Everyone In Love: Queen Bey and her H.O.V. Run Houston

21 Jul

Beyonce & JAY Z - On The Run Tour - Foxborough

The “On The Run” tour could not have been better. It would take the best male and female performers alive to deliver on our sky-high expectations and, thankfully, Jay & Bey are just the greatest. We knew the 40-deep parade of hit songs we were getting and it still managed to wow us and leave us with goofy “how amazing is this?” smiles at every turn. Try to list the highlights and you’ll find yourself listing almost the entire show. It was a night deserving of superlatives, even if it wasn’t even our most favorite concert we’ve seen in Minute Maid Park. That honor still belongs to Macca, but the show was just spectacular from beginning to end. We’re still glowing from our magical night in Houston.

i love hip hop

I have been obsessing over Beyonce Knowles-Carter since her eponymous album dropped in December ’13. Get ready to unfriend me for a second here: I was not a fan of ‘Yonce* growing up. I think it was just another symptom of rejecting everything that felt like it came from Texas:  I was surrounded by conservative, wealthy white folk (I am only one of those things) and I didn’t want to be anything like them. So when they blasted their rap music that felt completely commodified and inappropriately utilized (lame-ass white guys using the “n” word gave me bad chills) I decided I didn’t have the right to embrace music like that. I was also a bit prudish, let’s be real here, and so Beyonce’s complete ownership over her own sexuality seemed too much for me. As I’ve grown up, I’ve learned more and more about feminism and how great it is for everybody all the time, and when Beyonce brought to all of us an album seemingly out of nowhere that so fully embraced a feminist attitude, I was floored and validated and basically doing cartwheels in my heart. This also caused me to go back through her discography, and I realized that I’d been missing out on this female-centric girl power music all my life, so I decided to catch up all at once. I played her record non-stop, which in turn forced Zack (who has always been a Jay-Z fan**) to get into it. To say our expectations of the On the Run tour were high would be the understatement of the year. 

*I’d always been a casual Beyonce fan, enjoying her singles from her Destiny’s Child days through her solo career. I went from liking to loving her when her brilliant last album came out and Caitlin started playing her entire back catalogue non-stop.

**Jay’s been my favorite for years, and this was the 4th time I’ve gotten to see him. At Coachella with a “Young Forever” Beyonce appearance in 2010, in San Antonio with Timbaland in 2013 and with Kanye at SXSW this year. He brings it every time.minutemaidpark_concert-2485

 

We got incredibly lucky and stumbled upon fantastic seats right at the edge of the stadium seating* (pre-GA), just to the left of the stage, and decided to make a short weekend of it in Houston. We found a reasonably priced hotel that was a quick walk away from the Minute Maid stadium, with built-in valet parking that saved us tons of money, and just won big with our timing of everything we did. Even after our car crash, Zack and I had a mostly very enjoyable drive to Houston, rocking out in our seats to a 90s mix our friend Brian put together. I was already wearing my “Flawless” ‘Yonce shirt, so when we got into the hotel elevator, a woman who was on our floor asked if we were going to the concert that night. We said “Hell yes” and started excitedly gabbing about how great it was going to be, and whether we’d seen the couple before (we’d only seen Jay, but she’d seen Queen Bey back when she was in Destiny’s Child. I was tres jealous.)

 *Section 109. Row 3. We couldn’t get a decent seat at either of the pre-sales, but somehow found these perfect tickets two months later. The hotel and seats could not have been closer or more perfect.

pregame

We dropped off our bags and then relaxed a while before walking down the street to get some pizza from Roma’s, which was super, super delicious. The place itself looked inconspicuous enough, but their pit-fired pizzas had that kinda mozz that just melts right in your mouth. We stuffed ourselves, since “lunch” was chips and soda, and then wobbled back to the hotel to get ready for the show. Zack was already ready to rock in a very nice button-up-shirt-and-jeans combo, so he started making cocktails out of the mini bottles of liquor we had purchased the night before. I did up my makeup and threw on a body con skirt, opting for shiny silver heels as footwear — but I wore flip flops that I could throw in my bag for the walk to and from the venue. Pardon me while I hashtag that: #pro*. I threw on my ‘Yonce hat and stuffed her XO bow** in my purse, and we headed to the elevator. We ended up leaving at the exact same time as our elevator friend from earlier, and her and her friends looked AMAZING and were donning these incredible (possibly DIY’d***?) light-up bee headbands that we were very impressed by.

*I wish it was more common practice for ladies to always have a pair of flip flops in their bag. Is there anything more annoying than someone who can’t walk in heels? I was proud of Caitlin for this move.

