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Frank Ocean performed an abbreviated set Friday night at Levi’s 501 140 Year Anniversary Pre-Grammy Party at the Ace Museum in Los Angeles. Ocean, who is nominated for six Grammys, including Best New Artist, focused his set mainly on last year’s Channel Orange in a six-song performance that followed a DJ set from M83.
The party, set in a built-out Levi’s art gallery that featured massive abstract sculptural installations, mingled hipster music fans with celebrities like Busy Phillipps, Alan Cummings, Ashley Benson and Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda. During the packed event’s first two hours M83’s Anthony Gonzalez set the tone by spinning an eclectic mix of pop tracks, veering from Britney Spears to R. Kelly to M.I.A. Ocean came onstage at 11:30 p.m. along with his band, clad in his usual red-and-white headband.
“So it’s officially Grammy weekend, which is probably not a big deal for everyone,” Ocean told the crowd. “But it makes me nervous as f—.” The singer and his accompanying musicians led with “Sierra Leone,” off Channel Orange, and immediately flowed into his hit single “Thinkin’ Bout You.” The latter track, the evening’s standout, allowed Ocean to showcase his soulful croon, his voice belting over the chattering crowd.
The subsequent song, “American Wedding,” a surging Americana number that features heavy electric guitar, came from Ocean’s 2011 debut Nostalgia, Ultra, an apt argument for the musician’s newer fans to revisit that disc. The remainder of the set featured “Crack Rock,” “Monks” and a lengthy, meandering rendition of “Pyramids.” Ocean didn’t address the crowd any further, only noting sincerely at one point midway through, “Thanks guys. Big f—ing thanks.”
Ocean is nominated in six categories on Sunday. Four are for his work on Channel Orange — Best New Artist, Record of the Year (for “Thinkin’ Bout You”), Album of the Year and Best Urban Contemporary Album — and two for his work with Kanye West and Jay-Z on “No Church in the Wild.” Ocean also will perform at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night.
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