In just four days, Lemonade has been picked clean, dissected like a frog in science class. It feels like everyone not only has an opinion, but is shouting it directly into your ear canal.
The only person, it seems, who is not actively trying to steer your opinion one way or another about Beyoncé’s newest project is Beyoncé, who, aside from a single tweet, has been silent, content to let Lemonade grow organically.
Until now, at least.
Because there she is, the most discussed organism on planet Earth at the moment, onstage in front of a sold-out Marlins Park.
But let’s back up a bit. Before Yoncé took the stage at 8:44 p.m., a small army of hip-hop’s biggest names jumped across it. It was announced a few weeks ago that DJ Khaled would open for Queen B, which seemed odd, and in fact was odd when, at 7:30 p.m. sharp, Khaled walked out to a nearly empty stadium.
But then he brought out Rick Ross to perform “B.M.F.,” which makes sense since Ross is from Miami, but after that out comes Future to “Fuck Up Some Commas” and, holy shit, now here comes Yo Gotti and he’s doing “Down in the DM” and, no sooner than he walks offstage, Lil Wayne is up there screaming out “A Milli” right before Trick Daddy and Kent Jones wrap things up. And these are just the openers. And all that took place in only a half-hour. They had to sandwich that into 30 minutes because even all that star power is only an appetizer. Rick Ross, Future, Lil Wayne, Trick Daddy, Yo Gotti, DJ Khaled — they are nothing more than a mozzarella stick compared to Beyoncé.
Once the parade of rappers concludes, the crowd starts to file in nice and thick. Some are already wearing the “Boycott Beyoncé” T-shirts being sold at merchandise booths. It’s a winking reference to the controversy she caused (mostly to Fox News pundits and your grandfather) with her Super Bowl halftime performance and following “Formation” music video. A few very dumb law enforcement figures, including our own perpetually constipated Javier Ortiz, made threats to boycott the Formation Tour because they misinterpreted Beyoncé's message as anti-police. However, there was no shortage of police presence at Marlins Park.
The crowd waits from 8 to 8:44 p.m. We’re tricked by a couple of false starts that turn out to be Ivy Park commercials, and then the lights dim and the show begins.
Beyoncé is selling BOYCOTT BEYONCÉ t-shirts as tour merch pic.twitter.com/zjD3HcV7XG— Beyoncé Australia (@BeyonceAUS) April 27, 2016
A tall white box, the only thing onstage, slowly rotates, flashing images of Beyoncé as it turns. The twang of “Formation” bleeds out of the speakers and B materializes from stage right. She slowly flicks her wide, flat-brimmed hat up and down, giving the crowd brief peeks at her eyes.
“Miami, Florida. Welcome to the Formation tour.”
The crowd goes louder than it has for any home run inside the stadium as “Formation” turns into “Sorry,” a track that’s caused probably the most buzz on Lemonade. It’s done this thanks to one line in particular: “He better call Becky with the good hair.”
The song is about a man who cheated on a woman, and that line specifically is a reference to the mistress with whom that man cheated. And when Beyoncé snarls it out at the Miami crowd, they sing along loud and angry, ready to find Becky and tear her limb from limb, whoever she may be.
Simply put, Lemonade is about heartbreak. More specifically: infidelity. At this point, that Jay-Z was unfaithful to Beyoncé is about as much a secret as the fact that Sir Mix-a-Lot enjoys large rear ends. It's up to you, really, whether you interpret Lemonade literally or as a work of fiction — or both. Beyoncé has most likely said all she is going to say about the subject throughout the album's 12 tracks, but it's safe to say these songs didn't emerge from a place of unbridled joy.
Could Springsteen have written “Thunder Road” had he not grown up in the armpit of New Jersey? Possibly. But with such authenticity and passion? Doubtful. If sardines weren't on Biggy's dinner plate, would we have ever gotten "Juicy?" Probably not. Did Amy Winehouse sing "Rehab" because she was sober? You know the answer to that one. So, if you really believe the words coming out of B's mouth in Lemonade — if, to your ear, the lyrics are sung with conviction and heart — then it wouldn't be a stretch to assume these songs were created with personal experience in mind.
Still, the Beyoncé that showed up to Marlins Park is not looking for your sympathy. About a quarter of the way through the show, she sings “All Night.” Before the beat drops, she tells the crowd that this is her favorite song off the new album. And that should tell you everything you need to know about where B is now. “All Night” is a bittersweet ode to making things work, and the tenacity of love — even in the face of brutal betrayal.
“Oh nothing real can be threatened/True love breathes salvation back into me/With every tear came redemption/And my torturer became a remedy.”
She sings it with a wide and honest smile. Beyoncé has always been good at finding beauty in flaws. If you tried to give a girl a compliment on her jelly-like physique before Destiny’s Child released “Bootylicious,” you probably were sleeping alone that night.
Those expecting a heartbroken or angry Beyoncé to take the stage were very wrong. The Formation concert is celebratory and uplifting and its setlist is eclectic, with classics like "Survivor" and "Bootylicious" alongside surprises like a Eurythmics cover of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)." It’s classic Beyoncé, choreography tight and stunning, a visual masterpiece. But like everything Mrs. Knowles-Carter does, the show’s main goal is to make you leave loving yourself just a little more than you did before you walked in the door.
She closed the show with “Halo.”
“I want to dedicate this song to my beautiful husband,” Beyoncé said, kneeling in a shallow pool of water, her hair wet from splashing around to “End of Time” a couple songs prior. She thanked god and Prince, whom she paid tribute to with a “Purple Rain” sing-a-long in between performances.
Alone onstage, she thanked Miami once more as smoke from the fireworks cleared and a few final pieces of confetti navigated toward the ground. Then she walked through a slit in the white box and disappeared, on to the next stop, and then the next stop, and, eventually, the whole world. It's inevitable.
- “Run the World”
- “Baby Boy”
- “Hold Up”
- “Me, Myself and I”
- “All Night”
- “Let It Be”
- “Ring the Alarm”
- “Naughty Girl”
- “Independent Woman”
- “Feeling Myself”
- “Drunk in Love”
- “Daddy Lessons”
- “Single Ladies”
- “Crazy in Love”
- “Naughty Girl”
- "Nasty Girl”
- “Sweet Dreams (Eurhythmics cover)”
- “End of Time
- “Grown Woman”