“There will be an hour intermission before my performance, so mark your spot, charge your phones, grab your drinks.” These were Beyoncé’s explicit instructions, released via Facebook, to her fans before her headlining performance at Coachella on Saturday night.
For months, rumors about her performance — including whether it would include a Destiny’s Child reunion — circulated, and the questions remained. What will Beyoncé do to make up for dropping out of last year’s lineup? Without a new album to promote — not that she needs one, she has hits aplenty — how will she put forth something different from the Formation World Tour? And finally, what is she going to wear?
Spoiler alert: Balmain everything.
As if kicking off a sports show, an announcer’s voice opened the night by welcoming the BeyHive to Beyoncé Homecoming 2018. A drum major began drumming mercilessly, stopping only to blow her whistle, which prompted backup dancers to twirl flags and make way for Beyoncé, who donned a custom Balmain robe and bodysuit with a headpiece and cane. The Queen Bee had arrived.
A swift outfit change later, the superstar was in a custom hoodie, cutoff shorts and boots resembling a cheerleader’s pom-pom. She and her backup dancers wore yellow, the color of the BeyHive, and she opened with “Crazy in Love,” her first number-one single as a solo artist.
The homecoming theme was consistent throughout the show, and not just outfit-wise. The stage included a bleacher-like setup from which the backup dancers and marching band — with an added string section — performed her anthems. It sounded like a homecoming, felt like a homecoming and became a true homecoming when the artist, who made history as the first black woman to headline the festival, started rolling out her surprise guests.
First there was Les Twins, the twin dancers who joined Beyoncé on her Mrs. Carter World Tour and On the Run Tour. Their presence marked the return of male dancers to Beyoncé’s stage, and some of them had a name: the Bug a Boos, a play on the Destiny’s Child song.
Jay Z, whose On The Run 2 Tour with his wife starts this summer, appeared about two-thirds of the way into the set for “Deja Vu,” and two songs later came the highly anticipated Destiny’s Child reunion. Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams rose from under the stage in a Charlie’s Angels-like pose. Without missing a beat, the threesome launched into “Lose My Breath,” “Say My Name” and “Soldier.” Solange followed for a dance break to “Get Me Bodied,” making for a full circle moment as Beyoncé previously surprised Solange fans by joining her on stage at her 2014 Coachella performance.
Rihanna and Tina Knowles were among those in the front row watching it all unfold, and to close it out, Beyoncé sang her key-changing hit “Love On Top.” The night was nostalgic and vibrated on a level that can only exist in the presence of greatness. That was obvious in the crowd, but anyone live-streaming the performance — or checking social media for updates — could feel it, too.
It was magnetic, undeniable and precious. It was fervent and absolute. There was drama, hope, love and magic.
It was the ultimate homecoming.