Beyonce makes a statement as the first black woman to headline Coachella.
Beyonce’s headlining set at the first iteration of this year’s Coachella was nothing short of a well-oiled, carefully-executed party. Towards the end of her set, the Queen Bey referenced the pregnancy with her twins that put a hold on her original plans to perform at the festival last year, highlighting it as an opportunity to truly dive into what she wanted this set to be for herself and for the fans. “This is everything and more that I dreamed of it being,” she gushed.
Plenty of wardrobe changes, thematic elements and surprise appearances is all everyone expected of Beyonce as she launched into her biggest performance since giving birth. Saturday evening, Bey was tasked with being the first black female headliner in the festival’s history, and she clearly took such an accomplishment to heart. Incorporating significant elements of the African-American experience, she debuted in a regal selection opening with a rendition of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," effectively transitioning into her "Formation."
A central theme of the performance was set on historically black colleges and universities (HBCU). It was a clear allusion as her musical backing arrived courtesy of a full-fledged marching band and drumline that packed out an extensive set of bleachers onstage while her backup dancers all took on the roles of majorettes while select male dancers appeared to take part in a line of brothers in a fictional fraternity, affectionately deemed Bugaboos by Beyonce while she led them all through a series of steps and strolls.
Of course, no HBCU experience is quite complete without a good old-fashioned swag surf, and it was carried out onstage in a perfect sync that would make any one of the Fast Life Youngstaz proud. Other tributes included seamless incorporations of works from the likes of southern mainstays like Juvenile, Pastor Troy, Master P, while even paying tribute to Nina Simone and Fela Kuti among others.
Beyonce would change a total of four times, breezing solo through cuts like “Drunk In Love,” while cruising above the crowd in a floating apparatus, “Flawless,” “Feeling Myself,” and “Partition.” Naturally, Jay-Z showed face to lead his wife into the couple’s “Déjà Vu” collab before vacating the stage.
But the night’s most nostalgic and exciting turn arrived when Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams hopped onstage to unite Destiny’s Child once more as many had hoped when the three women emerged from beneath the stage in a signature Charlie’s Angels pose. They cut through hits like “Lose Your Breath,” “Say My Name,” and “I Need a Soldier” before making room for Solange to join her older sister onstage for a playful dance routine set to "Get Me Bodied."
Other touches of perfection included the presence of a chorus of turf dancers, Beyonce’s favorite duo Les Twins, and DJ Khaled’s voice which boomed over speakers in the middle of the set, confirming that after this performance festival organizers would indeed have to change the name to Beychella. Agreed, Khaled, agreed.