By Toni Walker
Last weekend, the Queen blessed us yet again – this time with a sweeping and unforgettable performance at the annual music and arts festival previously known as Coachella, now renamed to Beychella. If previous performances, tours, albums, visuals, leotards, etc. weren’t convincing enough, last weekend’s all-encompassing production has undoubtedly solidified Beyoncé’s place as the greatest performer of our generation. Not only did she give us boundless energy, choreography, instrumentation, and vocals, but she also gave us the most unapologetically Black performance of her career. From the HBCU inspired full marching band to the sea of Black creatives present on stage, every minute of the two hour performance was packed with signifiers and celebration of Black life and culture. Though I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the performance, below I’ve attempted to capture my five favorite moments from Beychella:
- “Suck on my balls!”
Notoriously known for employing all female backup dancers, Beyoncé broke from this tradition for Beychella and allowed male dancers to join her on stage…as her “Bug a Boos” pledging her sorority, Beta Delta Kappa. In an amusing skit, Beyoncé and her female backup dancers antagonize the Bug a Boos repeatedly chanting the famous lines “Suck on my balls” accompanied by a Black greek life inspired step. This moment beautifully transitions into a performance of Sorry. Then, she takes us back in time singing the Dangerously In Love hit, “Me, Myself and I” over the Sorry production. Iconic!
2. Drunk In Love, Lilac Wine, Swag Surf 3 Peat
The whole concert was filled with numerous thoughtful and carefully planned transitions. While it was hard to pick a favorite, the Drunk In Love, Lilac Wine, Swag Surf 3 peat was perhaps one of the best sequences of the night. This musical genius performed “Drunk In Love,” then paused to spotlight two Black dancers performing to Nina Simone’s “Lilac Wine” reflecting the many ways in which Beyoncé has drawn inspiration from Simone in her career. After the dance break, the beat seamlessly transitions back into Drunk In Love. Just as she gets to the word “surfboard” the beat transitions yet again, this time into “Swag Surfin.” By this point, Black audiences all around the world knew what was up. The dancers and full band all collectively swag surf in another unapologetically Black moment.
3. “Everybody Mad” Dance Break
Is it really a Beyoncé concert without a energy packed dance break? This time, the dance break occurred to O.T. Genasis’s “Everybody Mad.” And no, Beyoncé did not miss a beat, fringed Louboutin boots and all. I’m waiting to see the video matched to various songs as another testimony to #BeyoncéAlwaysOnBeat. Also, I plan on doing critical viewings of the performance in order to master the choreography but Briyonce (twitter: @imbriyonce) already beat me to it. Check her out here!
4. “Ain’t that bout a B****”
Beyoncé thanked fans and Coachella for allowing her to perform (such a gracious queen). She made it a point to acknowledge that she was the first Black woman to headline the festival, then proceeded to drag the festival adding the comment “Ain’t that ‘bout a bitch.” Moments like this really just fill my soul with so much joy. Beyoncé did not come to play with these white people. This show was put together for us!
5. Say My Name Breakdown ft. Timeless Destiny’s Child Harmony
I’m personally always down for a Destiny’s Child reunion despite a religiously offbeat Michelle (the group wouldn’t be the same without her though). The girls got back together again but the icing on the cake for me was their beautiful harmonizing at the end of Say My Name. As someone who truly appreciates harmonizing vocals rooted in Gospel traditions, my heart was so warmed by their performance. Also it was just another great reminder that Destiny’s Child was one of the best harmonizers to ever do it.
See examples here.