Frank Ocean’s Coachella performance was so bad, he should probably skip weekend two – Screen Shot
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Frank Ocean’s Coachella performance was so bad, he should probably skip weekend two

It’s no exaggeration to say that when it was announced that Frank Ocean would be headlining the final night of Coachella 2023’s first weekend, fans went feral with excitement. Having not performed since 2017, obsessive groupies and fringe appreciators alike gathered around the main stage and waited in anticipation for the Blonde artist.

Sadly, it’s also no exaggeration to say that Ocean’s first major performance in six years was a colossal flop. And while singers are not superhumans—and sometimes things go wrong and they shouldn’t be vilified for it—it’s indisputable that Ocean’s set was not only incredibly disappointing, it was a stark reminder that not all artists care to put on the best show possible.

So, before we get into the internet’s extreme reactions to the performance, let’s run through some of the most significant criticisms and problems that occurred during the American singer’s hour-long set.

Well, for starters, Ocean began his show over an hour late. And while this usually wouldn’t be a cardinal offence considering so many other performers have done the same before, it was what came next that really bothered the audience.

According to Insider, “when the show finally began, the audience was greeted with a procession of men in hoodies, silently marching back and forth.” Crowds were left to guess which one could be Ocean, or if he was even there at all.

The main stage had been transformed into one huge screen. The performer and his band were largely invisible to the crowd and when the camera did show him, it was often the back of his head, or of a face obscured by shadows. Safe to say, actual visibility of the ‘Thinkin Bout You’ singer was practically nonexistent.

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What followed was an amalgamation of snippets of classic hits, confused and erratic remixes and a bizarrely-timed DJ set mid-way through the show. The audience began to dissipate, with some distraught fans leaving before the end of Ocean’s set. The ones who stayed watched mystified by what was actually happening—and incredibly confused as to why the singer was giving such a half-arsed performance.


Watch the sea of people leave #FrankOcean set. What happened? #coachella

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On top of this, Ocean would randomly leave the stage, returning a few minutes later only to soon afterwards disappear again? The entire event felt like the end credits to Ocean’s once-blossoming career. Zero audience participation and zero magic—the reverse of what you expect from a festival like Coachella.

Definitely safe to say that some people are questioning whether or not Ocean refused to let his set be streamed on YouTube because he knew beforehand how much of a fever dream it was going to be.

With fans overtly distraught and upset about the lacklustre performance, one music event-centric Twitter page posted insight into what was potentially happening backstage.

On 17 April, one day after Ocean’s performance, an account named @TheFestivalOwl shared this statement: “I’ve been speaking with sources about exactly what transpired and how things went so far downhill Sunday for #FrankOcean + #Coachella…so here you go. The stage production was supposed to (and did) contain an ice rink that was constructed and ready to go.”

It continued: “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 practising 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.”

And finally, the statement concluded: “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 at the 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.”

While fans had already been lamenting about the performance online, this alleged insight pushed people completely over the edge—and quite rightly.

Some users did initially sympathise with the artist, with one individual sharing on TikTok: “I thought that maybe he wasn’t ready to come back yet because he’s still grieving the loss of his brother and maybe this was just too soon.” However, the alleged ice-skating rink debacle has now left a sour taste.


Now I’m nervous for my weekend child frankocean coachella coachellaweekend1

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There have been some attempts to try and disrupt the negative discourse. Most notably, statements began being released stating that Ocean had hurt his ankle days before the event and that’s why the production changed so drastically last minute. However, from what can be seen in the comments section, fans didn’t particularly take to this idea and began labelling it a PR scheme rather than the truth.

SCREENSHOT was approached by independent talent agency Huxley, which represents Ocean among other celebrities, and informed that the singer did indeed suffer an injury to his ankle prior to his performance, which ultimately impacted the production execution. The agency also stated that the onstage performers had been wearing custom Prada and that one of the most special guests featured in Ocean’s show was none other than the infamous green robot baby the artist carried around at the 2021 Met Gala.

It should be noted that Huxley also stated that the Coachella organisers loved the show and had no immediate issues or concerns.

It’s still not known whether or not the ‘Novacane’ singer will participate in weekend two of Coachella. And while Ocean’s return to the main stage could’ve been one of the most monumental festival moments of all time (similarly to the iconic Beychella), it turned out to be the complete opposite.

