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Chance The Rapper Proves He Can Hold A (Big) Room

By Katie Karpowicz in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 29, 2013 6:40PM

Photo by Katie Karpowicz for Chicagoist

At what point does the number of times one has to remind themselves during a concert that they're watching a 20-year-old, unsigned phenomenon and not a seasoned hip hop legend become excessive?

We've been to plenty of sold out shows at the Riv before but never witnessed the level of crowd enthusiasm displayed Wednesday night when Chance the Rapper made his hometown return. Backed by a selection of former Kids These Days and other local musicians—including a horn section, two keyboards, backup singers and a drum kit—Chance's show was a world away from the incoherent and inconsistent performance we witnessed at Lollapalooza this past summer.

When the Chicago native announced he had a Chicago stop at the Riviera Theatre on his inaugural U.S. headlining tour (which later became two dates due to high demand), we wondered if the nasally young rhyme slinger would be able to hold a crowd in a theater setting. He's already proven himself at clubs and smaller rock venues around the city (The Metro, Reggie's) but would his raps still prove engaging from the top of a tall balcony?

The answer, wholeheartedly, is yes. He's no pro at addressing the crowd between songs yet—we doubt he really cares—but when Chance is in the mix, you can't take your eyes off of him. Between a hilarious GIF-ed out light show, some impressive footwork during jam sessions and surprise appearances by Vic Mensa and Twista, there wasn't a single lull in the show and everybody in the room seemed thrilled.

Chance represents a new crop of rappers. They're smart, working the Internet to their advantage better than any record label social media strategist ever could. They're lyrical, leaving mainstream rap music's "big booty hoe" lines in the dust. They're savvy, releasing album-quality mixtapes free of charge only to reap the benefits of their fanbases' rabid need for live shows.

If one thing is for sure, Chance has a bright future ahead of him. Based on an incredible new disco-tinged track we heard Wednesday night, there's definitely new music in the works. We can't wait to see what direction he takes it in.

If you have tickets to his sold out second show tonight, you're in for a treat!