If God's will was to dampen the mood of Chance the Rapper's latest set at the Blossom Music Center with a messy bout of rain, it wasn't enough to deter the showman, or his legion of young followers, from staying positive throughout Friday night's sold out show.
In fact, the rapper’s Christian faith seemed to stoke the fire that ignited his exuberant performance, though it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise to anybody who has heard Coloring Book
, the artist’s latest mix-tape, whose spiritually-steeped songs factored largely into the 80-minute set.
Fittingly, Chance, short for Chancelor Bennett, opened the show with a mash-up that heavily featured “Blessings,” a song whose soulful melody roared from the audience in the packed pavilion. Even on the lawn, which overflowed with teens dressed in skimpy summer clothing despite the chilly rain, fans didn’t let the week’s only night of less-than-ideal weather stop them from praising the act, which also featured backing band the Social Experiment.
Much of the performance’s artistry can be attributed to the members of that group, a three-piece that also included a small ensemble of singers, which supplied the show’s mostly-live soundtrack. In particular, the trumpeting of Nico Segal — whom Chance referred to by his stage name, Donnie Trumpet — injected a crisp and jazzy tone that carried songs such as “All We Got” and “Angels.”
On older songs such as “Cocoa Butter Kisses” and “Chain Smoker,” which were released on the mix-tape Acid Rap
before Bennet began to work with the Social Experiment, the band infused new flourishes to the original recordings in ways that fans weren’t likely to have experienced.
The group’s unconventional line-up, at least for a rap concert, is far from the only unique aspect to Chance’s music and live act. Last year, Coloring Book
notched him three Grammy awards, including “Best Rap Album,” despite an independent, streaming-only release.
In Friday’s show, the disdain the rapper has for the music industry was on full display during his performance of “No Problem,” as images that mocked big-name music corporations — the logo for Sony Music was re-imagined as “Phony” and Universal as “Undiverse” — flashed on screens behind the stage.
But such negativity was hard to come by otherwise, as the artist’s playful dancing, jumping and singing kept a hyped crowd upbeat from start to finish. The screens around the stage showed a sun-drenched sky while Chance rounded out the show with a tender rendition of the reprise of “Blessings,” and white confetti showered the elated crowd on its way out of the venue.
At one point in the night, during one of the show’s few hushed moments, Chance proclaimed,” I want to go to heaven, and I want y’all to go to heaven.” If the divine is a fan of a fun, tight and carefully choreographed hip-hop sets, the rapper is a shoo-in.
DJ OreO provided a mix of classic and modern hip-hop for those who arrived early. His set featured Billboard hits such as “Humble” by Kendrick Lamar and “Bad and Boujee” by Migos, as well as “Pursuit of Happiness” by Shaker Heights native Kid Cudi.