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Review: Chance the Rapper tells his story to Ohio State students in energetic concert

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Chants broke out for Chance the Rapper at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion.

The rapper, whose real name is Chancelor Bennett, performed Monday evening in a concert sponsored by the Ohio Union Activities Board. Tickets to the concert were free for Columbus campus students with a valid BuckID. The performance was sold-out, with more than 2,000 OSU students in attendance.

Leading up to the concert, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the audience. The 21-year-old rapper isn’t quite a household name. His biggest claim to mainstream success is arguably his featured verse on the Justin Bieber single, “Confident.”

I figured that those who were less familiar with the artist would be in for a treat, and, at the time, I had no idea how right I would be.

The show got started with a set from Chicago-based soul/funk band The O’My’s. The group opened with its song “Bout A Dolla,” creating a nice vibe with its mix of jazz and rock along with soulful vocals. Each member got a chance to show off his skills with solos in the middle and between songs before ending with a joyful rendition of “Sweet Love.” The set accomplished what on opening act is supposed to do — give the crowd a taste of the sounds to come.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that more people in the audience were familiar with Chance than I thought.

When the lights went out, everyone knew it was showtime. You could hear the sounds of Chance warming up his vocals in his own distinct voice, and soon he, along with his band, The Social Experiment, burst onto the stage with a performance of “Everybody’s Something.”

From the moment he stepped foot on stage, Chance had complete control over the audience. He encouraged everyone in the crowd to wave their arms in unison as they sang along to the words. The energy in the venue reached new heights when he started “Pusha Man” off his popular 2013 “Acid Rap” mixtape. Chance seemed to glide across the stage, seeming to have as much fun as the crowd while he performed “Smoke Again.”

“It’s cool if you want to record the show, just be a part of the show,” the rapper said at one point to those with phones in their hands.

He took a break early in the show to introduce himself to his audience and talked about the fun and energy he likes to bring to his shows. Throughout the show, he gave orders to jump, bounce  and have a good time.

He did a few songs from his first mixtape, “10 Day,” before taking a moment to show off his singing skills with “Acid Rain” along with a cover of “Wonderful Day” — the theme song from the cartoon “Arthur.”

Chance’s music combines elements of hip-hop, R&B and jazz to create a different sort of sound. The live band brought out the best of these sounds and definitely added to the experience.

Chance gave the crowd the opportunity to hear a couple new songs he’s been working. He said he likes playing at colleges to be around people his age and test out new music.

Chance closed the set with “Everything’s Good” to send the audience home on a positive note, but quickly came back out to the demand of an encore and ended the show with an energetic performance of “Chain Smoker.”

Like a true showman, he took a bow at the end of the song and proceeded to thank everyone in the crowd for the support that night and everything leading up to it.

“I always tell people I’m not an author, I’m a story,” he told his fans as he thanked them for making his dream possible.

When Chance the Rapper performs, the room radiates with energy and positivity. He really engages the crowd and creates an intimate experience, even in a room of thousands. I wouldn’t just recommend seeing him perform live for fans of hip-hop, but fans of music in general. His talent, energy and showmanship really make the experience worthwhile.

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