"This unrequited love, to me is nothing but a one-man cult and cyanide in my Styrofoam cup... I can never make him love me..."
Chrisopher (Breaux) Francis Ocean. A lyrical genius with wisdom and experience far beyond his years. Words cannot express my adoration for this man and his music. It truly was a massive contribution to the music scene the day he decided to branch out and rep his own lyrics rather than simply ghost writing for so many others.
Originally coming to Australian shores to headline the Splendour in the Grass festival in Byron Bay, New South Wales; Ocean was also signed to do two sideshows in Melbourne and one in Sydney.
After he cancelled his whole Aussie tour, following his first (which was technically the second one planned) and last show; words cannot express my elation at being one of the lucky 3000 or so who got to see him perform live.
The doors to Festival Hall opened over an hour late, with the opening act scrapped and Ocean not appearing for another 45 minutes. Swimming amongst a sea of hipsters, with giant frames and kitch backpacks a plenty; we sat in sheer suspense, trying to guess the song he would open with.
The lights suddenly went from being blinding, to dimmed; to flashing beams of pulsing strobe, tangled with a slowly rising cloud of smoke. Then, seemingly out of no where, Frank Ocean appeared and stood, in a modest hunch in front of the crowd.
From there, everything was a blur of lights, smoke, screaming fans (chiefly my four friends and I) and what can only be described as the most awe-inspiring performance coming from a voice box soon to be torn to shreds.
During his performance Ocean did pause a fair bit between song lines, seemingly getting wrapped in the atmosphere and in his lyrics. One would have just assumed, he was welcoming audience participation, as we sung throughout the breaks. Little did we know he must have been in such agony and that those pauses were simply him trying to catch his breath.
On the topic of singing along with Frank Ocean, I was very surprised to see so few of the thousands in attendance, singing along at all. In fact, to say that a majority of them knew even 3 of his songs in entirety may be an exaggeration. While my friends and I were literally dancing and singing/screaming like little school girls at a 90s boy band concert, the crowd filled with angsty young adults merely stood and stared, barely swaying. The audacity, I say.
Nonetheless, there was nothing that could take away the magic of this night, from me. Ocean played all of my favourites including but not limited to Novacane, Lost, Pyramids, Super Rich Kids, Pilot Jones and Sweet life. My night would have been complete with the performance of Swim Good - though this may have been in the run-sheet before he had to literally run off stage.
Here he is performing Forest Gump. Click here for the video.
Note how towards the end of this clip, he turns to clear his throat. Such were most of the pauses throughout his performance. And once again, none of this really raised any alarm bells until reading the news articles the following day.
From memory, it was in his performance of Thinking Bout You that he stopped singing altogether and had to request the band to start the song over, in a lower key. Aside from this hiccup, throughout the entire night, he didn't shy away from giving every note of every song all of the effort and beautiful loving they were due.
Bad Religion was the last song of the evening. The heart and soul being poured into this song was palpable. It was either that, or by this point the physical pain of his throat was starting to get the better of him. At the end of an absolutely amazing rendition of one of my top 5 songs, Frank Ocean spoke a few very soft words, to the gist of "I wish I could say more but thank you, Melbourne," before swiftly existing stage left. After which, the lights of Festival Hall were abruptly flicked on and the guards promptly began ushering fans away.
I went from dancing on the benches like a mad fan, to sitting down, arms crossed and bewildered, in a state of protest. I just could not understand what happened and how it all ended so suddenly.
After a long while and a few dozen glares from security, we finally submitted and followed the hordes of fans out of the venue.
The following day, we found out about Ocean's torn vocal chords and cancelled shows and could not believe our luck. I earnestly send out all of my positive and healing vibes to Frank Ocean and deeply wish him a speedy recovery. The airwaves will be that much less beautiful in his absence.
Reading the handful of articles and listening to interviews re. Splendour and the other cancelled sideshows, I was quite annoyed at the angle to which the situation was spun. But I had to remind myself that these reviews were from fans and the like, far less fortunate than me.
As such, I dedicate this post to those of you who either missed out on the Frank Ocean sideshow or Splendour tickets or had the misfortune of him cancelling on you.
He was truly one of the best things that has happened to me this year.
Scarlette Fox rating:
- 5 out of 5 bowls of green, no lucky charms.