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Why Did Frank Ocean Drop Out Of Coachella? The ‘Chaotic’ Ice Rink, Explained

Met him at Coachella, but at what cost?
Frank Ocean
Image: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

If you stayed up late to watch the elusive artist’s set and wondering wh, you might be wondering: why did Frank Ocean drop out of Coachella?

Coachella marked Frank Ocean’s first performance in over six years after his album Blonde, and his second Coachella performance after going to the fest in 2012. He was set to headline at Coachella 2020, however, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic lockdowns, it was canceled. Coachella co-founder Paul Tollett told Los Angeles Times that he predicted that Frank would be the headliner for 2023, and he was absolutely right. “Right now, it’s the Wild West,” Tollett said in 2021. “I’m just trying to be as fair as I can to artists and to the fans to make sure that eventually, they get to see everyone that we talked about.” The performance went on as planned, but it didn’t meet many fans’ expectations.

So why did Frank Ocean drop out of Coachella? Read more below to find out.

Why did Frank Ocean drop out of Coachella?

Why did Frank Ocean drop out of Coachella? On April 19, 2023, Frank Ocean’s reps told Rolling Stone in a statement that after suffering a leg injury at the festival during the first week of Coachella, a doctor advised that Ocean not perform the following week due to two fractures and a sprain in his left leg.

“It was chaotic. There is some beauty in chaos. It isn’t what I intended to show but I enjoy being out there and I’ll see you soon,” Ocean said in a statement provided by his rep.

Blink-182 will instead be headlining the Coachella main stage on Sunday, April 23, 2023, according to Variety. The pop-punk band announced a surprise original lineup reunion during Weekend 1.

What Happened to Frank Ocean at Coachella?

Frank Ocean
Image: C Flanigan/FilmMagic

What happened to Frank Ocean? Frank Ocean”s headlining set started an hour late and was cut by curfew—making fans believe that he did drop out of the desert festival.

Earlier on Sunday, April 16, 2023, Youtube tweeted that Frank’s Coachella set might be streamed. However, they took deleted the tweet and subsequently wrote: “Frank Ocean is not scheduled to appear on the Coachella livestream.” No explanation was provided by the video streaming site. Icelandic musician Björk also didn’t have her live stream broadcasted from the mainstage.

Many fans were already antsy about the prospects of their favorite artist not playing after all, and after Youtube’s announcement, people went off on social media. Many scrambled to find a good fan-run live stream on Instagram or TikTok, but unlike an official live stream, it wouldn’t be the same quality.

Hardcore Frank Ocean fans waited since at least 8 a.m., four hours before the festival was open at 12 p.m. to get a spot at the barricade for his set on the Coachella mainstage. Frank’s set was postponed for an hour after it was supposed to begin at 10:05. He began with the hit song “Novacane” which references the iconic desert music video. “Met her at Coachella,” meeting much to fan’s expectations, but the rest of the set met mixed reviews from the crowd.

During most of the set, Frank was behind the big screen and not really singing live. When DJ Crystalmess came on to play Jersey Remixes of his songs, Frank said, describing her set within a set,  “You can’t even see Frank Ocean but you get a little rave mix in the middle of the show.” In some viral videos, a security guard can be seen dancing and twerking to her remixes. Also, Frank was holding the green doll that he brought to the 2021 Met Gala.

Frank recalled how the pandemic changed him and his outlook on creating music. “Back in 2020, I was just starting to throw parties in little clubs in New York that were just getting started before sh– started shutting down.” He continued, “And I was having such a good time playlisting music and listening to so much new music and encountering DJs who were up and coming and who were really on their sh–. It’s become such a part of my practice now with my new weekly thing, with [Apple Music 1’s] Homer Radio that we’ve been working on…. It’s good that it’s not always about me.”

The whole set wasn’t a rave party though. Frank settled in to perform some of his greatest hits in an intimate setting and in ways that his fans have never heard of before. He performed an acoustic version of “Pink + White,” a remix of “Solo,” a drill edit of “Chanel,” and a punk rock remix of “Wiseman.”

Frank also gave tribute to his brother Ryan Breaux who was killed in a car crash in 2020 at the age of 18. “It’s been so long…. But I have missed you,” Frank told the audience. “I want to talk about why I’m here because it’s not because of a new album… Not that there’s not a new album.” He then hushed the cheerful audience. “You know, these last couple years, my life changed so much…. My brother and I, we came to this festival a lot. I feel like I was dragged out here half the time because I hated the dust out here, I always left with a respiratory infection, or what have you. So I would avoid coming, but I would always end up here. One of my fondest memories was watching Rae Sremmurd on I don’t know what that stage is called with my brother. And Travis [Bennett], I don’t know if Travis/Taco is here, but we was just dancing in that tent to their music, and I know he would’ve been so excited to be here with all of us. I want to say thank you for the support and the ears and the love over all this time.”

Frank gleefully performed around the stage when singing (or lip-syncing) “Nikes” and “Nights.” He also brought a young piano player named Josiah who represented his “inner child” to perform a sort-of new track.

