Once again Coachella proved it’s one of the most influential music festivals in the world, with this year’s star-studded line-up delivering a series of brilliant performances.
About 300,000 people made tracks to the Empire Polo Club in California for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, with an astonishing extra 40,000 people turning up on the first weekend alone (Coachella is held over two consecutive weekends with the headliners performing not once but twice).
The Weeknd, Eminem, Cardi B, St Vincent, Haim, Fleet Foxes and David Byrne all won praise for their sets, but the stand-out was – without doubt – Beyonce, whose two shows were universally praised.
She delighted fans with an array of her own long-loved hits and a guest appearance by hubby and rap superstar Jay-Z. But the entertainment didn’t end there: Destiny’s Child returned for a reunion, and sister Solange made an appearance as did a marching band and an army of dancers. As the first black female in history to headline the festival, Beyonce also took the opportunity to pepper her show with references to the civil rights movement.
The New York Times wrote after her first show: “There’s not likely to be a more meaningful, absorbing, forceful and radical performance by an American musician this year, or any year soon.”
Pitchfork was equally as effusive: “Beyoncé executed one of the most precise, demanding, and altogether staggering performances by any musician on a national stage in recent memory.”
The following night Eminem took to the main stage and, with a little help from friends 50 Cent and Ed Sheeran, impressed fans. Rolling Stone said: “Everything that made Slim Shady one of the most essential voices of his generation was onstage this weekend.”
Pregnant Cardi B was another crowdpleaser and did not disappoint with an energetic set and guest appearances from rappers including G-Eazy and Chance the Rapper.
Other artists to grace the stage at Coachella included Nile Rodgers and Chic, French Montana, Jamiroquai, Jorja Smith and Migos.
But it wasn’t all about the music – Coachella is also a festival of food, drinks, the arts and sustainability. Every year, the show commissions a variety of large art installations to be displayed throughout the festival. This year, artist, designer and master builder Randy Polumbo created Lodestar, an exuberant 35-foot towering structure, made up of flowers and a 50-foot high tail with a saucer on top.
The festival crowd were kept fed and watered by more than 100 vendors such as Backyard Bowls, who offered fruit smoothies and acai bowls, Beer Belly, who served up fries, wings and fried oreos, and Guerilla Tacos is offering revellers the option of sweet potato or ceviche tacos.
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