How Lady Gaga’s artRAVE transported me back to my teenage years.
In the very early stages of 2008, I received an email from a music promotion firm asking me if I was interested in an interview with an upcoming artist named Lady Gaga. I agreed, having heard some of the tracks from her then unreleased debut album on a few music blogs across the web. I was certainly interested in her, and the interview marked Gaga’s first-ever Australian press commitment; long before the release of her life-altering debut single ‘Just Dance’.
Then, in September of that same year, Gaga toured Australia for the first time, playing Melbourne’s beloved but incredibly shoddy Inflation Nightclub just as her debut single was atop of the charts. I made it to the front row of that gig and watched in awe as this woman hit every high note and didn’t miss a single dance step. Even when the speakers around her looked as though they were going to topple over and possibly cause a fatality she just kept trucking through without even flinching. I was beyond impressed and at one point had her pulling on my necklace and tie as she sang a few lines from “Poker Face” at me.
I really enjoyed the show and, as I said, was impressed, so imagine my surprise when, after the gig, a security guard came up to me and said “Lady Gaga would like to know if you want to meet her upstairs.” Um – DUH. Excited and thrilled, in 2008 I was still meeting her as a critic above anything else.
That all changed in 2009 with the release of ‘Bad Romance’, where I had gone from being an admiring critic into a near-rabid, overly obsessed fan – and I had every intention of following her until she loved me.
Now let me bring you into the present – last Sunday, August the 24th. Lady Gaga brings her artRAVE: The ARTPOP Ball Tour to Melbourne and after almost five years of mad fandom, I finally get to meet her – again. Except this time it’s different. Much different.
In 2002, as a fresh-faced teenager, I embarked on a pretty wild career in Melbourne’s rave scene that saw me partying from weekend to weekend, raving away to some of the best techno and hard trance music the world had to offer. Whilst it’s a time of my life that has long been regarded as ancient history, it is a time – and scene – that still holds a very special place within my heart.
Attending Lady Gaga’s artRAVE last weekend was something of a cathartic experience for me because of this. The event was housed at Rod Laver Arena which, if you can remember, used to be home to two of the greatest mass-raves of Melbourne’s iconic nightlife history: Welcome and Two Tribes. Walking into the venue I used to rave in as Lady Starlight – Gaga’s amazingly talented support act – played straight-up acid techno cuts was like entering a time capsule. I was in heaven, stomping and shuffling my toosh off long before Gaga had even walked on stage! The scene was set: I knew I was in for the most glorious night of my life.
Within minutes of starting, I had been transported to my euphoric and carefree teenage years. And then when Gaga finally came on, that all kicked into even higher gear. Sober as a judge, I was in a state of bliss and euphoria not seen since the substance abuse era of my teenage years. In fact, by the time the show had started, I was quite possibly the happiest I have ever been at a show, let alone a rave.
For almost two hours, Gaga sang at the top of her lungs and danced her famous arse off for the crowd of thousands, encouraging us all to rave our hearts out; a mission I almost accepted a little too literally as I swear I had close to 38 heart attacks during the course of the evening. As I stood with an excited bunch of 19 other people (who were basically the best bunch of people I’ve ever been to a concert with, which is saying something considering the fact that this night was the very first time I had met 18 of them) within the exclusive ARTPOP Zone, Gaga belted out anthems such as ‘G.U.Y.’, ‘Venus’, ‘Bad Romance’ and ‘Poker Face’, whilst fan favourites like ‘PARTYNAUSEOUS’ (an unreleased GEM) and ‘Dope’ were immediate highlights, particularly as Gaga pointed at me from her piano as she proclaimed “I NEED YOU MORE THAN DOPE!” It was a true life-affirming moment that I honestly know I will never forget.
Once the show had ended (the finale being the iconic and shoulda-been-a-single ‘Gypsy’), the group of us within the ARTPOP Zone waited to be escorted backstage to meet our Queen with bated breath.
For almost 90 minutes, Gaga talked with us, played us unreleased material and answered our questions. (I asked her “Are you in Sin City 2 more than you were in Machete Kills? Because I wanted to throw my TV out of the window once your micro-scenes in Machete Kills had ended.” Sadly, the answer was basically “No, I’m only in it for about a minute.”) She even threw her arms in the air and very sincerely thanked me for identifying the pure and true rave aesthetic of her show, particularly as it used to be such an enormous part of my life. It was certainly another moment I won’t soon forget.
The night came to a close as we all lined up to get our solo photo with our Queen. I walked in, placed my arm around her as she placed her arm around me, we smiled at the camera, and then I turned to her, looked right into her sunglasses, and said: “Thank you … for everything.” She gave me the most genuine smile of acknowledgment and within seconds I was riding off into the night sky, completely freaking out over the night’s events.
By Adem Ali