Though everything came to an end unexpectedly when in the middle of singing a cover of “At Your Best (You Are Love),” Frank interrupted, “Guys, I’m being told it’s curfew so that’s the end of the show.” The stage screen went completely black, while fans screamed and chanted, “One more song!” However, Frank didn’t come back out and the set was completely over.

Many fans were disappointed in the timing of the set and craved more from his first set in six years. “Started the set late, didn’t let them live stream it, now ending the set early… frank ocean you will rue the day,” one fan tweeted. Another fan wrote, “Who tf r they keeping up with curfew they’re in a desert they aren’t keeping anyone up that doesn’t wanna hear Frank Ocean.” Frank fans have another chance to see him at Coachella weekend 2, but until then, we’ll keep replaying the set we have.

On Monday, April 17, 2023, sources told TMZ that Frank had an ankle injury before his set. His doctor advised him to change his production after a bike accident happened during Coachella rehearsals. The story was confirmed by Frank’s team to Billboard. Frank was supposed to have a ice rink with choreographed hockey players in custom Prada dance with him in the background. However, the injury made the plans to be scrapped.

The Festive Owl talked to several sources about the mishap and wrote, “The stage production was suppose to (and did) contain an ice rink that was constructed and ready to go. Frank decided at the last minute that he no longer wanted it at all. All of the people walking around him at the start of the performance were actually ice skaters, had been practicing for weeks, and were supposed to be skating as part of the production. Coachella had to deconstruct the approved stage (that had been planned and signed off on for months in advance) + melt the entire ice rink and then set it up how Frank decided today with no warning. Which is what you ended up seeing, and caused the hour long delay. This all happened when doors had already open for Sunday, and people were securing their spots to see him. If the last minute changes weren’t made he wouldn’t have performed at all — leaving the festival without a closing headliner. Frank also personally pulled the plug at the last second on the live stream which left a very sour taste in many inside Coachella mouths. Ultimately, and I quote — “It just didn’t seem like he wanted to be there but was obligated to be. Everything (including him) fell apart last minute. Don’t expect to see any coverage from the festival about the set. Something that is unprecedented in the history of Coachella. The relationship is not in a good place right now.”

Hockey Players and podcast hosts Dan and Chris Powers talked about the ordeal in their podcast Empty Netters. They were slated to be performers and described how things went down at the last minute.“For about a month, we’ve been doing rehearsal, we’ve been hanging with Frank. We’ve been hanging with the other skaters. Hanging with these incredible figure skaters. Going through this whole process, it’s this huge ordeal.” Chris said, “The skating portion was going to be huge. It was going to be 120 skaters. And the people that walked [during the reconfigured show] was only like 30.”

Dan recalled that it was “a nightmare… We sit at this hotel, we run into the figure skaters. These Olympic figure skaters, mind you, and they have a disgruntled look on their faces. And they casually mention to us that got a phone call and they’ve been cut from the show.” He also said that the “White Ferrari” singer was  “‘not in a good head space’ and they ‘don’t know what’s going on.’ And we’re sitting there, and it is becoming clear that things are not going well with this show.

“Those figure skaters got cut not because there was an ice issue, not because there was something wrong,” Dan said. “There was no malfunction. He [Ocean] just straight-up was like, ‘F–k this. I’m not doing this anymore.’ And [to] these 120 people [he] had bused out here, he was just like, ‘You guys aren’t doing s–t now.’ So it was just like a wild flip.”He was also told that performers were told to “walk back and forth on stage for about five minutes,” but not skate.

The former hockey player had told the handler, “‘F–k no, dude. No thank you,” right in front of Frank Ocean himself. Chris also commended Frank and the duo still has immense respect for the artist. “He really cares about the production… 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.”

Despite the backlash of the festival, celebs like Justin Bieber praised Frank Ocean’s set. He wrote on his Instagram, “I was blown away by Frank Oceans Coachella performance. His artistry is simply unmatched, his style, his taste, his voice, his attention to detail.. I was deeply moved. It made me want to keep going and get better as an artist. He continues to set the bar high and gave me a night I will never forget! Thanks Frank.”

Frank Ocean Coachella Setlist

Here’s a setlist of what Frank Ocean played at his Coachella set on April 17, 2023.

  1. Novacane (New Version)
  2. Come On World, You Can’t Go!
  3. Crack Rock
  4. Impietas / Deathwish (ASR)
  5. Bad Religion
  6. White Ferrari
  7. Florida
  8. Pink + White
  9. Solo
  10. Solo (Reprise)
  11. Chanel
  12. Lost
  13. Slide (Jersey Club Remix)
  14. In Ha Mood (Ice Spice song)
  15. Provider (Jersey Club Remix)
  16. In My Room (Jersey Club Remix)
  17. No Church in the Wild / Pyramids (JAY Z & Kanye West song) (Mashup)
  18. Godspeed
  19. Wise Man
  20. Night Life (Aretha Franklin cover)
  21. Self Control (Acoustic, Frank on guitar)
  22. Nikes (Shortened)
  23. Nights (Mixed with Sango Remix)
  24. At Your Best (You Are Love) (The Isley Brothers cover)

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