Arts & Life, Film & Television

‘Homecoming’ is an inside look at Beyonce’s iconic Coachella performance

Perfection is what we’ve come to expect from Beyoncé everytime she hits the stage; not a hair out of place, not a single note sung off-key, not a single dancer off-beat.

Last year, Beyoncé made history as the first Black woman to headline Coachella since the festival’s debut in 1999. As the singer famously said during her career-defining set: “ain’t that bout a bitch?” Beyoncé provided festival goers with a two-hour long show dedicated to the preservation and celebration of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

A documentary about the historic performance titled “Homecoming,” debuted on Netflix early Wednesday morning. Nearly 500,000 fans tweeted about the documentary, which Beyoncé directed herself.

Immediately following the documentary debut, Beyoncé generously provided fans with an accompanying live album of the same name, available across all major streaming platforms.

At its core, “Homecoming” is a concert film, but it also explores Beyoncé’s personal life.

At one point, Beyoncé discussed all of the difficulties surrounding the birth of her twins, Sir and Rumi Carter. She also addressed her struggles as a Black woman in the music industry, and highlighted the experiences of the cast of dancers and band members that performed alongside her in the show.

The singer is notoriously private, so seeing her more vulnerable side is humbling and necessary for fans that view her as “Flawless.”

Similar to “Lemonade,” Beyoncé puts herself in conversation with various Black luminaries including Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison. Inspirational quotes from all three women are interwoven among the rehearsal and performance footage.

The first and second weekends of her Coachella set are featured, and are edited together with concise precision. Throughout the documentary, everyone’s stage outfits seamlessly shift from all yellow during the first weekend of the music festival to all pink in the second weekend.

If there’s one thing this performance established, it’s that Beyoncé is the queen of transitions. In the documentary, Beyoncé glides through a long list of her hits with ease. During the performance she also includes voiceovers from activist Malcolm X and highlights songs of the civil rights era including Nina Simone’s cover of “Strange Fruit.”

Her greatest hits are impeccably adapted by a live marching band that accompanies her on stage. A booming drumline and flashy brass section make older songs sound new. Classics like “Deja Vu” and “Green Light,” which feature band-like qualities in their original versions sound transcendent with the new arrangements.  

“Homecoming” adds depth to what was already a very clear and concise vision from Beyoncé. It’s an important meditation on the HBCU experience, it’s a celebration of black womanhood and it’s a masterclass on the importance of a good work ethic.

“Every tiny detail has an intention,” Beyoncé said, during rehearsals. “No matter how many times we go through it, there are notes every time, because there is always something we can improve on.”

Footage of the vigorous eight month long rehearsal period is fascinating. Beyoncé describes the process as a “return to herself” following a difficult pregnancy and an emergency cesarean-section.

“There were days I thought I’d never be the same,” she said…”I’d never be the same physically, my strength and endurance would never be the same.”

Despite her struggles, she continued to work tirelessly to deliver a performance that she was proud of.

In addition to her wide array of dancers, musicians, step team members and baton twirlers, Beyoncé also enlisted a few special guests to help her wrap things up. Jay-Z, Solange and Destiny’s Child members, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams all accompanied Beyoncé both on stage and off.

“Homecoming” is a much needed reprieve from a world where it feels as though there is a groundswell of support for white supremacist ideals on a national and global scale. Overall, the film and the performance itself offer up a brilliant display of black joy and resiliency, and a welcome escape from the harsh reality of today’s world.

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