Frank Ocean's co-manager Kelly Clancy of 4 Strikes Management (Photo: Andrew Hampp)
Sometimes less is more.
Frank Ocean spent the penultimate night of his headlining U.S. Tour Friday night at Chicago's Metro, an 1,100-capacity venue that significantly dwarfed recent shows in Los Angeles ( The Wiltern, 1,850 capacity) and New York ( Terminal 5, 3,000 capacity), an intimate preview of his closing-night set at Lollapalooza Saturday. Kelly Clancy, who co-manages Ocean with husband Christian at 4 Strikes Management, was still processing the whirlwind events of the past month, which has seen Ocean detail his sexuality via Tumblr, release his Def Jam debut Channel Orange a week early via iTunes (and subsequently anger retailers like Target and Amazon in the aftermath) and sell out a two-and-a-half month tour that next takes him to Europe for a series of festivals and opening gigs for Coldplay through September.
"He's doing extremely well for a first time out," Clancy told Billboard.biz. "Before this tour we really had only done seven shows. So from doing seven to two-and-a-half months to a national tour upwards of 4 and 4,500-caps all the way to stadiums [with Coldplay] is a huge thing. He's put together an entirely new setup, from musicians to personnel, and when you think about it's so musical. It's such a big sounding album it just creates a really great experience."
And much of that success can be attributed to Ocean himself, who has personally broken all of his major announcements via platforms like Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook and only a small handful of press interviews (early profiles in Spin and Fader, recent chats with the U.K.'s Radio One and The Guardian). "With Frank, even before Channel Orange came out, it was basically his Tumblr as his publishing tool. Everything he posts becomes news on blogs. When the music is that good it's great to allow that to speak for itself. It's just as powerful as any interview. Seeing him live and letting people talk about it, those are good marketing tools."
Ocean is one of many highlights on 4 Strikes' active roster of Odd Future artists, which also include Tyler, The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt and The Internet -- all of whom are currently on tour. Clancy likes to use her husband's analogy for the acts' collective success. "It's like Hawaii -- they're one island then they break off and they're all separate entities. The Internet's this thing, Tyler's over here, Frank's here and at the end of the day they all come over into a bigger picture. I'm just grateful to be a part of it. We joke about it -- they're like an onion. You peel a layer and find something new about it."
As for what the rest of 2012 holds for Ocean after opening for Coldplay? "I think a break will be nice," Clancy said.