Beyonce at American Airlines Center, 7/6/13: Review
Beyonce at a May 2013 London concert. Wikimedia Commons
This weekend, Victory Plaza turned into the Beyhive. A packed house at American Airlines Center spent the evening cheering, crying and twerking for the Dallas stop of Beyoncé's Mrs. Carter Show World Tour. Her reputation as one of the world's most entertaining performers was reinforced by a galvanizing stage show that included a myriad of dancers, pyrotechnics, video installations, a high wire act, two stages and the most beautiful lace front wig you will ever see in your life. (VQ)
By Vanessa Quilantan and Deb Doing Dallas
I know it's easy to toss off the fans of Beyoncé as a cult of women eager to ride the coattails of her empire. Women with thinner hair, cheaper clothes and less impressive entourages screaming along to the songs as though they had the same power, talent and budget. I know the high-pitched giddiness spreading across Dallas on Sunday earned an easy eye-roll from naysayers because her fans, all assembled in one place in their Beyoncé bandwagon, did indeed seem like a cult.
Walking into the AAC on Saturday night, though, for one of the biggest pop tours of the year, I saw few children, no costumes and a crowd of women largely older than 30. It's a strange observation in this class of pop tours, where fans largely assemble dressed as their chosen icon and generally draw a young fan base of Top 40 radio listeners. Even the Lady Gaga tours, which feature overt and advertised bondage-inspired sections, don't deter the under-14 set. This was a class of fluffed and perfumed grown-ass women there to pay respect to the ultimate symbol of grown-ass female productivity. (DDD)
It's deeper than estrogen. The palpable force of female empowerment in the room during numbers like "Grown Woman," "Survivor," and (especially) "Irreplaceable" could be overwhelming. Women love Beyoncé because in a world where we feel consistently disenfranchised by society, her music provides a sense of determination to stay strong and stand up for ourselves. Picture 30,000 manicured fists pumping in unison, eyes welling with tears, and the most beautiful woman in the world assuring you that whatever problems plague your life, you will survive it. You're not going to give up, you're going to make it. Everyone needs to hear that sometimes.
I am happy to overstate the power in Beyoncé's symbols all day, but in her first song of the night she set the stage for why I find her aesthetic divisive in pop music's contemporary culture. The opening bars of "Run the World (GIRLS)" started and it was a contagion, introducing the Beyoncé army to the screaming audience. The song is overly simplistic, trading in her signature melodies for a war-like chant of female power. It set the tone of the night perfectly. First came the dancers, all female, athletic and stomping. Second, Bey herself strode out in time with her mane blowing powerfully behind her like a lighthouse for the chorus following behind. Third, her powerhouse female background-vocals group, "The Mamas," was spotlighted. Finally, her 13-woman backing band, "The Sugar Mamas," was backlit within an inch of themselves, glowing like some sort of alien pack of talent.