This morning, we all woke up to a headline no one expected to see: Drake Cuts Surprise Camp Flog Gnaw Set Short After Being Booed.
As the story goes, Drake was brought out as a surprise guest at Tyler, the Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw festival, but he was booed off stage by fans who wanted to see Frank Ocean instead. Drake reportedly called the experience a “moment of humility, which is always welcomed.” According to DJ Akademiks, Drake explained that it “was just not my night” and said he “wasn’t who they wanted to see.”
So, how did this happen? Why did the crowd respond so poorly to one of the most popular artists in the world? According to fans who were there, the situation was a little more nuanced than headlines make it seem.
For years, Tyler has been reserving time on the festival’s lineup for special guests, and fans have always wanted a surprise appearance from former Odd Future affiliate Frank Ocean. “We’ve been going to Camp Flog Gnaw for some years now and people have been setting the expectation for themselves each year that it’s actually going to be Frank,” a fan named Adam Gonzales tells Complex. “Not once did Tyler or anyone else say it would be him, but the internet and Reddit was filled with people thinking they cracked the code and it would be Frank.”
This year’s lineup included a surprise guest performance at the Camp Stage on Sunday night at 9:55 p.m. “People definitely put their money on Frank being the surprise guest and a lot of the people were talking about it throughout the day,” says a fan named Alejandro Cruz. Other attendees believed that Tyler dropped clues about a Frank appearance throughout the weekend. “Tyler was hinting that it might’ve been Frank,” says an attendee named Julio Rodriguez. “Saturday after his set, he played the new Frank Ocean song. And yesterday after FKA Twigs, I believe he played the ‘Waves’ trailer. So that just added more fuel to the fire.”
Shortly after 10 p.m. on Sunday, the surprises began. According to those in attendance, Tyler came out and told the crowd, “Can I bring a couple friends out? And we can just party and have a good time for the next hour.” First, ASAP Rocky came on and played two songs. Then, Lil Uzi Vert came out for two more songs. “Both of them did a good job of getting the crowed pretty hyped, honestly,” Cruz says. “Everyone was into it, but people were definitely talking about getting Frank out there.”
Drake came out next, and at first, the response was very positive. “People were hyped when he first came out, and shocked, too,” Cruz explains. “Because no one was really expecting Drake to be there.”
I think it would have happened to anyone that came out and wasn’t Frank. I really don’t feel the crowd had a vendetta towards Drake.
Early in his set, Drake addressed the crowd: “They told me to come out and maybe do two or three songs for y’all tonight. But I’mma ask your permission, because I know this is your festival, I’mma ask your permission if I can stay up here and turn up with you for a little longer tonight.” His words were met with cheers, so he continued to play several more songs, including “Going Bad,” “I’m Upset,” and “Energy.”
Then, the response from the crowd changed a little. After watching Rocky and Uzi each perform two songs each, some fans expected Drake to do the same. Knowing there was still plenty of time left in the surprise set for more performers if he stopped early, some fans hoped Frank would come out next. “There was a lot of back and forth up front, between people wanting Drake on stage and people screaming ‘Frank!’” Gonzales explains. “I still remember a random girl yelling, ‘Frank is in New York. Stop yelling for him, you’re gonna ruin it.’”
“I would say the reaction got worse the longer he stayed on,” adds an attendee named Breeana Gonzalez. “But that’s only due to him saying that he was only supposed to play two or three songs. Tyler did say, ‘I’m bringing out a couple of friends.’ We didn’t know when that train of friends ended. No one’s name ever was shown on the large screens. I’ve been to Camp Flog Gnaw where there was a secret special guest, and they had shown the name on the screen right before the preformed came out.”
Gonzalez says Drake’s own words added to the confusion. “He kept saying, ‘This is my last song,’ and it wasn’t. It kept this feeling that there was another person coming. If he had just performed without trying to hype the crowd up, no one would’ve been upset. And even then, no one was upset. It was just disappointment.”
Adam Gonzales agrees. “Even when Drake would go back into another song, the crowd would get hype again,” he says. “I wish Drake said, ‘Fuck it,’ and just went back into more songs, because regardless, people were going crazy for him. I wouldn’t say the crowd as a whole grew unhappy, but there would be a handful of kids who would yell things out like, ‘One more song.’ Or when Drake would ask if he could play some more, you’d get a handful of people saying, ‘No!’ But I really don’t think that was the majority.”
Drake addressed the crowd one more time, saying, “If you wanna keep going, I will keep going tonight.” When he didn’t get the response he was looking for, he said, “Well, look, it’s been love. I love y’all. I go by the name of Drake. Thank you for having me.” Drake left the stage, and no more surprise performers came out. The festival was over.
“When he left the stage, the crowd stayed 20 minutes after,” Breena Gonzalez says. “It made the whole day feel so unfinished.”
Immediately after Drake’s performance, the conversation online became focused on how the crowd didn’t give Drake the respect he deserved. All of the attendees Complex spoke with, however, pointed out that Drake “put on a great show” and explained that most of the boos came from confusion from fans who thought there would be additional surprises.
“I think it would have happened to anyone that came out and wasn’t Frank,” Adam Gonzales says. “I really don’t feel the crowd had a vendetta towards Drake.” Breena Gonzalez adds, “I don’t think Drake or any performer needs to be booed off stage. I don’t think that’s what happened here, though. There were moment of people yelling, ‘Where’s Frank?’ But it wasn’t the whole crowd at all.”
“This wasn’t our first year and it won’t be the last,” Gonzalez points out, saying the experience didn’t ruin his weekend. “It was an amazing experience and I thank Tyler for everything he puts into it each year. Yeah, I do agree it could have been clarified that Drake was the last [surprise performer] but I think as a fan going into a surprise set, you need to have a certain level respect for the artist coming out onstage, even if it’s not who you want. If you’re not happy, then bounce, but it’s unfortunate it had to end that way.”
Additional reporting by Jessica McKinney