Beloved hip-hop star Chance the Rapper took the stage in front of over 18,000 people at a sold-out Xcel Energy Center on Friday.
Not his first time in Minnesota, Chance had previous performed at smaller local spots, and even mentioned adjusting to the size difference. Still, the Chicago rapper successfully brought his festival-sized live show into the arena, giving it an intimate feel while still razzle-dazzling with fireworks, projectiles and a movable catwalk.
Here are five takeaways:
Chance is really spiritual
Chance’s music makes it no secret that he’s a man of faith, but pulling out “Blessings” as the evening’s second track really set the tone. The sold-out crowd singing along with every word really felt like a legitimately cool hip-hop take on late night mega-church worship programming.
Chance does what he wants, but with humility
Chance is outspoken enough give fans a good idea of who he is on record or in interviews, but on-stage there’s a really a hesitant visionary dynamic at play. After speaking of “All Night” as the current number one song in the country (a logical introduction into performing the track), Chance then said he was about to make a “terrible decision” and immediately performed songs off of his 2013 project Acid Rap instead. Even acknowledging first that the crowd most likely wanted to hear Coloring Book material, it’s disarming how he makes people just want to watch him follow his heart.
Chance recovers like no other
Since hip-hop’s origins in the ’70s, just about the greatest sin an MC could commit would be unintentionally dropping the mic. When Chance let it slip and it hit the ground with a thud, a mistake that I’ve seen permanently derail lesser shows, Chance played it off with a “tell me I didn’t just do that” look that just made him further humanized and endearing. He recovered immediately saying, “That was a practical joke, it’s time to really start the show” before going into his signature hit “No Problem.”
Chance tells us what it’s all about
As larger-than-life as the production felt, Chance’s crowd control during intimate moments were like nothing I’d ever seen from that size of a crowd. Chance mentioned his Aunt Kim who passed away this week due to inflammatory breast cancer, then followed by “laying it out” for us to describe what the message in his music and journey are – which is “to get to Heaven.” The crowd sang along to the call and response in “Finish Line” that followed, which was the night’s peak.
It’s challenging to put into words the euphoria that Chance conjured at Xcel. So many different people came together, united by the infectiousness of Chance’s music. The best way to describe it would have to be the words I overheard from a smiling hipster-hippie hybrid as we were all leaving the venue. He told a friend, “I only took one tab of acid, but the show was so good, I couldn’t tell who was on drugs and who wasn’t!”