When you are not there, you have to rely on others’ accounts, and besides a few reviews that try to save the day, it seems that Frank Ocean’s set at Coachella was a disaster. The singer-songwriter hasn’t released an album since his 2016 album “Blonde,” but he was nevertheless headlining the festival on Sunday and all the fans were anticipating his first live performance since 2017… However, it didn’t go smoothly according to many reports.
First, Ocean arrived on stage an hour late and his set ended abruptly due to curfew. At the top of this, his livestream was cancelled a few hours before he took the stage to many fans’ great disappointment. There’s even more to the story: Ocean nearly dropped out of Coachella after requesting significant last-minute changes to his stage production, which could explain the delay.
According to Festive Owl, who spoke to sources, this is how it went: “The stage production was supposed to (and did) contain an ice rink that was constructed and ready to go. Frank decided at the last minute that he no longer wanted it at all. All of the people walking around him at the start of the performance were actually ice skaters, had been practicing for weeks, and were supposed to be skating as part of the production. Coachella had to deconstruct the approved stage (that had been planned and signed off on for months in advance) + melt the entire ice rink and then set it up how Frank decided today with no warning. Which is what you ended up seeing and caused the hour-long delay. This all happened when doors had already open for Sunday, and people were securing their spots to see him. If the last-minute changes weren’t made, he wouldn’t have performed at all – leaving the festival without a closing headliner. Frank also personally pulled the plug at the last second on the live stream which left a very sour taste in many inside Coachella’s mouths.” What a disappointment for what was certainly the most highly anticipated set of the festival.
Many report that it looked like Frank Ocean didn’t “want to be there but was obligated to be.” You couldn’t even see him very well as he was singing and playing “in an alcove backstage while the performance is broadcast on the screen,” so that many people “weren’t sure if they were watching something prerecorded or not. At one point, he walks off stage all together and some random DJ and a security guard spend 15 minutes of his time dancing. When he comes back, he proceeds to essentially plug an AUX cable in and dance around to his own music like a listening party.”
According to setlist.fm, the setlist effectively includes a lot of remixes played during long interludes… And this is the worst part: people do not spend lots of money to see an artist lip-synch to tracks during a low-key-half-baked performance. Coachella is supposed to be over the top with spectacular choreographed ensembles or hundreds of drones lighting the sky, as was the case during Bjork’s set. Ocean could also have planned a reunion with his Odd Future bandmates, who were probably there. But none of this happened and to top it all, there wasn’t any Frank Ocean merchandise available on site, which added another level of disappointment.
Frank Ocean didn’t seem to be mentally there or prepared to perform, and his performance turned out to be a PR disaster. Unless there is a part of the story I don’t know, he sounds like a diva. Sure, many have also mentioned how fragile and hurt he still was while talking about his late brother (who died in a car crash in 2020), as they used to go to Coachella together. Is this why everything fell apart? The problem is that this is not the first time it has happened. I remember Franck Ocean canceling the FYF fest many years ago and being replaced by Kanye West at the last minute… This is not an isolated event. He has a long history of missed opportunities and canceled performances.
Maybe Frank Ocean should just focus on recording and not perform live. At least he should not accept gigs as big as Coachella unless he is really prepared. His set is currently voted the worst headliner performance ever and many even speculate he will not show up next Sunday for Coachella’s second weekend.
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My daughter adores Frank Ocean. She stayed up to live stream his performance and agrees he did not sound good as free starting an hour late (texted me at 2:47A EST). It’s disappointing because his music is great.