I found invited to a birthday party for a super cool and generous friend at a box at the ArtRave: The Artpop Ball: Lady Gaga concert on Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Staples Center boxes!
For our hosts birthday, they sprung for a special event suite at the Staples center. I’d never experienced something like that, but it was very cool. Tight little rooms for 12 people. A set of seats on the ‘inner’ side of the arena. We had some awesome catered food and even got paid a visit from the dessert cart. Very cool.
Came on first, and were met with a lot of confused looks. Only one of my friends seemed to have heard of this group, and they live in Korea, and hate them. Differences being mostly cultural. A KPOP group, I would consider them like Japanese Idol band. Songs had good production value and their dances were cute. They were wearing bike helmets and what I assume were bike costumes, all in different primary and secondary colors. I concluded that they should have all been Mecha pilots, based on their uniforms.
Quick to tell us that she was working with a drum machine and a synthesizer, not using samples. The beats she made were somewhat mild, I’d expect to hear them at a dance camp at Burning Man at 4am. We tended to jam harder to the Trap music that was playing between shows. It just seemed very odd, she was dressed very conservatively, like a school teacher, and was playing ‘classic’ electronic music.
A bit of research turns up that Starlight is actually old friends with Gaga, and says she actually inspired and considers herself a mentor for Gaga. After I got home and looked her up, I guess it slowly dawned on me that everything she did was probably very intentional. She dressed like a schoolteacher because she wanted to school us on oldschool electronic music. Her stuff was good, but it felt a little out of place – it was a downward energy shift, mostly. Good, but chill.
Her show was amazing and powerful. The amount of work needed to craft this sort of experience is pretty epic. The projected visuals were very cool, as well as the strange shapes of the lights on stage. The art direction, costumes, everything was impeccable. Not to mention that it’s a tour, so all of that stuff has to be kept clean and fresh for each performance. The sets and costumes for Gaga and all her performances were from another world.
She’s an amazing performer and singer live, proven by singing a heartfelt, slower, piano-only solo version of “Born This Way.” There was a good mix of ‘live’ and ‘performance’ – her anthems knocked you over in the way that you’re used to, but she’d also throw in some improv, or scream her lungs out to get you to cheer. The energy in the house seemed a little low, especially at the beginning, but I’m pointing at you, Lady Starlight.
Combined with the band doing some of the live music, it felt very much like a mix of Burning Man and Blue Man Group. She spoke often about the love for her fans and really placed herself on the same level as them. A few times someone would throw an item of clothing on stage, usually an ‘artpop’ decorated jacket, and she would wear it for a song or two. I’d never been to a Gaga show before, it was a very memorable experience. She puts on an excellent and powerful show.
Thanks again to our friends for being born (and their generosity!) Awesome memories!