On Saturday night, the reigning queen of American music, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, became the first black woman to headline Coachella.
Beyoncé was originally scheduled to headline the festival last year, but had to pull out because she was pregnant with twins at the time. (Lady Gaga replaced her set.) This year, she triumphantly ascended the stage for a two-hour set that was, as the New York Times put it, most likely the most “meaningful, absorbing, forceful and radical performance” any American musician will produce this year.
In a set built around the theme of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Beyoncé performed with an HBCU marching band (the college marching band scene is on the case and has determined that it was most likely a collection of HBCU band alumni and maybe current members as well as professional performers), covered Nina Simone’s “Lilac Wine,” and sang the black national anthem, “Life Every Voice and Sing.” She also had a dance-off with her sister Solange, duetted with her husband Jay-Z, and reunited with her old band, Destiny’s Child.
So, how can you get a glimpse of this historic and goosebump-inducing majesty? That’s the tough part.
Coachella livestreamed the whole thing on its YouTube channel, but as of yet, it hasn’t made any of the videos available to watch on demand. And while Beyoncé will be performing again next weekend, that performance is not scheduled to be livestreamed.
Right now, you can only really experience the set in bits and pieces via videos posted by fans, plus several short clips Beyoncé herself posted to her Instagram. (You can find a decent collection of clips at Pitchfork.com.) It’s possible that more complete videos of the performance will eventually make their way to the legit parts of the internet (they might be on the illegitimate parts of the internet already, but Vox dot com is a law-abiding site; we will not be pointing you there). But it’s worth remembering that historically, Beyoncé has kept her best work exclusive. Lemonade has been out for two years, but to this day, only a few excerpts have made their way to YouTube. To see the whole thing, you either have to buy the download or have a subscription to Tidal, which has the streaming rights to Lemonade “in perpetuity.”
So we can’t say for sure that any of Beyoncé’s Coachella set will be available for you to watch on demand. But we’ll keep this space updated as we learn more.