Frank Ocean finally performed at FYF Fest, even getting an assist from Brad Pitt

By Derek Lawrence
July 23, 2017 03:22 PM
Credit: Colin Young-Wolff/Invision/AP

Frank Ocean finally performed at FYF Fest, even getting an assist from Brad Pitt.

On Saturday, the night after Missy Elliott had her first U.S. show in over a decade, Ocean, a fellow rare live performer, took the stage as the headliner for the Los Angeles festival. And like the Grammy-winning rapper, the singer delivered.

It was two years ago that Ocean was originally set to headline the event, but he dropped out — it’s not the first, or even second, festival gig he’s bailed on. He proved to be worth the wait, though, as he beautifully captivated the audience for nearly an hour and a half.

Read on for EW’s highlights from the show.

He had a tough act(s) to follow

First, Elliott’s performance was such a big deal — and so good — even Beyoncé showed up. Then, before Ocean’s closing set, A Tribe Called Quest gave an epic, old school show, including a surprising encore. They might have left it all out on the stage because about halfway through Q-Tip announced it would be the legendary rap group’s last California concert ever due to the 2016 death of Phife Dawg. The remaining members honored him well as they placed a mic in the middle of the stage, standing back anytime Phife’s verse would play, acting as if he were spitting his signature rhymes only steps away from them.

There was real curiosity if he’d even show

There’s no way he doesn’t show up, right? It’s crazy to imagine, but it did run through some fans’ minds even as they stood in front of the FYF Main Stage where Ocean’s name was plastered on the screens. Remember, this is someone who has often canceled scheduled festivals and took four years to release his second album. Then, more than 10 minutes after his scheduled time, still nothing. But really, he’s coming, right? And finally, lights start to shine, smoke shoots out, and his music plays, here he… doesn’t come. Literally, a whole song finishes and no sign. At least Kanye gave 20 minutes before leaving. Wait, is it… yes, Ocean is in the building and ready to go.

The camera work and production was worth the price of admission

When attending the live show of a beloved artist, especially one who seldom performs, you’d ideally like to be locked into watching them on the stage. Yet, during Ocean’s set, the crowd couldn’t help but be entranced by the big screen broadcasting the action. And that’s not a bad thing. All of the other big FYF shows utilized the screens so fans farther away could see more than just a tiny speck who might possibly be Anderson .Paak. But Ocean’s team took the camera work to the next level; how he was filmed and how it was shown on screen changed for each song as multiple camera operators shot up-close at different angles and styles. Some of the displays were in black and white, others had the look of an old school camcorder or were so in Ocean’s face that you felt as if you could touch him. It really had the feel of a high-quality HBO music documentary.

Brad Pitt scores his best role since ‘Moneyball’

On Friday, Beyoncé, Janet Jackson, and Katy Perry were among the crowd watching Missy Elliott’s show. Meanwhile, Ocean said, “I see your Queen Bey and I raise you Brad Pitt being in my show.” The singer took a break from singing his own tracks to do a cover of his proclaimed favorite song, Stevie Wonder’s rendition of The Carpenters’ “Close to You.” The crowd was already digging it when a surprising and familiar face appeared on the screen. Yes, Ocean superfan Pitt was sitting on the side of the stage and talking on his cell phone as part of the set. Their connection started after the actor praised the singer, saying Ocean’s music helped him get through his separation from Angelina Jolie. “I’ve been listening to a lot of Frank Ocean,” he told GQ in May. “I find this young man so special. Talk about getting to the raw truth. He’s painfully honest. He’s very, very special. I can’t find a bad one.” Neither could we on Saturday.

He’s a perfectionist, even when he’s killing it

While Ocean spent most of the night alone on stage, save for a camera op or famous man, he ironically brought a few guitar players up during his most intimate and personal performance. Bending down in front of thousands, he played his keyboard as he sang “Good Guy.” The audience loved it. Ocean did not. “Some s— might get f—ed up and we’re going to try it again, so this one of those instances,” he declared, citing his lack of shows over the last few years. “Be patient with your boy and we’ll try it again.” Early on in the second try, he randomly stops and yells, “F–,” seemingly in frustration, despite still nailing it. “I think that was perfect,” he correctly opines upon concluding.

FYF Fest wraps up Sunday with sets from artists including Iggy Pop, Solange, Run the Jewels, and headliner Nine Inch Nails.

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