I couldn't believe my ears when I found out I was joining Rihanna on a worldwide tour. Well now I'm three countries and three shows deep, and the reality of it has finally sunk in. The 777 Tour, where myself and 300 other members of press, contest winners, and fans are stuffed onto one gigantic plane, is almost at the halfway mark. So far it's been a crazy ride.
7 Countries, 7 Days, 7 Shows
I flew from New York City to Los Angeles on Tuesday morning to embark on the mysterious 777 Tour. I checked into the hotel and Rihanna's team at Universal gave me an exhaustive schedule for the next seven days. I read through the itinerary and got tired just by looking at it. Half the time, we don't even spend the night in the chosen cities—we just hop back on the airplane straight after the shows. But I'm not complaining, I just underestimated the life of a pop superstar. I thought to myself, how does Ri do this year-round and not look like a complete zombie?
I didn't expect to see Rihanna at all on the first flight of the tour until we landed, but to my surprise, she walked through Coach as soon as she stepped on the plane and greeted us common folk: "What's happening UP. IN. HERE?!" she screamed. We went beserk. The cameras and phones flashed nonstop, so it was impossible for me to see what I was most interested in—her clothes. But, as soon as she walked by my aisle, I caught a glimpse of the all-black outfit with a varsity jacket tied around her waist and black and Volt green Air Force 180s. She looked fly as fuck, per usual.
After everyone took their seats, Ri entertained us via intercom. "Are you ready for Me-hi-co? Are you ready for tequila?" Cheers. Screams. The Australian press was especially excited, though it might've just seemed that way because their accents are so aggressive. Soon after, Rihanna came down the aisles with her personal assistant Jen Rosales to pour everyone Ace of Spades and Hov's D'USSÉ cognac. #RihannaPlane was officially on and poppin'.
A few hours later, we landed in Mexico City and went straight to the venue. She came on stage with a black and red Alexander Wang baseball jersey (an A$AP Rocky favorite), a custom-made bra, and long shorts. Her bare midriff winding to the opening song, "Cockiness" had the crowd going nuts. It wasn't long before she tucked the jersey into her shorts to channel her favorite trend of the moment, the shirt-tied-around-the-waist. RiRi performed most of her hits*, snippets of features, and two songs from her upcoming seventh album Unapologetic—"Fresh Out The Runway" and "Diamonds." She closed with "We Found Love" and a blast of confetti. The crowd screamed and jumped to the beat. First show down. Six more to go.
*Set List: Cockiness, Birthday Cake, Talk That Talk, Wait Your Turn, Man Down, Only Girl in the World, Disturbia, S&M, Fresh Out the Runway, Unfaithful, Take a Bow, Hate That I Love You, Where Have You Been, What's My Name, Run This Town, Live My Life, All of the Lights, Diamonds, Umbrella, We Found Love
So. Tired. Already.
The 300-plus crew hopped back on the plane for a red-eye to Toronto. Because of delays, we didn't have much time before doors opened at the Danforth Music Hall, which meant the press was drinking Red Bull and 5 Hour Energy, heavy. As soon as we got into the venue, the usher showed us to our seats. Wait, what? Assigned seating at a pop concert? I already knew Canadians were weirder different than Americans, but the fact that they thought people wouldn't stand and dance was bizarre. Once the house lights dimmed, Rihanna stepped on stage in a white version of her custom bra, this time with a gray jacket with black leather sleeves and an awkwardly long pair of wide-leg shorts. It's amazing how she can make anything look awesome. Suddenly, I found myself wanting gigantic unflattering shorts, too.
Though she's not the choreographed type, her ability to dance around in Manolo Blahnik heels is impressive. The second show had slight changes to the set list; she added "Please Don't Stop the Music" and "Love the Way You Lie." The crowd was hoping for T.Dot's very own Drake to make an appearance, but his tweet about being back in the studio proved it wouldn't happen this time around. Oh well. Back onto the plane we go.
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First Place Goes to Stockholm
Another red-eye to the next city: Stockholm, Sweden. The 8-hour flight was our first real test of 777 summer camp. Swag was not an option. Everyone had to get in sweatpants, and even on-air talents removed their make-up before takeoff. I covered my face with a blanket to make sure none of the video recorders could catch me drooling. Can't have that.
Everyone was in a good mood after landing though, because Stockholm would be the first place we'd spend the night. We checked in to our rooms, and came out dressed and ready to party. It was clear once we arrived at the venue that this show was going to be way better than Mexico City and Toronto combined. The Berns Salonger venue looked swanky and new, with crystal chandeliers lining the ceiling. The energy in the room was on a trillion, and the crowd was buzzing with the news that Kanye was in town. Would he possibly join Rihanna on stage? His remix of "Diamonds" was released only an hour prior to the show. Is this it? Her first surprise guest?
I walked around before showtime to people watch and check out local Stockholm style. There were lots of old dudes in suits, and all the women looked like Amazons—tall, beautiful, and stacked. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw a skinny kid in a pair of Yeezy 2s. As I looked closer—leather pants, check; black hoodie, check; a denim shirt tied around the waist. Holy shit. This was a real-life "Street Detail" poster boy. I had to talk to him. "Hey, do you mind if I take a picture of you?" I asked. "Sure," he replied, unenthusiastically. Then I asked if he ever heard of Complex and his reaction changed completely. "COMPLEX? I love Complex! I read Complex Style everyday!" I beamed. WORLD TAKEOVER. Stockholm already won in my book.
Showtime. Neon lasers started beaming and Rihanna came out in a tight white tee; no custom bra this time. In fact, no bra at all. High-waisted denim shorts were buckled with a vintage Versace-esque belt, and around her neck hung a huge gold Chanel chain. She slayed the game with that one. 2 Chainz is crying right now.
She performed the same set list from the first night, hit after hit, jam after jam. But right after "All of the Lights," (which Kanye didn't come out for), she sang a ballad from her new album. This was only her second time performing the emotionally charged "Stay," the first time being on Saturday Night Live last weekend. She moved right into "Diamonds," and again, Kanye was nowhere to be found. Ah well. Not disappointing at all though, because this show was still the best of three so far. She seemed more energized, despite our crazy tour schedule, most likely from the crowd showing her a wild amount of love. But when she didn't show up to her own after-party in the basement club downstairs, I knew she was sleep-deprived like the rest of us.
Today, we fly out to Paris for show number four. Part two of my experience on the 777 Tour to come soon.
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