why lady gaga inspires me: a review of the #artrave tour in yeg

3 June 2014

when I heard that lady gaga was coming to edmonton, I knew that I would absolutely love to see her perform. I looked into it and, as suspected, tickets sold out quickly and were way out of my price range. last week, it crossed my mind to look for tickets on stubhub, which i'd never used before, and when i found tickets for only $45 it was a quick and easy decision to get them. 

i decided to make a small tribute to gaga in my outfit - i found these nail wraps that reminded me of the alexander mcqueen outfits in my favourite lady gaga video - bad romance. i felt like the nails were a mix of the green outfit on the bottom right and the black outfit that included the unbelievable, show-stopping mcqueen heels on the right.

we arrived at the show late, during the last song or two from the first opener - hatsune miku, a software-generated musical act portrayed by a holographic anime character. i think. no, i do not know how a software-generated musical act becomes an opener on a world tour. i'm not gonna lie, it was a little weird. but then again, this is a lady gaga concert we're talking about - weird is the benchmark. 

the second opener was lady starlight, a dj from new york who has worked closely with lady gaga for most of her career. she performed solely with a drum machine, and although i found the music itself uninspiring, i definitely took some notes - she is a fellow female dj after all, and i have much to learn. 

and then, finally, preceded by a host of dancers in neon booty shorts, the mother monster took the stage. the material was mostly from her most recent album, artpop, peppered with a handful of her most popular anthems including poker face, just dance, bad romance, paparazzi, and telephone (which i can not listen to without thinking of the hilarious steve kardynal chatroulette video. link is nsfw-ish… beware of man dancing in a bikini).

throughout her high-energy performance, my favourite moments were when she paused to connect with the audience. at one pause in the music, she sat on a chaise lounge while fans threw gifts onstage, and as she selected items to look at she sought out the person who gave each item, thanked them personally, and offered for them to come backstage after the show. i'm not going to lie,  it made me a little teary-eyed to see the fans reactions when she took the time to address them… it's not hard to see that the messages of self-acceptance in gaga's music and the community of 'little monsters' that she has brought together has changed countless lives for the better, regardless of its zany packaging. 

the thing about lady gaga is that she actually inspires me. of all the artists i listen to, there are only a handful that i would actually say that about. no, i don't love everything she does, and i am by no means a die hard fan - i only own the fame monster album. all the same, i find myself bursting with creative ideas when i watch her perform (even just on video), and see how she ties an entire theatrical concept together in each song. as i mentioned, she has created a loyal fanbase that clearly includes many people who have felt like outcasts, including many who identify as LGBTQ - a community that gaga has been outspoken in her support for. 

wondering how i can find inspiration in a performer who's infamous for a meat dress and racy music videos, among other things? here's what i've learned from lady gaga. 

be unapologetically yourself. if it's not clear from her unparalleled style, you'll get this from her lyrics, and any interviews you watch or read. one of the standout moments of her edmonton performance was her powerful piano rendition of born this way, which has become a powerful anthem for many, especially the queer community. i'm impressed by this woman, who wrote a chart-topping song that declares that you are 'made perfectly' and that 'god makes no mistakes', and has affirmed individuality in a meaningful way for so many people. 

you are a human. gaga embodies this fascinating paradox between being fantastically theatrical and incredibly real. i love that although she often dresses provocatively and in stereotypically 'sexy' outfits, she also chooses outfits and styles that are frankly unflattering, while so many of the big-name female performers in the music industry stay only in the territory of perpetual perceived beauty and sex appeal. for the last outfit swap of the #artrave show, gaga changed on stage with her wardrobe crew emerging to transform her from head to toe. it was surprisingly human to see her in a wig cap, between flashy outfits - it took away some of the smoke-and-mirrors of her performance, and i appreciated that a lot. 

perform. while i definitely dig authenticity in a musical performance and lyrical content, i have always been captivated by performers who do just that - perform. it's no secret that i love freddie mercury, who gaga cites as an inspiration (and even a namesake), and many others who dive into over-the-top productions. although it's been a long time since i've been involved in theatre or the performing arts, there's an element of my work as a dj that is still a performance, and it absolutely inspires me to watch someone who so clearly throws her all into every moment on stage. 

this post goes out to the gentleman caller who patiently waited for me to finish my gaga-inspired manicure before rushing out the door, and also bought me earplugs and insisted i wear them, which was a little nugget of wisdom i would've definitely overlooked. xo


  1. Good review. Regarding Miku, she was the opener because Gaga is a huge fan and requested Miku join her for artRAVE. It was indeed a little strange for a Miku to be an opener, because she normally headlines her own concerts. In fact Miku is evolving beyond concerts and now does an entire Miku Expo, the first of which recently concluded in Indonesia. :-D

  2. yes, since the show i've done a bit of research and found that she's a huge deal! i will admit, we were sitting side-stage, and so we couldn't see the screen at all... anyways - thanks for reading, alan!


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