2017 Blonded World Tour

Live concerts are arguably the most intimate way for general audiences to experience music performed by an artist. Ironically, concerts, more often than not, aren’t very intimate experiences at all. Mainstream artists have attempted to compensate for this by pushing for larger venues and more extravagant stage sets. While this approach certainly accommodates larger audiences, it confounds production value for authenticity and intimacy. While this may simply be a result of a new audience taste that values production over actual musical performance, it does alienate audiences that seek an authentic, intimate musical experience. Frank Ocean’s 2017 Blonded World Tour buffed most these recent trends in stage design—favoring an experience that emphasized intimacy with the audience. In doing so, Frank claims he hoped to design a medium that might allow his audience to better and more personally connect with his music. Frank’s choice seems to prove that it is somewhat possible to translate intimacy on a giant scale. To realize this vision, Frank recruited a talented team of artists and designers. Spike Jones was recruited to handle all aspects of the concerts live videography and visuals. An array of cameras were used to achieve a variety of visuals ranging from vintage camcorder video to profession movie shots. Other cameras included a black and white security with infrared illumination, a Sony VX-1000 (popular for 90’s skate videos), an Ikonoskop (produces a specific, thick color picture), and an Alexa Mini with an anamorphic lens, providing large depth and cinematic looks. Spike and another cameraman followed Frank onstage to give the audience different perspectives of the performance. Frank’s team was able to fully control the which cameras were projected onto massive onstage screens as well as the transitions between these camera feeds allowing for a fully live (not pre-recorded) visual experience. Even visual effects were live and practical e.g. for a blue background Spike would hold a piece of blue paper in front of the camera and zoom in. The overall effect seemed to mirror a handmade livestream that might occur on a social media platform. It was casual but nonetheless arresting and authentic. Often times the cameras would find band members sitting on the floor, or laughing and goofing off. There were also unabashed imperfections to the performance. Often times songs would be restarted because of missed cues, or a broken music stand would halt a player. Altogether, the performance and stage design created an experience that seemed to fully expose the audience to Frank’s musical process without the veil of a contrived, often overly produced concert experience.

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