On April 16, Frank Ocean closed out the first weekend of the Coachella festival. For his first performance in nearly six years, fans believe he failed to live up to the hype.
The set, which was not livestreamed, featured new arrangements of his songs, an oddly placed DJ set and allegedly consisted of low energy with an hour-late start time. (In fact, Frank Ocean, along with Bad Bunny and Calvin Harris, all broke curfew that night, resulting in the festival paying $117,000 in fines to the city of Indio, Calif.)
On Monday, the Twitter page Festival Owl (@TheFestiveOwl) cited alleged sources explaining what had occurred during Ocean’s performance. The social media page claims there were supposed to be ice skaters circling the stage for the duration of Ocean’s set. After weeks of preparation, the elaborate production was scrapped, and Coachella was told to deconstruct the already-approved setup because “Frank decided at the last minute that he no longer wanted it at all.”
Festive Owl posted an anonymous account from an alleged crew member who helped construct the rink.
Fans of Ocean have since taken to social media, voicing their grievances and thoughts about the alleged performance gone wrong.
Pop culture creator Jordan T. Alexander (@jordantalexander) speculates that Ocean’s set on Sunday night could have irreversible effects on his career, saying, “YouTube should’ve had exclusive rights to stream Frank Ocean’s set but he said ‘No’ to them, and then it still inevitably was able to be streamed by their competitor, TikTok. And not only that, Meta was technically able to stream Frank’s set too.”
Per The Verge via Billboard, YouTube became the “exclusive livestreaming home” for Coachella in 2011 after signing an agreement with Goldenvoice. The partnership was renewed through 2026.
Alexander also points out the financial burden some fans took on just to see Ocean perform: “Think about all the fans who have saved up money, done whatever they need to do to get here, and then were given that performance, too. It’s looking a little shaky.”
TikTok user @xyzsings, who was at Ocean’s set, posted a live reaction alleging that “he only performed for about 30 minutes max” and “he was behind the screen the whole entire time.”
“i think it’s the fact they were promised something that they didn’t get. you guys have to realize they’re paying hundreds of dollars for tickets”
Some fans speculate that Ocean wasn’t ready to return to the stage, as he’s still grieving the loss of his younger brother, Ryan Beaux, who passed away in 2020. Still, others argued that fans showed up, excited to see their favorite artist perform — and they left disappointed.
“I love Frank and I feel for him of his greaving and mental health but he agreed to this and he knew how much we looked forward to him finally preform,” one user wrote.
“i think it’s the fact they were promised something that they didn’t get. you guys have to realize they’re paying hundreds of dollars for tickets,” a fan said.
With Coachella weekend two just around the corner, festivalgoers are left wondering what’s in store for Ocean’s second take as a headliner.
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