5 Things We Learned About Beyonc�s Coachella Triumph in Homecoming

 nytimes.com  04/17/2019 15:01:28  2  Christopher R. Weingarten
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Beyonc�s Homecoming documentary details how the pop superstar created her 2018 Coachella headlining set.CreditCreditKevin Mazur/Getty Images

By Christopher R. Weingarten

Early Wednesday morning, Netflix began streaming Homecoming, a 137-minute documentary and concert film detailing Beyonc�s headlining set at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2018. Her elaborate performance  complete with 64 credited musicians, a phalanx of dancers and pyrotechnics both real and figurative  was an instant sensation when she unveiled it in the desert, and it streamed live online, last April.

[Beyonc�s Homecoming came with a surprise: a live album.]

Beyonc�s show brought more than a century of black musical traditions to Americas biggest music festival, with quotations and techniques joining her hits with Houstons slowed-down screw music, Washington, D.C.s percussive go-go rhythms, New Orleans brass bands and bounce artists, the Nigerian Afrobeat of Fela Kuti, the Jamaican dancehall of Sister Nancy, the Atlanta crunk of Pastor Troy, and even a moment for Lift Every Voice and Sing, the early 1900s hymn long called the black national anthem.

Homecoming includes brief vignettes exploring the monthslong run-up to the most celebrated concert of the internet age. Heres what we learned.

[Read our review of the Beyonc� Coachella doc Homecoming.]

The shows theme of homecoming at historically black colleges and universities (known as H.B.C.U.s) was inspired by personal experience.

Though Beyonc� did not attend college, the Houston native explained that she would visit Prairie View A&M University, rehearse at Texas Southern University and always dreamed of going to an H.B.C.U. Her father, Mathew Knowles, went to Fisk University in Nashville. I wanted it to feel the way I felt when I went to [the H.B.C.U. marching band showcase] Battle of the Bands, Beyonc� explains of the Coachella set, because I grew up seeing those shows and that being the highlight of my year.

Her difficult 2017 pregnancy was more harrowing than we knew.

Though Beyonc� has talked about battling pre-eclampsia while pregnant with twins Rumi and Sir Carter, she reveals that one of the babies heartbeats paused a few times, necessitating an emergency C-section.

Balancing being a mother and a superstar was not easy.

Beyonc� has said she was 218 pounds the day she gave birth to her twins in the summer of 2017. In the documentary, she details a pre-Coachella diet that cut out bread, carbs, sugar, dairy, meat and alcohol  she lets out an exhausted sigh and adds that shes hungry.

There were days that I thought, you know, Id never be the same. Id never be the same physically, my strength and endurance would never be the same, she says. In the beginning it was so many muscle spasms. Just, internally, my body was not connected. My mind was not there. My mind wanted to be with my children. What people dont see is the sacrifice. I would dance, and go off to the trailer, and breast-feed the babies, and the days I could, I would bring the children.

If you couldnt have guessed, this is Beyonc�s show.

I personally selected each dancer, every light, the material on the steps, the height of the pyramid, the shape of the pyramid, she says in the film. Every tiny detail had an intention. (This is also what her Coachella choreographers told us.)

Theres more music beyond the massive performance.

Inside the doc, Beyonc�s daughter Blue Ivy Carter, 5 or 6 at the time, provides an a cappella version of Lift Every Voice and Sing. Also, in one more nod to the rich musical history explored in Homecoming, the end credits feature a new Beyonc� cover of Before I Let Go, the 1981 R&B hit by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. And when the film was released early Wednesday morning, it came with a surprise: a live album capturing the festival set.

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