Chance the Rapper @ Regency Grand Ballroom - photo by Gary Magill

Photos: Daniel Kielman

Chance, Acid Rapper (and as of yet, unproven soccer hacky sacker), nabbed the headlining spot last night at the Regency Ballroom. Following a set by DJ Rashad, Chance took a cue from frequent collaborator Childish Gambino‘s artfulness to play an eccentric visual prelude to his show—one of several film pastiches shown throughout his set.

“Social Experiment”, the name of Chance’s tour, also worked as the central theme of the videos. Each revolved around a relationship type: lovers, sex consorts, platonic friends (which concluded with a little selfie with Madonna), etc., and added weight to the otherwise short, but buoyant set.

Chance stumbled onstage (literally), moving like something between an ’80s MJ “Beat It” throwback and a West Side Story number—a little bizarre but completely engrossing. He vaunted about, pandering to everyone from the mezzanine to the back of the main floor, egging the crowd on to egg him on—he has boundless charisma.

Towards the end of his set, he sat center stage and lit, um, something, and exhaled into the mic as he sang. The song turned out to be a dynamic cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You“, complemented by light flashes and visuals of the lyrics.

Chance the Rapper is one of the breakout stars of this year’s musical offering. His mixtape Acid Rap (which you can download via his website) sanctioned in a new type of success for emerging artists. He started with a simple album, offered for free, and turned it into a giant production seven months later. But he doesn’t let that production upstage him.

Chance has a keen self-awareness, and last night proved he has no shortage of skill to stand up with large-scale staging and deliver a performance that proves he’s worthy to be here.

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