FYF Fest: Frank Ocean’s out, Kanye’s in -- what does it all mean?

Frank Ocean, seen at the Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 10, 2013, has pulled out of this year's FYF Fest in Exposition Park.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Not since the last-minute addition of Prince at Coachella in 2008 has an L.A.-area music festival seen such a major top-of-the-ticket shift as what just happened at FYF Fest.

With Frank Ocean dropping out just days before his headline set — and FYF scoring a pinch-hit replacement from an even bigger star, Kanye West — the fest proved its mettle for talent-buying and logistical improvisation.

In a statement, a rep for Ocean described his reasons for skipping the festival. “We’re really sorry that due to a scheduling conflict beyond our control, Frank Ocean is not going to be able to appear at FYF Festival as planned. Frank had really been looking forward to the performance and to seeing all of his fans, so it is with great regret that we announce this cancellation.”

FYF’s own statement was short, summed up in a vaguely cryptic line: “Frank Ocean has decided on his own terms to cancel his appearance.”

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Is this a casualty of the surprise-album era? When artists are so committed to keeping up with the fast pace and low attention span of the Internet, can longer-term engagements like festival appearances somehow slip through the cracks? Or was this something unique to Ocean that he’s still reluctant to explain (and regrettably so, because his cancellation was a huge disappointment for L.A. fans).

And what does this last-second bailout mean for Ocean and his long-awaited new album? Who knows, but it can’t be a confidence-boosting gesture for his future festival appearances. After also failing to deliver on a few allusions to a new record coming in July, some fans are wondering when or if Ocean will be back at all to deliver on the immense promise of 2012’s “Channel Orange.”

In the meantime, FYF still has another artist known for last-minute cancellations at the top of its bill (that would be Morrissey) and still another top-tier act in D’Angelo, who wasn’t a reliable bet for new music or performances before his surprise release of “Black Messiah” in 2014. It’s hard to imagine any twist of fate that would yield more shakeups at the top of the bill, but everyone was feeling pretty rock-solid they’d be hearing new Ocean material this weekend too.

So we say: Let’s live dangerously, FYF. Get some last-minute slots from Lauryn Hill and Guns N’ Roses up at the top of the ticket. Taylor Swift is town. Let’s see if she wants to truly cross over to contemporary hipsterdom. Or heck, since Moz is going to be there anyway, let’s gun for a full-band Smiths reunion and see who blinks first.

But today, FYF, you’ve done a superlative job securing an exciting new headliner. Who knew that Kanye West would be such a bastion of last-minute availability for festival engagements?

Follow @AugustBrown for breaking music news.