When I purchased my Beyoncé tickets in January, this was not the type of story I was expecting to write. When one thinks Beyoncé concert, one doesn’t think “gut-wrenching” or “monsoon-induced hypothermia” or “hospitalization.” But as I sprawled across my girlfriend’s bathroom floor, clutching her vomit-ravaged toilet, I was hardly reflecting on Queen Bey’s choreography. In fact, I was pretty sure I was going to die.
But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ve only been to one Beyoncé concert in my life (this one), and it was a harrowing ordeal. I survived, though, and I feel it is now my purpose to impart the wisdom I learned from an evening fraught with tension, mortality contemplation and sugary sweet pop jammers. Here are my seven tips for surviving a Beyoncé concert:
1. Plan for more traffic than you thought was possible.
Beyoncé was set to take the stage at 9 p.m. My crew pulled out of Duke at 5:55 p.m., in more than enough time to catch all of our heroine’s set. We coasted down the interstate blasting The Queen’s phenomenal new record “Lemonade” debating which song was the best. My good friend Austin informed us that Beyoncé’s favorite was the soulful “All Night,” complete with its compassionate Jay-Z infidelity-forgiving and Outkast horns sample. (I’m with Her Highness on this one).
But when we got about halfway down the stretch of I-40 to the concert, we hit...ok, so imagine all the traffic you can. Then square it and quadruple that and then add the numerical value of Warren Buffett’s net worth, and that’s how much traffic we hit. Around 7:30 p.m., I saw people beginning to ditch their cars, attempting the rest of the two-plus miles to the arena on foot. It then dawned on me that we may miss some of Beyoncé’s set.
2. Bring running shoes.
Sadly, I was correct. We pulled into the already-muddy PNC parking lot around 9:40 p.m., a full three quarters of an hour after Beyoncé took the stage. We missed “Formation.” We missed “Hold Up,” the song to which she busts up a street with a baseball bat in the video version of “Lemonade.” We even missed “Run the World (Girls),” by all accounts one of the best-choreographed numbers of the set. In total, we missed about a third of Beyoncé’s performance. We weren’t going to miss any more. My three friends and I made a mad, multi-hundred yard dash to the stadium, entering just in time for the rollicking, Jack White feature, “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” To be honest, even the two thirds of that song that I saw was worth the entire trip. The raw emotion of her performance sticks with me even now.
3. Be prepared for inclement weather.
Around half an hour into our truncated Beyoncé viewing, the heavens opened up for a second time (the first time being the birth of The Queen, obviously). Beyoncé left the stage. The PA announcer advised that the event had been suspended, but not cancelled. My non-poncho-ed friends and I sulked off to shelter, the dampness of our shirts only matched by the all consuming wet of our clothes.
4. Even if it rains, remember to drink water.
Hydration is important.
5. When the Gods grant you more Beyoncé, grasp all of it with tightly clenched fists.
Get The Dirt
Subscribe to our weekly email about what's trending at Duke
When they reopened the gates, the throng of tens of thousands of loyal Trianglers instantly transformed into a jungle. There was no way to verify our seats (except for yellow, “floor level” wristbands), so we pushed our way to the lower bowl level, significantly upgrading our position. Oh my, was it worth it. The next hour of entertainment I consumed is one I will never forget.
Beyoncé returned to the stage to rapturous applause, bursting into an unconscionably hype rendition of “Daddy Lessons.” (For the uninitiated, this is the song off of “Lemonade” that Beyoncé used to prove she could record a better country song than any other living artist, just for the heck of it). She moved the crowd with the tour premiere of “1+1.” (Man, can that Lady sing). She honored the late, legendary recording artist Prince by playing a recording of “Purple Rain” as she changed eye poppingly alluring outfits. (I have never seen a more beautiful woman with my eyeballs). She rocked the crowd into delirium with “Crazy In Love.” (Shout to the Destiny’s Child fans).
Yet all of these moments somehow paled in comparison to Our Lady and Savior’s performance of “Freedom (ft. Kendrick Lamar).” While dancing impeccably through somewhat redundant knee-level stage water, Beyoncé reminded us of our freedom: our freedom from the patriarchy; from unfaithful lovers; from our own inhibitions; from racial barriers and social injustice and pain and fear and haters.
“I’ma keep runnin’ / cause a winner don’t quit on themselves,” she sang.
And in that moment, I had hope. Beyoncé gave me the strength to carry on. A strength which was reaffirmed one hundred fold by her closing performance of “Halo.”
After “Freedom,” she played the video clip from which she got the title of her album. Jay-Z’s grandmother stands before an unnamed crowd, proudly declaring, “I had my ups and downs, but I always find the inner strength to pull myself up. I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.”
It’s a cliché, turning lemons into lemonade. But what is a Beyoncé show if not a cliché? The pop star stadium experience has been done a thousand times over. Beyoncé stands alone not because of her originality, but because of her ability to tower above her peers even while offering a similar live product. A Beyoncé concert shows us the power of the cliché. After all, how could something become popular enough to assume cliché status without offering some sort of higher truth?
6. Don’t go to Cookout after the show if your stomach isn’t feeling great.
You will soon see why this is relevant.
7. When the food poisoning strikes, have kind friends who will take you to the hospital.
Yeah, the post-concert Cookout was a mistake. Around 4:00 a.m., I awoke with sharp stomach pains and proceeded to throw up somewhere between infinity and one thousand infinity times before my girlfriend mercifully escorted me to Duke Urgent Care. I was completely dehydrated (there’s tip #4!) and unable to keep down water. I have never felt worse in my entire life. I experienced 3.5 hours of traffic, two separate downpours, and a stomach plague that reduced me to a green pile of human jello. Yet as the doctor hooked up the salubrious liter of IV fluids, I had one sentence playing on repeat through my mind.