Rihanna 777 Tour Diary: Los Angeles To Mexico City To Toronto

Rihanna onboard her 777 Tour flight.
Photo: Getty Images

Dude. So this 777 Tour is nuts. I mean, nothing about an international Rihanna tour that happens on a private jumbo jet across seven countries didn’t already sound bananas but there was zero way anyone could prepare for this. Trying to pack the right stuff was impossible. We were told that we could bring two checked bags but that seemed like an awful lot and I thought I’d be beating the system if I just brought a carry-on. Plus, (and not to invoke THE WORST energy ever but…) baggage overages made me think of Aaliyah reports so I thought I’d play it safe. As you know, the first leg of the tour goes down in Mexico City and the second is in Toronto (with the rest of it going: Stockholm, Paris, Berlin, London, with a final show in New York), which means a climate change that spans thirty some-odd degrees. You end up packing a winter coat, some sweaters, a summer dress and a bikini but pretty much all of it’s JKJKJK because you never leave an airport, bus, plane or venue. So far, it’s like a Vegas bender—you just don’t see a whole lot of outside.

The first stop on Rihanna’s 777 tour is in Mexico City.
Photo: Mary H.K. Choi/MTV

So, I don’t know what I was expecting for a Rihanna plane but the exterior and interior of the Boeing aircraft is, well, totally regular, save the fact that Rihanna is actually onboard. I know that was the point, but given how mega famous girl is, I don’t think I would’ve been shocked if she rode in a tiny, sleek plane alongside us with just a select crew of cronies and all different food, gobs of quality booze and pleasantly scented air.

The inside of a 777 is set up so that you’re seated in three columns of three. Well, at least most of us are. There’s a secret, well-guarded cubby area waaaay in the front where Rihanna and her people are, then there’s business class where her sound people, label reps, DJs go. I have no idea what Riri’s rarified region looks like but business class is pretty sick because they’ve got those little sleep pod jams that you see in fancy ads for flights to Dubai. And then there’s the rest of us packed in like journalist sardines. With another segment dedicated to Rihanna’s die-hard fans and members of her Navy. Nobody’s really talking to anyone they didn’t know before, but it is interesting that we all have full-size pillows and NICE blankets. As well as a crew of flight attendants who are extra accommodating and shiny with great hair. I talked to a silver-haired guy from Seattle and apparently they were selected from a “VIP pool” specifically for such flights and there’s definitely something less cranky and more pretty about them.

The business class seats on Rihanna’s 777 Tour flight.
Photo: Mary H.K. Choi/MTV

For every two writers there’s one gear-head camera dude, so for as little room there is, there’s a grip of equipment, too. All told, there’s 200 members of press on the plane and we’re all in various stages of bug-out because get this—there is no internet on ANY leg of the tour. You can immediately tell who’s a blogger and who’s working on some New Journalism Think Piece and doesn’t have to file until this whole thing is over.

You’d think the lack of Internet would make us chill the hell out and just catch up on our reading and nibble on the complimentary chocolate, fruit, wrap sandwiches and ACTUAL, hot, protein-based meals they’ve provided for us (they even sprang for IRL metal, flatware!) but instead this makes us manic and desperate to create as much content as humanly possible because the anxiety that we should constantly be churning is relentless. It feels like anything could happen at any minute and we might miss it.

The food on Rihanna’s 777 Tour flight.
Photo: Mary H.K. Choi/MTV

I’m not gonna lie, at first, I couldn’t tell if this 777 Tour was going to make me an obsessive fan of Rihanna’s or cure me of loving her forever. There’s so much waiting around and the logistical undertaking of ferrying a mob of journos and fans en masse makes confusion and surliness inevitable, but the second Bad Gal RiRi waltzes down the aisle in a black tank, sweats and backpack (with longer, side-shorn hair) to say hello, the trip feels a lot more worth it. I’ve interviewed Rihanna a couple times before but it was ages ago. It’s actually SHOCKING how that famous-person incandescence of hers has been cranked up a zillion times in the last several years. She’s absolutely everywhere. You hear her on the radio in L.A. and in Mexico City and while she is wildly popular the world over, I don’t think she could hold more weight or be a more concentrated locus of specialness than in the midst of this tour. It makes sense since we are basically a moving, international paparazzi feeding frenzy and she knows well enough to humor us with enough, unexpected chum.

