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Coachella 2023: Frank Ocean emerges after hourlong delay


Welcome to the third and final day of our live coverage of the 2023 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Today’s headliner is the elusive, enigmatic R&B singer Frank Ocean, who hasn’t performed in concert since 2019, and hasn’t played these parts since back in 2017. Who will he bring out during his set? Will he drop new music and rejoin the fray of working musicians? Stay tuned here; all will be revealed.

Sunday’s lineup is arguably the fest’s strongest and most progressive, featuring Björk, Kali Uchis, Glorilla, Sudan Archives, Weyes Blood, Dominic Fike, IDK, Latto, Christine and the Queens, Rae Sremmurd, Alex G and many more.

Saturday was no slouch, either: K-pop’s Blackpink more than earned its headline slot, and sets from boygenius, Rosalía, Calvin Harris, the Breeders and Ethel Cain were standouts.

The Times’ Mikael Wood, August Brown, Suzy Exposito, Kenan Draughorne and Vanessa Franko are roaming the grounds of Indio’s Empire Polo Club and reporting on all the action as it happens.

1:15 p.m. Rise and shine, Coachella! The sun is beaming down extra hard today, so be sure to pack your sunblock.

Last night saw a razor sharp set by K-pop femme fatales Blackpink, who slayed the main stage. This evening, the enigmatic singer-songwriter Frank Ocean is slated to headline, marking his first live performance since 2017; this is sure to unite the sadbois, sadgirls and sadtheys in cathartically tearful harmony. — Suzy Exposito

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs perform at the Outdoor Theatre during the 2023 Coachella

(Arturo Holmes / Getty Images for Coachella)

1:30 p.m. I started off my day “early” with an iced coffee, a pupusa and a charming 1 p.m. set by the first all-female, Gen-Z sierreño group, Conexión Divina — altogether, a breakfast of champions. The L.A. trio, who all met serendipitously on Instagram, regaled the Sonora Tent with mellow mountain jams from their new album, “Tres Mundos,” a collection of ethereal and emotionally intelligent regional Mexican ballads. Conexión Divina also added extra spice to their set with a corrido-style cover of Bad Bunny’s reggae song “Me Fui de Vacaciones,” then a cover of “Como la Flor,” by the patron saint of Mexican fly girls, Selena Quintanilla. — S.E.

3:05 p.m. At the Outdoor Theatre, a pan-Latin American circle pit has commenced! Legendary ska rockers Los Fabulosos Cadillacs stoked the Sunday crowd with a number of brassy punk anthems, including “Mal Bicho” and “Matador.” Flurries of flags from various countries were spotted in the mass of skanking Latinos, during their 45-minute set, including those representing Mexico, Puerto Rico and the band’s home country, Argentina. — S.E.

3:15 p.m. After walking onto the Mojave Stage shortly after 3 p.m., IDK needed a minute to breathe.

“I been preparing for this moment my whole life,” the Maryland rapper told the audience while soaking in preemptive applause.

IDK themed his set around Formula 1 racing, sporting a black race suit with the year 1965 emblazoned across its chest. The set wasn’t entirely zooming at 100 mph — the Maryland rapper took moments to let the crowd catch its breath, whether on the gentle groove of “Breathe” or during the literal pit stop when crew members emerged from the stage wings to tie his shoes. Near the end, he brought out Rich the Kid to perform their collaboration “850 (We On Top)”, along with Rich’s hit “Plug Walk.”

“It felt surreal man,“ IDK said in the media tent after his performance. “Playing Coachella was something I always wanted to do. Being that it was such an early set, I wasn’t sure if people would show up, but they showed up and showed out.”

The set design hinted at the concept behind his forthcoming album, “F-65.” The concept is a metaphor for the human race, wanting to use supercars and their competition-driven humans to drive the point home.

“I learned to love racing from wanting to have a concept about race,” he said. “l spent all my time learning about it. I watched every [Mercedes] 190e, [Lamborghini] EVO2 video on YouTube. I really live that s—.” — Kenan Draughorne

3:20 p.m. Stick Figure is bringing laid-back reggae rock vibes to the Outdoor Theatre stage on this sunny Sunday. The only thing missing for the quintessential SoCal afternoon is a Sublime song. Oh wait, here’s a cover of “Doin’ Time.” — Vanessa Franko

3:55 p.m. I was wandering around the field when the sound of fast guitars and a blond woman jumping around the stage drew me into the Gobi Tent. This is the magic of Coachella.

“I don’t know if you know it or not, but you came to a punk show,” R&B singer-songwriter Fousheé told the crowd.

