Lady Gaga introduced the world to an “artRave” last night. The event – held in Brooklyn and streamed on Vevo to promote her new album, Artpop – was part-concert, part-museum after hours. Attendees danced around all 100 inches of the real-life version of the Jeff Koons sculpture seen on the album’s cover, along with four more pieces by the artist. It was more art than rave, however – the hostess even gave a long anti-drug speech.
Before introducing her most recent single “Dope,” Gaga delivered a monologue about quitting alcohol and drugs, which she also talked about in a recent interview. “One of the hardest things that I ever had to give up was drugs and alcohol. I still have a real hard time with it, but I wanted to say something about it tonight because I’ve watched too many great artists, too many friends, go because of those two things,” she said, perched at her white piano. “I want tonight to be a change. I do not have to be high to be creative. I do not have to be drunk to have a good idea. I can sit with my thoughts and not feel crazy. I can do it without the dope.”
And she’s right. Sober, Gaga was still at her outlandish peak. Earlier in the evening, she took flight in a propeller dress called Volantis, a creation dreamed up by her team TechHaus and Studio XO. Later, when she opened her set with “Aura,” she emerged in a Michelin Man-recalling outfit – complete with white water wings, a mask, and a pointed cap – across the room from the stage, where her Koons sculpture loomed, and weaved through the crowd to her tiered podium, posing next to statues and attendees along the way.
Gaga reminded the audience of Koons’ involvement with Artpop throughout the night. Dedicating “Gypsy” to him, she urged the room to cheer for the artist, whom she met three years ago after her performance at the Met Ball. She declared the evening a celebration of creativity and hoped it would serve as an inspiration for future artists in the crowd. “We will no longer stand for the harassing of the artist; for the torturing of the artist; for taking advantage of the vulnerability in these beautiful, young creative minds,” Gaga said.
For all of her eagerness to push her fans into the art world, which can be unforgivingly abstruse, Gaga is, to her credit, attempting to make it more accessible rather than alienating. She’s merging together art and music now as she’s done with high-fashion and music throughout her career. She showcased three different outfits during “Applause,” beginning with a black gown and matching pom-pom headpiece and boa, which she ultimately shed to a simple tank and spandex. Before doing so, though, she fell back onto the crowd for a moment, unworried that her latex capulet or blonde bob wig would fall off.
Despite being more than an hour late, Gaga made her tight-knit audience of little monsters feel special. “Who here is actually from New York City?” she asked. “That’s OK. This is an all-inclusive rave. What matters is that you’re here and in this moment we are existing together,” the Mother Monster said. There was a lot of love in the air during her set. A few songs later, after closing with “Do What U Want,” her co-jam with R. Kelly (who did not attend), Gaga finished by saying, “We want to leave you with a whole lot of peace and love this evening. Continue to have drinks and gaze into the art. Listen to the music and more importantly spread as much love as you can between one another.”
“Do What U Want”