Words by Alysa Lechner
I can’t believe I’m writing this. I’m actually nervous for anyone to read this. I almost don’t even want to admit it because then it means it’s true. Fuck it. I saw Beyoncé and it sucked. Am I okay? Is this real? Is this how Galileo felt when he defended heliocentrism to the Roman Catholic Church?
I want to be clear in that I’m not saying Beyoncé in any way was an awful performer —she’s incomparable and arguably the best entertainer living — but her concert on the whole was one of the worst I’ve ever attended (OMG what am I saying???).
And I’m not even a casual Beyoncé fan. I have dedicated entire evenings to scrolling through the bowels of Tumblr looking for a rare previously unseen photo of Mrs. Carter, and slipped into many a YouTube K-hole of the deepest Beyoncé interviews and performance cuts. I wasn’t just going to a Beyoncé concert to “check it out,” I was traveling to my mecca.
Yes the show sucked, but it’s to no fault of Beyoncé herself. I’ll start from the beginning.
I was one of the poor Vancouver souls whose Yeezus concert was postponed twice, and then ultimately canceled. Imagine your boyfriend or girlfriend breaking up with you, and then saying, “I didn’t mean that, let’s get back together, I’m ready,” and then a couple weeks later they’re like, “Nevermind, that was a mistake, we’re over.” It was like that. Except for me, it was worse, as I had VIP tickets that I received for my birthday and couldn’t even wrap my head around the experience that would be Yeezus from that close up. Anyway, you know how this ends: I didn’t get to go, and instead I got to watch everyone else tweet about it (including those from Mass Appeal and its editors. Appreciate it.)
Now, I knew Beyoncé was coming to Vancouver for quite some time, but I refused to buy a ticket for myself. I’ve always maintained that I could never subject myself to talent of that proportion because who knows what might happen? What if I cry (in front of strangers)? What if I throw up? What if at the exact moment she holds the mic in my face after saying, “Alysa, do you want my husband Jay Z and I to legally adopt you?” I choke and can’t think of answer? What if I die? These were all completely possible outcomes that I had no interest in personally subjecting myself to.
But since the Yeezus ticket was a gift and as such posed no financial loss, I used the money Kanye returned to me and swiftly hopped onto Craigslist and grabbed the first Beyoncé floor seat I saw. Thing is, I acquired my golden ticket to Beyoncé the day before her performance and had no real time to process the event, but I had basically been fantasizing about this for the past four years so the build up was definitely there.
Let me just remind you of my Beyoncé fandom. I tweet Beyoncé fanfic almost every other day, she’s my desktop background both at home and at work, I have her live DVDs, a poster, a t-shirt, and I even almost cared about sports for a second when she blew a fuse during the Super Bowl halftime show. I worship the church of Beyoncé.
So there I was, lining up about an hour early to get as close to the Beystage as possible. The other attendees were ruthless, huddling together in their sequinned bras (do you think Beyonce is going to take you back to her hotel or something?), and throwing shade at anyone who might be trying to budge. I was lucky enough to be shoulder-to-shoulder with the Regina George, Gretchen Wieners, and Karen Smith of the Beyoncé audience, in their sort of matching but all slightly different black and gold outfits. They had a ‘I AM BEYHIVE’ sign in tow. They were evil incarnate.
Once inside Rogers Arena, I realized I was in the second row on the floor. Am I going to touch Beyoncé? Probably. Will my hand crystalize and turn to gold? Likely.
Everyone was packing in and waiting for the opener to come on. He finally does and it’s “Luke James,” an actually talented singer who was extremely horned up. After a moment of silence for Paul Walker, Luke James proceeded to shove his hand down his pants, make orgasm noises, and hand out roses to the women near the front of the stage. Ok. I understand Beyoncé’s desire to expose new up-and-coming artists, but apart from being cheesy to the point of raunch, this guy was just…. Let me put it this way: he was wearing a blazer and hoodie combo, in 2013, while opening for Beyoncé. Need I say more?
After Luke James melted off the stage and all the simps were fanning themselves, Gretchen, Regina, and Karen got to work. One of their boyfriends had arrived, so the group photo and selfie situation was very serious. They had a nice digital SLR, a polaroid camera, and of course all their iPhones. Photos of their Beyoncé experience needed to be on all of these devices. I felt a tap on my shoulder. “Could you just move to the left a little?” I look to the left and see maybe a shoe’s amount of space. “Nah, there’s not enough room there.” “Well there’s a little…” I just ignored her.
It’s about at this time that some photographers walked through the pit and took photos of the fans in the front row. Regina screamed at Gretchen to “HOLD UP THE SIGN, NOW!” causing a domino effect of pushing and swaying. The Chloe faces were out in full force. Could u fucking not?
