Frank Ocean Continues to Innovate, Even Live

During his headlining performance at Coachella weekend one, the enigmatic singer impressed — and confused — fans.

Miller Orris, Staff Writer

Mysterious as an artist can be, six years after his last performance, Frank Ocean headlined Coachella on Sunday, April 16th.

The widely anticipated set brought unprecedented hype. Not only has Frank not performed in over half a decade, but the performance was scheduled for 2020 before being cancelled due to the pandemic.

Ocean’s last record, Blonde, has only grown in both popularity and infamy since its 2016 release year. The gap in time has resulted in broad silence from Ocean in terms of music.

A few singles, many radio shows on Apple Music, and a very expensive luxury jewelry line are what Frank has brought since the release of Blonde.

Fans have speculated since the original 2020 Coachella announcement that this performance might coincide with an album release or rollout.

To many fans’ disappointment, the performance brought no new tracks, nor did an album rollout occur. However, an album’s existence was confirmed by Frank during a speech midway through the set.

The set list, instead, covered Ocean’s three most recent releases, “Channel Orange,” “Blonde,” and the largely unperformed, “Endless.”

Turmoil hit the internet immediately when it was revealed Ocean’s set would not be livestreamed as the rest of the festival had been. Speculation has led many to believe this was Ocean’s own decision due to it being one of the only irregularities during the festival.

The widely anticipated set was further shrouded in mystery once the large gap in time in between the previous set was noted. Fans went rampant with questions about the stage presentation, wondering what elaborate scene might require this much time. By the time Ocean had walked on stage, the set was running an hour late. Last minute changes to the stage setting caused the delay. These changes included the melting and removal of an entire ice rink that had been set up specifically for the headlining show.

Professional skaters that were to be skating at the center of the set were told to remove their make up and instead walk.

These abrupt changes caused the show to run late and eventually hit curfew, resulting in the set not being completed.

Additionally, about halfway through the set list, an abrupt left turn was pulled that saw an energetic ten-minute club-styled DJ set featuring Frank Ocean tracks from DJ Crystallmess, a talented fixture of Ocean’s Blonded Radio.

The DJ set, coupled with Frank walking away from the mic for two of his biggest songs, “Nikes” and “Nights,” letting the track play, left some fans at Coachella and online confused.

This is not to say that the entire set was off. Ocean sang beautiful renditions of classic songs such as “White Ferrari” and “Crack Rock.”

Sweeping changes were also brought to songs like “Novacane” and “Wiseman.” The sound of these tracks were changed entirely to reflect the artistic space Ocean has been entering.

Many might have been confused at these abrupt changes, but others welcomed the beautiful, innovative changes brought to existing songs in the absence of new music. Ocean likely would not have re-emerged on the music scene to rehash songs that are seven years old.

Hopefully, the irregularities of weekend one were for good reason, Frank’s cancellation of Coachella’s weekend two, due to an ankle injury, will only leave fans guessing as to what comes next for the artist.