Last night was the first time that I attended a Beyonce concert. I had an idea of what I could expect given the exhaustive documentation from previous shows that has permeated the internet and cable television in the last several years, but couldn’t quite fathom how or why The Beyonce Concert Experience had been so casually but earnestly referenced as “spiritual,” or “life changing.”
It was only after the singer started to emerge from an escalating platform in the middle of the stage at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn last night that I realized, Holy Magna Carta Grail, I.Am.Beyonce, this is Beyonce. Beyonce!
Prior to that moment, I was complacently seated, sharing popcorn with one Emily Weiss, drinking a Bud Light and strategizing a future exit plan that would obviously include a pit stop at the t-shirt stand–paraphernalia or it never happened, right? (I never got the t-shirt). But when those voluminous, curly gold locks appeared from the inside of center stage and her silhouette became increasingly more palpable as the platform grew higher, her white, crystal embellished body suit, the short boots cloaking her feet (but leaving her naked legs available for mass consumption) and her demeanor, watermarking authentic enthusiasm, was precisely what I anticipated it might look like.
Lights out, lights in, and there she was to greet her congregation. As she began singing, “Who run the world?” A generous bevy of cheerful shrieks echoed through the packed stadium. “Girls!”
And in spite of this year’s earlier White House snafu, she was definitely not lip syncing while she ceaselessly and unwittingly reminded this particular uncoordinated plebeian that Bey’s moves are never not on point. (I felt a little like Amy Poehler circa Mean Girls watching Regina in the Christmas Show while I tried to follow along with her mesmerizing moves). Jay Z is right, he does have the hottest chick in the game.
But what struck me as most interesting about Beyonce’s show manifested in two separate incidents. I was pleased to detect what seemed like a very sincere sense of gratefulness the first time she addressed the crowd. “Thank you for letting me do what I love for 17 years,” she told us before belting out again.
It sounds relatively platitudinal, I understand, but in that moment, something clicked. Beyonce’s fame and talent isn’t for Beyonce. She’s the wind beneath an enormous panoply of wings, quite literally helping her most devout fans and followers get through the humdrum of their every days, slightly more melodically. It takes participating in one of her shows to understand that, though. For a large chunk of the audience, this is actually a religious experience. (Cue the body rolls, the glitter, the sequined tank tops, the sky high leopard print heels, and the finger lights.)
As the show and several costume changes (none of which really included pants) continued, Beyonce halted to summon the audience to repeat after her, “Hey Mrs. Carter. I said hey, Mrs. Carter…”. It left me slightly confounded. Had she actually named this tour after herself as a married entity un-ironically thus inferring the Mr.’s subtle, nuanced help in creating the powerful, independent Beyonce we all know and love?
But what about “I’m a survivor” and “If you like it then you should have put a ring on it,” and “I can have another you in a minute.” Is she singing one thing to us but prescribing for herself something entirely different?
Instead of looking at her decision to call the tour, “Mrs. Carter,” through a lens that demarcates perpetual female defeat, there may be some real notes of power to consider in scrutinizing the tour name. Like, for example, a headlining reminder for the rest of her strong, independent, female-but-taken fans that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being in love, in partnership and vocal about it.
Which brings me to the most important question. Am I practically Beyonce? Kidding, guys. I’m totally kidding. But really…?
While you mull that over, we suggest flipping through some of our favorite images (documented above) from her epic Tumblr. Is anyone else about to make the spectacle of a pilgrimage to one of her imminent shows? Written gasps and shrieks of excitement welcome.