As I worked my way through the bustling crowd at Nashville's Nissan Stadium to get to my seat, I already began to detect a difference. Demographic groups I'd previously seen in smaller portions were substantially larger, necking up with Bey's primary audience of black women in their 20 and 30's. The most notable additions were children (which is interesting because Beyoncé's music hasn't been kid-friendly since 2013), older black women and white men. I thought "Humm...this is interesting," and quickly got back to focusing on locating my section. Once there, I began chatting up the woman next to me. Usually when I do this, it results in a fun stan-session and they're my BFF for the next few hours. This time, I was dealing with someone who described themselves as "a big fan," but only had the Lemonade album, and on stream at that (which is not ownership). Sigh. When Chime for Change ads and music videos for Montina Cooper, Sophie Beem and sister-duo Chloe & Halle started to play, I heard people ask "What's Chime for Change? Who are these singers?" I had to explain that Beyoncé was a co-founder of a fund-raising organization for women, Cooper was one of her background singers, and that the other artists were those she's signed to her record label. "Beyoncé has her own label?," inquires a woman wearing a shirt that reads "'Cause I Slay," a lyric from the single "Formation." Double sigh.
A couple of numbers in, the opening chords of "Me, Myself & I" (my favorite ever) slowly ring out. I identify it instantly and jump down the stairway. I couldn't contain myself. It was last on the set-list in 2007 for "The Beyoncé Experience;" hands were up and amen's were shouted like it was a church service then. At this venue though, I apparently was the only one prepared for the deliverance. No one in my area seemed to recognize the song (I was pretty darn close on the side too). Bey talked about how it came from her first solo album and thanked everyone for riding with her since Destiny's Child arrived 20 years ago. I grumbled under my breath, "Too bad most of the people over here don't know anything about that." Later, footage of her talking to a camera at age 16 comes across the screen. I smile warmly. It came with DC's debut, back when there were CD-ROM bonus features. I reminisced about how impressed I was with Bey's focus and spirituality. I related to her perspective and found her adorably endearing. When material like this is pulled out of the vault for the stage, it's precious. A flood of memories rush over; you recall your life at the time, the significance of that piece and where your favorite artist (who's likely reflecting back with you) was in their career. It creates a nostalgic nirvana that's overcoming, particularly when it's happening at mass. Watching that tape threw me into thinking about how I have practically grown up with this woman (we're close in age) and the mark that she's made on me. Additionally, as a music nerd, it's such an honor to have bared witness to an artist's development from the early stages and be able to testify to it. You get to carve "I was here" in the door. However, as with "Me, Myself & I," my near-nirvana was abruptly interrupted when someone said, "Whoa, where'd that come from?"