What it’s Like to Experience Beyoncé’s ‘The Formation World Tour’ in 360° or Less
I think we can all agree that 2016 has been the year of the Bey. From the "Formation" video drop on February 6 (you’ve never signed up for Tidal so fast in your life) to our “Oh, no Jay didn’t” reaction during HBO’s exclusive Lemonade premiere in April, Beyoncé has never been more human and we love it. Any chance to witness her spilling secrets through song or killing it on the stage is even more of a blessing, so the announcement of a world tour set all our hearts ablaze.
Prior to this year, I’ve been to only one Beyoncé concert–2014’s ‘One The Run Tour’ with her literal partner-in-crime, Jay Z. The show left an impressionable high that stayed with me for weeks, so the second tickets became available for #FWT (as known by almost 60,000 images on Instagram) I signed my paychecks over to three separate dates: Pasadena, Chicago and eventually Los Angeles. Who really needs to eat? I was about to overdose on a spoonful of honey.
April 27 marked the opening night of the concert in Miami. From that day on, I refused to look at all social media or magazine covers and I plugged my ears if I heard anything as simple as a set playlist. Nothing is sacred in our day and age, and I wanted to be surprised in real time. I have to say, living like a societal recluse for 19 days paid off. This is what I experienced in three different directions at the concert that many of us are claiming is "life-changing.”
BeyFloor, Pasadena Rose Bowl, May 14
My friends and I arrived an hour and a half before showtime to people watch, obviously. The majority of the crowd dressed to replicate any single frame from the Lemonade film. Perfectly painted tribal makeup channeled the lyrics “Sorry, I Ain’t Sorry.” Neutral Yeezy-like attire was accompanied by a head full of on-point cornrows. Black oversized flat brim hats shaded those who DGAF if you can’t see the stage. One fearless girl even rocked IVY PARK head-to-hip in the trademark bodysuit and fishnets.
Our seats were semi stage right, ten rows lfrom the BeyStage. Lights went out at 8:30 p.m. and a pulsating shrill ignited. A gigantic monolith lit up like a UFO welcoming us all home, turning as it played a video of our fave and a budding flower. A few spins later, the opening strums of “Formation” began and out strolled synchronized dancers bobbing their heads on beat. She arrives. It takes one sentence–“Y’all haters corny with that Illuminati mess”–for the entire stadium to lose their sh*t. I held back tears as a hot rush came over me. From that point on, until my mind was blown from the barefoot aquatic performance of “Freedom”, we were all witnesses to pure magic.
BeyHive, Chicago Soldier Field, May 28
First off, let it be known that in any other situation, I wouldn’t be able to throw it down like this. Luck was on my side! A friend had extra BeyHive tickets for the Chicago show and was kind enough to give them to me and my friend at a discount price. He told us to be there at 4 p.m. stat because that’s when they started loading people in. We obliged. Cut to the following day…
With three bracelets tightly taped to our wrist, a VIP lanyard draped over our necks and a tour merch backpack handed to us like a survival kit, you couldn’t tell us nothin’. The concert workers asked us which stage pit we preferred (a very serious dilemma) so we chose stage right. Best choice! We lined up to make our way onto the field and were strictly told, “If you run or get out of line, you go to the back." Elementary school rules. I dig it. Looking around at my pit mates for the next six hours I noticed young fans with sparkles in their eyes and a few who were giving me The Bodyguard vibes. Once we herded into the trenches, more rules came. "Do not try to get on stage. Do not grab on Her, and if you are tapped on the shoulder by the security guard, please move out of the way." You got it, dude.
We locked our knees, dug our nails into the fence and stared out onto the crowd as we patiently waited in the summer sun for the queen to arrive. I chatted with a security guard who proudly admitted to not liking Beyoncé and I held spots for friends as they took bathroom breaks.
Some time after 8 p.m., it was lights out. Monolith up. Girls made their way into formation, then Beyoncé confidently walked out just a few feet from our bodies. She was close enough to touch, not that we’d get very far if we tried. I turn to my friend whose jaw hung to the floor and she mouthed "Oh. My. God." We sing along: "Y'all haters corny with that illuminati mess." Are we really here right now?
Throughout the concert, Bey would come over to serenade us with smiles, vocals and hand brushes. Her dancers hyped us up, if there was any level above the hype we possessed. We filmed selfies each time she trotted by and held back tears while She sang “The Beautiful Ones." After fireworks blasted into the air during the “Halo” finale, I turned to the non-fan security guard and I asked “Sooo?” He replied with, “Ok, ok. I’m definitely a fan now.”
BeyCloud, L.A. Dodgers Stadium, Oct 14
My friend and I opted for nosebleed seats. We try to tell ourselves it's because we want to be able to see the entire production from the comfort of our chairs without people blocking our view but I can't lie that a price tag had a thing to do with that. Beyoncé ticket prices are no joke, and for good reason. But she's not the only concert I'm forking bones over to this month, just the most important. I arrived Bey-Hive hours early even though I'm seated in the sky. This gave me time to climb 72 flights of stairs and ponder expensive tour merch without being stung by the masses waiting in line behind me. "Do I really need a $250 denim jacket with colorful patches all over it?" "That lemon fan is cute, though." "Let me go grab a ten dollar water and some stale fries." I waited for my friend to meet me at the Reserve Section which is kind of the stadium’s creators to give the area of furthest seats the most exclusive name. I feel like Blue Ivy Carter for half a second. Once my friend arrived, we killed time by privately complimenting girls' outfits and high-precision makeup.
I anxiously anticipated the opening because reliving it in my brain honestly gives me goosebumps. I’ve become addicted to the honey pot. As those familiar “Formation” strums begin, I start to shake. Observing the show from so high up allows us to see how completely in sync the dancers are with Bey and it is, once again, a magical moment. My friend and I continuously question “How!?” out loud as we stare in awe of Her beauty, talent and stamina. We ooh and ahhh over the creative direction Todd Torso feeds us through delicious graphics and powerful production. This is the best sendoff to “The Formation World Tour” we could ask for. Beyoncé waves goodbye to everyone from the stage and says, “Til next time… Holla.” So, she’s basically saying there’s a next time. Yassss.
Photos by: Beyonce.com