Beyoncé’s Maryland tour stop at FedEx Field was a true test of devotion for the Beyhive on Sunday night. While a little rain has never stopped a true pop icon from taking the stage (Taylor Swift and her fans have even made it into one of their cherished traditions), not even Queen Bey can exert control over dangerous weather patterns. The latest show on the Renaissance Tour was plagued by delays due to lightning, which actually forced fans already in the stadium to shelter in place.
“Due to lightning in the area, we are currently under a shelter-in-place order,” FedEx Field officials posted to Twitter at 6:40 PM, about an hour and a half before the show was supposed to start. “Fans outside of gates and in the parking lots are asked to return to their cars. All fans inside of the stadium are asked to shelter in place under covered concourse areas and ramps until further notice. Thank you for your patience.”
The stadium posted an “all clear” for fans to return to their seats at 8:25 PM, but doing so turned out to be a “logistical nightmare,” as one fan in attendance, Troy McConnell, told The A.V. Club. According to McConnell, “no one was allowed inside the actual stadium for about two hours. We were packed into the concourse, no one could move, someone yelled ‘Astroworld vibes.’” There were “lots of sirens and red lights, piles of puke, people falling down,” he said, “it really was a mess.”
It paid off to be up in the nosebleeds, according to Daniel Trebejo-Ariza and Vernon Wells, who remained on the higher level during the shelter-in-place order. They shared with The A.V. Club that they waited for around an hour and a half on the ramps in the upper level, noting that the ramps themselves were flooding and forcing people to retreat further down the stadium. And while they felt the venue could have hired more hands to assist, the staff “did their job pretty effectively in my perspective,” said Wells. “I think moreso, most of the issues came down to the infrastructure of the stadium.”
Down in the concourse was a different story, according to another attendee named Elizabeth. “It was truly insane. Literally thought I was gonna die. People were passing out around me and having panic attacks,” she shared with The A.V. Club. “People were yelling at FedEx security and pushing past trying to get to the escalators so they could get to the upper level. The whole time we could see the upper level and there were just FedEx employees standing there laughing and pointing at us. I saw one filming from the balcony thing.” In fairness, “some were helpful,” and one woman on staff was even “telling people to breathe and miming deep breaths [because] people were panicking [as] the crowd was getting more and more agitated.”
According to The Washington Post, Beyoncé frequently goes on after the 8:00 PM call time; previous Renaissance shows have begun anywhere between 8:45 and 9:30. Many fans assumed the show would be canceled as the rain continued to come down, McConnell tells The A.V. Club, but Beyoncé finally took the stage at 10 PM. Despite the chaos, fans who posted to Twitter in the aftermath still seemed awed by the performance as the Grammy winner powered through the continued downpour. (Though “people were not pleased watching her long beautiful interludes in the rain,” McConnell observed.)
And Beyoncé kept looking out for her fans even after taking her final bow. According to FOX 5 DC, she shelled out $100,000 to fund an extra hour of service for local public transit. “Due to inclement weather that may delay the start of tonight’s Renaissance World Tour at FedExField, Metro will extend the last train by an extra hour beyond the extended closing previously announced,” Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said in a statement. “The extended time means the #BeyHive can stay for the “Party” and still get home on Metro.”
As a final bonus, Beyoncé declared the Maryland stop the “Eerbody on Mute War Winner,” referencing the moment in “Energy” when fans have been going silent throughout the tour. In video of the moment, (most) of the crowd really does do a great job of hushing up. Maybe it’s because they were still shivering from the rain, recovering from the trauma of the night’s events. Or maybe that’s just the power of Beyoncé.
[Additional reporting by Drew Gillis. This story has been updated to include additional quotes.]