There was this weird, inexplicable veil of negativity over the night. Two women dressed in “Single Ladies” garb (read: black one-piece bathing suits and sheer tights) were walking to their seats about 30 ft. away from where I was standing, and the gentleman in front of me felt he needed to make a remark about it, “The people who sit in the seats after them are probably going to get chlamydia.” Sorry, did you forget that we’re at a concert where “Real Word” rules do not apply? Also, are you from Hell? Those women may not be Beyoncé, but they can sure as shit dress like her when they’re in her church. Everyone’s beyhavior was just so not Beyhive. How could I pray to the same Goddess as these plebs?
The only thing that kept me from violence was the fact that it would embarrass Beyoncé and she would hate me. Then FINALLY this gigantic flag on the stage unraveled with a huge ‘B’ on it. But the B was backwards, which was kind of lol but mostly I was just thinking that Beyoncé was freaking out backstage about it. To be honest, I think the backwards B actually sped-up Beyoncé’s entrance because about 15 minutes later, the lights dimmed and “Bow Down” began to bellow through the arena. The Marie Antoinette inspired Mrs. Carter tour video began to play on a giant screen. This was it. My eyes started to well up. My hero and I were about to come face-to-face.
But before I knew it, Gretchen, Regina, and Karen were ruining my reunion with my biological mother (who is Beyoncé). They were jumping, screaming, and crying. I couldn’t hear a thing over their wails. I GET IT. BEYONCE IS AMAZING. BUT WHAT DOES YELPING AT ONE THOUSAND DECIBELS DO ABOUT THAT? They pushed, they shoved, their stupid flimsy sign wilted in front of my face and blocked my view. Bey-sed god, what did I do to deserve this?
I mean, I think Beyoncé opened with “Girls (Run The World),” but I honestly can’t be too sure. The backing band was so loud that I could hardly hear her voice. The outfits, though. Those were on point. A black sequinned ball cap with little cat ears. Black sequinned leotard, and a black cape with black sequins in the design of the American flag. God Bless Beymerica.
The sound thing was an issue throughout the show. I even witnessed Beyoncé give dagger-eyes to someone stage left as she pointed to her ear piece and furrowed her perfect eyebrows. However, the visuals (dancing, big screens, and eye contact with Beyoncé) were problematic as well.
Beyoncé is a Performer with a capital P and an Entertainer with a capital E. She wants to give her fans the ultimate show. That means dancing, and amazingly well-timed screen visuals that back her up. Unfortunately, both of these things favor the center of the venue, and I was to the left, to the left. Dance moves that are meant to look cool from the front don’t really impress from a profile view (even when it is Beyoncé and Les Twins). Even more, I was so close that I couldn’t see the entire screen! The routine honestly had no meaning unless you were getting the big picture. You know when people make the Mona Lisa out of a mosaic of toast? Imagine being in a group of people and they can all see the Mona Lisa, but you can only see the bottom right corner so it just looks like 10 pieces of burnt toast. That’s how I felt watching the right side of Beyoncé’s face all night. Does that even make sense? Who cares!
But just because I couldn’t see Beyoncé that well didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy my favorite songs. As mentioned, the backing band overpowering Beyoncé’s vocals was a definite issue, at least from my proximity, but another aspect that disappointed me was the fact that Beyoncé never really performed her songs in full. She has so many amazing songs that she just crammed them all in by doing medleys. “Love On Top” rules because it just goes on and on. I don’t want to hear the shortened, music video version live. The “Countdown” instrumental played during a brief intermission/costume change, and she never sang it. Yes, Beyoncé sang “I Will Always Love You” and it fucking owned. But “Grown Woman” is my shit and the fact that it wasn’t in the set is like paying to see a Harry Potter movie and Hermione isn’t it. She played all of “1+1,” but I had to watch Regina’s boyfriend rub her back for its entire duration. So, ruined.
To be honest, I think Beyoncé is bored. I honest to God think she blacks out during performances and that it’s all muscle memory. She’s amazing, but it just all seems too easy for her. I’m not blaming my horrible time at Beyoncé’s concert on Beyoncé, because I definitely hyped it up in my head. My imagined expectations were unsurpassable, even for Beyoncé. In fact, I think everyone hyped it up so much in their own minds that it ruined the experience for everyone else. Can I really blame the Mean Girls for bringing 15 cameras to that concert? All they wanted to do was document their hero just like everyone else.
Ultimately, I think my time at the Mrs. Carter Show speaks to concert experiences on the whole. There are so many more factors outside of the performers themselves that determine whether or not you have a good time. Maybe, like me, you’ll find yourself standing next to the most horrific people on the face of the planet, or maybe you’re only at a concert because you feel like you deserve it since Kanye canceled and you had a rough November, or maybe you’ve just found yourself in the Bermuda Triangle of areas to stand in while watching your favorite human perform.
Whatever the case, those girls were the absolute worst and should be kicked out of the Beyhive. “I AM BEYHIVE”? Honey, you are so not Beyhive. There needs to be stricter criteria for what constitutes proper behavior under Beyzus’ own roof.