When Frank Ocean opened his tour in Seattle earlier this month, 10 days after revealing a past sexual relationship with a man, he was noticeably reserved, opting to let his music speak for him. At New York's Terminal 5 two weeks ago, the R&B singer briefly mentioned his admission, telling the crowd, “It was my life, you know? And I felt the need to say that, so I did.” Onstage tonight at Lollapalooza 2012, Ocean went even further, acknowledging the effect that the admission had on himself and thanking his supporters.
"This next song I'm going to play is pretty important to me," the singer said before performing "Bad Religion," which contains the line, "I can never make him love me." "Some of the things I've said in the past month...just taking some freedom for myself has taken the fear away."
Cue thunderous applause.
"I'm grateful for that love."
It was the most revealing—yet hardly the only—remark Ocean said tonight, as the singer seems to be getting more comfortable with shows, and crowds, as his tour continues. With the evacuation of Lollapalooza now in the rear view, Ocean opened with a cover of Sade's "By Your Side," (One of Day 2's Best Moments) before splitting his 13-song set between his recently released debut album Channel Orange and 2011 mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra. Throughout the 60-minute set, Ocean showcased his astounding vocal range, deftly flitting between syrupy falsetto and traditional croon.
The singer appeared at ease with the supportive crowd, remarking that Chicago has "some of the flyest architecture" and asking fans, "Anybody do mushrooms today?" After "Swim Good," Ocean's breakout track from Ultra, transformed into a crowd-wide singalong, the singer offered to "start the Lollapalooza mass choir tonight." (Check out more photos of Ocean in our Lollapalooza photo gallery.)
Comments about the past month notwithstanding, they were quick, throwaway lines; unremarkable for most performers. But Ocean's reticence to speak both onstage and in the press has made an already gifted singer mythic, imbuing him with a mysterious aura that makes each tossed-off remark or observation a heightened insight into his character.
By the time Ocean finished his set with the 10-minute epic "Pyramids," all the conversations leaving Grant Park were focused on his performance: favorite tracks, which songs he didn't play, etc. Frank Ocean will reveal what he wants, when he wants. Tonight, the singer offered up a little more insight into his psyche, but ensured that when people left the festival, his music and voice remained the highlight.
Frank Ocean, "Bad Religion" (Live at Lollapalooza 2012)