Frank Ocean Coachella Review


Photo courtesy of Addy Shevin

Fans watch as Frank Ocean talks about why he’s headlining the festival in 2023.

Frank Ocean Coachella Headline performance – April 26, 2023 – Indio, California

Although Coachella may never acknowledge the events that went down on closing night of the festivals’ 2023 weekend one, many fans will have a hard time forgetting the rocky headline show of this extravagant event.

Frank Ocean had previously been scheduled to headline the Coachella Festival in 2020, but the event was canceled due to COVID-19, and he was rescheduled to perform at the 2023 show. When Ocean’s appearance was scheduled and confirmed, fans eagerly purchased tickets, and many festival goers came just to see this once in a lifetime performance. It’s been almost six years since his last show, but the event left many spectators with a confused, and sour taste in their mouths.

Ocean had been scheduled to come on at 10:05 pm on Sunday, April 16, the final night of the festival, fans lined up at the venue’s main stage hours in advance to get the best spot possible and eagerly waited for what they thought would be an incredible show.

As the original starting time for the show passed, and the minutes ticked by, fans got antsier and antsier. Fans cheered “We want Frank, we want Frank” for almost an hour, before finally, the screen started projecting men walking, and about 20 men started walking in circles around the stage. At first, the excitement hit the crowd as everyone pulled out their phones to get ready for what they thought would be a grand entrance, but nothing. Silence.

The men continued circling around the front of the stage in a single file circle motion, behind a huge lighting rig, which was confusing and uncomfortable. About five to ten minutes passed, and finally music started playing as Frank Ocean walked on stage and took a seat at a microphone behind the large lighting rig. Was this all fans would get? Thousands of people spent their life savings and spent hours and hours planning and waiting for this experience, and all they get is a man sitting on a stool, half singing, and hiding behind lights?

The show went on with Ocean hiding towards the back of the stage as he played songs of his that had been remixed past the point of recognition, and fans stood not knowing whether to be excited, confused, or frustrated.

After about two songs, Ocean walked off stage, and left the crowd in silence for around five minutes. Finally he came back and the lighting rig was lifted. Fans screamed, finally thinking they would get something, anything.

Ocean picked up his microphone and walked slowly to the front of the stage, and spoke to the crowd.

“This is … chaotic, but so much fun. Looking back, in 2020 when I was just starting to throw parties in little clubs in New York that were just getting started before [stuff] started shutting down, I was having such a good time planning new music and listening to so much new music and, like DJ’s who were up and coming who were really on their [stuff], and it’s become such a part of my practice now with like my whole weekly thing with Homer radio, it’s good that it’s not always about me, so I just wanted to bring a little of that in.”

Ocean gave a shout out to the dj on stage with him that night, and claimed that he wanted to give her, and others that he was showcasing throughout the show the spotlight, because it’s nice when things aren’t always about him.

Fans have been conflicted on this because on one hand, it’s nice that he’s showcasing all of these talented people, and giving them this amazing exposure, but on the other hand, people came to see a Frank Ocean show, so it was expected that it would be a show with, and about, Frank Ocean.

Ocean then played a few more songs from the back of the stage, then came out and danced and lip sync to a few of his songs before going back to his seat. He then once again grabbed his mic and walked to the front of the stage to talk to the audience.

“It’s been so long. Everybody talks about how long it’s been. It’s been so long, but I have missed you. I want to talk about why I’m here because it’s not because of the new album; Not that there’s not a new album…but you know the last couple years, life changed so much. My brother and I came to this festival a lot, and I feel like I was dragged out here half the time, because I hated the dust out here… so I would avoid coming here, but I would always end up here. One of my fondest memories was watching Rae Sremmurd with my brother, and Travis…and dancing to their music, and I know he would’ve been so excited to be here with all of us, and I want to say thank you for the support, and the ears, and the love, over all this time.”

After Ocean’s heartwarming speech, fans started to lighten up about the subpar show.

Ocean and his brother had been very close, and when his brother passed away at age 18 in a car accident a few years ago, the world could tell how much he was affected when he fell off the face of the earth for several years.

After a few more songs, Ocean walked off towards stage left and spoke to a man for a few minutes. Ocean then quickly came towards the stage and only slightly faced the crowd as he said that he had been told it was curfew, and the show was over. He then left the stage and left the audience in shock.

The crowd chanted “One more song, one more song” but he never came back, and the blinding overhead lights turned on as security herded people out of the venue towards the exits.

Overall it’s hard to know whether to be disappointed and upset or appreciative and satisfied with the show that was given considering the circumstances of Ocean’s brother, and it having been his first show in years, but also upset because thousands of people prioritized this show, and were sorely let down.

Fans are lucky that Frank even went on, as he was rumored to have changed the whole show hours before, and said if the original ideas had not been scrapped, he wouldn’t even perform, but he is only human, and it’s hard to put on such a huge show, at such a special place, while you’re not in a happy place.

Overall, the show started rocky, and ended even rockier, and weekend two attendees should be wary, and decide if it’s worth sacrificing their time and energy.

No matter what anyone thinks, or decides about their feelings on this show, it’s certainly something that will go down in Coachella history, and will be talked about, in many different lights, for a long time.