Lady Gaga’s artRave: was it even art at all?

Lady Gaga has provided the world with entertainment through every adventure she has set upon. From wearing a dress made from meat and to working with artists such as Marina Abramović, it’s easy for those less informed to brand her as an attention seeker. However, after witnessing the artRAVE in Sheffield, it made me wonder whether her artistic integrity was overlooked by many of her adoring fans.

Lady_Gaga_ArtRave_San_Diego_(14519027639)As I approached Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena, I soon learnt that it was normal protocol for Gaga fans to dress up and smash the boundaries of a normal concert attendee. A smorgasbord of colours and lights encapsulated me as I became a part of an eager line awaiting for Mother Monster herself. There’s no denying that social media have seen fans abuse and ridicule fans of other artists in order to show loyalty to their idols and I without doubt felt intimated as I entered the arena. Whilst I questioned fellow queue goers about their admiration for Lady Gaga and the amount of times they had seen her (seven was highest), a part of me soon become disillusioned from her concept of artRAVE. I began to wonder whether or not this performer was using art as a concept to gather masses to a gig.

Gaga may only be interested in sharing her innovations with her existing fans

As I walked in, my vision was smothered by mammoth sized projections of ‘#artRAVE’. Rave music welcomed and affirmed the concept within seconds of entering the area. The support acts supported this theme and whilst the eccentric Lady Starlight expressed her artistic flow, many fans grew tired of her and seemed to be praying for their idol to come on stage. It was a shame to see such impatience within what seemed to be a warm community. Gaga herself said ‘if 14-01-29-Lady-gaga-announces-uk-artrave-tour-dates-nme-co-2014ladygayou are here for the hits, we will play a few,’ before entering a medley of her chart toppers. However, it goes without saying, where would Gaga be right now if it wasn’t for the chart dominating songs such as Just Dance or Poker Face? This then poses the question: would Gaga been able to have produced the Artpop concept without money and generation of fans through mainstream pop as seen in earlier stages of her career?

The artRAVE set expanded from the average thrust setting of a theatre to which can only be described as two separate catwalks which was connected by a bridge in the middle and a separate path to a piano set which stretched out to a good eighty percent of the standing space. The set spanned above the audiences’ heads and was transparent and easily visible, a truly immersive experience. A handful of dedicated fans who had seen the show before managed to make the most of the experience by weaving in and out underneath the catwalks. Whilst this innovative decision was admirable, many members of the audience didn’t grasp the stage design; many decided to sprint to the front of the stage but to those who were oblivious to the concept, it seemed a wasted effort.

It can be suggested that whilst artRAVE was a spectacle to behold, many fans were beyond admiring the artistic integrity of the show and were further involved within their own costumes and screams of admiration whilst Gaga walked over her fans on her transparent catwalk. artRAVE is a fantastic concept and sparks excitement to the masses. However, it can be suggested that perhaps Gaga wanted to introduce such innovation’s to an audience already familiar with the concepts introduced from her previous works.

Mark McDougall


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