Frank Ocean's Coachella performance—and his first live show in six years—left fans reeling, but what exactly happened?
Right now, Coachella is the talk of the internet, from those Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello sightings to Rosalía's ruffled outfit but nothing more so than Frank Ocean's set. If you've been anywhere near TikTok and Twitter lately, you've no doubt seen some confusing clips circulating from the Lost singer's hotly-anticipated performance. From complaints around the show's hour delay, which resulted in the artist himself announcing that his set had been cut short due to the festival's 'curfew' to the unprecedented lack of live-stream coverage.
All in all, the general consensus from festival-goers is that the show itself was a shambles—bar Frank's vocals and renditions of his most beloved tracks (though again, fans were left disappointed by how few he performed). So, just what happened to make this set—at arguably the most iconic music festival ever—so messy?
What happened with Frank Ocean at Coachella?
Now, there are a ton of theories and explanations circulating the web, from an ankle injury to a sudden and dramatic change in the stage production—the latter of which, is now going viral on TikTok.
On Monday, April 17, 2023, a Twitter account named The Festive Owl, alleged that Frank's set was supposed to include an ice rink (which had been constructed) and skaters but that Frank pulled the plug on it at the last minute, along with the live stream.
The tweet also claimed that: "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."
I’ve been speaking with sources about exactly what transpired and how things went so far downhill Sunday for #FrankOcean + #Coachella…so here you go 👇The stage production was suppose to (and did) contain an ice rink that was constructed and ready to go. Frank decided at the…April 17, 2023
Variety has now reported that sources have confirmed the 'basic facts' of this post, revealing that sudden stage production changes were indeed made ahead of the show—which could certainly explain the delay.
As for the whole curfew issue, due to the show's hour-late start, the singer was forced to cut his show short at Coachella's midnight curfew, telling fans: "Guys, I'm being told it's curfew so that's the end of the show, thank you very much." Though Rolling Stone reports that his set did actually run for 15 minutes longer than intended—so that's one silver lining for fans.
Fans were also left somewhat baffled by the mid-performance DJ set, which saw Crystal Mess play remixes of some of Frank's most popular songs including Nikes, rather than getting the chance to hear the artist perform them himself.
The delays and production issues aside though, fans still got the opportunity to see Frank perform hits like Godspeed and hear him open up about his reasoning behind agreeing to headline at the festival in the first place.
While on stage he movingly shared that his fondest Coachella memories are ones he shared with his late brother Ryan—who died in a car accident in 2020.
He said: "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.
"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."
Reactions to Frank Ocean's Coachella performance
Despite the issues surrounding Frank's long-awaited set, Twitter did what it does best and memed the experience, with one user responding to the DJ portion with: "Frank ocean so unserious, he was having a listening party."
Frank ocean so unserious, he was having a listening party😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/z49i5uUK7dApril 17, 2023
While another tweeted this in response to the curfew cut-off...
frank ocean just rn: pic.twitter.com/9COnQ5w2rIApril 17, 2023
And at least this security guard was vibing...
WHAT THE HELL GOING ON IN THIS FRANK OCEAN COACHELLA PERFORMANCE?? 😭😭 pic.twitter.com/9vVkjwoluSApril 17, 2023
Meanwhile, other fans were also quick to point out the positives and share their favorite moments, with one viewer tweeting: "frank ocean performing godspeed. i’m so moved."
While another wrote: "FRANK OCEAN VOCALS GO HARD".
FRANK OCEAN VOCALS GO HARD pic.twitter.com/HA0KnoXWBtApril 17, 2023
Justin Bieber also came to the singer's defense, posting on Instagram a still from the performance with the caption: "I was blown away by Frank Oceans Coachella performance. His artistry is simply unmatched, his style, his taste, his voice, his attention to detail.. I was deeply moved. It made me want to keep going and get better as an artist. He continues to set the bar high and gave me a night I will never forget! Thanks Frank."
A photo posted by on
Frank is still slated to close Coachella's second weekend, on Sunday, April 23, so perhaps fans will get a second chance to see their favorite songs performed—either live or through a live stream...If there is one.
Naomi is a Lifestyle News Writer with the Women's Lifestyle team, where she covers everything from entertainment to fashion and beauty, as well as TikTok trends for Woman&Home, after previously writing for My Imperfect Life and GoodTo. Interestingly though, Naomi actually has a background in design, having studied illustration at Plymouth University but lept into the media world in 2020, after always having a passion for writing and earned her Gold Standard diploma in Journalism with the NCTJ.
Before working for Future Publishing’s Lifestyle News team, she worked in the Ad production team. Here she wrote and designed adverts on all sorts of things, which then went into print magazines across all genres. Now, when she isn’t writing articles on celebs, fashion trends, or the newest shows on Netflix, you can find her drinking copious cups of coffee, drawing and probably online shopping.
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