Beyoncè at Coachella: Nothing Was The Same

Full disclosure:  I have never attended the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.  I’ve always been too young, too poor or too out- of- state.

I watched Beyoncè and a few other acts on YouTube’s LiveStream.  If you don’t have at least $1,000 and a day off work, it’s the next best thing.  You can build your schedule, watch the shows, use VR, see interviews with artists, and more.

If you missed the LiveStream, you can catch it next weekend here or check out the bootleg videos.

You can also still buy $500 passes for next weekend on Stubhub.

Wholesale 2018 Weekend passes sold for $429, up to $1,324 resale.  The first Coachella cost $50.

Coachella had humble beginnings.  Pearl Jam conceived the idea in 1993, when they hosted a concert at the Empire Polo Club to protest Ticketmaster controlled venues.  Goldenvoice adopted the festival format in 1997 after struggling to compete with larger booking companies. Coachella grew year by year, changing with the times.  They added a third day in 2007 and a second weekend in 2012.  Today, Coachella is synonymous with “music festival”.  Every year, about 500,000 people make a pilgrimage to the California desert to bask in Coachella.

Beyoncè and her assemblage put on a homecoming- themed show complete with marching bands, baton twirlers, and male cheerleaders.  Bey pulled out all the stops- and Jay-Z, Solage, and Destiny’s Child.

“When this show is over, they’ll have to rename Coachella Beychella!” Beyoncè’s announcer proclaimed.

Kinda true.

Beyoncè’s show was bigger, flashier, and more elaborate, with more backup dancers, props, production value and pyrotechnics than anything else in Coachella history.  It looked like a Superbowl performance.

What did you expect?

Her set also featured sound bytes from activists Chimamanda Adichie, Fela Kuti, and Malcom X.  Beyoncè, Champion of the Black Woman, sent a strong message empowerment.  She also spent most of the show wearing something dozens of audience members probably wore too: a cropped sweatshirt, denim cutoffs and fringey boots (Blamain designed the costumes).  I fully expect everyone to run out and buy yellow everything after this show.

The queen slayed. Many critics are saying she approved Coachella for black audiences. About time, too- white girls pretty much dominate Coachella instagram posts. I loved Beyoncé’s display of black excellence and power. She’s donating $100,000 to HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities). Right on. And you know she made bank for this performance. Beychella marks the beginning of a new era for Coachella: Big.

I grew up with a small Coachella. A Coachella all about the music. A Coachella before Instagram, makeup tutorials, VIP packages, and $500 tickets.  Beyoncé set the bar very high. Will every future  headliner come with a flashy multi-million dollar production?  Will every artist pull out every collaborator from their entire career just to hold a candle to Beyoncè? Will a Coachella weekend experience ever cost less than a month’s rent? How many of Beyoncé’s black female fans could actually afford to see her Saturday night? Or do we have so much digital access, the experience doesn’t mean as much as the message?

No doubt, big music things will keep happening at Coachella.  It’s been moving this way for years, but after Beyoncè’s performance, Coachella feels like a place where big mainstream things happen, for influencers with deep pockets or rabid fans of a single artist.

Maybe I am totally wrong.  Everyone who goes still raves about Coachella like it’s the Second Coming of Christ.

Maybe I’ll quit my gym membership for the next year and a half and see for myself.

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