Frank Ocean’s Return to the Stage Falls Short at Coachella 2023

Image commercially licensed from: Deposit Photos
Image commercially licensed from: Deposit Photos

Frank Ocean finally took the stage as the headliner for Coachella 2023’s first weekend, which was supposed to end on a high note. Nonetheless, things didn’t go according to plan, and Sea left fans staggered and disheartened with his hotly anticipated presentation.

Fans had been eagerly awaiting Ocean’s return to the stage for years prior to his participation at Coachella. Originally scheduled for 2020, his performance was postponed because of the epidemic. 

He was then expected to perform at the rescheduled 2022 dates, however that likewise failed to work out, so he deferred indeed. Fans were understandably thrilled to finally see him perform live after six years of missing out due to the chain of events.

On Sunday night, energetic fans set up camp for a really long time before the doors even opened, expecting to get a decent spot at the primary stage for Sea’s presentation. However, the situation quickly deteriorated.

At 10:05 p.m., the set was slated to start. Ocean, however, was not present. Fans were impatient and frustrated as the minutes ticked by, wondering when he would eventually enter the stage.

Fans were initially relieved and excited when Ocean finally showed up around 11:30 p.m. However, Ocean’s performance fell short of their expectations, and their excitement quickly turned to disappointment.

Many fans whined that he appeared to be uninterested and separated from the group, with some in any event, blaming him for lip-adjusting. Others criticized the setlist, which mostly featured somber, slow songs that did not excite the audience.

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High Anticipated Headliner

The first weekend of Coachella 2023 had promised to be a memorable event for music lovers from all over the world. However, as the event came to a close, it ended up being remembered for all the wrong reasons. Frank Ocean, the highly anticipated headliner of the final day, left fans both at the festival and at home in a state of shock and disappointment.

Fans who were unable to attend the festival in Indio, California, had been eagerly watching YouTube’s official Coachella livestream in hopes of catching Ocean’s performance. However, only a few hours before he was scheduled to go on, YouTube announced that his performance would not be shown online. 

This sparked rumors that the unpredictable artist might not show up at all. The fact that no Ocean merchandise was being sold at the event only added to these rumors.

Despite this, the crowd at the main stage continued to grow as fans waited for Ocean to take the stage. However, as 10:05 p.m. PT, the scheduled start time for his performance, came and went, there was still no sign of the musician. The screens behind the stage remained dark, and the crowd grew restless.

Almost an hour later, at 11:00 p.m., a video began playing on the screens. The video showed a group of people dressed in black with their hoods up walking around in a circle on stage, with no sound playing. The crowd watched in silence for almost five minutes before some audience members started shouting in anger, and a steady stream of people began leaving the area.

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Coachella 2023: Ocean Performance

Ocean had been scheduled to perform at Coachella 2020, which was canceled due to the pandemic. He was also supposed to perform at the 2022 rescheduled dates but postponed again. Fans had been waiting for six years for him to perform live, and the anticipation was high. They camped out for hours before the gates opened to secure a good spot for the performance.

However, as the evening approached, rumors began to circulate that Ocean might not show up. YouTube, which was streaming the festival live, announced that Ocean’s performance would not be shown online, unlike the previous two nights’ headliners, Blackpink and Bad Bunny. Signs were also posted at the event letting festival-goers know that no Ocean merchandise would be on sale.

When Ocean did finally appear on stage, he was barely visible, sitting far back on the stage and turning his back to the audience. He did not acknowledge the delay, and the silence between tracks was long and awkward. Many fans started leaving the area, and the cheers that erupted from the front of the crowd were met with shouts of “What are you cheering for?!”

Ocean did eventually address the crowd and spoke about his late brother, Ryan Breaux, who died in 2020 at the age of 18 after a car accident. He explained that it was his brother who used to drag him to Coachella, and he had many happy memories of the festival. 

However, he did not perform many of his hit songs, choosing instead to lip-synch some of them while wandering around the stage.

The set was short, and Ocean cut it even shorter due to the festival’s curfew. Fans were left feeling angry and disappointed, with many remarking that it was a waste of time and that Ocean sucked. The speculation began immediately about whether he even wanted to be there and whether he would pull out of the upcoming second weekend of the festival.

The situation was made even more confusing by reports that an ice rink had been built for Ocean’s set, only to be dismantled at the last minute, causing a significant delay. The people seen walking in circles on stage were reportedly ice skaters who had been practicing for weeks but were now left with nothing to do. 

The decision to scrap the livestream was also reportedly made by Ocean himself, further souring his relationship with the festival’s organizers.