Why I Attended Beyoncé's Renaissance Tour in Three Different Cities
"My name is Malaika, and I have a confession to make. They say the first step to recovery from addiction is admitting you have a problem. Well, here goes. It all started innocently enough when Beyoncé dropped her seventh solo studio album, 'Renaissance,' last summer. Almost instantly, I was hooked.
Beyoncé's international tour in support of the album proved equally irresistible, and it became an expensive habit. One show was not enough; I had to see her multiple times. Somehow, I went from trying to snag tickets for her first North American stop in Toronto to sprinting through Atlanta's airport, high-waisted jeans loaded with essentials, to catch a last-minute flight to Tampa. It was a journey that took me deeper into the realm of the Beyhive than I ever imagined.
So, how did I get here?
It all starts with the 'Renaissance' album itself. As Beyoncé celebrates two decades as a solo artist, I've marvelled at her evolution. Unlike most artists who plateau in their later years, Beyoncé has only improved. Her vocals, her willingness to experiment, her commitment to celebrating Black musical artistry—all of it came together in the gift that is 'Renaissance.'
The album featured songs that transcended geographical and sonic boundaries, tapping into genres that hold special places in our hearts—from house parties and HBCU homecomings to cookouts and queer ballrooms, spanning from D.C. to Detroit. Beyoncé showcased these diverse sounds on global stages, regardless of their commercial potential.
For a month, 'Renaissance' was the soundtrack of my life. It offered a constant stream of new melodies, samples, and sonic delights. Each listen revealed something new, making it an infectious antidote to the two years of pandemic-induced despair and unrest.
While R&B had taken a somber and minimalist turn to match our collective mood, Beyoncé arrived with maximalist, beckoning us to venture outside, like childhood friends urging us to play after being cooped up for too long. I couldn't get enough.
Thankfully, I wasn't alone in my obsession. A group of friends and I devised a plan: each of us would try to secure tickets in different cities to increase our chances of getting into just one show. Through a stroke of luck—thanks to a friend who managed to snag Toronto tickets—we secured our entry.
Our foursome was complete, and weeks later, I received an email notifying me of a chance to purchase tickets for Beyoncé's Atlanta show. I thought I might as well give it a try, even if it meant reselling the coveted tickets. In the end, I found myself buying two tickets in the 100 level of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, even closer than our Toronto seats. I couldn't help but feel like I had won the golden ticket to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.
I never would have predicted this level of Beyoncé devotion when she released 'Dangerously in Love' in 2003. But once you've witnessed Beyoncé live, as I did during her 'I am...Tour,' there's no turning back. Yet my admiration for Beyoncé runs even deeper.
For a brief period after graduate school, I contemplated abandoning my plans for law school to pursue a full-time career in dance. During those two years, a picture of Beyoncé, flanked by her iconic dancers from the Sasha Fierce era, adorned my cellophane as a constant reminder of my aspiration to reach the pinnacle of the dance world.
Dancers understand the sheer difficulty of the craft, but Beyoncé managed to seamlessly combine intense dancing with powerful vocals and gravity-defying stunts during her tours. She embodied excellence and reached a level above it. When your life revolves around the stage, or the dream of being on one, you can truly appreciate the immense dedication an artist puts into their work. Witnessing a Black woman achieve such heights is awe-inspiring.
Beyoncé's appeal extends far beyond her stage performances, particularly for many Black and queer individuals. Unlike many artists who follow a formula for pop stardom, Beyoncé has taken the road less travelled. She has elevated every corner of Black music, celebrating genres that hold cultural significance for us all.
This is precisely why the 'Renaissance World Tour' and the 'Renaissance' album resonate more with die-hard fans than casual listeners. It's for those of us who prefer 'Get Me Bodied' over 'Crazy in Love.' It's for those who can sing '1+1,' interludes, and adlibs like we're part of her background choir. It's for those who once had Beyoncé on their vision boards and couldn't stop listening to 'Renaissance,' no matter how hard they tried. While she may not perform all her chart-topping hits, the 'Renaissance Tour' offers everything her biggest fans could ever desire.
After booking a last-minute flight to Tampa, frantically searching for resale tickets in the closest section possible (Beyhive A, a VIP, standing room-only section directly in front of the stage), I knew I was indeed one of those devoted fans.