On Sunday, July 19, I spent my day in front of the Green stage waiting for Chance the Rapper to closeout Pitchfork Music Festival. Throughout the seven hours I waited there, I heard tons of ridiculous rumors about who Chance might bring out. “Hey man, did you hear? Kanye’s here!” “No way man, I have a friend who works here and he said Chance is bringing out Lil B.” “Bruh, my weedman told me J. Cole is coming out.” People were going crazy with their predictions, but nobody could have predicted the type of show we were about to experience.
The time had finally come. It was 8:30pm and I was in the front row, white knuckling the barrier, about to see my favorite artist of all time in the front row. The Social Experiment were all on stage (with the exception of Chance). A countdown appeared and 3…2…1… Bright lights started shining down on the crowd as the Trippy Turtle Remix ‘A Good Ass Turtle’ came on. A dance team ran out and started doing a very intricate dance to the song. Excitement filled the air as 18,459 people lost their mind. As soon as the song was over the dancers ran off the stage and Donnie blasts the first note of the song ‘Back Up in This Bitch.’ Chance runs on stage and the whole crowd goes crazy screaming all of the lyrics back at the group. This was the type of night that we were about to experience.
The group performed a couple of songs off of 10 Day, most of Acid Rap, a handful of songs off of Surf, and a few of Chance’s features from other songs like ‘Baby Blue’ and ‘Heaven Only Knows’. From the lesser known songs off of 10 Day to the hits from Acid Rap, every song had the crowd dancing like there was no tomorrow
In the midst of the performance Chance shouted, “This is for my day ones!” as the 10 Day cover flashed on screen. The band and Chance then played a medley consisting of ‘14,400 Minutes’, ‘Brain Cells’, and ‘Long Time 2’. After the medley, Chance took a moment to thank all of the women that have been mothers to him. He played a new version of the song ‘Hey Ma’ while family photos were shown on the screen. The energy during ‘Hey Ma’ was incredibly personal. It felt like Chance was singing directly to the women he was singing about. The pictures on the screen added a very nice touch as well. They were ones that you could find in any family’s photo book; familiar enough to relate to everybody in the crowd, but yet personal enough to reach the people they were really meant for.
While they were doing the song ‘Acid Rain’ off of Acid Rap, a short figure appeared in the back (I’ll admit that for a moment I thought it was Kanye, and I may have started a mass craze for the people around me) and out pops gospel singer Kirk Franklin. Far from being disappointed, the energy that Kirk brought to the stage was surreal. With the charisma that Chance and Kirk had, you could feel it radiating out into the crowd. He was on stage for the last part of ‘Acid Rain’ and all of ‘Sunday Candy’. My favorite guest of the night wasn’t Kirk Franklin though. It was the “drumline” he brought out for the song ‘Wonderful Everyday’ known as The Chicago Bucket Boys. The Chicago Bucket Boys absolutely stole the show from Chance during the song. It was honestly probably the most “Chicago” thing I’ve ever witnessed.
While most of the songs performed were off of Chance’s various solo projects, the band did play a couple songs off of Surf. Chance started it off by singing the hook to ‘Wanna Be Cool’. After that Chance ran off the stage and Donnie Trumpet took his place. The crowd exploded when Donnie Came down wearing his white conductor’s suit and played ‘Slip Slide’. He then yelled into the microphone, “I USED TO PLAY BASKETBALL HERE!” Donnie seemed to have the excitement of a child when he was on stage. It was like he was still not only surprised but grateful to be performing in front of thousands of people. After that, Chance came back out on stage with new clothes on and they played ‘Miracle’ together.
“This is your show!” Chance kept shouting this over and over again. He would point to those in the back and say, “I know you guys in the back are feeling like your ticket doesn’t mean as much now, but this is your show too!” Chance kept the crowd energized every song by pointing to individuals talking to specific people in the crowd making sure that everybody in the crowd felt special.
All in all the show was fantastic. Chance and the Social Experiment sounded so good and had so much energy. The crowd was also one of the best crowds I’ve ever been in. While Chance was walking off stage he alluded to some new material coming soon by saying, “Big things are coming.” The show felt like a much needed gift to the city.