Chance The Rapper Greeted by Packed ’Sco Crowd


Effie Kline-Salamon

Twenty-year-old Chancelor Bennett, aka Chance The Rapper, crouches low for a verse during his show at the ’Sco Tuesday night. Chance relished the audience’s intimate knowledge of his rhymes, at points letting the crowd fill in lines for him.

Matthew Sprung, Staff Writer

Still a few months shy of being able to enjoy a beer at the ’Sco, 20-year-old Chicago native and rising hip-hop artist Chancelor Bennett, aka Chance The Rapper, brought enough buoyancy to intoxicate a packed and pulsating audience this Tuesday. Oberlin was one of the last stops for Chance as he traveled across the country as part of his first headlining tour, performing almost every night starting from late October until the tour’s end in Florida on Dec. 7.

Anticipation could not have been higher for the yet-to-be signed rapper. Hordes of dedicated students trudged to Wilder Hall on an early Saturday morning at the beginning of November, causing tickets to sell out at an alarming rate.

The hype drew a massive crowd to the ’Sco — the room was packed even for the opening acts. Oberlin’s own Van ’Go, another Chicago native, performed a terrific set full of passion and enthusiasm. His introspective and motivating lyrics were a fitting introduction to Chance’s music. During his closing song, students even held up lighters in tribute — though he was only warm-up act number one, and it was only 10:30 p.m.

The following opener, DJs Rashad and Spinn, did their best to lift and maintain the crowd’s excitement, playing crowd-pleasers like Kanye West’s “Gold Digger.” However, after over an hour of a playlist that was at times cringingly loud, the crowd began to talk amongst themselves, looking to the back door for signs of the main attraction.

Finally, College senior Sam Brown came onstage to introduce Chance, warning the crowd that the show could not go on if pushing and shoving knocked over the barricades set up in front of the stage. It felt as if Jay Z himself was about to walk in. The audience responded with a cheer, making it unclear if they were agreeing with or challenging Brown.

At midnight, Chance took the stage amid such an emphatic roar of applause that it felt like a gladiator had just entered the Colosseum. He got right down to business, keenly focusing his stage persona and exuding confidence that hovered on the cusp of brashness.

Chance made his way through several songs from his initial mixtape, 10 Day, while also sneaking in tracks from his more popular 2013 mixtape, Acid Rap.

Released in April, Acid Rap spread like wildfire among college students. Throughout his set, Chance repeatedly lowered his microphone, allowing the crowd to recite by heart long segments of verses throughout the show.

The live band, which consisted of a trumpet, drums and keyboards, lifted the songs to a new level of musical dynamism, harmoniously contrasting Chance’s nasally vocals and shrill delivery. The group even pushed him to attempt smoother sung vocals. A surprise for those who did not read earlier reviews of the tour was a sincere cover of Coldplay’s melancholy ballad, “Fix You,” which turned the ’Sco into the closest thing Oberlin will get to an actual Coldplay concert.

“I want to try an experiment,” Chance said, “but I need everyone to be real quiet for it to work.” As the room grew silent and dark, Chance let out three calculated yet harrowing and synthesized cries, which erupted the room back into sound and light. At regular intervals, Chance engaged the crowd in a howling call and response which sounded like a pack of wolves.

While the audience made the most noise during the catchier “Juice” — which momentarily produced the world’s shortest crowd-surf — and “Favorite Song,” their singing was most pronounced during the more sentimental and optimistic songs “Interlude (That’s Love)” and “Everybody’s Something.” These songs exemplified Chance’s honest and uplifting themes of fulfilling one’s potential, never giving up and staying positive.

Even though the show felt a bit cookie-cutterish, the genuineness of Chance’s youthful enthusiasm made even the planned moments of spontaneity — breakouts into dancing, stripping layers off until shirtless and spraying water at the crowd with strobe lights —  memorable not just for students but for a rapper on his way up. “Thank you all so much,” Chance said before coming back on to perform a four-song encore, one of which was his new unreleased song, “Paradise.” The dancing didn’t stop until the moment the young performer had left the building.