Were you on Twitter the night #Beychella was born?
Beyoncé’s Coachella performance broke records by drawing in 41m viewers online
Beyoncé’s performance featured renditions of dozens of her greatest hits, a duet with Jay Z, a Destiny’s Child reunion and a dance-off with her sister, Solange
You might be the kind of person who loves nothing more than standing in a field during a music festival, eating an ostrich wrap that tastes like it was 3D-printed a fortnight ago. Or, like me, you may wonder if this experience would have been as good, or even better, from the comfort of your own home.
What’s more, as this week’s Coachella performance by Beyoncé proved, the viewing experience may well be an enhancement too. Watched online by tens of millions on YouTube, the most talked-about concert in living memory featured renditions of dozens of her greatest hits, a duet with Jay Z, a Destiny’s Child reunion and a dance-off with her sister, Solange.
The show was widely praised as the greatest in Coachella’s history, breaking all records by drawing a brain-sizzling 41 million viewers from those unable, or unwilling, to see it in person.
“After tonight, Coachella gotta rename Coachella the Beychella” sparkled DJ Khaled on the YouTube feed, showcasing the flair with words for which he is so well known. “New name alert: Beychella!” he immediately clarified, ensuring none in attendance escaped a second bite at such a delicate verbal macaron. Like Midas before him, Khaled’s doughy fingers had gifted the Culture its golden hashtag, and lo, #Beychella was born.
Though it had 35 songs, a marching band, 100 or so dancers and a half-dozen costume changes, #Beychella wasn’t merely a workout for the Queen herself, as those watching at home were quick to point out.
“It’s hard texting and watching Beyonce at the same time” marvelled actress and comedian Lena Waithe, “I can’t find the right GIFs fast enough”. “My QUEEN” said Janelle Monae, while Chance The Rapper dubbed her “the greatest entertainer to ever live”. Adele eschewed words altogether, choosing instead to post videos of her own frantic, approving dance moves from home.
Inarguably the highlight of those watching from the couch, however, was the mother of Twitter user Natalie Parker (@Natparkss), who texted her sleeping daughter four screens of breathless texts about the event.
From marvelling that “she’s on her 4thoutfit!” to advising that “her voice is amazing but her shorts are a little small”, the entire thread of comments is one of the most entertaining, endearing and emotional pieces of live music criticism you’ll ever read, and finally ends with her being so overwhelmed she needs a sedative to sleep.
So, if we are in any doubt about the real-life festival experience, perhaps the real lesson of #Beychella is that YouTube and Twitter can convey some of the power and energy of live music just fine by themselves.