Coachella 2012: Hiccups aside, Frank Ocean shines


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With the winds whipping aggressively during Day One of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Friday, you had to wonder just how many acts would make it through their set without any issue.

That answer came in the Gobi tent closer to 8:30 p.m.

“Just a second, please,” R&B crooner Frank Ocean announced to a semi-patient audience. He was supposed to go on 15 minutes earlier. “Technical difficulties.”


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Though Ocean had to stall his set to work out the kinks, they didn’t subside once he was onstage. During an otherwise nimble set he was hampered by sound issues that got his performance off to a shaky start. The Odd Future member apologized to the crowd because his microphone was giving off feedback, taking his falsetto into a bit of a squeal.

‘I’m trying to be professional,” he said at one point. “But my sound is super [messed] up.’

Surprisingly, the earnest moment was a welcome one for the reserved singer. When I saw Ocean at El Rey earlier this year, he felt incredibly awkward and disconnected from the audience, often just running through songs without much engagement -- despite the ladies (and the fellas) loving and knowing every word of his brand of narrative drive, a seemingly esoteric take on R&B that has made him a go-to guy for production and hooks.

Hiccups aside, seeing Ocean –- backed by a full band wearing cute, matching T-shirts with buttoned cardigans printed on them -- serenade the crowd with moody bedroom jams like “Thinking About You,’ ‘Voodoo,’ ‘Whip Appeal’ and even the beautiful suicide ode, “Swim Good,” as the stars sparkled in the sky felt more hopeful and appropriate than anything I’d seen that day. And the chilly night made all us lonely saps in the crowd long for someone to cuddle up next to.

The rollicking moment of the night came as Odd Future’s carelessly unpredictable leader Tyler the Creator emerged onstage. The crowd erupted as some held up cameras and cigarettes (and other miscellaneous vices) to celebrate the appearance.


Some hoisted themselves up on the sides of the Gobi tent’s structure and hung from the cables –- yep, it looked as unsafe as you’d imagine -- as the crowd swelled. It was impossible not to contrast the moment from last year when a late start and extended opening of noise and ruckus kept Odd Future from truly shining. But then again, some would argue that’s their charm. Tyler managed to keep his crazy antics at bay for a short but still bizarre (considering he missed his initial cue) appearance on “Analog 2,” their collaboration from the recently released “The OF Tape Vol. 2.”

The crisp breeze picked up a fresh stench of cannabis for Ocean’s surprise hit “Novacane,” and carried the screams from the many girls in the crowd who undoubtedly wished they were the “her” in the Coachella shout-out in the lyrics.

Given Ocean’s intense engagement, that night they likely were.


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— Gerrick D. Kennedy @gerrickkennedy