**That’s right. Two pieces of headgear. Gotta have a costume change.

***Totally DIY. Remember when part of the bee antenna came off?

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The masses descended from our hotel, since apparently 90% of the clientele were there for this show, and we all wandered toward the venue. On the way, a radio station had set up a tent and they were bumping Destiny’s Child so you KNOW we danced in the streets. We got in the back of what appeared to be a depressingly long line of people, but it moved very quickly and we were inside of the building  by 7:45. Then it was straight to the merch table. We learned our lesson from the McCartney show:  the merch goes FAST so if you wait until the end you might as well not go at all. I got in a mob, more than it was a line, and Zack headed to the restroom and to grab a drink*. I moved at a snail’s pace forward because for the hundreds of folks trying to get stuff, there were only six slow people working the table. We were all joking and laughing together at first, but once we’d been in the line for 45 minutes people stopped being friendly and started using their elbows. I finally made it up to the front with cash in hand (it was the cards that slowed everything down), and asked loudly for what I wanted, grabbed it and ran. There was a heart-attack moment at about 8:15 where a DJ started playing music** and my heart sunk, thinking I’d missed the beginning of the show, but luckily we made it into our incredible seats with a solid 15 minute grace period before our idols burst through a cloud of smoke on the stage.

*A $11, 25-ounce Bud Light kept my buzz perfectly intact. I had time to break the seal, get the drink, and sip it while leaning against the condiment stand and playing games on my phone for half an hour.

**Her head turned toward the stage, but I made eyes with her and shook my head “no” to let her know it wasn’t showtime yet.

xo

This setlist was packed with songs — 42 that weaved together, with little mini-movies mixed in to keep the “Bonnie ‘n’ Clyde” theme going. Did we get as many Beyonce* hits as I would have loved to hear? No, but this wasn’t just her show, so I wasn’t that surprised. I was a little devastated that the listing of “Countdown” on all of the set lists I’d seen ended up only being a teaser of her video that just led right into “99 Problems.” That’s one of my favorite Jay-Z songs, but I’d give a million “Problems” for one live “Countdown**.” That disappointment aside, this spectacle of a show was just magic from start to finish. Bey and Jay’s playing off of each other was at times spicy, at times bordering fierce, and more often than not, sweet and loving***. I have no idea what the truth is behind the rumors of Jay’s infidelity — I only hope it’s untrue for the sake of a woman who I admire and respect and wish only happiness — but at least in Houston, it seemed like the two planned on sticking together through thick and thin, for real. It’s almost comforting in some ways to believe that a couple as powerful and talented and incredible as the Carters might have some of the same problems we do:  it means we all have to find ways to deal with it. We’re all in this together****.

*There were times I wanted to say it was a Beyonce show featuring Jay-Z, but every time I thought that, Jay would remind me why they have equal billing. “Hard Knock Life” or “Big Pimpin'” or “U Don’t Know” or “On To The Next One…” 

**Amen. That’s my favorite running song and I definitely missed being able to sing, “London, speed it up. Houston Rock it!”

***Either they’re great actors or they really love each other. I mean, who else could keep up with the other? They’re meant to be together.

****Love forever.

Beyonce & JAY Z - On The Run Tour - Houston

In two and a half hours of music, how do you even pick your favorites? There was the fearless, biting “Ring the Alarm,” the brooding, sexy “Haunted,” the pure anthem “***Flawless.” Even though some awful, self-entitled asshats were standing up directly in front of us and the two rows in front of us, facing backward and trying to shine a light at their friend during that one, I just blocked them out* and sang along that much harder: “BOW DOWN, BITCHES.” And for all of the fiery, incredible songs that ‘Yonce spat out, Jay had his retorts prepared: “On to the Next One,” “No Church in the Wild,” “Dirt Off Your Shoulders.” “Song Cry” was the most vulnerable I’ve ever heard H.O.V.A., which I loved. “Pretty Hurts” was the moment where my eyes filled with tears as I watched little girls fill the stage, balancing books on their heads, only to take them off and open them at the climax of the song — the message, the memories of my own childhood, and pain of my own issues, it all kind of came crashing down but in a supportive, up-from-the-ashes-like-a-Phoenix kind of way. I can’t even single out favorite moments. Beyonce doing MCHG w/ Jay & “Drunk in Love” were the two moments I chose to capture on video. They just kept building on top of each other, crescendoing with the heartwarming “Young Forever” and “Halo” emotional climax that focused on their love and family. I want to live in that ending forever.

*I was so proud of her ability to tune out the distractions. She was locked in and determined to focus on the good.

happiest

I know we already used a similar pic, but that face! What a smile 😀

“Halo” was Zack’s emotional gut-punch, and understandably — we watched the Carters watch home video of Blue Ivy up on the big screen on stage. Bey’s dancers were otherworldly, athletic and beautiful; the stage was amazing, with a little central stage in the middle of the GA crowd where the couple wandered back individually and together to get a little closer to their fans. It was such a densely incredible event that I find myself still processing it now, days later. I’m sort of looking at it as my teaser show for Beyonce, who I still want to see by herself, but having both Carters there just felt like we were getting to be a part of a family of people who just want everybody to feel a little more confident every day. If I could live in the feeling of this concert for the rest of the year, I’d be President by November. I’d totally vote for you. As long as Jay and Bey weren’t on the ballot.

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