I didn’t, but judging by the members of the crowd putting their hands in the air at her prompt, I’m not the only one who is happy to be here. — V.F.

A woman with long hair performs onstage

GloRilla performs at the 65th Grammy Awards

(Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)

4:07 p.m. A+ bit of demography from GloRilla to open her main-stage set: “I don’t know how many ratchet bitches we got in the crowd today,” the Memphis rapper said, “but we got one onstage.” — M.W.

4:10 p.m. Coachella fans who best recognize Fousheé from co-writing Steve Lacy’s R&B smash “Bad Habit” might not have expected the metalhead riffing and blasts of drum fills that filled her stage during her late-afternoon set. But for the already converted, they came ready to circle pit.

There’s something deeply admirable about Fousheé’s commitment to demolishing the Top-40 potential she had after writing one of last year’s biggest hits. She’s written and sung with Lil Wayne, James Blake, Lil Yachty and Vince Staples, but at Coachella, her set was rife with gnarled punk songs like “Stupid B-“ (with its memorable hook, “I’ll blow your brains out you stupid b-“) and “Deep End,” where she taunted a man that “he can’t afford me, he can’t afford me.”

With a great backing band of long-haired hessians and a few swirls of sampled atmospherics, the singer, dressed in a black-and-chrome bondage skirt, got a perverse glee out of upending expectations. Her 2022 album, “Softcore,” was an intriguing if uneven lash of noise and cooing R&B, but onstage Sunday, she dove in ready to wound the crowd herself, then pick them back up.

“It’s really hot, don’t pass out,” she implored her fans. “But I’ll come rescue you if you do.” — August Brown

5:16 p.m. The Coachella app sent an alert that the festival’s parking lots are full and encouraged those still arriving to park at Indian Wells Tennis Garden roughly eight miles away to catch a free shuttle. Clearly Frank Ocean is going to attract a very large crowd tonight. — V.F.

 Romy performs at Coachella

Romy performs at Coachella

(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

5:20 p.m. In what she said was her “first time properly doing this show,” Romy — better known as Romy Madley Croft of the xx — layered soulful, ethereal vocals over thrumming electronic beats in a moving solo set that climaxed with back-to-back renditions of her songs “Enjoy Your Life” and “Strong.” The music’s mix of melancholy and euphoria recalled the great mid-‘90s work of Everything but the Girl; so too did Romy’s very Tracey Thorn-ish rescaling of a club diva’s wail. — M.W.

5:30 p.m. Coachella 2023 marks Porter Robinson’s fourth year performing at the festival, but the musician, producer and DJ said he still gets nervous.

“I feel like a new artist every single time back here, like I feel like I’m making my debut,” he told The Times on Saturday.

Robinson, who got his Coachella start in the Sahara Tent in 2012, brought out a full band for his performance on the main stage late Sunday afternoon.

A few songs after opening with “Look at the Sky,” Robinson grabbed an acoustic guitar for “Something Comforting” off his album “Nature,” and told the crowd about how nervous he was and how he had been practicing. After one aborted attempt, he tried again and got a bit closer.

In a set that also included “Everything Goes On,” “Musician” and “Sad Machine,” Robinson brought out Madeon for “Shelter.” The two performed together at Coachella in 2017.

Robinson has a busy few weeks ahead. Not only does he have a late afternoon performance slot on Coachella’s largest stage this Sunday and next, after that he’s getting married. — V.F.

Latto performs at Coachella.

Latto performs at Coachella.

(Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times)

5:35 p.m. As if fresh off a girls’ trip down “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Atlanta rapper Latto and her dance crew made a pit stop at the Sahara stage in suede tan get-ups and tall fur boots. Ensconced by glittering, jumbo-sized cherries, Latto blazed through her set with a fierce gusto, dropping a new song against subtweeting — its title inaudible under the screams — as well as voicing support for Megan Thee Stallion in “Budget” and ushering in fellow femcees like TiaCorine, Lola Brooke and Saweetie to share her shine. She also rallied for reproductive freedom as dancers raised pink signs that read “My body, my choice” to the tune of her 2022 anthem, “Pussy” — “My ovaries ain’t for you to bully,” shouted Latto. — S.E.

Weyes Blood performs at Coachella

Weyes Blood performs at Coachella.

(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

5:47 p.m. While Bad Bunny was Friday’s top headliner, L.A. singer-songwriter Weyes Blood brought out her own misbehaving creature on Sunday — a giant costumed dog in a cheerleader outfit sent in to rile up her crowd in the Mojave Tent.

