Frank Ocean closed out the first weekend of Coachella 2023 as the headliner last Sunday night, April 16, and it proved to be a thankless job. Fans were mostly left disappointed because Ocean’s set started an hour later than scheduled and was lackluster once it was underway.
It turns out, everybody should have followed Justin Bieber’s lead and appreciated Ocean for performing at all.
TMZ reported the following day that Ocean “suffered a serious ankle injury after being involved in a bike accident” in the days leading up to his headlining set.
“The accident occurred when Frank was at Coachella rehearsing his set. He wasn’t onstage, though, we’re told the mishap involved bikes used to roam around the Empire Polo Club grounds, and it was serious enough for doctors to advise Frank’s production be changed,” TMZ wrote.
The most significant alteration was scrapping an ice rink that had been specifically built for Ocean’s set for a “skating routine” involving “over 100 hockey players” cast from Los Angeles-based hockey teams last month. Instead, as Uproxx observed, Ocean’s set “felt aimless and unplanned,” with bouts where songs were just playing over the speakers without any performance element from Ocean.
Ocean’s lack of animation can officially be chalked up to his inability to move. Variety reported on Wednesday, April 19, that Ocean “will not be performing” as Coachella’s headliner for the upcoming second weekend. The publication additionally relayed that Ocean’s headlining slot will be taken by Blink-182 this Sunday, April 23.
Representatives for Ocean provided a statement:
“After suffering an injury to his leg on festival grounds in the week leading up to weekend 1, Frank Ocean was unable to perform the intended show but was still intent on performing, and in 72 hours, the show was reworked out of necessity. On doctor’s advice, Frank is not able to perform weekend 2 due to two fractures and a sprain in his left leg.”
Ocean’s statement reads, “It was chaotic. There is some beauty in chaos. It isn’t what I intended to show, but I did enjoy being out there, and I’ll see you soon.”
The beauty in Ocean’s set came when he spoke directly to the crowd, quasi-teasing an album and remembering his younger brother, Ryan, who died in August 2020 in a single-car crash at 18.
Watch Ocean’s speech below.
Frank Ocean on why he’s performing at Coachella tonight
“My brother and I, we came to this festival a lot. […] I know he would’ve been so excited to be here with all of us.” pic.twitter.com/v2otOrNkSo
— Kurrco (@Kurrco) April 17, 2023