Having long built its name on genre-spanning spectacle, rare appearances, debuts and reunions — from the Tupac Shakur hologram and Beyoncé’s 2018 tour de force to reconciliations between core members of Pixies, Rage Against the Machine, Outkast, Guns N’ Roses and more — Coachella had more than just Ocean’s re-emergence this past weekend. On Friday, the pop-punk group Blink-182 appeared with its classic lineup — the trio of Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker — for the first time since 2014. The band was a late addition to the festival, with its set not announced until Wednesday.
And on Saturday, the enigmatic British singer and producer Jai Paul, whose sparse career output makes Ocean seem prolific, performed his first ever concert. Starting off in near-darkness and without a word to the crowd, Paul appeared initially nervous, but was smiling broadly by the end of the 11-track set.
Some of the biggest cheers during his set came for “BTSTU,” a track that mixes Prince-like sensuality with fuzzy electronics and has been sampled by both Drake and Beyoncé. “I know I’ve been gone a long time,” Paul sang, “but I’m back and want what is mine.”
Ocean first rose to promise with “Nostalgia, Ultra,” a 2011 mixtape. In the years since he has become a cult favorite, a major-label star, a Grammy winner, a chart-topper and a disrupter of those very systems, only further fueling the fan mythology around him. Following the success of his 2012 debut album, “Channel Orange,” Ocean waited four years to release a follow-up, eventually unveiling two projects — one, the visual album “Endless,” to satisfy his record deal, and another, “Blonde,” released independently — along with a magazine titled Boys Don’t Cry.
Although Ocean released a few one-off singles and played a small slate of concerts, mostly at festivals, the following year, he soon receded from view again.