“I talk to God in public,” Chance the Rapper proudly proclaims in “Blessings,” the radiant closer of his brilliant mixtape, Coloring Book. After Thursday night’s concert, it’s no wonder the man upstairs has his ear on the 24-year-old Chicago beat-maker.
After opening act DJ Oreo warmed up the crowd with throwback hits, Chance came out guns blazing, tearing through “Mixtape,” “Blessings,” and the infectious “Angels.” After spending ample time interacting with the audience, he then transitioned into a mashup of Kanye West numbers that he cowrote off The Life of Pablo including “Waves,” and “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1,” concluding with his triumphant verse in “Ultralight Beam.” The crowd was hooked.
Backed by Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment, Chance then performed the jubilant “Sunday Candy” before giving his backing vocalists the spotlight as they serenaded the crowd with their rendition of “D.R.A.M. Sings Special.” It came with no surprise that DJ Khaled’s “I’m the One” was part of the night’s setlist, which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and just recently went platinum. That night, the Justin-Bieber-sung track sounded less like mindless pop-radio fluff and more like the undisputed song of the summer.
Chance also didn’t shy away from his older hits, performing “Chainsmoker,” “Cocoa Butter Kisses” and “Favorite Song” off his 2013 critically acclaimed mixtape Acid Rap, which helped place the Grammy-winner on the map. While performing the latter, the rapper looked just as ecstatic as we all were to hear it.
Then came one of the many highlights of the night: the defiant “No Problem”, which he prefaced by urging the crowd to be fearless. Behind him, the massive screen displayed distorted logos of prominent record labels: most notably, the Warner Music Group emblem, which was fashioned to look like a flaccid penis. Followed by the equally high-energy “All Night,” Chance then transitioned into a number of slow jams, including “Summer Friends” and “Same Drugs” yet he did not lose the audience for a second.
Before concluding the night with “Blessings (Reprise),” Chance told the crowd, “make some noise if you want to go to heaven.” For those two hours, it was as close as many of us were ever going to get.
– Review by Matthew Martino