Another reason to boycott Coachella: its shady, anti-LGBTQ billionaire owner Philip Anschutz

Let me start by clarifying one thing: I’m fully aware of the fact that you don’t actually need another reason to boycott the annual two weekend-long, infamous carnage of a festival that is Coachella. From the part it played in the rise of cultural appropriation in festival fashion and beauty to more recently being compared to Fyre Festival (no less), the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is no stranger to controversy. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the unavoidable celebrity drama it leads to every year—though, admittedly, I’m here for it most of the time, this year, witnessing Timothée Chalamet snogging a yet to be named lady has proved to be the last straw that broke the camel’s back. But I digress.

We’re not here to speak about Lil Timmy Tim’s love life—if you are, please feel free to slide into my DMs—we’re on a mission to unveil what is probably Coachella’s most problematic aspect, its very owner, American billionaire and openly homophobic businessman Philip Anschutz.

Who is Philip Anschutz?

Known as “the man who owns Los Angeles,” Anschutz is, you guessed it, an old white man who was born wealthy and proceeded to make even more money for himself. Born in 1939 to a Kansas family, Anschutz first followed in his father’s footsteps as a land operator and oilman before investing in railroads, telecommunications, newspapers and entertainment. With an estimated $11 billion fortune, one of his many assets is one of the world’s best-attended and most profitable music events, Coachella.

Through his company the Anschutz Corporation, and one of its subsidiaries, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), the billionaire also operates more than 90 clubs and theatres around the world and produces or supports more than 25 music festivals. Oh, and the man also owns the Los Angeles Kings hockey team and a one-third stake of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, as well as both teams’ home arena, the Arena (formerly and colloquially known as the Staples Center).

As previously mentioned, Anschutz has been a billionaire for a long time. In fact, according to Business Insider, he’s one of only two people who’ve made the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans every year since the first version was published in 1982. But it comes as no surprise that billionaires have shady beliefs and hobbies.

Philip Anschutz’s sponsor of conservative battles

In April 2018, Cara Delevingne shared on Instagram a message explaining why she had decided to boycott the festival despite previously saying that Beyoncé’s “iconic” headline performance had left her speechless. She wrote, “I still refuse to go to a festival that is owned by someone who is anti-LGBT and pro-gun.”

In response to the model’s remarks, AEG released a statement saying it “wholeheartedly” supports the LGBT community. Anschutz himself went on to express “regret” if any money given to charities “may have worked against these values.”

“That was not my intention, it does not reflect my beliefs, and I am committed to making sure it does not happen again,” he stated.

The accusations—which Anschutz has kept on denying ever since—relate to payments made to hard-line conservative religious and political groups across the US through his charitable foundation. These include allegedly supporting: anti-gay laws, same-sex marriage opposition and pro-gun support.

According to US campaign group Freedom For All Americans, Anschutz gave £35,000 to the National Christian Foundation (NCF) between 2011 and 2013. NCF is known to fund a lot of the groups aggressively working to chip away at the equal rights of LGBTQ+ Americans.

The FADER also detailed alleged payments made by Anschutz to a number of hard-line conservative politicians. This included a payment of £1,900 to Republican Scott Tipton, a strong opponent of same-sex marriage and abortion, in October 2017.

Last but not least, the same investigation also alleged that in March 2018, Anschutz gave £3,780 to Senator Cory Gardner, a vocal pro-gun advocate. Following the Las Vegas shooting that killed 58 people, Gardner came out against gun control. “This is a tragedy, if you’re trying to politicise it, or if anyone is trying to politicise it, then shame on them,” he told TIME.

In January 2018, the pro-legalisation publication Freedom Leaf reported that the Anschutz Foundation had handed over more than $200,000 to fund anti-marijuana efforts in Colorado as recently as 2016.

Under pressure from all these accusations, which were clearly bad for business, Anschutz made a $1 million donation to the Elton John AIDS Foundation which, among other things, provides help and protection to sexual minorities. Yet just a few months later, he was found once again to have made significant donations to evangelical institutions promoting LGBTQ+ discrimination, such as Colorado Christian University (CCU), whose charter states that “no one shall teach, defend, support or condone homosexuality.”

Since then, Anschutz has had to remain as discreet as possible in order to not overshadow the festival. According to Bloomberg, he has only ever given two public press conferences in his career. But, as Los Angeles economist Jack Kyser described in the Los Angeles Times in 2006, Anschutz is still “the man behind the curtain pulling the levers. Nobody sees him, yet he has a huge impact on Los Angeles.”