Frank Ocean’s Coachella incident is not representative of festival season


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Students agree that the main draw to festival culture is not the headliners, but rather the atmosphere, good vibes, and overall festival experience.

Ellie Neuman, Staff Reporter

As summer rolls around the corner, the warm weather and carefree spirit draws tons of teens to outdoor concerts and lively music festivals, which range from small local gatherings, to large, multi-day extravaganzas that attract people from around the world. Although many concerts rely on popular headliners to attract a broad audience, students agree that festival culture is about the diversity, not name recognition, of artists and experiences available.

Every year, numerous Burlingame students attend the large Bay Area festivals, such as BottleRock Napa Valley in May, and Outside Lands in Golden Gate park in August. Senior Sophie Mattews has been to both of these festivals multiple times, and has enjoyed her experience at both, especially Outside Lands.

“Outside Lands has very unique artists and you’ll find the widest variety of people, and you can kind of discover new music while still seeing the people you really like,” Mattews said. “There’s so much going on.”

But every year, students head south to kick off the festival season at Coachella, a two-weekend concert in the California desert, where tons of celebrities attend and everyone dresses in extravagant, boho-themed outfits. Coachella is arguably the biggest, and most well-known, festival in the country.

Senior Michaela Nee, who attended Coachella, credits her positive experience to the atmosphere and good vibes.

“I really like obviously the music but also just being with your friends all day and going to different stages and experiencing new music you wouldn’t listen to on Spotify or the radio,” Nee said. “It’s a really great place to experience new music and also, it’s really fun to wear the outfits for each different theme.”

Nee learned that there is so much more to Coachella than the main performances when she witnessed alternative R&B singer and Coachella headliner Frank Ocean’s fiasco. Nee, who watched his performance on the first weekend, which began an hour late, found it notably disappointing.

“We were pretty close [to the stage] and we couldn’t see him,” Nee said. “He would never make himself visible to the crowd…he also just kind of stopped halfway through and had other people perform for him.”

Although Nee and many others empathize with the fact that he had recently lost his brother, Ocean was particularly disappointing to fans on the second weekend when he cancelled his performance. Many had made plans to travel across the world to see him, only to have him cancel his performance at the last minute.

However, according to Nee, there are many other aspects of Coachella that make it worth going to, besides the headliners like Ocean.

“Smaller artists deserve more appreciation because they really hold the festival together,” Nee said. “I was really happy with my Coachella experience because Metro Boomin, who’s a large rap producer, brought out four of my favorite artists… and I think that those experiences are what kind of make the festivals worth going to again and again, not the headliners. So don’t go to a music festival just for headliners, go for the overall experience.”

Mattews also thinks that the overall festival experience is what makes music festivals worth going to. 

“Everyone’s really excited to be there and everyone is hyped up for the same people and you’re in the crowd and everyone’s like, all together living their best lives”, Mattews said. “Just having nothing to do all day except listen to new music and relax, like there’s no responsibilities.”