On Sunday April 16th, in the midst of the first Coachella weekend, Frank Ocean fans lined up at the gates at around eight in the morning just to race for a good view at Frank Ocean’s stage at Coachella. At 10:05 pm, fans awaited Frank Ocean’s performance which resulted in an hour wait. Why is this? It was reported by Festival Owl that Frank’s performance ran late because there was a last minute change in the set appearance, which had originally been planned months prior to last weekend. It was stated that ice skaters had practiced a routine for the performance, but Frank was no longer interested in the idea of people skating around him. Backstage, the ice rink was being melted, which is why there was such a long wait. This change was necessary or else the performance would not have gone on.
Besides that, there were a couple hints noting that Frank Ocean did not want to perform last Sunday. One being that he never promoted the performance through social media. When it comes to promoting his brand Homer, Frank Ocean goes all out with advertising even though he has little-to-no social media presence. Another thing that people noticed during his performance is that the new set he planned prevented the crowd from seeing him. He himself called the performance chaotic, and, for the majority of the time, the crowd seemed confused. The next major factor that played into him not wanting to be at Coachella is the fact that the livestream for the concert was pulled last minute. Initially, Youtube was going to stream the performance, but deleted the tweet where it announced excitement for Frank’s performance an hour after posting it. This resulted in fans watching the performance on livestreams from apps like TikTok and Instagram.
When Frank Ocean came out on stage an hour late, fans cheered for his presence, as it has been six years since he’s last performed live and released an album to the public. Earlier this year, it was reported that Frank had planned to release an album in 2020, but it was delayed due to the sudden death of his little brother, Ryan. In the middle of the performance, Frank explained that his absence from the public was due to him coping with his bother’s death, and he mentioned that it’s a process he’s still going through today.
As mentioned before, the performance was indeed chaotic as fans did not know what to expect from Frank six years after the release of his album Blonde. Fans were surprised by remixes of his songs being plates, special guest performances from the DJ called Crystalmess, and a singer names Josiah who Frank emphasized was there to represent the younger version of him. Fans grew angry from the performance as many traveled and saved money to come seen an unorganized performance where they could barely see the performer. Online, many complained that in between songs there would be awkward gaps of silence as if it were taking the people backstage time to figure out what they were doing. These feelings towards the performance were valid since the changes in the set caused there to be a delay in everything about the performance.
On the other hand, fans show sympathy for Frank Ocean because of the few intimate parts that he gave them while performing. After speaking on his brothers death, Ocean mentions that he was grateful for the support that he received from fans. There was a sort of bittersweet feeling form this performance because it was obvious he did not want to be there or be seen. Many of the songs Ocean performed were remixes of his original songs, like “Solo” and “Lost”, which upset fans because none of these remixes had been teased prior to the performance, also differing from Ocean’s usual sound musically. Although there were fans who defended Ocean for still providing the public with his presence, the cherry on top was when he cut the performance short due to a curfew.
One question I have for everyone is, where do we get the right to ask for so much from the people we look up to? Yes, it was very disappointing and unexpected that after six years of nothing, this is the first thing we get. On another hand, why do we expect so much? It’s easy to put artists and people we admire on high pedestals, but it’s hard for a person to maintain this position especially if they don’t enjoy being in the spotlight. As a Frank Ocean fan, it’s interesting to see how many people showed up for him and the lengths they went to just to be in the same space as him. I feel for the people who were so excited to finally see him live, but we have to keep in mind that this is a human being who feels things, and he just didn’t feel like being there that day. It was unfair that the performance wasn’t as good as it could’ve been mainly because the event had been planned for months, but we also can’t make people feel sorry about the things that they don’t care about. Also, his music is just one part of his life, like being a fan is a tiny part of ours. Overall, I’d say that the backlash on the performance was valid and understandable, but we also don’t know where his sudden change in mind came from, and that’s another valid reason too.
This article was for all the Frank Ocean fans! I hope that your love for Frank isn’t gone, and that somehow this never happens again during one of his performances. In the mean time, we should all wish him a well grieving process, and continue talking about why this performance was such an influential moment in pop culture. It’s important to not idolize artists, even when they’re our favorites, but there’s also the point in which artists should have a certain level of respect for the fans who would do so much to see them strive.