Whew, chile! Talk about an experience! The Beyonce and Jay-Z On The Run II (OTR II) concert was my very first concert and definitely something to remember. When I entered the Soldier Field stadium, I was amazed by the giant letters OTR shinning bright on the big screens. All I could do was bask in their glory. A big grin grew on my face as reality hit me–I was actually about to witness Beyonce and Jay-Z perform live! I know not many people get this opportunity, which is what made this even more special. Although I missed the Vic Mensa, Chance the Rapper, and DJ Khaled preshow (y’all know some of us have time issues), I was unconditionally grateful for the experience I knew the night had in store.
As I sat in my seat, thirsty for Bey and Jay to make their grand entrance, their presence was precluded by a short movie that illustrated the storyline behind the On The Run title. The visuals were simply beautiful. Even though I felt the slight impatience my concert neighbors and I shared for their entrance, I found myself wishing the breathtaking visuals lasted a little longer.
Their entrance was well worth the wait. The crowd, including myself, went wild! I wondered if this had been anyone else’s first time seeing Beyonce and Jay-Z, or if everyone was just genuinely excited to be in the presence of the two legends.
The show was seamless. I mean, even if there were a few mistakes here and there, it surely went unnoticed. Everything was on point–the dancers, the band, the backstage crew, the outfits, Beyonce’s stamina (how she danced for three hours straight in heels not missing a beat or a tune I don’t know), and the set. It was obvious that the show was carefully crafted, and I appreciated that. Not too many artists are unrelentingly dedicated to their craft anymore, but Mrs. Carter is.
In essence, the show was amazing. I feel like the energy of the couple radiated for miles. The Carters literally glowed together on stage. The songs they performed came from the heart and derived from real, human experiences. As Beyonce belted out “Resentment,” a song about not being able to forgive after being lied to, and Jay-Z emotionally rapped “4:44,” a song that recognizes and apologizes for his mistakes within his marriage, their genuity resonated with me. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the couple’s relationship has gone through struggles as all relationships do. The Carters refused to try and paint a perfect portrait of themselves, and I think the crowd’s ability to relate to their roller coaster of a relationship made the concert more worthwhile.
More importantly, throughout the entire duration of the concert, I felt intensely proud to be Black. At one point in the show Beyonce said, “All my people, put your hands up!” She raised her Black power fist high and Jay-Z performed “The Story of O.J.” while the music video played in the background. At that moment I felt a strong sense of hope for the future.
The young, raw talent that was showcased during the concert (such as the double jointed Black man who did tricks, or the young Black dancer who had a emotional ballerina segment) made me think of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s, an era where Black people developed a new, profound American identity; a time when people displayed pride in being Black and showcased their talents. As the marching band and the background dancers performed their hearts out, I thought about how talented Black people have been throughout history. Although we still have a long way to go as a people, the thought of how far we’ve come didn’t leave my head the whole concert.
This concert left me with a feeling of inspiration. Seriously, I left the stadium feeling like I can do whatever I put my mind to, because Beyonce is a Black woman and I am too. The fact that she beat the odds and has made such a huge name for herself with professionalism and hard work is something to look up to. This show was definitely one for the books and an exceptional way to break in my experience of concerts. You will catch me at every Bey and Jay concert from now on!
By Sullivan Anderson, Junior, Jones College Prep