Rihanna amidst the paparazzi onboard her 777 Tour flight.
Photo: Getty Images

You can’t really doze, eat or watch TV because Rihanna might hop onto the loudspeaker to chat or tell you that there’s a “real, conflict-free diamond in your gift bag” (there is, it’s tiny [which, to be fair, she acknowledges, but it’s real and she also says she loves us]) and there’s music blaring from her upcoming Unapologetic album in two, black Sonos sound docks in the cabin. For the flight to Mexico from our launch pad in L.A., she also poured us glasses of champagne, deftly ignoring the more obnoxious members of the press who were screaming and shoving at her from literal inches away.

Rihanna pours champagne while onboard her 777 Tour flight
Photo: Getty Images

Rihanna sidestepped them and deliberately toasted those among us who were being patient (Jeff Rosenthal from Rolling Stone got one and he even drank it which is CRAZY since he never drinks. To wit: Rihanna champagne is not normal champagne.). We’re basically all being gradually conditioned to behave. So far the Australians have gotten the best original video footage by appearing sweet but staying insistent (and SO FAST) and while we were waiting for bags from Mexico in the Toronto terminal; she blocked a couple of the Europeans and Team Japan with her security to hug and chat with her superfans from Twitter.

OK, so that’s another mystery. There’s a group of kids here—probably four or five of them varying in age from 21 to about 25) who, like, knows Rihanna from the Internet. But for real knows her. They know ALL the words to the unreleased album. They seem to be the only ones who know where each secret venue is and they refuse to talk about her beyond how much they love her. They won’t divulge a damned thing—how they know her, how they got here, and when you ask them how they’ve memorized the songs, they roll their eyes like they couldn’t imagine a universe in which they wouldn’t. We have some video footage of them that we hope to release later.

So far we’ve only seen the Mexico show since the Canada show is tonight but the first stop was incredible. It was a rewarding mix of OG Riri (“What’s My Name?”, “Umbrella,” “Disturbia,” “Live Your Life”) and the new stuff. Wearing another all-black outfit, this time in a bralette (that hid her GIANT tattoo), a black, leather, baseball jersey that was worn open and later slung around her hips, black knee shorts and black booties, Rihanna also downed a tequila shot as a toast to the city before launching into a fantastic acoustic set with ALL the jams, like “Take A Bow” and “Hate That I Love You.” From her new album, she sang “Diamonds” and “Fresh Off The Runway” and both were so apparently fresh enough that she didn’t quite know all the words. :/

Rihanna performs at the Mexico City stop on her 777 Tour.
Photo: Getty Images

Still, the show was awesome and the crowd lost their minds to the kicker—“We Found Love.” Also, despite being two hours late due to plane delays and stray luggage issues, Riri sang a full set which was particularly impressive because all of the fans won free tickets to the relatively small venue (Plaza Condesa holds about 1,500) and I have to say, the horribly cynical part of me anticipated a desultory promo performance of six or seven records at most. The sort you get when an A-lister performs at a tech showcase.

I guess I was hardcore managing my own expectations because all in all the first day was great. So far, the best parts have to be the Rihanna socks and the acoustic “Take A Bow” because that is my JAM. Oh, if you want a crew of awesome people to follow for other POVs of this tour, check out Jeff Rosenthal for Rolling Stone, Julianne Escobedo Shepard (she’s the fantastic writer who covers RuPaul’s Drag Race for us) for Spin, Soo Young Kim from Complex, The “YN” Elliott Wilson, Felipe Delerme for Fader, Erika Ramirez from Billboard and our own Maud Deitch are all on board. More soon.

Stay tuned to MTV Style for all the 777 tour news!


Like us on Facebook so we can be friends and follow us on Twitter @MTVstyle to talk.