#Beychella: Beyoncé is the Queen Bee of the desert with triumphant Coachella show

Lyndsey Parker

“I had time to dream, dream, and dream, with two beautiful souls in my belly, and this was more than I even dreamed of,” Beyoncé announced toward the end of her epic two-hour set at Indio, California’s Coachella festival Saturday — referring to her cancellation of last year’s Coachella show after she became pregnant with twins. Her rescheduled Coachella appearance this weekend was well worth the wait — and it was, in fact, more than any Bey fan could have dreamed.

Beyoncé turned Coachella into “Beychella” with her historic performance (“Coachella, thank you for allowing me to be the first black woman to headline,” she declared), and truly, the word “epic” is not adequate to describe the spectacle.

Beyoncé at the 2018 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. (Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Beyoncé delivered moment after Instagrammable moment Saturday, whether it was the opening number “Crazy in Love” with a brass marching band; a lovely rendition of James Weldon Johnson’s black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing”; a “Deja Vu” duet with her husband Jay-Z; a fierce “Get Me Bodied” dance-off with her sister, Solange; or the flawless, clockwork-precision choreography of her more than 200 backup dancers.

In any other typical Coachella concert, these would have been the highlights. But this was not typical Coachella concert. This was a Beychella concert, and so the major moment came when Beyoncé’s ex-Destiny’s Child groupmates, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, emerged for a reunion mini-set of “Lose My Breath,” “Say My Name,” and “Soldier.” It was the first time the trio had performed together since Beyoncé’s 2013 Super Bowl halftime show, and everyone on the Empire Polo Field (and on Twitter) predictably lost their minds.

A set like this will likely never happen at any other Coachella, or any other festival. This year’s Coachella fest concludes Sunday with Eminem, Cardi B, A Perfect Circle, Miguel, the Drums, and many more, but nothing will top Beychella, so Sunday might as well be canceled.

As for Coachella Saturday, it belonged to the Queen Bee, the queen of the desert, of course — but she wasn’t the only artist who delivered a fantastically bombastic show. Over on the far end of the field, in the Mojave Tent, there was some perfect Beyoncé counter-programming in the form of X Japan, the only metal band of the entire otherwise largely rock-free weekend. Playing their first U.S. gig since the 2014 Madison Square Garden concert immortalized in their rockumentary We Are X, the Japanese glam legends performed a pyrotechnic, utterly unsubtle set featuring band leader Yoshiki playing a crystal piano while joined by Limp Bizkit’s Wes Borland, Guns N’ Roses’ Richard Fortus and — in a different sort of reunion — holograms of the band’s two deceased members, Hide and Taiji. While X Japan may not have had Beyoncé’s massive production value (or massive audience), the adjective “epic” very much applied to their ferocious, face-blasting show.

Yoshiki of X Japan at Coachella. (Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images)
X Japan with holograms at Coachella. (Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Elsewhere, other veteran artists ruled Coachella Day 2. David Byrne was a revelation, and his once-in-a-lifetime set was probably as close to a longed-for Talking Heads reunion that Coachella-goers are ever going to get. The avant showman was arty as ever, taking the Outdoor Stage in an austere gray suit and serving executive surreal-ness as he fondled a pink plastic model of a human brain (this was literally a cerebral show); he was then joined by an 11-piece, drum-corps-like band for a performance so intricately choreographed, even Beyoncé would be impressed. His set ended on a somber note with an updated cover of Janelle Monáe’s protest song “Hell You Talmbout” (in which he rattled off the names of famous victims of racial violence), but during his seven Talking Heads classics, including “Slippery People,” “This Must Be the Place,” and especially “Once in a Lifetime,” the vibe was pure post-punk-dance euphoria.

Speaking of dance euphoria, Saturday’s other elder-statesman star was Nile Rodgers, whose disco band Chic cranked out an impressively endless medley of platinum hits (“music to make you feel something in your soul, and hopefully feel something in your butt!”), including Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out” and “Upside Down,” Sister Sledge’s “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and “We Are Family,” Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” and David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” Rodgers continually boasted about his impeccable chart record, and he even told an amusing anecdote about a clueless person who — not realizing that Rodgers has production and/or writing credits on the aforementioned smash singles — once described Chic as “the best cover band ever.” (Rodgers laughed, “Motherf***er, those were my songs!”) Hey, the man definitely has earned the right to brag: He may have been the only act playing Coachella Day 2 with more hits than, well, Beyoncé.

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