Road Trips with Mayonaka: Back to Back Weekends in Houston

Last month, I was in Houston for Beyonce’s Formation World Tour. I was also in the city the weekend prior (right after I left the Broccoli City Festival in DC) to watch Lauryn Hill present her gifts on stage. I’ve seen both of them perform before, the former at the Mrs. Carter and On The Run tours, and the latter at a life-changing set over a year ago in Austin.

So I attended Lauryn Hill’s show in Houston a week before Lategate happened again. There’s a lot to be said about Lauryn Hill. A fan is pretty much taking a risk when he buys a ticket to her show, but I was under the impression that she had gotten her shit together and was showing up on time and in a healthy mental capacity. I guess she’s still having problems “aligning her energy with the time.” Let’s just throw it out there. Would she even be touring if she didn’t have those debts to pay?

Lauryn’s show was at the Revention Music Center, an venue I had never visited, so I got there late because of traffic, parking, and general confusion. There’s much to be said about Lauryn, but she can still sell some tickets. The line was to the next corner. When I finally got inside, local talent Kristal Cherelle was at the end of her set. DJ Rampage followed with his set that included a Prince tribute and some afrobeats. He wasn’t as entertaining as the first time I saw him do a set. He walked off the stage a couple of times and let a whole song play, so I guess there were some backstage issues happening.

At around 10:20, Lauryn took the stage. Using my concert math, I expected her set to begin at 10:00, so that wasn’t all that bad.

As expected, the music was completely rearranged. I don’t know if this was due to the past issues with songwriters’ credit or because of her own need for self-preservation. I mean, “The Miseducation.” was released when she was 23 years old, and many of those songs are heartfelt and painstaking. I don’t even want to think about the songs I would have been singing 5 years ago.

The first time I saw her perform, it was rearranged with more of a reggae vibe, so I loved it. This time, it had more of a funk and bass-heavy style. I think a lot of people have problems with this. As fans, they want to sing along, but that’s hard to do when they don’t know the tempo and all of the nuances of the rearranged versions.

Another thing about a Lauryn show was that she was constantly giving directions to everyone. The band, the background singers, the sound technicians, the light crew. Nothing was ever right in her mind. She might label it as perfectionism, but it came across as insecure. Watching her wave her hands and point to her earpiece for two hours really distracts fans from the art.

Despite all of that, I left feeling like I got my money’s worth. It wasn’t as life-altering and inspiring as the first time I witnessed her grace the stage, but great nonetheless. She sung all of the favorites in her 2-hour set, and that’s all I could ask for.

But can we talk about the fact that some people joked about how she wears too much clothes? What?!?! Seriously?!?! Have our minds become so oversexualized that we don’t even respect when a person presents themselves fully clothed rather than with all of the T&A? I was so appalled.

Somehow, Mayonaka and I made the 2.5-hour drive home without incident, and I’ve promised myself to never to do such a thing because I was beyond tired.

The following weekend, I attended the Formation World Tour. I’ve seen Beyonce live several times now, and her appearance at the On the Run Tour was the best. I don’t know if she will ever have a show that phenomenal again. For people who love her and have never seen her perform before, certainly they will enjoy it. But for me, who will never forget the greatness of the On the Run Tour, I was kind of bored at several points.

In all honesty, “Lemonade” hadn’t grown on me yet, and that concert ticket was purchased the week after the Super Bowl when the only song Beyonce had as collateral for fans to purchase those concert tickets was “Formation.” I walked into the NRG Stadium uninterested in hearing any of the songs from the new album, but I knew Beyonce would deliver.

DJ Khaled opened the show, and brought out the likes of Slim Thug and Paul Wall. He spent half of his set yelling at the audience, “Are you ready for Beyonce?!” We were. We really were. When she finally took the stage at NRG Stadium, I was beyond thrilled to see her and her dancers. Then, I felt as though she spent a lot of time standing or walking instead of actually singing and dancing. A lot of my friends raved about it being the best experience, and how wonderful they thought the show was, but I believe it was because it was their first time seeing her on tour. Again, I don’t know if she’ll ever top the On the Run Tour. That tour was epic. The Formation World Tour – although wholly entertaining – just does not compare, especially when many of those performances and dance moves were recycled. Yes, I left unfulfilled and thinking that it would be my last experience with Bey. The one thing I did love about FWT was the newly incorporated water scene at the end of the show. Perhaps because it was unexpected.

As we all left the stadium, I witnessed something my eyes had never seen before. A slew of women were walking on Texas soil with no shoes and their heels in their hands. Child, talk about country. I understand beauty is pain, but usually women just deal with it until they get to the car. Not in Houston, bruh. They don’t care out here.

But can I pause for a second and talk about my new discovery in Houston? It’s a casual hangout restaurant in the Third Ward called Green Seed Vegan. I’m trying to implement better eating habits one step at a time, starting by removing meat and dairy from my diet. This place was a gem for me when I’m used to going to a soul food spot. Staff member Lucy was so sweet and accommodating on my first visit. I had the latino panini, which consists of chipotle garbanzo tempeh with avocado, cilantro, tomato, and chipotle aioli on a panini. In addition to that, I was told that the cauliflower nuggets were a MUST, so I order that. OMG! I enjoyed every bite of it. I’m looking forward to the next time I’m in the city so that I can visit that place again.

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