‘It’s Mid’: Fans React to Frank Ocean’s Controversial Coachella Set
The fan reviews for Frank Ocean’s first concert in six years have arrived hot, spicy, a little mad, but mostly just disappointed. As one TikTok user put it simply, “It’s mid.”
Ocean’s headlining set at Coachella Sunday night, April 16, was always going to cause some sort of a stir. The singer-songwriter hasn’t performed live since 2017 and hasn’t released any new music since 2020. This particular Coachella set had been several years in the making, too: He was originally scheduled to headline in 2020 before the pandemic hit and eventually rescheduled for 2023, a date the festival locked-in two years early with an announcement in Aug. 2021.
As such, the anticipation and expectations were astronomically high — but the come-down appeared to hit early. The first foreboding signs came when it was revealed that Ocean’s set wouldn’t be live-streamed on the official Coachella YouTube channel. A flood of memes poured in, from petulant Michael Scott clips and Peter Griffin casually driving himself off a cliff to Sydney Sweeney fighting back tears on Euphoria and Wendy Williams pontificating, “Life could be worse… no, not really.”
As for those at Coachella, the fans who had been waiting all day to see Ocean were forced to wait about an hour longer, with the artist taking the stage around 11 p.m. PT, an hour after his scheduled start time (per one TikTok, some fans decided to leave, rather than wait around). Such a late start immediately meant a truncated show, as Coachella has to abide by a strict midnight curfew on Sundays (other nights run a little later). And sure enough, after about an hour on stage (kinda, sorta), Ocean abruptly told the crowd, “Guys, I’m being told it’s curfew so that’s the end of the show. Thank you so much.”
As one fan at Coachella put it in a TikTok video, “My heart hurts — but not in a good way.”
On Twitter, another fan wrote, “Started the set late, didn’t let them live stream it, now ending the set early… frank ocean you will rue the day.”
Though the set had its moments, there were grumblings about everything from DJ Crystal Mess’ set, dropped right into the middle of Ocean’s performance, to the peculiar stage-set up. Rather than standing front and center, Ocean largely appeared via a giant video screen, only sometimes moving out from behind it to stand before the crowd.
“We wanted to see him,” said one TikTok user, @kelsey_kotzur. “That’s the point, we wanted to see him perform. He kept coming in and out from behind the stage to show face and then would leave again, it was very strange.”
As another fan put it, “People traveled such far distance to see him and people had high expectations bc he hasn’t played in 6 years and we all got really disappointed. The whole production was just… lacking and he was really not bringing much to the whole performance… Anyhow, everyone in the crowd was shook and a lot of people left early (including me).”
(You can check a video of some people trudging out of the festival grounds as Ocean’s set dully plays in the background.)
For fans trying to follow along at home, they were left to rely on fan-shot clips being uploaded to social media, or some really janky Instagram or TikTok livestreams. According to one perfect screenshot, even Lorde was reduced to such a fate.
Despite the complaints and consternation from fans, there did appear to be one aspect of Ocean’s Coachella set that everyone could get behind: The security guard shaking ass during DJ Crystal Mess’ set.
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