After six years, Frank Ocean made his long-awaited return to the stage at Coachella.
Anticipation was at an all-time high as the elusive singer closed out the three-day festival on Sunday night. Fans flocked to the Main Stage as they patiently waited for almost an hour for Ocean to start his nearly 90-minute set, which was not live streamed.
Shortly after 11 p.m., Ocean opened with “Novacane,” wearing a blue hooded windbreaker and black durag. He and his crew were tucked away behind the massive video screen and remained out of view for a good portion of the performance.
Despite the difficult viewing, he sounded pitch perfect while performing songs from Blonde and Channel Orange, including “Crack Rock,” “Bad Religion,” and “White Ferrari,” reworking many of them with new arrangements.
Ocean acknowledged that he was working on new music (“Not that there’s not a new album. It’s not right now”), but that was not the reason he decided to perform at Coachella.
“The last couple years, my life changed so much,” said Ocean, whose younger brother, Ryan Breaux, died in a car crash in 2020. “My brother and I, we came to this festival a lot and I feel like I was dragged out here half the time.”
“One of my fondest memories was watching Rae Sremmurd… We were just dancing in that tent to their music. I know he would have been so excited to be here with all of us and I want to say thank you for the support and the ears and the love of all this time.”
Ocean, who was supposed to headline Coachella in 2020 before it was canceled due to the pandemic, continued with “Pink + White,” “Solo,” and “Chanel.”
Midway through, he turned the show over to DJ Crystall Mess who remixed his songs including “Lost,” “Slide,” and “Provider.” Cameras showed a security guard twerking backstage and Ocean was seen holding Cody, the green doll that he brought to the 2019 Met Gala.
“You came to see Frank Ocean and you got a little rave mix in the middle of the show,” he joked.
At one point, a young piano player named Josiah, who Ocean introduced as his “inner child,” lip-synced to a cover of Willie Nelson’s “Night Life.”
Ocean performed a punk remix of the previously-leaked “Wise Man” before mouthing along to “Nikes” and “Nights.” He ended with his stirring rendition of Aaliyah’s “(At Your Best) You Are Love,” which he released in honor of the late singer’s birthday in 2015.
Ocean’s set abruptly came to an end at 12:20 a.m. “Guys, I’m being told that’s curfew so that’s the end of the show,” he told the crowd before leaving the stage.
This marked Ocean’s first performance since 2017, when he performed at several European festivals. He is slated to return for Weekend 2 of Coachella next Sunday.