"There's some shit I said in the past couple weeks," Frank Ocean said toward the end of his sold-out show at New York's Terminal 5 last night – referring to the July 4th Tumblr post in which he revealed that his first love was another man. "Some people made a big deal, some didn't," the singer continued. "But it's my life, you know? I felt like I had to say it, so I did."
Shouts of approval went up from the crowd as Ocean segued into a moving rendition of "Bad Religion," the unrequited love ballad from his recent major-label debut, Channel Orange. The audience erupted in rapturous applause after the song ended, and he flashed a huge, genuine smile from the stage.
Ocean took a big gamble by opening up about his sexuality earlier this month. Some members of the public responded with sadly predictable hate speech: The website HateTweetsToFrankOcean.com has cataloged some of the foulest messages directed at him. But for many if not most fans, Ocean's honesty made them adore him that much more. This was abundantly clear at Terminal 5, where the young, diverse crowd of 3,000 kept cheering all night long, stopping only long enough to sing along to nearly every one of Ocean's songs.
He opened with a tender cover of Sade's "By Your Side," perching center stage on a stool as two acoustic guitarists strummed behind him. Next up was "Summer Remains" – officially unreleased, but that hardly mattered to this gathering. By the night's third song, Channel Orange's "Thinkin Bout You," the crowd's ecstatic howls threatened to drown out his shivering falsetto.
Ocean was a fairly low-key presence onstage, letting that voice and his unfakeable bond with the audience carry him through the night. The crowd went wild for every one of the confessions and character studies from Channel Orange and last year's name-making mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra, which Ocean performed simply but powerfully with his four-man backing band. After he closed with Channel Orange's 10-minute centerpiece, "Pyramids," and left the stage, they began chanting: "Encore! Encore! Encore!" The chant evolved after a moment: "Frankie! Frankie! Frankie!" Finally: "Ocean! Ocean! Ocean!"
He returned after a few minutes, sitting at the keyboard for a sweet solo cover of "I Miss You," which he co-wrote for Beyonce's most recent album. "I love you, New York," he said before walking offstage again. The crowd's deafening response confirmed one more time that the feeling was very mutual.
"By Your Side" (Sade cover)
"Thinkin Bout You"
"Super Rich Kids"
"Made in America"
"I Miss You" (Beyoncé cover)