As the first chord of “Mixtape” blared through the speakers and Chance the Rapper ran out onto the stage, I knew it was going to be a great night.
Although the venue was packed with 23,000 people, it was easy to feel like Chance was singing right at each one of them the entire time.
The performance felt intimate — the stage was uncluttered, consisting only of a drum set, a keyboard, Nico Segal’s jazz instruments and a choir, and noticeably lacking a DJ stand. Remarkably, not one song required hip-hop accompaniment or electronic sounds. Every note came from the instruments and people on stage.
Oh, and let’s not forget that despite his fame and success, the members of Chance’s band are still his longtime friends and partners. His band, The Social Experiment, is made up of Segal (formerly Donnie Trumpet), Peter Cottontale and Nate Fox.
Chance’s friends were all the backup he needed to put on an electric performance. To make it even more intimate, each member of the band and choir was dressed perfectly normally. There was no outfit coordination — most of them wore jeans and sweatshirts — giving the impression that they were normal people doing what they love.
But it was more than that. Every instrument on the stage and every person playing them was a part of an orchestra, and Chance was the conductor of the entire thing. No, literally.
During “Angels,” the third song of the set, Chance actually turned around and physically conducted the members of his band. And for the rest of the night he remained in charge, leading the entire audience in singing along to every song he played.
Chance played quite a few songs too. There were the usual songs from Coloring Book and a few throwbacks to Acid Rap and Surf, but Chance also surprised us by including performances of “Waves” and “Ultralight Beam” by Kanye West and his verse from DJ Khaled’s “I’m the One.”
The performance itself was spectacular. Every song had its own unique energy and even his transitions were smoother than any other concert I’ve seen.
One would expect the transitions in Chance’s show to be choppy and quick; how would you even manufacture a transition between “Blessings” and “All Night”? But Chance did it perfectly, saying “I’m going to turn off the lights, when I turn them back on, it’s a party.”
The title of Chance’s tour is the Be Encouraged Tour, and it fully lives up to the name. Each song had the power to lift the spirits of everyone in the audience and every time Chance opened his mouth or raised his hands to conduct, a shockwave of hope coursed through the crowd.
I left Jiffy Lube Live on Sunday night feeling elated, as if the weight of any problems I may have had going into the show was suddenly nonexistent.
Hope is in short supply these days, but that is the power of Chance the Rapper’s music. Chance inspires hope in everyone that he comes into contact with, and his concert was no exception.