Was Frank Ocean Supposed to Perform at Camp Flog Gnaw Instead of Drake?

Under ordinary circumstances, a surprise performance from Drake, one of the most popular and beloved hip-hop artists on the music scene today, would have been a welcome treat. The Camp Flog Gnaw festival was not ordinary circumstances, and fans grew displeased with the rapper’s continued presence on the stage. 

What was the frustration? Were fans right to be so disappointed? 

Camp Flog Gnaw is known for its surprise performances 

Drake at a basketball game
Drake | Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Camp Flog Gnaw is a popular music festival put on by Tyler, the Creator. It was originally created in 2012 and used to be called Odd Future Carnival, named for the artist’s own hip hop collective.

Tyler seems committed to a low-key feel for his festival’s branding, and much of the hype is based off of the extremely popular talent the artist is able to line up.

“I’m not using hashtags to bring people in, I don’t have these crazy sponsors,” he explained

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Indeed, this year’s event, which was held in Dodger Stadium on November 9-10, was promoted with a simple website that looks more like it came from a Geocities account circa 1999 than some of the world’s most celebrated and financially loaded musicians.

Among several big names including Solange, Earl Sweatshirt, and FKA twigs, there is a prominent banner that is just a series of question marks.

Many people attended hoping to see those question marks filled with some of their favorite (and perhaps more elusive) musical artists. 

Fans thought they had figured out one special guest 

Of course, fans are always on the lookout for clues as to who might be featured as a special guest. This year, many fans thought they had figured it out and expected to see Frank Ocean

Ocean is notoriously elusive. He teased the release of his album Boys Don’t Cry for months and months, leaving fans desperate for new hits. He also has a famously introverted artistic style and tends to write his new material in relative isolation.

The musician was initially part of Odd Future alongside Tyler, the Creator, but the group dissolved in 2015. Ocean had appeared in the festival’s 2013 lineup, but it had been years since he made that appearance. In fact, he hasn’t performed live at all since 2017. 

Fans had convinced themselves that Ocean would be one of the guests to appear on the stage. As Drake’s set continued on, it became apparent that Ocean would not be coming up, and that’s when the booing started.  

Did fans have reason to believe these rumors?

Tyler expressed frustration with the fans for booing Drake. In a profanity-laden tweet, he called fans out for having “created a narrative” that wasn’t based in truth and then using it to judge reality. 

Fans suggested that Tyler himself fanned the flames surrounding the rumors that Ocean would be appearing. 

“Tyler was hinting that it might’ve been Frank,” explained fan Julio Rodriguez. “Saturday after his set, he played the new Frank Ocean song. And yesterday after FKA Twigs, I believe he played the ‘Waves’ trailer. So that just added more fuel to the fire.”

Fans also did not reject Drake’s performance immediately. Tyler did not announce how many surprise guests would be gracing the stage, and Drake was up after performances by ASAP Rocky and Lil Uzi Vert.

By all accounts, the fans received them well. They were excited, too, when Drake took the stage and performed a few songs — just like the previous special guests had done. 

It was only when Drake’s set continued to drag on that guests realized there was likely not another appearance on the way. Once it became clear that Ocean’s anticipated performance wasn’t going to happen, some unruly fans started voicing their disappointment.

By no means was it the entire crowd, but it was enough to send Drake packing.

Drake, for his part, responded with humility and a tongue-in-cheek promise to return to the Camp Flog Gnaw stage.