Beyoncé's Iconic #Beychella Performance Marks A Turning Point For Coachella [Photo-Essay]
Audiophiles might have survived this year’s Coachella, but thanks to Beyoncé blacker-than-thou performance, the festival will never be the same again.
Coachella 2018 came and went with as much pomp and circumstance before, during and after as is befitting America’s most impactful arts-and-music festival. With all the hoopla surrounding the festival, one has to wonder if the price tag, on average ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands, is really worth the pleasure?
Perhaps to some satisfaction, attendees were not the only one draining their bank account to engage in the fanfare. Ms. Bartier Cardi aka Cardi B reached into her money bag reportedly shelling out over $300K to give us that #TBT TLC-inspired looks doused with mementos from Cardi’s past such as high-voltage strippers and her signature twerking moves. Her performance, sprinkled with appearances from music’s top rappers and crooners was an eyegasm from start to finish. Proving that the Cinderella rapper is truly a force of nature.
Prior to Cardi, we were blessed with SZA, a vision of elegance and beauty in a pink ruffle set dancing between the lines of sensuality and strength. Although cut short during Weekend I, SZA brazenly belted out album hits and a slew of powerful duets with labelmates Isaiah Rashad and Kendrick Lamar. On the last day, Princess Nokia followed up on the same accord as SZA, pushing her narrative through the throng of supporters longing for her emo-rap and alt-rock vibes. Beyoncé’s night featured must-see rising artist Sudan Archives plucking away at heartstrings with her intricate violin fiddling and meditative voice. Proving once more that black girl magic rules the spectrum from rock ‘n roll to classical and soul.
Without fail, Coachella made history these past Saturdays and was thereafter deemed #Beychella after Beyoncé’s reverential performance. Although it was her debut at the Indio, California festival, and the headline debut at that of anyone who looks like her for that matter, her performance stands on its own as the pinnacle of excellence in the art of live music performance. From the tens of thousands of dollars poured into the jewel-encrusted Balmain frocks to the bevy of horn players and skilled twirlers — the intention behind art and design were overwhelmingly present. Bey’s homecoming also ushered in a respectful ode to black culture, highlighting key players like Fela Kuti and key experiences like the black fraternal and sorority societies. The execution of ideas such as these is especially poignant considering the crowd wherein minorities were the minority.
What was apparent from this year more than any was the significance of black women dominating the airwaves and the zeitgeist. From Cardi B to Lion Babe, Kamiyah to Beyoncé — these artists and more are reflective of modern feminist sensibilities that have been echoing heavily over the country’s mouthpiece, as of late. As Kamaiyah responded when Okayplayer asked about her inaugural Coachella experience, “It was a great year for women… the lineup was finally urbaner and overall it was a great show of women’s empowerment.”
Men weren’t left out of the conversation either as Coachella newbies and repeaters also acknowledged the attempts at including broader perspectives. One of whom is Norman Spence from Tank and the Bangas (who just released the banging new track “Smoke.Neflix.Chill”). Although not his first Coachella experience, he too felt that there was finally a “decent variety of music from all genres and that black music was fairly represented.” For South African DJ and producer, Black Coffee, seeing both SZA and Beyoncé perform were undoubtedly highlights of his weekend as well as his inaugural Coachella performance in the Mojave tent. Similarly, Dante of THEY. noted he was thrilled to hop on the stage and vibe with new fans as well as experience Beyoncé in all her glory.
Typically, Coachella has never been the place to go to witness attempts at equal representation in such a high capitalistic expanse but perhaps Goldenvoice, the festival’s organizer, are trying to make it a weekend worth burning a hole in your wallet. This year, beyond the hordes of tinsel jackets and flower crowns, the festival proved to exists as a reflection of social-political trends in addition to being an escapist’s paradise. If there’s only one takeaway from #Beychella, it would be that the times they are a-changin’ and it’s best for Coachella and other similar entities to recognize that their role in those changes is insurmountable.
Scroll through our #Beychella-fueled gallery below:
Bukunmi Grace is a Nigerian photographer, stylist, and artistic director that works between Chicago, Los Angeles, and NYC. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @BukunmiGrace.