Just as she’s known for her elaborate stage designs and fierce dance moves, Beyoncé is also characterized by keeping massive projects a secret right up until they’re about to be released. While a documentary special of the Coachella concert isn’t entirely surprising, Netflix’s Sunday announcement was the first time we learned of its existence.
Dubbed “Beychella” by DJ Khaled, the April 2018 headlining set attracted viewers worldwide via the Coachella live stream, which repeated the performance the following day. Since then, fans have had to content themselves with crowd videos to relive the entirety of the concert, which captivated social media and became the subject of countless essays.
“Beychella” became a stunning spectacle. Beyoncé's first major performance since giving birth to twins was essentially an ode to historically black colleges and universities and, more broadly, black culture, complete with a drum line, majorettes, step-dancing and a mock probate. More than a hundred dancers and musicians donned the Beyhive’s signature colors, yellow and black, and flanked the singer as she moved from song to song, including “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” commonly referred to as the black national anthem.
It was all even more remarkable given the setting. Coachella hasn’t been particularly known for attracting a diverse crowd. (The day before Beyoncé headlined, Vince Staples referred to the Coachella main stage as “the white people stage.”)
Following the performance, Beyoncé's mother wrote on Instagram that she had told her famous daughter that she was “afraid that the predominantly white audience at Coachella would be confused by all of the black culture and Black college culture because it was something that they might not get.”
Beyoncé responded that she has “worked very hard” to get to a point where she has a “true voice” and that at this point in her life and career, she has “a responsibility to do what’s best for the world and not what is most popular,” Tina Knowles wrote. Beyoncé had hoped her performance would also inspire young people to enroll in HBCUs. (She subsequently started the Homecoming Scholars Award Program.)
The trailer Netflix released shows the documentary will likely get into the genesis of the performance, including the no-doubt-intense rehearsals to get the intricate dancer and musician formations so exact.
Beyoncé had initially expected to headline Coachella in 2017, but she had to back out because of her pregnancy. And it was during that performing hiatus that she came up with the concept for Coachella.
“I had time to dream and dream and dream with two beautiful souls in my belly, and I dreamt up this performance,” she said mid-performance. “And this is more than I ever dreamt of it being. And thank you guys for sharing this with me. I hoped you all enjoyed the show. I worked very hard.”
The Coachella performance also featured more traditional Beyoncé attire (sparkly leotards); a Destiny’s Child reunion (Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland joined her onstage to sing “Say My Name” and “Soldier”); a Jay-Z cameo (for “Deja Vu”); and a sister dance-off with Solange to “Get Me Bodied.”
“Homecoming” marks Beyoncé's first Netflix collaboration. HBO has previously aired her concert specials and documentaries, including 2016′s “Lemonade.”