An Evening with Frank Ocean: Washington, D.C.
I won't forget the day that Frank Ocean came to town.
All afternoon, people alternated between sitting, standing, leaning and crouching outside of D.C.'s 9:30 Club. The line -- peppered with American-flag bandana wearing Stans, pseudo-hipsters and Urban Outfitter frequents -- started as early as noon. At 7 pm, when the doors opened, the masses piled in excitedly, only to wait a little more.
The rumor of him not coming on until 9 p.m. (or later) circulated like catch-fire, and people switched from foot to foot to dilute the swelling pain in our ankles and foot bottoms, myself included. I couldn't imagine the fate of those wearing heels. I was pissed because they wouldn't allow professional cameras into the venue 'per the artist's request,' the girls behind me were squealing in excited decibels for a solid hour before he came on, and a wave of fatigue (the itis) came over me.
The house was packed, and impatient fans were hot and bothered. Everyone's minds seemed to be in the same place. It was 9:02. "Where is he? If he doesn't come on 'til..." The lights dimmed mid-sentence. The crowd went batshit. All previous ailments were numbed as the man of the hour made his way up the side of the stage, with his staple headdress knotted just so. He walked past the stack of flickering television sets decorating the stage and took a seat on the stool that was patiently waiting for him. And suddenly the room was ORANGE.
He started off with some haphazard melodies, one of which was his slightly finished, yet still unfinished YouTube-based hit, "Summer Remains" (I still prefer the acapella version). Then he brought out the big guns, bouncing back and forth between nostalgia, ULTRA, channel ORANGE, and everything else in between. The rest of the night was nothing short of a round of extreme karaoke. Frank was never left alone on the mic. The audience didn't miss a step in showing off their vocal prowess, mimicking every emotion-filled riff, run, scat and ad lib he threw at us.
In between outfit changes (he went from the two-toned red and blue button down he wore on his Jimmy Fallon appearance to an orange and white tee shirt), Frankie and his band tossed in some extended interludes, including "White" by his guitarist. Sick. "Novacane" and "Thinking Bout You" were some oldies but goodies, but the crowd went apeshit crazy when the staccato chords of "Super Rich Kids" came one and the funk inspired tunes of "Sweet Life" filled the room. Though the males were quieted during his performance of "Forrest Gump," his willing and able female backup singers in the audience made all the noise he needed to hear. Later on, he even tweeted:
@frank_ocean and the women still scream in the front row, contrary to what a naysayer might think. :)
It was a pleasant surprise hearing floaters like "Voodoo" and his feature on "Made in America," which flowed seamlessly after nostalgia's "Strawberry Swing." "Pyramids" turned the concert hall into a raving dance party. Girls in love screamed, guys bobbed their heads, and all bodies swayed, lost in the indisputably good music. He had sort of a comfortable discomfort up there in front of his self-proclaimed lovers, his eyes darting throughout the audience in a nervous flirtatiousness. And the crowd was loving every second of it.
Between every song and ever sentence, there was nothing short of a thunderous roar of admiration for the star, who most of the time coyly smiled back a thank you.
Other times, he was fueled by it, and he two stepped (like he was at a black family cookout), reached his hand out into the audience and sang his heart out in return. There was no doubt he loved them back.
After a blackout, he reappeared with his old keyboard to do one final selection, "I Miss You." As his fingers played the last chords, he closed ever so gently with, "Goodnight, DC." It seemed so personal. Like a tuck into bed. Abrupt though, in a usual Frank fashion.
The concert was an emotional roller coaster. It was a whirlwind of euphoria. It was enough to give us what we expected, but lacking enough to have us craving for more and google search for other Frank appearances as we left the hall. It was everything.
It was an evening with Frank Ocean.
Here are some pics from the Fan Cam (my phone). I own these heaux: