Chance the Rapper at Warehouse Live, 11/23/2013
Photos by Marco Torres
Chance the Rapper Warehouse Live November 23, 2013
Every time I walk inside of Warehouse Live, something about the east downtown venue seems more and more youthful. Maybe because I'm getting used to watching kids wear little to nothing at shows, but rap fans have a proclivity to seem tougher than the elements. Or even tougher than common sense allows.
With near 40-degree temperatures outside, Saturday Warehouse felt a scorching amount of heat courtesy of Chancellor Bennett. Otherwise known as Chicago's own Chance the Rapper, he held his own version of praise and worship, mostly centered around his spring mixtape Acid Rap and all the positive clamor behind it.
Yes, it may be the most freewheeling rap release of the year, and has earned Chance even more fans than his fresh-off-school suspension 10 Day tape of a year ago, but hearing it live? Shit, it felt like a hole was ripped in the ceiling and crash landed onstage as a spry, energetic ball of victory.
The opening tones of a "Good Ass Intro" announced our spastic newfound hero to a legion of fans who were basically saving up every spot in their word bank to remember Acid Rap from front to back. No one wanted to seem like the odd kid who didn't know a single word to "Brain Cells" or A Tribe Called Quest nod "Na Na Na." If you weren't huddled behind someone trying to perfectly enunciate Chance's owlishly shrill vocals, then you felt out of place; like being friend-zoned by every girl in the world and having zero clue about any of it.
Chance seemed to have that "big stage, big moment" type of performance normally associated with bigger names down pat. He skated across the skate like a temple revival leader gone bug-eyed before "Pusha Man," giving time to let his sequenced lights and stark white backdrop fill in around his band. In theory, the "Social Experiment Tour" was to gauge us as rap fans and fans of Chicago's rich musical history: jazz, juke and most recently rap. In execution, it came off as a big educational lesson into Bennett, the city he's from and how his problems are just like yours and mine.
"Everybody's Somebody" takes isolation and reassurance to a whole new level, complete with middle fingers jabbed at Fox News and politicos who seriously don't give much of a damn about us. "Acid Rain," the tape's most effective track, summed that idea up even further. Maybe it was the saxophone solo slicing in to make it a far more heavier moment, but still, hearing a group of teens -- some rocking letterman jackets dated 2016 (!) -- peel back similar emotions was breathtaking.
Review continues on the next page.
Same for Bennett himself. The fresh-faced rapper seemed calm screaming a traditional call-and-response ("What the fuck is up, Houston?!") at us, and subdued amazement ("You guys are the first ever sold out Houston show... y'all really sold this bitch out"). Liken it to a serial killer so calm with his victim that he's basically toying with as well as entertaining us. No wonder we heart "You Song" without Lil Wayne or "Juice" stating the most beautiful phrase in existence -- "everybody in the world fucking hates the Lakers."
At least for a night, love was all Chance the Rapper had to give Houston -- a kid who dreamed Jay Z was watching him perform at Warehouse this very night (ultimate dick tease, yo) but merely wanted to jump around to "Favorite Song" again. I can't announce him as the God King of the new kids, but in terms of 2013 acts who broke big, he's up there.
Still wondering if they ever filled that damn crater he left, though.
Personal Bias: I miss my Cocoa Butter Kisses.
The Crowd: Young and fearless. I wore a goddamn trenchcoat and yet some thought a T-shirt and shorts were safe enough. May they have pneumonia.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Are we owls now?"
Random Notebook Dump:Outside to beat the rush of teens, a couple seemed legitimately sad they couldn't buy any merchandise. They even tried to sneak around a security guard who had obviously seen them earlier. Poor guys.
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.