Odd Future's singing star got off to to a rough start, but his skills (and Tyler, the Creator) saved the day.
Written by Brad Wete (@BradWete)
It must stink being as good as Frank Ocean is when performances—huge ones at that—don’t go as designed. “Coachella, what the fuck is up,” asked the singer from behind the Gobi stage that he was scheduled to perform on around 8:15pm last night. “Just a second, please. Technical difficulties.”
It took a full 20 minutes for Frank to arrive front and center for the first night of the first weekend of Coachella, the massive music fest held each spring in the California desert. Backed by a full band wearing screen-printed tees with images of buttoned cardigans, he took the stage wearing a blue baseball jersey, white tee with gold chain tucked in, black Vans and jeans, and a bandanna crown.
Frank’s voice sounds as buttery live as it does on records like the Coldplay-sampling “Strawberry Swing” from Nostalgia, ULTRA, the trippy R&B mixtape that made him a renowned newbie last spring. Unfortunately his show was hampered by sound issues. On several occasions he apologized to the loving crowd because his microphone was giving off too much feedback, creating a high-pitched squeal. Or he’d stare back at his band, eyes furrowed with confusion, wondering why some obnoxious noise or other was messing the beautiful music they were playing. "I'm trying to be professional,” he said later. “But my sound is super fucked up."
"I'm trying to be professional,” he said later. “But my sound is super f*cked up."
Still, Ocean’s set overcame its faults. His falsetto on “Thinking About You” made women in the audience swoon. And they sang every word of ULTRA’s suicidal serenade “Swim Good,” which closed with the same seagull chirps it does on the tape.
When it was time for a surprise, he brought out his Odd Future bestie Tyler, the Creator, to enormous applause. After an awkward start—Tyler missed his initial cue to start rapping—the two performed “Analog 2,” their collab from last month’s The OF Tape Vol. 2 and punctuated it with a chest bump and bro-hug at the end.
When Tyler bounced, Frank launched into his recently released “Whip Appeal,” followed by a slowed-down, even woozier rendition of “Love Crimes.” When he completed songs without any technical glitches, as he did towards the end of his set, Frank would let out a triumphant “Oh yeah.” Obviously, it felt good to finish strong.
He left his most popular and best for last, wrapping the evening with “Novacane,” which shouts out the festival itself (“…met her at Coachella.”) Then he transitioned into “White,” his sullen solo cut on Vol. 2.
Frank never really said goodbye. He simply disappeared during the crescendo of the song’s spacey instrumentation. It was an odd ending to a solid show. Somehow it made sense, though.