Frank Ocean’s Coachella show causes controversy


Gianna Galesi

Drawing of singer Frank Ocean performed at Coachella this year.

Emma Swope, Entertainment Editor

Coachella, arguably the most popular music festival in the nation, took place this year over two weekends in April. The festival itself is always a topic of discussion since some of the most famous musicians come to perform. Located in Indio, California, the event is a hotspot for internet personalities and other celebrities as well.

Along with its already-established popularity, this year was especially exciting as singer-songwriter Frank Ocean was headlining. Many fans were shocked since he hadn’t released an album or performed live in seven years. Leading up to his performance, they purchased plane tickets, expressed their joy online, and held their hopes high. Unfortunately for them, Frank Ocean might as well have refunded their ticket on the spot. 

Ocean, despite his limited public appearances, has still remained incredibly popular and well-loved. Accumulating an impressive 26 million listeners a month (on Spotify alone), it is undeniable that he has a dedicated audience. And rightfully so–his beautiful voice and lyrics are able to find their way into just about everyone’s heart. Even more astounding, Ocean has only two officially released albums to date, making his selection very limited. 

The first official red flags started to show on the day of his performance, April 17th. Unbeknownst to the general public, Ocean decided to cancel his plan for the show a few hours earlier, which originally entailed a massive ice rink and skaters who would circle around him. This last-minute change caused the show to start an hour later, and, consequently, end earlier. The ice skaters were left with very little instruction, leaving them to awkwardly walk around him instead. 

Then, people who were watching Coachella at home soon realized that Ocean had not given permission to have his performance live-streamed. At this point, everyone–at home and in person–was extremely confused as to what was happening. 

The performance itself was even more anticlimactic. The set itself lasted only around half an hour since every minute he went over the curfew would be a one thousand dollar payment. In the meantime, he played around three of his popular songs, all of which were remixes that he lip-synced to. While doing so, he spent the majority of the time behind the screen so no one could see him. At one point, he even sat in the corner while the music was playing. 

A lot of people justify Ocean’s behavior by mentioning his brother, who unfortunately passed away in 2020 in a car accident, and saying that he was held back by his grief. While it is undeniably true that we should be respectful toward him and his loss, the fact of the matter is that he agreed to perform and get compensated for it. His utter disregard for his fans, who paid upwards of thousands of dollars to see his lackluster performance, is inexcusable. 

The situation as a whole was a hot topic for a few days afterward, as many people expressed their disappointment toward the artist. The main question on everyone’s mind was: “How is he going to redeem himself on weekend two?”

The answer? He doesn’t perform. Three days after the performance, Ocean posted on his Instagram that he would not be attending Coachella weekend two due to an ankle injury. However, he has not posted any formal apology or public statement regarding Coachella. 

As an avid listener and Frank Ocean enthusiast, it is incredibly hard to depict him in such a negative light. Yet, even the most beloved people are not exempt from criticism, especially when they show little to no remorse for wasting everyone’s time. It is unsure what this show means in terms of his future, but even with all the negative commentary, most fans just want to see him recover.