From her hotel room overlooking Friends Arena in Stockholm, Breyana Anderson could clearly hear the music. She could feel it, too. A thundering bass echoing against her windows as she tried to adjust her sleep to a new time zone — just hours after landing in the city May 3.
The sounds woke her up at midnight and then again around 3am At one point, she even heard a woman’s distant voice speaking faintly into a microphone, issuing orders. That voice was unmistakably Beyoncé’s, Anderson said, as the pop icon rehearsed for the first show of her ‘Renaissance’ world tour.
Sleep would have to wait.
Because after navigating a complex Swedish ticketing site, hand-stitching her concert attire, flying thousands of miles on three connecting flights and resolving a distressing hotel booking mishap, Anderson was finally in Stockholm and being treated to a preview of Beyoncé’s long-awaited return to the global stage.
“It was like I had a private concert with just me,” said Anderson, a 30-year-old designer and entrepreneur from Columbus, Ohio. “It made me even more excited for the tour.”
Sidestepping the massive demand for tickets in North America, Anderson is among the droves of US-based fans who opted for the European leg of Beyoncé’s world tour. Many of them swarmed to her first shows last week in Stockholm, where the weakening Swedish krona allowed them to secure seats that were hundreds of dollars cheaper than comparable ones in US cities. Their strategy underscores the lengths to which fans are willing to go, especially in the midst of a post-pandemic concert boom, when some of the world’s biggest entertainers have emerged with new projects.
The resurgence is a surprise to industry experts, who expected a more measured return to live events — “not a tsunami,” as live-music analyst Jason Mercer described in a recent interview with Axios. But increasingly fierce fan demand and subsequent ticket fiascos, from Taylor Swift’s presale nightmare to the congressional hearing and antitrust probe it ignited, signal a more intense era of concertgoing.
For Anderson, who enjoyed Beyoncé’s performance from the coveted ‘Renaissance Club’ section during the show on May 10, the presale mania, jet lag and long lines outside the arena were all worth it.
“I’m speechless,” she said, moments after the concert ended. “Like, I don’t know the word for what that was. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t excellent — it was beyond that”.
At Beyoncé’s first solo tour in seven years, the artist dazzled a sold-out crowd of 46,000 concertgoers with a nearly three-hour performance, devoid of any opening act. Fans who spoke to The Washington Post described it as a euphoric experience that conjured waves of nostalgia as Beyonc interwove songs that span her 20-year catalogue as a solo artist.
“I’ve seen Beyoncé kill it and be super high-energy, but it kind of gave an essence of, ‘I’ve earned the right to curate an experience that makes me feel at ease and at peace and soft.’” said Mercedes Arielle, a travel content creator from Dallas. “It was nice to just see her leaning into her vocals and not having to be all over the stage, somersaulting, gyrating and doing all the things.”
Even before the main event, Anderson was already savouring the best trip of her life, she said.
Joined by her mom, Cynthia Boye, the pair took Stockholm by storm: They indulged in local cuisine, caught a boat ride through the archipelago; witnessed the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Royal Palace; navigated — and briefly lost themselves — in one of the world’s most beautiful metro systems; and marvelled at the cherry trees still blooming in Kungstrdgarden park.
In an email to The Post, Visit Stockholm attributed the high levels of tourism and nearly full hotel occupancy rates in the city to the “Beyoncé Effect.” According to the agency’s press officer, Birgitta Palmr, visitors from the US, Germany and Britain accounted for the largest number of bookings in the city. “There is a good reason to expect next week’s talk of the town to be the concerts at Friends Arena,” Palmr said.
In the Beyhive community, buzz has already reached a fever pitch. Concertgoers live-streamed long stretches of the show, sharing electrifying glimpses of the sets. Fans unveiled their meticulously curated attire — a swirl of textures, beads, shimmering rhinestone and bedazzled cowboy hats. Potential clues about Beyoncé’s forthcoming projects ignited a Twitter frenzy of fan theories. And scenes from inside the arena flooded social media: A colossal disco ball and tour merchandise. With the roll-out and overarching concept of the ‘Renaissance’ tour, many agreed, Beyoncé had unlocked “a new level of mothering”.
Influence of the artiste
“I felt like I’d grown up with her,” said Charles Ray Hamilton, a 35-year-old TV and film writer from Los Angeles. “For me and for many of her fans, it’s kind of like that sense of being a cousin or she’s our big sister — but our big sister who happens to be an alien superstar.”
That was the energy Hamilton channelled for his concert look.
“I found something that, to me, screams ‘Alien Superstar,’” he said, describing a funky designer top he bought last-minute in Stockholm. “I think it fits the themes of that song in particular — that however you feel outside of the norm, your uniqueness is untouchable.”
Hamilton, who had riser seats in the VIP section, said Beyoncé interacted with his group throughout the night, even blowing a kiss in their direction at one point. “We were close enough to see a lot of details, the costuming, the production design and really feel the music viscerally,” he said.
That music strikes a particular chord with him — especially the album’s debut single 'Break My Soul', a banger that encourages listeners to release themselves from the bonds of stress, anger and overwork.
Indeed, just hours before he boarded his flight to Europe last week, Hamilton stood along the picket lines at Netflix to join members of the Writers Guild of America in a massive strike against television and movie studios.
Following trips to Amsterdam and Paris next week, Hamilton said he’ll return to the US with a fresh outlook on his career.
“The show really inspired me to return to my passion projects and to keep writing what I love and what is most specific to my soul,” he said. “And so much of the album is about living life in a way where you fight for your rights, and so I’m definitely all the more motivated to fight with the Writers Guild for what we deserve.”
Such is the power of Beyoncé.
Arielle, the Dallas travel content creator, also cited the performer as an influence on her life and career. “She’s just an amazing talent and a reflection of what it means to hone your craft and work really hard,” she said. “I think that is something that we all can learn from and try to emulate in some way, shape or form.”
But Arielle wields influence of her own, too. With her large social media following and savvy travel knowledge, she aided scores of fans in securing Stockholm concert tickets and travel deals. She even connected with a few during the show. One woman told Arielle that she and 15 friends made it to Stockholm because of Arielle’s advice. Another woman brought Arielle to tears after sharing that the influencer inspired her to see more of the world.
“I think that a lot of times Black women have a very complicated relationship with, like, what we feel access looks like and what we feel like we can do,” Arielle said. “So for me, this is just another example that the world is really ours. It’s just a matter of being strategic about finding ways to make the things that you want to do possible.”
Months ago, Anderson joked about snagging ‘Renaissance’ tour tickets in Stockholm — she didn’t think it would actually happen. But everything had been aligned from the start, she said — including the mishaps and misadventures.
“It all just worked out perfectly,” Anderson said. “This has been one of the best trips of my life.”