Frank Ocean’s Coachella set turned out to be the big disappointment of the weekend.
via: Rolling Stone
The “What If” scenarios that emerged ahead of Frank Ocean’s headlining performance at Coachella were years in the making. The elusive musician hadn’t delivered a live performance in six years and was actually supposed to headline the festival in 2020, so to say the anticipation was high would be a massive understatement. But what started with the livestream of his set being canceled and ended with a bizarre performance that left fans at home and in the desert bewildered and disappointed was not what he had planned, at least not entirely — and anyone looking for someone to blame can point their fingers at his ankle.
A source close to the situation claims that production on Ocean’s performance was adjusted at the last minute to account for an ankle injury the singer sustained during on-site rehearsals in the week leading up to the festival.
This would explain why, after arriving on the stage wearing slippers an hour after his set was scheduled to begin, Ocean spent most of the time sitting down. What this would not explain, however, was the 6-song DJ set delivered by Crystall Mess in the middle of the performance and the stretches during which remixes of songs like “Chanel,” “Nikes,” and “Nights” were played from tape, rather than performed live, while he vibed out on stage.
A portion of the performance was also allegedly meant to feature figure skaters on an ice rink. Rumors of “Frank Ocean on Ice” swirled online ahead of his set, but that was also apparently scrapped. Aaron Vos, an ice hockey player from Loyola Marymount University, posted an Instagram Story from backstage at the festival featuring nine men dressed in skating gear with the caption: “The Boys x Frank.” Two other team members posted side-stage photos of the crowd but never performed during the set.
But those who attended actually got a better deal out of the performance than they realized. According to the source, Ocean’s set actually ran 15 minutes longer than originally intended, despite him telling the audience that it was cut short due to Coachella’s midnight curfew on Sunday. The performed set featured 24 songs total, including those played by DJ Crystall Mess, which was four more than the 20 he had planned.
Ocean didn’t have much to say while he was on stage, but then again he was there to perform, not talk. While he didn’t really end up doing either, he did clarify to the audience: “I want to talk about why I’m here because it’s not because of a new album, not that there’s not a new album.”
The decision to headline the festival was more so connected to his late brother, Ryan Breaux, who died in a car accident in 2020. “My brother and I came to this festival a lot. I feel like I was dragged by him sometimes because I didn’t want to get a respiratory infection.… I would always come here, and one of my fondest memories is watching Rae Sremmurd with my brother … and Travis [Scott performed] in that tent,” he told the crowd. “I know [Ryan] would be so excited to be here with all of us. I want to say thank you for the support and the years and the love all this time. Now I’ll get back to the songs.”
Ocean went on to explain that the club interlude was strategic in taking some of the attention off of him — despite him being the top-billed performer of the festival. “This is fucking chaotic but so much fun.… Looking back, I feel like in 2020, when I was just starting to throw parties in little clubs in New York before shit started going down, I was having a good time listening to new music, with DJs coming in on their shit,” he explained. “It’s become part of my weekly practice with Homer Radio. It’s good that it’s not always all about me, so I wanted to bring a little of that.”
As of now, Ocean is still slated to perform next Sunday, April 23, for Coachella weekend two. Even after seeing him run through an entire set, fans are just as uncertain about what to expect from the musician as before his less-than-grand return.