Never in Coachella history has anyone had to contend with a set like Beyoncé’s. On some level, she rendered all music before and after superfluous. She will be all everyone talks about and the thing everyone takes away from Coachella 2018.
But other acts made a sporting go of it, and tried to assert themselves into this history-making weekend for our headliner.
If you’re Cardi B — the Bronx-born rapper whose debut “Invasion of Privacy” just topped the Billboard 200 — you come to Coachella and perform for a crowd of maybe 50,000 people, as she did Sunday evening.
That's how Vince Staples, the deeply skeptical Long Beach rapper, referred to the main stage of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival as he found himself performing — with one eyebrow cocked in surprise — on just that platform Friday night.
And he was hardly being unfair: Since its founding in 1999, the annual multi-day event in Indio, which is widely regarded as the country's most prestigious music festival, has generally privileged rock and dance-music acts such as Radiohead, Paul McCartney and Calvin Harris; in turn, the show has developed a loyal audience known, if somewhat less accurately, as a congregation of rich white kids.
While there weren’t many guitars on Coachella’s mainstage, plenty were tucked away into the club-like atmosphere that is of the Sonora tent. But rock fans shouldn’t be bummed about being pushed aside to an out-of-the-way dome: The place, at least, is air-conditioned, making it one of Coachella’s best not-so-hidden gems.
On Friday, the Regrettes delivered a spirited set of ’60s-tinged pop with a punk rock edge. With band members ranging in age from 17 to 21, the local act makes the case that today’s young’uns haven’t completely abandoned the sounds of yore, all while putting a topical bent on songs that celebrate weirdness and individuality while tackling topics such as sexism and cultural divisiveness with a snarl.
The following day, Priests put even more anger into their songs, which could veer from the good-time vibe of surf rock to scrappy, stuttering anthems aimed at confronting the listener.
Beyoncé wasn’t the only comeback story of Coachella as the weekend also played host to the return of Jamiroquai.
The British electro-funk collective, which rose to prominence in the mid-’90s, played its first concert in America since 2005 late Friday night.
Jamiroquai’s heady approach to funk lured a massive crowd of bodies that spilled out of the Mojave tent — a feat made most impressive as the band was programmed against the Weeknd, one of the festival’s mega-draws this year. The band delivered a spirited set that kept fans dancing into the early morning, long after the mainstage crowd had exited.
Yes, we are still trying to recover from Beyoncé’s deliriously over-the-top showing at her historic Coachella set on Saturday night.
There’s lots to unpack, and more time (and another viewing) is required, but one thing folks are still gobsmacked over is the sheer scale of the production, made possible with nearly 100 dancers and band members who helped the pop star bring her homecoming to life.
For those who didn’t watch — or did catch the show, but didn’t get it — Bey framed her comeback performance as if it was the half-time show during homecoming, more specifically one set at a historically black college or university where the annual celebration is somewhat of a religious experience.
Of course there was the muscular choreography she’s revered for, which stayed on theme by incorporating stepping and J-Setting — movement born out of black college life — and Beyoncé even created her own sorority, Beta Delta Kappa.
But at the core of her exhilarating performance was the marching band, which, like the rest of her set, was true to detail.
A year after Beyoncé was originally set to take the stage at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., the pop star finally made history Saturday night as the first black female to headline the event.
During a more than two-hour-long set that closed out the night on the festival’s main stage, Queen Bey delivered an electrifying performance of her greatest hits, backed by a hundred singers and dancers, and a drumline. The show also featured surprise appearances by her husband, Jay-Z, sister Solange, and a 20th anniversary reunion with her former Destiny’s Child group mates, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.
Topping it all off were five dazzling outfit changes featuring custom looks by Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing created in collaboration with Beyoncé’s stylist, Marni Senafonte, and the singer herself. Rousteing also designed the looks worn by the backup dancers and musicians.
Some artists and social media observers thought the crowd at this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival appeared as dry as the climate.
“This is dry,” said Tyler, the Creator during his set on Saturday night. “I haven’t had a set like this since 2011. The fall-off is real.”
As artists like SZA, The Weeknd and Vince Staples took the stage at the premiere music festival — one that had its roots in underground rock but has expanded to EDM, hip-hop and R&B in recent years — their fans took to Twitter to lament about how lackluster their fellow festival-goers appeared.
Look, there's really no other way to say it: Beyoncé's headlining performance Saturday night at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was one of the most impressive things I've seen in 20 years of professional show-going.
The scale, the reach, the detail — and the feeling — simply put it on a level higher than those on which most other artists operate.