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Review Sun Dec 08 2013

Chance the Rapper Rocks The Riv

Image via Time Out Chicago

Chance the Rapper just may be the new American Dream. A product of the city's south side, Chancelor Bennett found himself sometimes ridiculed by his peers and teachers for dreaming big and being told instead to have more sensible aspirations. Bennett rejected these notions and somehow got himself suspended from school for ten days. In reaction, he holed up in the Harold Washington Library's digital media lab, YOUmedia, and recorded his debut mixtape 10 Day. This was barely two years ago. In the time since, everyone has seen tremendous growth from him. I've seen him transform from a promising upstart at small clubs to a charismatic performer at larger venues, but none as large as the almost arena sized Riviera Theatre. Would he be able to captivate such a large audience and make the leap to the next level? The answer to that turned out to be unequivocally yes.

The night started with a set by DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn, members of the footwork crew Teklife. As the audience slowly filtered in and let loose their inhibitions, a sense of mania started to build as the duo played a set ranging from classic Chicago juke to '70s Herbie Hancock jazz-funk inspired electronica. Rashad, who is currently on tour in support of his excellent new album Double Cup, was an alchemist for the night, creating foreign and exciting sounds out of things that at first glance seemed to be familiar. Samples of Mary J Blige met samples of Roy Ayers as the rapid percussion of kick drums kept the momentum high and acted as the driving force of sound. I'm not sure it's what most of the crowd expected but many of them seemed to have left the set as believers.

After a quick break, Chance appeared on stage alone thanking the crowd for coming to see him. One thing that immediately struck me was his stage presence and how advanced it is. As he continued to perform, he'd take breaks from rapping during the pre-recorded choruses to have quick and intense bursts of footworking. It was all very impressive. I found that I needed to remind myself every so often that Chance the Rapper is not a seasoned rap veteran, but an unsigned artist who hasn't even released an official album (whatever "being signed" and "official album" mean in 2013, but whatever) yet who just sold out one of the largest theaters in Chicago, twice. I found myself thinking that this is raw talent in emergence. This is the tale of a man who has tirelessly studied and finely tuned his craft.

After he performed "Pusher Man," Chance stepped off the stage for a moment. The lights dimmed, ambient music was heard and black and white imagery of a couple was shown on the screen as Chance's band appeared on stage. The band contained a brass section, several backup singers as well as a drummer, bassist and guitarist. The band was made up of members of the recently defunct Kids These Days as well as some hired guns. Later on during the performance, Chance gave his backing band credit as "The Social Experiment."

After a few more songs from his breakthrough mixtape, Acid Rap, Chance started to do some more recent material. He performed "Life Round Here" remix, his collaboration with James Blake. He also performed an untitled new song which sounds like potential single material. In the middle of all of this, he also performed a cover of Coldplay's "Fix You," which went over surprisingly well. "They told me I couldn't do this one. They said it's too rowdy. I'm going to do it anyway," Chance said as he started up "Favorite Song." The crowd, of course, ate it up and went absolutely nuts.

Throughout his set, Chance continually proved what a showmen he is with heartfelt monologues and polished stage presence. "I honestly love all of you," he said with sincerity towards the end of his set as his band played the melody to Jay Z's "Encore" with growing volume and intensity. Suddenly Vic Mensa appeared as "Cocoa Butter Kisses" began and confetti, bright lights, smoke, and a video of weird Tumblr gifs filled the theater as everyone cathartically yelled the chorus to "Chain Smoker." And with that the house lights came up, seeming not nearly as bright as what the future may hold for Chance.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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