatica Ball” airs and streams simultaneously on Saturday May 25 at 8 p.m. ET with no plans for a theatrical release.

“The intention for the Chromatica Ball actually changed,” Gaga said at Nya Studios in Hollywood on Thursday, May 23. At the intimate movie premiere, the Grammy winner appeared onstage for a Q&A with Scott Evans (AKA the host of Peacock’s “Couple to the Throuple”) discussing everything from the brutalist architecture that inspired her to performing with COVID.

“When I initially made this album, I was thinking about everything in that moment,” Gaga said. “And after what happened in the world, this tour became about something much bigger than just one record. I realized that our community is so strong and our community is so beautiful. And I have been saying that the Chromatica Ball and this album in a lot of ways was the end of a time in my life and the beginning of a totally new one.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 23: Lady Gaga attends The World Premiere Fan Screening Of HBO Original “Gaga Chromatica Ball” at Nya Studios on May 23, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Jon/Getty Images for HBO)
Lady Gaga at “Gaga Chromatica Ball” World Premiere at Nya Studios on May 23 in LAGetty Images for HBO

The concert doc for Gaga’s sixth studio album, many years in the making, sees the artist polishing and pushing past the confines of her own discography to create a standalone work that forwards audiences’ understanding of her ever-mutating craft. The work itself is a reconsideration of a reconsideration — the telescoping result of an album as lived through a concert as captured on film — and the multi-hyphenate entertainer, who — let’s face it — can rarely be pinned down long enough for an “Eras”-type celebration, considers it some of her best work.

“I felt like the Chromatica Ball was a time where I took myself to the next level and it was something worth documenting and seeing for people that I love,” Gaga said. “Not that I didn’t love my other tours; it’s just… I’m sure we all can relate to that feeling of when you personally feel proud of something is really different from when everyone around you feels that way. Personal passion is really kind of a private experience, and I’m sure there’s lots of tours and albums that I’ve been a part of that you all would’ve loved to have seen up close — and I’m sorry for the ones that you didn’t have! But I hope that you know that what you’re about to watch, I stand by this with everything that I have.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 23: Clothing is seen on display during the World Premiere Fan Screening of HBO Original “Gaga Chromatica Ball” at Nya Studios on May 23, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Jon/Getty Images for HBO)
Costumes as seen on Lady Gaga in “Gaga Chromatica Ball” on display at Nya Studios in LA on May 23Getty Images for HBO

Drag queens, including “RuPaul’s Drag Race” legends Sasha Velour and Valentina, battled the realities of heels in a standing room-only, open-concept event space. Nya Studios recently hosted the premiere for Netflix’s sci-fi epic “3 Body Problem” as well; that event featured chairs. Screening “Gaga Chromatica Ball” for just a few hundred fans and friends who danced and clawed the night away, Mother Monster arrived fashionably late wearing a structural outfit that underlined the experimental nature of the film.

Gaga wrote on Instagram, “On the red carpet, I told them it was a car part. They said what kind and I said I don’t know. I’m not a mechanic.”

For her interview look, Gaga donned what she called “The Gimp of the Garden”: an all-black look that the she said on social media she would have worn to match this year’s Garden of Time Met Gala theme (although she was not in attendance). The gown was designed by Aziz Rebar and kept Gaga snug for the entirety of the evening. Like Swift at The AMC with “Eras,” she stayed for the whole screening but was not as visible — choosing to sit instead in her dark mask at the back of the venue.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 23: Lady Gaga speaks onstage during The World Premiere Fan Screening Of HBO Original “Gaga Chromatica Ball” at Nya Studios on May 23, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Jon/Getty Images for HBO)
Lady Gaga speaks onstage during “Gaga Chromatica Ball” World Premiere at Nya Studios on May 23Getty Images for HBO

Adjacent to the screening — which saw attendees clad in leather, spikes, and the occasional pop of gold and hitting the lyrics to “Babylon” especially hard — a variety of Gaga’s costumes and the bio-mech fabricated piano from “Gaga Chromatica Ball” were on display. Merchandise was sold, but at the end of the night, most guests waved to Gaga and peeled posters from the walls for free. With the walls naked, they left ready if not for a new era then another reinvention.

HBO’s “Gaga Chromatica Ball” airs and streams on Max simultaneously Saturday May 25 at 8 p.m. ET.

Best of IndieWire

Sign up for Indiewire's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.