Chance The Rapper At Forest Hills Stadium, Friday, September 26th, 2017, Reviewed
Remember when seeing Chance The Rapper was such a big event? That first the Meadows gig, when he opened for Kanye West? Remember? Remember? Sure you do. Now we got real first world problems, not the same as Chance’s, he can’t go to the beach with his cousins no more, his baby daughter doesn’t recognize him with his cap off. And we are getting emails from Forest Hills Stadium telling us Chance will be on at 815 when he doesn’t show till 9pm.
First world problems, first world solutions: For Chance, take your damn cap off and 90% of the world won’t recognize you and put it back on when you see your daughter. For us, go to shows where people show up on time. Remember when Chance was a thrill and a half, remember last year when he opened for Kanye West. Now Kanye is a three song medley with back up film, and chance is charging $250 for a selfie and charging full set prices for 75 minute length concerts. I realize fame is a balancing act, but let intelligence be your guide, you ain’t Jesus, calm down, chill out, take care of business, be a pro, show up on time, give your fans their two hours, don’t descend into concert theatrics…
Call me a grumpy old man but by the time Chance hit the stage I was working my way into a lather, and for the first twenty minutes I wondered what had changed in the past two years? Had he nothing left to add to the show? Same ol, same ol, quasi Gospel, sorta r&b, sometimes rap show. No muppets, but a lotta energy, good will but good will the way Taylor Swift had good will circa Fearless, the nobody is that nice and if you are shocked so many people are cheering you on where have you been the past two years?
The first time I saw Chance it was all the thrill of the new, the mixtape had just been released and he knocked Governors Ball on its butt on the small stage, the next time was a star turn of the first order just before he started touring behind Coloring Book, and last night at Forest Hills Stadium was a business as usual, professional one hour plus of Gospel tinged rap, or rap tinged r&b; the least good of the three, Chance has the energy and the detail, the chops, and the concentration, to come out and lead his band, the Social Experiment, through a quick study in what he does. The same set he has been performing all year. “Mixtape” is a strange start to the set, “Blessing,” with back up singers, makes more sense. The Kanye West songs fall strangely flat although you gotta agree with Chance when he claims many people came just to hear it. It takes well past the halfway mark for the set to take off. His new song about the price of fame “First World Problems” is quiet but so intense you find yourself leaning forward and he followed it with two huge crowd pleasers, “All We Got” and the humongous “No Problem”. The real killer was “Finish Line,” a song he doesn’t always perform though he always should, his best and clearest act of faith (Kirk Franklin is on the mixtape), “Scars on my head. I’m the boy who lived, the boy love playing when the boy too sick. Reclining on a prayer, I’m declining to help: I’ve been lying to my body, can’t rely on myself.” That’s a star making turn and if it is not enough, he follows it with “Same Drugs” –a real soul song, Curtis Mayfield (who Chance reminds me of a little, I know you can’t see it yet but remember that Chance is only 24 years old).
Chance’s problem is like Swift’s problem five years ago, something doesn’t seem quite right, whether it is the $250 selfies, or the too short sets (I am part of the Fire Engines school of concert going, I’d rather have 20 great minutes than 120 lousy minutes, but don’t make us wait three hours to get there), or the money, or the power brokering, Chance The Rapper is a favorite son of Chicago: his father worked for Obama when Obama was an Illinois Senator. The way Chance is handling his career makes you wonder if he will go sideways into politics, his life isn’t like ours and never was. The closest he has come to tragedy was his daughter being born with abnormal heart rhythm, soon fixed. Though enough for Chance to revert to his Grandmother’s Christian based faith, where he remains.
Chance is energetic, and he really moves well, he may end up being one of the greats, and I admire his semblance of ethics: he seldom descends to cliché and if it is all a little a noble spirit embiggens the smallest man, at Governors Ball he was wandering around meeting with random fans and checking out other people’s sets, friendly and good natured. Maybe he is the last of the good guys, maybe getting sued for child support is just a business move.