Skip to content

Frank Ocean Reworks Songs and Salutes Late Brother at Coachella Comeback

The set was apparently cut short prematurely due to curfew at the Indio, Ca., venue
Frank Ocean
(Photo: Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images)

Frank Ocean left Coachella fans both ecstatic and annoyed last night (April 16) at his long-awaited first major concert in six years, as he offered up numerous live debuts and reworked versions of his songs but was forced to cut his set short due to curfew at the Indio, Ca., venue.

Ocean was originally supposed to headline the festival in 2020, but that edition was scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sources tell SPIN that Ocean was still finalizing his live band just days before the performance, and the artist was also abruptly removed from the YouTube Coachella live stream schedule hours ahead of time. But despite a nearly hour-long delay at the outset, Ocean conjured several noteworthy moments in the desert last night.

He opened with a more rock-oriented version of his 2011 debut single “Novacane,” which chronicles meeting a model at … where else but Coachella itself (sample lyric: “I went to see Jigga, she went to see Z-Trip / Perfect”). Ocean also reworked favorites such as “Bad Religion,” “White Ferrari,” and “Wise Man,” while playing tracks such as “Come on World, You Can’t Go!” and “Godspeed” for the first time.

A few songs in, Ocean gave a heartfelt speech about previously attending Coachella with his brother Ryan, who died in an Aug. 2020 car accident in Thousand Oaks, Ca., at the age of 20. He specifically called out a memory of dancing to hip-hop dup Rae Sremmurd in a tent several years earlier

Also Read


“It’s been so long, but I have missed you,” he said, perhaps referencing the long break from performing and releasing albums. “I want to talk about why I’m here. It’s not because of a new album. It’s because … not that there’s not a new album, but there’s not right now. 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. I would avoid coming but I would always wind up here.”

“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 over all this time,” Ocean added.

Navigating numerous stops and starts, Ocean admitted, “this is fucking chaotic, but so much fun.” In a nod to his short-lived 2019 club night series PrEP+, the middle of the set was given over to DJ Crystal Mess for Jersey Club-style remixes of Ocean tracks such as “Slide,” “Provider,” and “Lost,” the latter with a musical nod to fellow Coachella performer Underworld’s ’90s dance music classic “Born Slippy (Nuxx).”

Returning to live music, Ocean covered Aretha Franklin’s “Night Life,” handled acoustic guitar duties himself on “Self Control,” and dusted off a version of the late Aaliyah’s “(At Your Best) You Are Love” before he had to stop due to curfew.

Ocean is scheduled to close the festival next Sunday with another main stage headlining set.