Chance the Rapper Brings Good Vibes & Gospel to New York City's Meadows Festival
Most artists, when they play a festival, will do a stripped down version of whatever set they are playing on tour. Chance the Rapper, however, had different ideas, framing his set on the main stage at Meadows Festival Sunday evening (Oct. 2) as a conversation between him and a puppet named Carlos, who pushed him in different emotional directions. And, as has been his custom for the past two to three years, Chance duly delivered a fantastic performance.
Opening with "Blessings," the first song on his latest project Coloring Book, Chance quickly set the tone that this set wouldn't sound anything like what you'd hear on record. With the Social Experiment at his back -- in particular his on-point horn section -- songs like "Pusha Man" and "Cocoa Butter Kisses" got more upbeat, almost celebratory arrangements than they have on Acid Rap, his highly-acclaimed 2013 breakout mixtape. And Chance was so into the vibe that he had to stop himself before things got too far.
"I got so excited I forgot to do my intro," he said from the stage. "Hi, my name is Chance the Rapper. I'm from Chicago. I'm opening up for Kanye West... I need everybody off their fucking feet!"
His set was laden with fan favorites from both Coloring Book and Acid Rap, but Chance also took time to go back even further -- prompted by the puppet who asked him to go way back -- and dropped "Brain Cells," one of the standout tracks on his debut mixtape, #10Day. Newer songs like "Smoke Break" bled into "Juke Joint" bled into "Same Drugs," with Chance himself on piano pushing the song forward.
With another nod towards his mentor Kanye West -- "Kanye's best protege," as he raps on the reprise to "Blessings," which he seemed to end on later -- Chano took a run through his verse on 'Ye's "Ultralight Beam," delighting the crowd, which then turned all the way up when he transitioned into his biggest single, "No Problem," which itself burned towards "Mixtape" and then directly into the irresistible "All Night."
Furthering the theatrical setup of the show, he was laid out on a bed on stage as "D.R.A.M. Sings Special" played out, mellowing the vibe. But when he went into "Sunday Candy" -- the showstopper on Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment's Surf project from last year -- the crowd was fully on board, singing every word they could remember. A reverential "How Great" became the reprise to "Blessings," before Chano left the stage. But not before he returned to both tease a new project -- "Did you know that your blessing / it's not on my mixtape, but it's coming" -- and run through "Summer Friends," putting the stamp on a performance that, if not for Kanye, might as well as been the showcase of the whole festival.