I’m Friends With The Monster

This summer I got the grand opportunity to see one of the world’s most renown rappers of all time in concert at the MetLife Stadium with one of pop’s very own princesses: Eminem and Rihanna. Eminem a.k.a. Marshall Mathers a.k.a. Slim Shady has always seemed to me like one of those “larger than life” music figures. To be honest, I don’t consider myself the biggest Eminem fan but I’ve been exposed to his music for as long as I’ve cared much for music in general. My boyfriend is the true diehard Eminem fan and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see these two headline a concert. I also needed to see if Shady lived up to all the hype.

On Saturday, Aug. 16, we drove over to New Jersey for one of the Monster Tour’s only Northeast stops. I had never been to a huge stadium concert before, the type to which people show up nearly 10 hours in advance to then stand for four hours—all before the concert even starts. People of all ages—even children, how dare they!—were there to enjoy the rap, hip-hop and pop fusion.

One fascinating thing I noticed  while looking at the people rolling up to the parking lot and standing on line was the fashion sense among the crowd. One woman donned four-inch heels, some wore leather shirts and skirts and a surprising amount of guys sported hoodies and sweatpants, despite the 80-degree weather.

With floor tickets, we ran to get spots with good sights of the stage—our efforts were futile. Nonetheless, there was no missing the video footage displayed on the huge screens at a slant above the stage. As soon as Rihanna flashed across the screens, the crowd roared. The footage was similar to that of “The Monster” music video except their dialogue suggested they would appear on stage at any moment. Two doors opened up and out walked Rihanna with an entourage of dancers, beginning the song “Numb.” Her dance moves weren’t out of this world, but it felt totally cool to dance in the presence of the very woman whose music brings dance floors around the world to life.

Then out came the “Rap God.”

Swayin’ and swervin’, the crowd became one big choir when Eminem started performing his verses from  “No Love.” He then rapped lines from “Renegade” over Rihanna’s vocals to “Run This Town” and the crowd went wild. No really, “Live Your Life” and “Crack A Bottle” came on and the same excitement I felt when those songs came on the radio during high school flooded right back to me.

To be completely fair, there were a number of times when all I could hear were Rihanna’s backup singers and Mr. Porter, Eminem’s hype man. But Rihanna’s performances of “Stay” and “Love the Way You Lie (Part II)” and Eminem’s “Like Toy Soldiers” nestled a soft spot in my heart. I teared up a bit at hearing the songs live and seeing the entire stadium shine bright with cellphones and lighters.

I think the diehard fans could have easily been let down by the prioritization of show over authentic performance, but the more I think about it, the more I realize it was all about the experience. The fame these musicians have achieved seems to have moved them past the value of small, intimate venue performances. We might just have to deal with this necessary evil. The night will still be an unforgettable one, a night when I danced like a fool and teared like a proud mom.