June 4, 2014
When my coworker asked if I was a fan of Lady Gaga and I agreed, I had no idea it was going to lead to such a fun and interesting evening. Check out my full story of Lady Gaga’s #artRave concert when it came to Atlanta, GA’s Philips Arena.
On a seemingly normal day at work, my coworker David came up to me out of nowhere and asked if I liked Lady Gaga. Now I’m no hardcore Little Monster, but I do like a lot of her songs for their danceable tunes – not sure if ‘danceable’ is a word, but I’m making it one. After I responded in the affirmative, he handed me two tickets and a parking pass to Lady Gaga’s latest concert “#artRave: The Art Pop Ball,” which was coming to town the following week.
Sweet!! I’d never been to a Lady G concert, but just knowing what a showman she is in regular life, I can only imagine that a concert of hers is a sight to behold. Plus, the tickets David gave me were for a swanky suite at the concert plus premium parking right beneath the stadium. Double sweet! Free VIP tickets to an outstanding performer courtesy of CBS ad reps who’d met with David earlier that afternoon in hopes of working with our clients going forward.
This was going to be a good day indeed. Fast forward one week to the day of the concert, and I’d convinced my boyfriend to come along with me to the concert. Free tickets to a suite at a concert (even for Lady Gaga who’s not his favorite) was all the convincing I needed to do to get him on board.
The concert was set to start at 7:30, but as any experienced concert-goer knows, you don’t need to get there for at least an hour after the doors open because the opening act is generally just so-so. I was impatient to see what awaited us though, so we left the house at about 7:15.
It was actually a good thing we did, because as soon as we got downtown near the Philips Arena, the premium parking deck instructions got as clear as mud. They were printed on the back of the parking pass and totally wrong. We drove around the arena up and down side streets until finally asking a police officer directing traffic. He redirected us towards a street that seemed like a significant hike from the stadium (this was supposed to be ‘premium parking’?), and as we turned down it I was instantly more sketched out. Nothing but construction, train tracks and a two-lane road that seemed to go nowhere… Except it actually led into the bowels of the Philips Arena, which is actually where premium parking is located. Sketchy as all get-out, but it turned out to be the right place. First mission accomplished!
We rode the elevator up to the ground floor and walked in to the VIP entrance. I was immediately impressed with the level of fandom Lady Gaga’s exhibit. I saw girls with crazy dyed hair, dyed wigs, face paint, t-shirts, neon tights, costumes (almost rivaling those seen at Dragoncon or Comic-Con) and every other manner of dress. Superb people watching!
I presented the tickets to the attendant manning the elevator and once we stepped off on the seventh floor, another attendant directed us to our suite – the entire floor was lined entirely with suites, which each locked from the outside and required a special key to access. Talk about upscale.
Inside the spacious suite I met the CBS reps: two very nice ladies who seemed generally excited to be at this particular event, and a few of my coworkers who’d also been lucky enough to get tickets. And let me tell you, a suite is the only way to go: free food, free alcohol (choose your poison: beer, wine, hard liquor – it’s all available), great seating and a perfect view of the floor where the concert stage was. The only vantage point better than ours was a bunch of couches clustered around one of the stage platforms down on the concert floor with its own fully stocked bar. No joke. I can only imagine how special / rich you’d have to be to get a cushy spot there.
The setup down in the center of the stadium was impressive. Lady Gaga doesn’t skimp when it comes to outrageous design: her ‘stage’ extended far out into the middle of the stadium by way of a series of inter-connecting platforms ringed by pink crystal formations. On stage her entire band had their own all-white monolithic structure which dancers would enter and exit the stage from periodically. Not to mention the raising and lowering floor segments and trap doors strategically placed. This was gonna be good.
Lady Gaga’s opener, Lady Starlight, however, was not so good. If EDM and repetitious trance music is your thing, you’d be in luck, if not, too bad. By the time she left the stage, the crowd cheered humongously and shortly thereafter went nuts as Lady Gaga herself stepped onstage in all the splendor and pomp befitting her: giant golden wings, a gold lame unitard, fishnet tights and a giant blue ball in the center of her chest. Yep, this was what I was expecting.
She and her ripped backup dancers started off with some lesser-known songs, which the crowd ate up anyway (after Lady Starlight anything would seem amazing). Then when she started singing some of the classics like “Poker Face,” “Telephone” and “Paparazzi,” the crowd absolutely lost its mind. I swear to you, as the first few chords played, the roar that accompanied it from the stadium was more deafening than I could have expected.
As the show progressed, the costumes got more and more outrageous. At one point she was dressed as a giant octopus a la The Little Mermaid, and who the hell knows what her backup dancers were supposed to be. Sometimes the were space cadets, other times S&M fiends. Couple this with pulsing music, lights, and a crowd of devoted fans amped to be there (one drove from as far as Chicago, IL) and you had a recipe for success. #artRave was, in a word: epic.
I had a great time – especially during the songs that I knew and could sing and bop along to, and my boyfriend was the best sport about it all. When we finally streamed out with the crowd half-deaf, he assured me he’d had a good time and that was an awesome experience. That’s the best I could hope for.
And a couple of anecdotes for you from the concert. One of the funniest parts of the evening was this little boy who was also in the suite with us. He couldn’t have been more than 8, and yet he was having the time of his life! I kid you not, this kid was singing and dancing in his seat more than the three girls sitting beside him. Best night of his life, hands down. The other perfect moment came when Lady Gaga started performing one of her raunchiest songs, “Sexxx Dreams” – I could see the parents who’d made the mistake of bringing their under 10 kids to the concert visibly cringing as impressionable young minds witnessed grinding, rubbing, touching and all sorts of other socially inappropriate actions take place on stage. Good call parents, good call.
And to Lady Gaga – rock on. Great show!