If I could pick one word to describe Chance the Rapper’s Magnificent Coloring Day at U.S. Cellular Field (333 W. 35th St.), it would have to be emotional. I think everyone at the White Sox home stadium this Saturday, Sept. 24, could safely say they yelled, laughed and cried while singing along to a lineup created by south side of Chicago’s one and only Chance himself.
A mix of some of his best musician friends who also happen to be some of the most popular artists in the world, Magnificent Coloring Day was that indeed: magnificent. It’s a day I’ll always remember.
So will the rest of the music world, as it was the historic day for the south side of Chicago. An area historically left out of hosting concerts, Chance put in a call to the A-listers and the A-listers showed up. This day was the first of its kind.
I hate to be one of those people, but I ended up getting to the concert a little late. Despite not wanting to miss Francis and the Lights or Tyler the Creator, Chicago traffic got the better of my friends and I (we seemed to have been too excited and forgotten that it was a Saturday in Chicago).
Finally, I arrived at U.S. Cellular Field, and I knew from the moment I entered that it was going to be a celebrity filled event. At first, I accidentally went into the VIP line, and I bumped into NBA 2015 number three draft pick Jahlil Okafor. I also had a brief moment where I thought I saw Chance, but it ended up being his brother, Taylor Bennett (which I mean is still awesome, come on).
Unfortunately, besides getting stuck in traffic, I have one more piece of bad news. You all know from my previous articles that I am a huge Kanye West fan, and I am sad to say that I missed his guest appearance at U.S. Cellular Field.
When I got to the Sox stadium, the ticket scanning devices all crashed and went offline. The stadium staff said it was because they had never sold out the stadium to capacity before, so the ticket scanners were not fully equipped to handle the situation. Everyone attempting to get into the stadium, including my friends and I, had to wait in line for about twenty minutes.
During those exact twenty minutes, Kanye was onstage singing and rapping “Ultra Light Beam” alongside an obviously enthusiastic and hyped Chance the Rapper, who was making his second appearance of the day (came out dancing during Francis and the Lights). Yes, I did miss the collective mob running at the stage. When I heard, I was devastated that I missed such a special music-friendship moment between two of my favorite artists.
I bounced back, relatively quickly, though, by the sound of handsome Mr. John Legend’s voice bringing me back, telling me that it’s going to be ok. Legend’s music, especially live, is so smooth, and his vocals are so strong that I feel as if I’m floating above the clouds but yet at the same time I’m very much rooted in solid ground.
An emotional moment occurred during “Glory,” when Common decided to pop over from his own musical festival Aahh Fest! going on in Union Park to be a part of Coloring Day too. After a beautiful, high-powered vocal set, he closed out with “All of Me,” which had majority of the crowd hugging, swaying arm-in-arm back and forth, crying or all three.
After a short, maybe five to ten minute break, Collegrove came out. Collegrove, a hip-hop group consisting of 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne (both are featured on Chance’s most recent mixtape – Coloring Day), exceeded my expectations.
I have seen 2 Chainz live before at Lollapalooza a few years ago and was not impressed with his low-quality live sound. This time around, he sounded much more mature and musically much better.
Lil Wayne was legendary, and as 2 Chainz said, “I would not be here without this guy.” Lil Wayne has been rapping since before most of the audience was even born. Playing some of the songs from their album, also titled Collegrove, together, their sound carried well and they brought the party to the stadium. Everyone was up and dancing.
I think my favorite part of the Collegrove act, though, was when Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz split up and rapped some of their classic hits, like Wayne’s “Lollipop” and “Mrs. Officer” and 2 Chainz’s “I’m Different.” Let’s just say that the dreadlock game was strong. Very strong.
After Collegrove, the lineup slowed the music down again, for the wonderful and always beautiful Alicia Keys. I have seen Keys one time before in concert, but, seemingly, like everyone else that night, she seemed to be on an entirely other level. I don’t know why I forgot, but I forgot how talented Alicia Keys is. A modern-day Aretha Franklin or Diana Ross, she stands up next to the piano while she is playing it, yet still has time to bust a couple of moves. She has a way of singing to you, just like John Legend, that makes you feel like she is singing just to a small group of people and not a sold-out stadium.
What stood out to me especially about Alicia was that she was not wearing any makeup. In a time where Kylie lip kits and makeup are the norm, especially in the celebrity world, it was so refreshing to see natural beauty onstage at U.S. Cellular Field (and all of the Tidal subscribers streaming the show live). Major respect, Alicia. You go girl.
My favorite song was another throwback, “Fallin’,” because I feel like it really emphasizes the range of her vocals, and you can certainly get down to it. At least everyone at Coloring Day was getting down to it, even the people in the very last row in the stadium (I know, because I was one of them) that were sitting stood up and started dancing.
I thought it would be a long day, and I’d be tired by the time Chance took the stage. It was quite the opposite: time flew by and I couldn’t believe it was already time for Chance. When he came out on stage, the crowd erupted. He really was fully, in this exact moment, a hometown hero. I was expecting him to open with “No Problem,” but “Angels” fit perfectly, especially with the opening lyrics: “I got my city doing front flips!” Just. Yes.
The whole show told a story through life-sized cartoon characters turned stuffed animals, with the animated lion as the centerpiece, being controlled by a puppeteer. It took the fans on a journey through Chance’s childhood. The lion’s voice was the voice of Ha Ha Davis, saying, “You don’t want zero problems, big fella!”
In terms of the setlist, he played every single song off of Coloring Book, which as a Chance the Rapper concert frequenter, I super appreciated him playing all of his new material I hadn’t seen in concert yet. As much as I appreciate the new music, I get equally as excited as when he throws it back to 10 Day, his very first mixtape, with songs like “Brain Cells.”
I have to say that my favorite moment of the show was during “Summer Friends,” as it is my favorite song off of Coloring Book, and that he brought back Francis and the Lights, whom I had missed earlier, out for his part in the song. Other highlights for me were “Sunday Candy,” because he pours his heart out for that song every single concert and when he brought out an entire Chicago children’s choir for “Blessings (Reprise).”
Closing with the Arthur theme song cover, it doesn’t get any better than that. An emotional Chance graciously thanked everyone for coming and making Magnificent Coloring Day possible. I felt a little emotional myself, as I have grown up with Chance’s mixtapes and watched him evolve into what he is today: “Kanye’s best prodigy,” surrounded by the best music artists in the world, on a global stage, a positive influence and an agent of change, a spokesman for the south side of Chicago.
He looks so much older than he used to be, so mature, standing up there in his white jacket and his red “3” hat. He is wiser, too.
He sings to the crowd, “Did you know that your blessing is not at this show? But it’s coming. Did you know that your blessing is not made of flesh? But it’s coming.” He knows that what happened today – a love letter to his city and the start of a historic musical day – is important, but it is not the goal.
At the same time, he still looks “Lil Chano from 79th.”
As fireworks went off in U.S. Cellular Field, I could not help but think that, despite all the turmoil, right now, in this moment, the south side of Chicago is in good hands.