Concert Review

Chance the Rapper Closed Out Day One of Lost Lake Festival

Chance the Rapper headlined the Lost Lake Festival in Phoenix.
Chance the Rapper headlined the Lost Lake Festival in Phoenix. Melissa Fossum
Judging how others express joy is easy. But there's no policing Chance the Rapper's emotions.

Once the Chicago hip-hop artist is in his feelings, up on stage, and bouncing all over it, you have no choice but to follow along. To surrender to his emphatic directions to jump, sing, and put your hands in the air. To fully experience the moment — even if repeated pyrotechnics make the moment totally unnerving.

When Chance closed out the first night of the inaugural Lost Lake Festival on October 20, he delivered what he called his first set as a Grammy winner.

A couple days ago, the artist received his three Grammys for best rap performance, best new artist, and best rap album. The statuettes are engraved for his third mixtape, 2016's Coloring Book. It's the first streaming-only album to garner nominations — and the first ever to win.
Chance leaned heavily on that tape for his Lost Lake set, but sprinkled in snippets of massive hit songs on which he has guest verses ("I'm the One," "Ultralight Beam"), older tracks ("Sunday Candy"), and tossed in a few deeper cuts.

Chance told the crowd he hadn't really believed he had won the awards until they arrived in the mail. But now?

"I'm feeling myself," he said.

That's the thing people get hung up on about Chance. He's too happy. There's something disingenuous about it. How could he be sincere?

Bless their hearts. They don't get it.

click to enlarge Chance the Rapper at the inaugural Lost Lake Festival in Phoenix. - MELISSA FOSSUM
Chance the Rapper at the inaugural Lost Lake Festival in Phoenix.
Melissa Fossum
Sure, maybe it's a little off-putting about a massively successful 24-year-old professing that we've come to this set at a central Phoenix park to save ourselves. But to fully appreciate what Chance is doing, you have to let go. Choose to have fun. Know that you didn't come here to be a sourpuss.

You came here for a joyous hour-and-a-half of songs about spirituality, relationships, and pushing to be your best self. And yeah, a couple of those songs include vocals from the Biebs. What about it?

The crowd last night? They got it.

When Chance introduced himself, a man nearby screamed "Fuck yeah!" three times in a row.

Chance shouted out his backup singers, drummer, and longtime collaborator Peter Cottontale. Got four "Fuck yeahs!"

And when Chance mentioned that Nico Segal was onstage? A.k.a. Donnie Trumpet, the artist with whom Chance and the group known as The Social Experiment made Surf? Our guy had one "Fuck yeah!" in the reserves. He made it count.

That was just one fan. There were thousands of others.

People put both hands up. They sang along. They chanted, jumped, filled in lines when Chance pointed the mic to the crowd. They danced with unbridled enthusiasm.

They made a joyful noise.

"You guys should be just as happy as I am," Chance told the crowd. Last night, he made that happen.

Critic's Notebook
Last night:
Chance the Rapper's headlining set at the 2017 Lost Lake Festival
The crowd: People who love Chance the Rapper
Overheard: During a freestyle, Chance shouted out No comment.
Random notebook dump: Why is Chance singing along to the chorus on "I'm the One" cracking me the fuck up?

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski