Although I am typically not one to frequent large concerts, there is something romantic about seeing a major concert in a foreign country—particularly when the artist is Rihanna. I’ve been a fan of her music since her slightly more innocent period several years ago. Think “Umbrella” and “SOS”. When I caught word that Rihanna was coming to Israel for her second time, I knew I wanted to be there. My boyfriend and I bought the tickets several months in advance and were happy to have a long time to listen to her songs and look forward to the event.
When the day of the concert arrived earlier this week, the popular Israeli radio station Galgalatz not only had a top Rihanna song countdown, but the guest list for the performance had swelled to somewhere near 55,000.
Since the gates to the concert were set to open quite early, we hopped on the train at 6 pm from Haifa and headed to Tel Aviv.
An incredible number of excited fans flooded the station and poured out onto the street towards Yarkon Park. After a 10-minute walk to the park, we handed the guard our tickets and stepped inside the gated concert space around 7:30 pm. A short while later, the music duo GTA began to warm up the stage. But they stopped when Rihanna was originally set to begin- sometime around 9 pm.
I had expected Rihanna to show up fashionably late. But I didn’t expect her to be late. Unfortunately, whoever was in charge of the tour didn’t do much of anything to appease the situation. Soft background music was the only thing heard as people began to squat on the grass, as they complained, and as they discussed Rihanna’s serious “chutzpa”. This was even before anyone had caught word of the uncool excuse for her tardiness—her Dead Sea Instagram photo shoot. Even though people were unhappy with the superstar, the moment she walked out it was all screams of excitement. Everyone just seemed relieved that she hadn’t stood us all up.
Although I was standing far from the stage among crowds of people, I found a peephole through which I could view a tiny Rihanna figure that I knew to be the night’s leading lady. I was happy to hear most of her best songs and to feel the palpable energy of the audience. And despite minor disappointments that echo what reviews of the concert have reported, I was just happy to be there.
But when Rihanna sang “Diamonds” and the show was over, I had not planned for the evening’s fun to continue. Since the concert ended late, my boyfriend and I were in a rush to catch a train out of Tel Aviv. Unfortunately, without familiarity with the city and with everyone moving in every direction, we had no idea where to go.
After being given wrong directions, we rerouted ourselves and finally arrived at the train station. I think everyone inside of the station can say they have never experienced anything like it. It was total chaos. We were body to body, and people were pushing just to push (think honking at a red light just to honk). At one point someone even grabbed my waist in a pointless attempt to launch me forward.
As soon as a pocket of space opened up, I got as far away from him as possible, braved the stairs, and arrived at the correct platform. At long last we made it safely on the train and had a quiet moment to reflect on the highs and lows of Rihanna’s much-anticipated performance.
So, was the 9 hour ordeal worth it? Yes. Am I ready to do it again soon? Absolutely not.