Wanna Hear How Frank Ocean’s Coachella Set Fell Apart? A [Checks Notes] Hockey Podcast Has the Details
A hockey podcast has unexpectedly emerged as the top source for the most in-depth glimpse at what went down behind the scenes at Frank Ocean’s controversial Coachella performance.
Empty Netters — which is hosted by former hockey players Dan and Chris Powers — prefaced its Western Conference playoffs preview episode with a detailed account of how the reported ice skating portion of Ocean’s Coachella set fell apart, leading to a strange scene of people just walking around the stage. Since that performance, a rep for Ocean confirmed the singer will no longer be performing Weekend 2, citing an ankle injury the singer sustained during on-site rehearsals leading up to the festival.
“There was a lot of sunk time for the participants,” Chris said. “Because we’ve been rehearsing for months… You guys gotta keep in mind, the skating portion was going to be huge, it was going to be 120 skaters. And the people that walked was only like 30.”
Ocean’s performance, as Rolling Stone has reported, left many fans bewildered and disappointed, with a strange stage set-up that kept him behind a giant screen for most of the show, a six-song DJ set from Crystall Mess dropped in the middle and an abrupt end due to Coachella’s midnight curfew. A source close to the situation told Rolling Stone that the production was adjusted at the last minute to account for the ankle injury. (A rep for Ocean did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s request for comment on the Empty Netters episode.)
On Empty Netters, Dan and Chris explained that they were among the many professional skaters tapped for the performance, brought in by Chris Nelson, another former hockey player who now works in Hollywood on hockey- and skating-related projects. (Nelson appeared to tease that he was working on Ocean’s Coachella set during an appearance on Empty Netters last month.)
Dan shared much of the story, going all the way back to their audition at a Paramount Studios sound stage, where they “were skating on an elevated ice surface.” He added, “So, for about a month, we’ve been doing rehearsal, we’ve been hanging with Frank, hanging with the other skaters, hanging with these incredible figure skaters, going through this whole process — this huge ordeal.”
On Sunday, Dan said he, Chris, and some of the other skaters were supposed to meet at a hotel, where they’d be picked up by a runner and taken to wardrobe and make-up. “That, right there, that moment, is when the wheels started to fall off,” Dan said.
First, the runner was delayed several hours, and while they were waiting, Dan said they ran into a group of “Olympic figure skaters,” who were also performing. “They have a disgruntled look on their face, and they casually mention to us that they just got a phone call, and they’ve been cut from the show,” Dan said.
Eventually, Chris and Dan arrived at wardrobe, where they saw some skaters, who’d shown up early and hadn’t heard the bad news yet, being done up in this “ridiculous, chrome, diamond make-up” (Dan’s words). Soon, Dan said, they began to hear “rumblings” about Ocean’s ankle injury, and not long after, they got a call from Nelson, who told them, “You’re not skating. They’re deconstructing the ice right now.”
“So,” Dan continued, “now we’re being told that we’re still going to put on these sequinsed Prada suits, but we’re just going to walk back-and-forth on stage for about five minutes, we’re not gonna skate. And [Nelson’s] like, ‘Do you guys want to do that?’ And Chris and I, straight up, with Frank Ocean right there, [Nelson] right here, all of these people, we just go, ‘Fuck no, dude. No thank you.’”
Despite the chaos, the pair did have plenty of praise for Ocean. “He really cares about the production,” Chris said. “He had a very clear vision, and even though that vision changed a lot, he was always on us, helping us, making sure everyone hit what he was picturing in his mind.”
Dan added: “He was cool with everyone, he was teaching everyone how to sing the songs, giving them the cadence. It felt like this was thing he really cared about, that he was super psyched about, and to see it all fall apart was definitely sad — but also nuts.”
For those still eager to hear more, the Empty Netters hosts teased that they’d have Nelson back on to share his side of the story as soon as possible.