Pull up your calendar really quick. Here’s some dates – you busy?
10-06 Washington, DC - Eaglebank Arena
10-07 Raleigh, NC - Red Hat Ampitheater
10-08 Atlanta, GA - The Fox Theater
10-10 Miami, FL - The Fillmore Miami Beach
10-11 Miami, FL - The Fillmore Miami Beach
10-13 New Orleans, LA - Mardi Gras Ballroom
10-15 Houston, TX - Revention Music Center
10-16 Dallas, TX - The Bomb Factory
10-18 Phoenix, AZ - Mesa Amphitheatre
10-21 San Francisco, CA - Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
10-22 Berkeley, CA - The Greek
10-24 Seattle, WA - WAMU
If you had plans, cancel them. Buy a ticket, leave work early, get a hotel - whatever - and go see Chance the Rapper.
Live music is rarely “ascendant.” There has to be a perfect storm of talent and humility on the stage, enthusiasm and familiarity in the crowd, and a sense of spectacle for the set itself. If one is missing the house of cards collapses and it’s just another “good show.” No big deal if you’re out of town and missed a good show.
But “ascendant” is another matter. They’re the shows you spend a lifetime kicking yourself for missing. I.e.: there was abso-fucking-lutely nothing I was doing in 2006 that couldn’t have been cancelled to see Daft Punk. These cases are exceedingly rare. It’s because young artists lack the familiarity of the public that’s needed to afford a spectacle, and once production budgets increase, the artists lose their humility while rising ticket prices (and often, ages) whittle away the enthusiasm of the audience. There’s something missing in both of those cases, and the window of opportunity between them is brief on those rare occasions.
I got to see Chance on Sunday at The Meadows festival – an entirely doomed event from when the gates opened with the cancellation of one headliner to when they closed after the other literally ran off the stage – and can say definitively he has an ascendant set. It’s visible in the boundless energy that took up every inch of the stage on his runs back and forth, the band, Donnie Trumpet, and the least-necessary performance crutch I’ve ever seen, the take-it-or-leave-it puppet show that apparently everyone but me positively adored. But the real transcendence was in what he said, what he had clearly waited his entire life to say -
“My name is Chance the Rapper,
I’m from Chicago Illinois,
and I’m opening the stage for Kanye West”
- and this crowd, which I don’t think needed to be told:
This is what you pay to see in live music - a great stage, an ecstatic crowd, and somehow, a performer that’s more incredulous about the situation than the fans. Chance is the Jose Fernandez of the music scene - someone who can’t help but show their overwhelming joy and gratitude at every turn and facial expression. That excitement is what makes sets like this more than live music. They’re a celebration of our shared humanity.
But it won’t last forever. It can’t - these things just don’t work that way. He has a long career ahead of him, but for now, there’s 12 shows left, 12 dates where people are overjoyed to see one of hip hop’s much needed heirs apparent for the first time – and perhaps, the only thing more important, 12 dates where he’s overjoyed to see them. Go see it while you still can.
notsomethingstructural (aka @nss_ds) is an amateur listicle purveyor and the author of “The 25 Best Hip Hop Albums of All Time”. He co-authored the record-setting #WorstSongBracket and is terrible at Twitter.