“Who was that guy?” she joked as she shooed him off and prepped another one of her regal, synthy folk tunes with the artist’s pristine white dress billowing around her. Long a veteran of bicoastal noise scenes, the singer born Natalie Mering has finally achieved the deserved career liftoff she’s been looking for. Her 2019 Sub Pop debut “Titanic Rising” was a career best, and its follow-up “And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow” moved the needle even further with its wispy, transcendental vibes and church-reared vocals.

Even when the music turned more somber, she had a wry humor about the whole gig. “Now we’re gonna start the rave portion of the set,” she told her audience, pointing to her head. “It’s not dark yet but it can be dark up here, if you know what I mean.”

Then came “Twin Flame,” a decidedly un-ravey torch tune that nonetheless brought bystanders into the tent to hear what the roars were about. Watching your career leap a few tiers in influence can be daunting; what a treat to see Mering having such a silly, upbeat go of it. — A.B.

5:50 p.m. Rae Sremmurd didn’t just keep their fans waiting long past their scheduled start time — their own backing band stood helpless on the stage in their absence. Over 30 minutes after they were slotted to begin, Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi finally emerged, briskly running through catalog hits and new material.

Rae Sremmurd performs at Coachella

Rae Sremmurd performs at Coachella weekend one on April 15.

(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

More often than not, the duo hardly rapped their own songs, instead vibing out with the mic by their side while backing vocals did the work for them. Fans on the drunker end of the spectrum didn’t seem to mind, as enduring hits like “Black Beatles” and “No Type” rang out through the speakers. But for a group that was largely dormant between 2018’s “SR3MM” and this year’s “Sremm4life” album, the set was overall a letdown. — K.D.

6:01 p.m. It was easy to figure out who Marco Salazar de Leon wants to see at Coachella on Sunday: The 34-year-old from San Diego was wearing a swan dress.

“My fashion inspiration was Björk at the Oscars and yeah, I decided to kind of just come because Björk’s playing.” — V.F.

Kali Uchis performs at Coachella.

Kali Uchis performs at Coachella.

(Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times)

6:20 p.m. Under the magical glow of golden hour, Colombian American chanteuse Kali Uchis hosted an ultra femme dream disco party as the sun began to set at the Coachella stage. Dolled up in denim, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter entranced the crowd with her R&B balladry, performing her songs with the coy, Old Hollywood allure of burlesque icons like Cyd Charisse and Lili St. Cyr. Kali then lifted the mood with her Kaytranada-assisted song “10%,” and welcomed her talented besties Tyler, the Creator and Omar Apollo as her esteemed guests of the evening. She then wedged in a medley of reggaetón tributes, including covers of El General’s “Rica y Apretadita” and Lorna’s “Papi Chulo… Te Traigo el Mmmm” — and eased into a sumptuous bolero track from what she says will be her upcoming album in Spanish, the follow-up to her stellar 2023 LP “Red Moon in Venus.” — S.E.

7:08 p.m. Coachella livestream viewers, you might want to sit down for this. No, not like you’re doing already. Tonight’s headline Frank Ocean will not be broadcast, according to YouTube’s official account. Given that the Coachella parking lots are full, the only way you’re catching Frank at this point is if you’re on the field now or digging a really deep tunnel under the gates. We promise to fill you in as it happens. — A.B.

Dominic Fike performs at Coachella

Dominic Fike performs at Coachella

(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

8:02 p.m. In the Outdoor Theatre, Dominic Fike played material from an album he said he has ready to go, the singer’s first since appearing in a breakout acting role last year on HBO’s hit teensploitation drama “Euphoria.” Like his old stuff, the new songs suggested 27-year-old Fike is still among his generation’s biggest Jack Johnson fans — but one tune he said was called “Ant Pile” added welcome shards of ‘90s-rock distortion. — M.W.

8:20 p.m. Wearing a shredded-denim romper and clutching a flying-V-style guitar, Willow used her set at Coachella to imagine the precise aesthetic midpoint between two other shows: Ozzfest and Warped Tour. “I know you’ve been emo for a long time,” she told the crowd at one point, “but we’re gonna get a little bit more emo if that’s possible.” — M.W.

