Views From The 7 (Train) After Beyoncé’s Formation World Tour

beyonce-5Photo credit: Daniela Vesco via beyonce.com
When a Mets game lets out of Citi Field, the stampede down the stairwells, across the blacktop, past the old Shea Stadium home run apple, through the Mets-Willets Point turnstyle, and up to the 7 train platform begins. It’s cramped and hectic but always cheery, despite the baseball team’s probable loss—what I imagine a traffic jam in the neo-fascist city state of Celebration, Florida, must be like.

The aftermath of Beyoncé’s Formation World Tour stop in Queens Tuesday night was completely incomparable to your average Mets game postscript.
To start, the sea of concertgoers leaving the stadium felt incalculably greater than the usual Mets attendance as we lurched in one collective mass from venue to station, sucking passersby into our inescapable vortex with every plodding step. MTA and New York City Transit Spokesman Kevin Ortiz told me that 7 train subway ridership swells from approximately 3–4,000 people on the average day to about 10–12,000 on game or event days. Yet one of the primary differences between a Beyoncé concert and a Mets game is that everyone actually stays to the end of a Beyoncé concert.
And so, as I waded through that ominously slow-moving water slide where the water was people and the people were also people, I felt every one of those zeroes—and then some. But despite the claustrophobic body count and excruciatingly sluggish pace, the collective mood was serene. How could it not be? We’d just drank of our sisters and took into ourselves all the power of Beyoncé. We were cleansed. We were refreshed. No stop-and-start crawl could ever kill our vibe.
beyonce-3Photo credit: Daniela Vesco via beyonce.com
Beyoncé’s concert at Citi Field the night of June 7 marked the nineteenth stop on her Formation World Tour, which kicked off in Miami, Florida, on April 17 and will close October 2 in Nashville, Tennessee. To distinguish last night from those other 48 cities’ performances, supporting artist DJ Khaled turned his opening set into a full-blown concert of its own complete with surprise guests Remy Ma, Fat Joe, T.I., Busta Rhymes, French Montana, Travis Scott, Yo Gotti, and Fabolous.
Although the international trek—which will pop from the U.S. to Europe and stateside once more—is tied to the Beyoncé’s recently released sixth studio album, Lemonade, the massive thirty-something-song setlist wove together tracks from the 20-time Grammy Award-winning singer’s entire post-Farrah Franklin oeuvre. The blending of more recognizably personal songs about self-empowerment and suspected infidelity (“Hold Up,” “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” “Sorry”) with similarly themed yet less readily decipherable tracks from the past (“Kitty Cat,” “Ring the Alarm”) was brilliant—and impeccably performed, as always. The mix added layers upon layers of new meaning to the older numbers, as over a decade’s worth of album eras merged into a single unified timeline. The specter of Becky has always been present, I realized with a clarity like never before. “Resentment,” I always got, but “Freakum Dress”? “Countdown”? Beyoncé’s been telling ghost stories for years.

beyonce-1

Photo credit: 13thWitness via beyonce.com
As the clock struck 10 PM, then 11 PM, then midnight, the winds ebbed and flowed with an ever-increasing intensity. The gales swelled at key moments of the concert—most notably during Beyoncé’s cover of Prince’s “The Beautiful Ones” in honor of the legendary artist’s 58th birthday—as if they were a choreographed element of the show. After the torrent of rain the singer endured in Raleigh, the near subzero temperatures she battled in Edmonton, and now the winds in Queens, I have to wonder whether Beyoncé is actually Storm. I mean, she already has the costume.
Windswept and starstruck, the thousands-strong crowd emerged from Citi Field barely able to find the words to describe the spectacle they had just witnessed.
“I thought that Beyoncé was everything,” a woman on my Manhattan-bound local 7, who preferred to remain anonymous, told me. “I can’t believe that she wasn’t tired.”
“It was exciting to be there,” Sahara, another woman on my train, agreed. “That was my first Beyoncé concert… I wish we could’ve been closer, ’cause we were all the way up. But it was a really good experience. I felt so connected to her throughout the concert. I enjoyed it so much.”
After a moment’s pause, she added: “I’m still on a high right now, to be honest.”
Transferring from the 7 to the Church Avenue-bound G at Court Square—following a much-needed sandwich-stop at a nearby deli at the corner of Jackson and Davis—I found my fellow concertgoers increasingly silent as the end of our pilgrimage set in. Despite standing in a semi-packed train, I didn’t really overhear much in the way of conversation; the loudest words to be found in the entire car (“THE FUTURE IS FEMALE,” “Liberté, Egalité, Beyoncé”) were ironed onto T-shirts. In an effort to quell the reality of Wednesday morning setting in, I popped in my earbuds, queued up “All Night,” and opened my book. I don’t remember a single word I read.

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