Frank Ocean stirs controversy with Coachella performance

By Rocco Prioletti, Contributor 

[Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Pop music’s endeared recluse Frank Ocean has caused widespread controversy after his first performance in nearly seven years at Coachella, headlining Sunday’s bill as the closing act.

Concertgoers camped-out at the stage’s frontend barricade, scorched under California’s unforgiving sun and were greeted by Frank Ocean over an hour later than scheduled. Just hours beforehand, Ocean’s performance was excluded from Coachella’s official livestream listing, despite promotional material still advertising it on the day of the performance. 

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Frank’s set was abruptly cut-short, emerging from backstage and relaying, “Guys, I’m being told it’s curfew, so that’s the end of the show. Thank you so much.” This left fans with less than half of the performance’s advertised runtime. 

A portion of the set’s focus was oddly overturned to DJ Crystalmess, who played Jersey Club remixes of Ocean hits like “Lost” and “Pyramids”. This led to the now infamous video of a Coachella security guard throwing it back all over the venue’s all-encapsulating jumbotron display. Further adding towards fan’s amassed disappointment in the lack of Frank Ocean’s overall live presence, chart-toppers and fan-favorites like “Nights,” “Chanel,” and “Nikes” were played directly from tape without any live input from Frank, opting instead to mouth the words to his own recordings.

To those more optimistically inclined, Frank Ocean’s Coachella setlist reimagined Blonde classics within a new dance-tinged strobelight. Songs like “White Ferrari” laced four-on-the-floor kicks and a fresh outlook of off-kiltered sharp synthesizers together. “Godspeed” alongside deep-cuts like his Isley Brothers cover of “At Your Best (You Are Love)” showcased the Frank Ocean performance fans expected. 

The alleged reasoning for the hour-long performance delay was indebted to complications between Ocean and Coachella regarding a sudden change in stage production. Over 100 LA-based hockey players were to perform a skating routine on an ice rink centered in the middle of the venue via a catwalk. However, according to Festive Owl, “Frank decided at the last minute that he no longer wanted it at all.” A leaked text message exchange with one of the ice skaters supported this, noting that “[We] All had to put this [makeup] on then Frank hated [it] and made everyone take [it] off / Frank [is] throwing fits threatening not to go on.”

Festive Owl continued in their recollection,  “Coachella had to deconstruct the approved stage (that had been planned and signed off on for months in advance) and melt the entire ice rink and then set it up how Frank decided today with no warning.”

TMZ instead reported that Frank suffered an injury to the ankle, stating that “The accident occurred when Frank was at Coachella rehearsing his set.” The injury would be “serious enough for doctors to advise Frank’s production be changed.”

Frank Ocean has since stated that he will not return for weekend two.

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