Frank Ocean WayHome Stage, Oro-Medonte ON, July 30

Frank Ocean WayHome Stage, Oro-Medonte ON, July 30
Photo: Stephen Carlick
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Frank Ocean bathed the audience in a unique warmth as he took the stage for the most highly anticipated performance of WayHome Music & Arts Festival. From the darkness, Ocean's voice — calm and nonchalant, yet controlled and beautiful — pierced the din of the crowd's collective chatter. Immediately astonished into silence, the crowd gazed enraptured as the enigmatic artist took a makeshift stage in the centre of the audience.
 
The level of intimacy Ocean was able to achieve amidst a crowd so huge was breathtaking. With sincere and intense conviction, he drew upon the subtle intersections that exist between all the beautiful and the ugly in the vast spectrum of what we can feel, drawing intense emotion out of songs like "Self Control" and "Ivy."
 
Ocean's expression of his personal experiences for the crowd felt equal parts genuine and intensely meditated — when he realized he'd come in a beat late for "Solo," for example, he insisted on performing it again in its entirety, and throughout the set, he ensured that everything was perfect. He's an exacting genius, but his laid-back nature otherwise resonated through his series of elegant ballads to his lifetime of experience.
 
With a VHS camera live streaming the performance onto the enormous stage screens, the set-up had a way of making you feel like you were watching a home movie, with Ocean often shown intimately — over his shoulder as he played a keyboard, or straight-on as he looked right into the lens, as if at right at you; it's rare that you have the opportunity to see an artist's eyes at a festival.
 
Attributing the mistakes he made on stage to "process" — this was only his "fifth or sixth show since 2013," he said — Ocean's earnest performance proved how unashamed he is of self-expression, embracing his ability to connect with people on a strikingly deep level. In all his authentic simplicity, Frank Ocean simply played some songs for us — but it was so strikingly honest that it resonated on a level only a rare handful of artists can reach.