Narrative, spectacle, performance : a dramaturgical investigation into the relationship between an aesthetic event and the social world in rock and pop culture
On 2 July 2005, the Saturday before a summit of world leaders at Gleaneagles in Scotland, Live8 took place. Organised by Bob Geldof, the event brought together many high profile rock and pop performers to highlight the extreme famine conditions in Africa. Live8, however, was purportedly not in the business of promoting new albums, selling a range of merchandise or even raising charitable funds: indeed, tickets for the Live8 concerts were free. Rather, the event was intended to lead on to a rally in Edinburgh, forty miles from Gleneagles, calling on the summit attendees to cancel debt, double aid packages and remove trade barriers which hinder sustainable development on the African continent. As such, Live8 represents a strategic intent by rock and pop culture to ‘engineer’ a flow from the concert platform into the everyday. Conscious of the issues Live8 raises, this project looks at the different kinds of aesthetic event, from the contingent to the ‘pre-scripted’, which have over time become a feature of rock and pop culture. Through three distinctive case studies, whose subjects encompass both performers and their fan culture, concepts of narrative, spectacle and performance are discussed in order to understand, from a dramaturgical perspective, how rock and pop culture deals with representational schisms, particularly where the social world is implicated, and the role an aesthetic event (often a rock or pop concert) plays in the course of redress. Eschewing the limitations of musicology and media studies, which have often beset earlier investigations into rock and pop culture, this project’s overarching objective is to offer innovative thinking about the evolving state of the relationship it can, and does, facilitate between the ‘staged’ and the everyday.