Entertainment, Music

Beyoncé, Coachella 2018: a rich tapestry of black cultural excellence

Beginning a series celebrating 20 iconic festival sets across history while 2020’s season is cancelled, we recall Beyoncé’s superhuman desert session

If Beyoncé’s fanbase, the Beyhive, is something of a cult, then her live performances are their holy pilgrimage. Although I had been on three previously, in Boston, Amsterdam and London, I felt relieved when she had to cancel her Coachella performances in 2017 due to her pregnancy – there was no way I could afford to get myself to Los Angeles, let alone buy a ticket.

Fellow Beyhivers half-joke that her shows are like going to church, and by the time of her rescheduled Coachella date in 2018 – becoming the first black woman to headline the festival – it felt like the return of the messiah. By some divine miracle, a friend who had an artist performing at Coachella added me to their entourage as a “backing dancer”. The desert air was cool, but there was a hot rising giddiness in the crowd, mixed with musky clouds that some were exhaling. The festival’s proximity to LA’s celebrity bubble gives it a glittery, superficial vibe; everyone thinks they are a star or can at least buy their way into the VIP area. But even the most faux-nonchalant influencer was having their chill eroded by anticipation.

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Beyoncé, Coachella 2018: a rich tapestry of black cultural excellence

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