There’s a large question mark dangling over Coachella, now that Solange Knowles has dropped out of this year’s lineup due to “major production delays.” But never fear, for Beyoncé is here to save the day with some crucial Coachella counterprogramming: her new documentary, Homecoming, which Netflix will release April 17.
The first trailer for the documentary, which appears to be a behind-the-scenes examination of Beyoncé’s history-making 2018 Coachella performance, opens with a voice-over by Maya Angelou (Ms. Angelou to you, unless you’re Oprah Winfrey) who narrates, “What I really want to do is be a representative of my race, of the human race.” Meanwhile, grainy shots of Beyoncé on stage, of the singer posing with husband Jay Z, of various dancers preparing for the stage, flash by; there’s Beyoncé the band leader, conducting a full marching band on bleachers during rehearsal; elsewhere, there’s Blue Ivy, imitating her mom’s choreography in time with the other dancers. Beyoncé working out (in Ivy Park, of course); hordes of yellow-leotard-clad musicians and dancers flocking towards the stage; Maya Angelou offering her advice “for this generation”: “Tell the truth,” she says. “To yourself, first, and to the children.” Beyoncé has an entire archive of footage of her life, her performances, her family; it’s about time some of that was unleashed on the world. (Michael B. Jordan, take note.)
In 2017, just a couple weeks after her groundbreaking Grammys performance (our apologies to Britney Spears), Beyoncé pulled out of Coachella, which she had been slated to headline, on her doctor’s orders. (At the time, she was pregnant with twins Sir and Rumi.) She promised a comeback at the following year’s Coachella, and did she ever deliver: Where her 2017 Super Bowl performance invoked the iconography of the Black Panthers and the Black Lives Matter movement, and her Grammys performance that of the Virgin Mary, her 2018 Coachella set featured imagery drawn from from historically black colleges and universities, her band members drawn from various college ensembles. (Homecoming is styled with the Greek letter theta in lieu of “o,” and sigma in place of the “e.”) Solange made an appearance; so did Beyoncé’s former Destiny’s Child bandmates Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland. This show was such an occasion, it now has its own Wikipedia page.
The 2019 Coachella festival does still have Kanye West’s Sunday Service and headlining sets by Tame Impala, Childish Gambino, and Ariana Grande, but artists are coming through with ample counter-programming, too. In addition to Homecoming’s April 17 release, Donald Glover—he of Childish Gambino fame—is releasing his mystery project with Rihanna, Guava Island, on April 13. If you’re not going to Indio, you should still be marking your calendar for Coachella weekend.