It was a perfect evening as fans waited outside the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex in Indiana, Pennsylvania. The weather was brisk and as the line outside the venue grew so did people’s anticipation. Chance the Rapper, one of the best young hip hop artists in the game today was performing and it seemed like the whole student body of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania was there to see him do what he does best.
Chance the Rapper, gained fame in the underground rap game with his very raw yet talented mix tape titled “10 Day.” Soon after that he released his second mix tape, “Acid Rap,” for free on his website which popularized him even more and transitioned him into the mainstream hip-hop community. His many festival appearances this summer included Coachella, Firefly, Lollapalooza, and Made In America (in LA) had made it hard for him to be ignored as his popularity was clearly rising. Known for his signature voice and interesting Chicago beats. Chance the Rapper, figurative successor to fellow Chicagoan, MC Kanye West’s new age style (anti gangster rap), has grown into his own person with his own fan group.
Chance has been notorious for canceling his shows in Pennsylvania, bailing out on his Philadelphia show during his Social Experiment tour in 2013, and once again dropping out from his commitment to play in this year’s Mad Decent Bloc Party that was happening in Philly. I guess he realized it was time to remedy this since he is making 4 stops in PA during his Verge Campus, the most for any state he has performances for on this tour.
When the doors opened people flooded into the venue and it didn’t take long for the GA section to fill. The opener, Sweater Beats, got the crowd fired up with his subsequent remixes and fluid bass drops. After a while however the crowd lost patience. They had come to see Chance the Rapper, and chants of his name drowned out the ending of Sweater Beat’s set.
As the lights finally dimmed and Chance made his appearance on stage, the crowd went wild. He came right out to a crowd favorite “Everybody’s Something” before introducing himself. Chance speaks very quietly. He didn’t seem nervous but he also didn’t seem confident. When he talks it almost seems like he is as in as awe of the moment as much as those watching him perform are. The live band he plays with almost steals the show from him. The Social Experiment band is comprised of Peter Cottontale (Keys), Nate Fox (Keys), Greg Landfair Jr. (Drums), Nico Segal aka Donnie Trumpet (Trumpet and Backup Vocals), and Jeff Gitty (Guitarist). The drumming and trumpeting are unbelievable, such an obscure combination to go with Chance’s voice and yet it works out perfectly. I say “almost steals” because of course they didn’t. Chance brings such high amounts of energy to his performance that it seemed to be contagious, rubbing off on the audience.
The climax of the show was when he played the crowd favorite “Juice” followed by his most powerful song, “Arthur: Wonderful Everyday.” Such contrasting songs flowed together back to back exceedingly well. “Juice” got everyone jumping and showcased Chance’s signature energy as he jumped along with everyone and even dumped 6 or 7 bottles water into the crowd as everyone danced and sang along to the crazy song.
Wonderful Everyday started off differently: all the lights off with just Chance singing along with the piano. As the song started up the rest of the band joined in and as he serenaded this anthem-like song to the crowd everyone joined in to sing with him. When it really started to get going Chance started pointing out different people in the crowd and when the bass of the song dropped the lights and the crowd went crazy. As it slowed down again he got the crowd to chant the songs motto, which of course is: “Everyday it could be wonderful.” As everyone was chanting this, Chance went on to explain how all it takes is one person to impact everything. The strength in his tone far overpowered his regular speaking voice and signaled that he believed that the message of this song was important, down to the very fiber of his being.
He went on to cover other hits off of “Acid Rap” and even sang a little from his mix tape “10 Day.” The last song he played was “That’s Love.” At the end of the song he started to point at individual people in the crowd, looked them right in the eye, and expressing his love for them. He did this for a good 20-25 people and each time was special. When he was done he did a nice bow and left the stage… although no one in the crowd left. Everyone held their breath as they waited for the encore.
Chance’s encore didn’t disappoint, in a mater of minutes he was back on the stage and went into one of his more personal songs, “Paranoia.” A great song outlining what it is like growing up on the streets of Chicago, the bass from the drums and the soft-spoken chorus captured the crowd in a trance. He went after it some more by performing “Chain Smoker” before finally bowing again, thanking the crowd, and leaving the stage this time for good. He is a special artist who is able to incorporate his music into a larger more important message. Chance is humble in relation to how fast his rise to fame has been. He is 100% about his fans and in every step of his performance it could be seen. The best part about him is that he is only really getting started.