The 777 Tour touched down in New York this morning, mercifully completing its last leg. While many of us aren't quite home yet (still lots of international press and people from LA), tonight's Webster Hall performance will be the last of the eponymous seven. Hashtag-blessed, you guys.
It's a big day, too, because Unapologetic dropped today to HUGE fanfare and is expected hit number one. (To mark the occasion, we here at Popdust ranked every single one of her 125 songs—and are inviting you submit your own rankings.) But, as predicted, the media attention surrounding the tour has become less about Music than Drama. The Rihanna Show, everyone.
The Berlin-London mutiny had the bizarre effect of boosting morale. Maybe that's because it's been (admittedly) fun to hear Tim the Aussie Streaker (below) on the phone with his mother, who "saw his bum" on the news over breakfast. On Twitter, observers alternately sympathized and raged at us, which we read on the 3:30 AM bus to the airport over the various techno dance remixes that would be well-suited to wrest classified information from suspects on Homeland.
But! Most of the Rihann-Argo 150 thought that London was her best show. And later that night, at the airport, an eerie calm had descended even though we were once again hanging in limbo at 4, 5, then six AM. Some of us slept in Boschian human piles on the floor, while red-rimmed die-hards munched shortbread and tried to top one another's sleep debt.
Oh, and Rihanna made another appearance to sorta apologize. (More on that in a second.)
There's a lot to report, so let me recap the events of the last 24 hours in classic Good, Bad, and Ugly fashion.
Hysteria is Kind of Fun
Some of us estimate that we've had as little as ten hours of sleep in seven days. That does things to the human body, but fortunately, some of it is hilarious. Like, for instance, when a writer from GQ passed out in the middle of working on his article. Normally this would mean that one would stop typing, but not on the Rihannaplane, where we're all possessed by the demon Media. He kept tapping away, despite being FULLY ASLEEP, head nodding back and forth and eyes fully closed. At some point, someone started timing him while dozens of us stood around, suppressing giggles and taking pictures. Finally, a flight attendant who couldn't resist added a couple of keystrokes of her own before laughing maniacally and dashing off.
We Already Miss Each Other
As we learned from Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves in Speed, traumatic high-velocity travel really brings people together. We hadn't even cleared baggage claim before the Rihannaplane 150 began tweeting and emailing about separation anxiety.
Did I mention we're off the plane?
As soon as the landing gear hit the tarmac, cheers and shouts of "USA!" went up. In Newark Ariport, some of us threw our hands in the air and gulped invisible rain in a modified Shawshank Redemption homage. Photographer Alex literally got on the ground and kissed it. I reminded him that we were technically in New Jersey, and he ran off to boil his mouth.
Missing: Pop Star, Answers to the Name of NaNa
I think there's a misconception that we're angry because we wanted Rihanna to hang out with us.
That's not the case; I never thought Rihanna and I were going to become best friends by the end of the tour or that I'd even get a minute to interview her. I think most of the frustration comes from the fact that her shows and flights were all behind schedule, meaning the fans and the other passengers were stuck in limbo. On the London to New York flight, one of the journalists handed out a "lost puppy"-style flier that read "MISSING: Robyn 'Rihanna' Fenty" with the date we last saw her. We were too tired to be amused and mostly just wondered when this guy had time to hit a Kinko's. Funnily enough, though…
Damage Control: Too Little…
This was some true too-little, too-late action. At the beginning of the flight, former Extreme member Nuno Betancourt stuck his head out of First Class and told us not to go to sleep because we were in for a treat. In a time that seems too far away to remember, we might have expected an appearance from Rihanna.
But those days were long gone. We, uh, all went to sleep. With about an hour left to go til New York, Nuno and Rihanna's touring band (minus Rihanna) came out with a guitar and a tambourine and launched into a Lenny Kravitz tune. "Uh, thanks?" —the whole plane, pretty much. A guy from Fuse requested Extreme's most popular tune, "More Than Words." Nuno shook his head tersely.
Finally, when we were TEN MINUTES from landing and were all supposed to be seated, Rihanna emerged in a green parka and sunglasses amid her usual scrum of videographers and camera phone flashes. She gingerly took a seat at the front of the plane, where I'm told (I could not even ATTEMPT to get close) that she sorta-apologized for being too sleepy to hang out with us all tour (mmmhmmm). I believed her, but only because my close personal friends Diddy, Pharrell, Akon and Omarion said she'd looked a little tired wile partying with them in Paris until 4 AM. She also apparently referenced Tim the Naked Aussie. The moment I did catch was the closest thing to anything resembling press access to her during the show. Someone shouted, "What do you think about a number one album?" She answered, "I try not to think about those things." Okie doke. That's about when an exhausted-sounding flight attendant begged everyone to take their seats lest we be forced to circle the airport. "SIT DOWN!" someone screamed. She adjourned, they sat, we landed.
If I sound a little low-energy, it's because 1) duh and 2) I'm not really feeling great. After days of ominous sounding coughs echoing throughout the cabin, several of us woke up with sore throats and no voices. One writer boarded the plane with pneumonia and another with bronchitis, and I believe at some point their germs combined and forged a super virus in the rich microbial stew of the plane. I can barely swallow, I'm freezing and am pretty sure I'm running a fever (sadly, not of the dance variety). I'm debating calling it Barbadian Flu, Hepatitis R, and Rihannapox.
The Curse of Time
Rihanna's supposed to go on at 9 tonight, but word is it'll be more like 10:30. We'll sleep tomorrow, I guess.