8:30 p.m. Björk’s Coachella stage takeover was a feast for both the audiophiles and the art girlies. The experimental songstress surfaced in a spiky gown, radiating like a sparkling urchin in the dark. A cluster of glowing drones hovered above the stage, moving in sync with the orchestra as it swerved its strings to follow the acrobatic maneuvers of her voice. “¡Gracias! … ¿Coachella, qué pasa?” said Björk to her fans, perhaps giving a nod to Coachella Valley’s majority-Latino population. (I mention this only because I’ve never, in the three times I’ve seen the Icelandic icon, heard her speak in Spanish.) She revived her song “I’ve Seen It All,” the Oscar-nominated track she famously wrote for the 2000 film “Dancer in the Dark” and closed with an enchanting rendition of “Hyperballad.” The crowd chanted “Orchestra! Orchestra!” to which the orchestra duly replied with an exquisite instrumental encore. — S.E.

10:43 p.m. For those at home anxiously hovering over your phones for updates on the show … still No Frank Ocean. He’s now 37 minutes late. No one’s getting too antsy yet, as surely he wants to avoid Bad Bunny’s sound problems from Friday during his big comeback. Was he watching the “Love Is Blind” reunion and started running behind too? — A.B.

11:00 p.m. Finally! We have a troupe of masked-up figures skulking around, walking in single file in circles under a strobe light. The show is an hour late, but at least it’s real! — A.B.

11:02 p.m. Ocean’s voice rises from the dark, his face unseen as he begins singing a brisk, indie rock version of his 2011 hit “Novacane.” — S.B.

11:10 p.m. For this being his huge debut after close to half a decade away, this is a really halting start, and its hard to even know where he is on stage or what’s happening around him. Is it sound issues again? Nerves? A confusing stage plot?— A.B.

11:11 p.m. I’m betting it’s nerves. Under his puffy, blue security hoodie, Ocean begins to walk off toward the exit—then rebounds to lead his band into “Crack Rock,” the funky cut from his 2012 magnum opus “Channel Orange.” — S.E.

11:21 p.m. Finally a real song to get behind—”Bad Religion.” A great tune on its own, but to be honest, Ocean looks like he’s struggling up there. Nothing has achieved liftoff on a real groove yet and the crowd is looking puzzled. Maybe it’ll pick up when he gets to the techno influenced material of the “Blonde” and “Endless” era, but as of now, this is sedate to the point of confusion out on the field. — A.B.

11:25 p.m. You know what though, I think he sounds pretty good. There is a warm, mulled quality to his voice tonight. “Who’s on drugs tonight?” he asks from the stage. “It’s been so long but I have missed you.” — S.E.

11:30 p.m. “I wanna talk about why I’m here,” Ocean said. “It’s not because of the new album, it’s not not because of the new album, but there’s not a new album. So Maybe?” — A.B.

11:36 p.m. Ocean reminisces on his late kid brother Ryan, with whom he says he frequented multiple Coachellas. He fondly recalls how they saw Rae Sremmurd together right before Ryan died in a car accident in 2020, at the age of 18. Frank somberly dedicates his performance of “Pink + White” to his brother’s memory. — S.E.

11:43 p.m. OK, he finally caught a bit a groove with the duo of “Solo” and “Chanel,” the synths sound rich and he finally looks like he’s having a better time up there. This is still scattershot but when he finds the pocket it’s a reminder of why people love him dearly. Just wish he’d started like this on time! — A.B.

1:10 a.m. Aside from the rock-infused rendition of “Novocane,” Ocean reduced many of his songs as his songs as much as possible, singing “Bad Religion” over lonely piano chords and elsewhere subtracting nearly the entire chorus of “Crack Rock.” There were extended silences between the singer and his crowd — sometimes as long as a minute between songs.

After last touching a stage in 2017, Ocean immersed himself in the moment, crooning notes with his eyes closed.

At one point he ceded the spotlight to his DJ , who unleashed jersey club remixes of Ocean’s songs that spurred twerking from a security guard shown on the screen. The DJ also sneaked in vocals from the Drake song “Grammys,” where the Toronto superstar claimed he was “top 5, top 5, top 5,” an apparent wink to the 2019 Camp Flog Gnaw festival, where Ocean fans booed the Canadian superstar off stage.

Shortly after the DJ set, Ocean allowed a young piano player to come on stage and sing one of his songs. “This is Josiah,” Ocean explained as he introduced the musician to the massive festival crowd. “He’s playing my inner child.”

It was a true to form performance from the reclusive singer used to eschewing tradition; see 2016, when he released the visual album “Endless” to fulfill his Def Jam contract before self-releasing “Blonde” shortly after. Some transitions felt a bit abrupt, but the crowd near the front of stage played along — a heckler who mocked Ocean’s stutter during a brief speech was quickly hushed by neighbors. And of course, more than a few shed tears when one of their personal Frank anthems played over the speakers. — K.D.




This story originally appeared on LA Times

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