The Frank Ocean Coachella Drama, Explained

The Frank Ocean Coachella Drama, Explained

BYJade Gomez​Apr 18, 2023

Update 4/18/23: According to a source close to Frank Ocean, the rumors can be laid to rest. The singer reportedly suffered an ankle injury in the weeks leading up to his performance during on-site rehearsals. As a result, production had to be adjusted to accommodate his injury.

As of now, Ocean is still scheduled to perform again this Sunday, April 23 for the second weekend of Coachella. Keep reading for the initial reaction to his first set.

Original 4/17/23: Every year we try to avoid getting the Coachella FOMO, and every year we fail. When the lineup dropped, all eyes were on Frank Ocean to deliver one of the most incredible sets of the year. So why was he almost canceled on Sunday night?

After the ever-elusive Jai Paul's set was taken off the live stream schedule, fans began worrying that Ocean, who was set to perform for the first time in six years, would opt for the same. They were correct, and fans began scrambling to find a proper live stream from a diligent fan with decent phone signal. Even Lorde was tuned in.

Then, his set time hit. No Frank. That's cool, we can wait. Ten minutes turned to 20 which turned to 40. Fans began jokingly making petitions to "cancel" the singer, while others felt that it was disrespectful to do this to the many fans who quite possibly purchased a pricey festival ticket just for him.

After nearly an hour-long delay, Ocean finally hit the stage. He was obscured behind some scaffolding though, so fans couldn't see his face. At one point, he let the studio versions of his songs play as he aimlessly roamed the stage.

While there wasn't an official reason for why the performance was so "off," fans offered a few. They ranged from the singer being stung by a bee to a more plausible reason relating to the stage design.

It is rumored that the people surrounding him on stage were professional ice skaters. Ocean allegedly scrapped the ice skating rink idea last minute and it was melted, abruptly being changed to the setup he performed with.

Others thought that he was not in the headspace to perform as he is still grieving the loss of his brother who passed in 2020.

"My brother and I came to this festival a lot," he explained to the crowd. "One of my favorite memories was watching Rae Sremmurd with my brother and Travis, just dancing to their music. I know he would’ve been so excited to be here with all of us.”

After all was said and done, Ocean cut his set due to a curfew violation, performing 20 minutes past the midnight cutoff the festival has abided by.

Fans weighed in on social media, clearly upset with how everything played out.

In some good news, he did confirm that there is indeed a new album on the way, although he didn't perform at the music festival giant to promote it. He went primarily to pay homage to his late brother.

Ocean has had a mixed history with music festivals. He previously pulled out of FYF in 2015, another Goldenvoice/AEG event just like Coachella. He was also on the 2020 Coachella bill, but it was canceled due to the pandemic. He was not billed for Coachella's 2022 return but did touch down this year. However, he also did not bring merchandise for sale. According to Yahoo, a behind-the-scenes security employee tipped the organization off that Ocean may even cancel.

There's no word how his second weekend will go, or if it will even be streamed.

Check out Ocean's complete setlist below:

  1. Novacane
  2. Come On World, You Can't Go!
  3. Crack Rock
  4. Impietas / Deathwish (ASR) (Live debut)
  5. Bad Religion
  6. White Ferrari (Live debut, new version)
  7. Florida
  8. Pink + White (Acoustic)
  9. Solo
  10. Godspeed
  11. Wise Man
  12. Night Life (Aretha Franklin cover)
  13. Self Control (acoustic)
  14. At Your Best (You Are Love) (The Isley Brothers cover)

Photo courtesy of Joe Schildhorn/BFA