Walking into the gates of U.S. cellular field, I could already hear Tyler, the Creator’s raspy, angry voice coming through the walls from the stage in the outfield. I felt the excitement of the roaring crowd as soon as I got to my seat, and Tyler’s dance moves captured my attention. He seemed nervous, and as he asked the audience how much time he had left, a familiar song started to play. It was “All Day” by Kanye West. As Tyler left the stage, there was a wave of screams coming from the front of the crowd. Then I heard my the people around me shout “Kanye is here!” in utter disbelief. Kanye West walked out on the the stage, wearing all black, and performed an array of songs from his past and present albums. People ran as fast as they could past security to get a glimpse of the unexpected surprise. Then, it got even better. Chance the Rapper practically jumped out from backstage, and he and Kanye performed “Ultralight Beam” together, and parted with a friendly hug and a rare smile from Kanye.
When the shock, excitement, and tears of joy had died down, John Legend appeared on stage in a stylish suede jacket and sunglasses. His voice engulfed and captivated the audience as he sang both his radio hits and his lesser known, jazzier songs from his first album. He slowed the audience down but allowed them to sing along to songs like “All of Me” and “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” while they swayed back and forth. He ended his set with an empowering surprise appearance from Common, and they sang “Glory” and, spreading an important message through music, Common instructed everybody to raise their fists as John Legend belted out the chorus.
After a pause, there was a heavy bass, as Collegrove, the duo name of Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, came walking onto the stage with swagger. The entire foot height difference between the two showed, but their compatibility and ability to stir up a crowd showed even more as they performed most of their collaborative songs, as well as a lot of Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz’ individual hits. They took the audience back with songs like “Lollipop” and “I’m Different”, riling them up for another long wait.
Alicia Keys came onto the stage inspiring the audience with words of encouragement and a strong, beautiful voice. She sang the lesser known version of “Empire State of Mind”, the one without Jay Z, and the audience sang along, expecting another surprise appearance any minute, although it never came. Between the inspiring and calming vocals of Alicia Keys and the magical ending to my night that would be Chance the Rapper’s performance, Hannibal Buress made the third surprise appearance of the night. He did funny and intriguing comedy bit before the anticipation of the main event set in.
At 9:15, the the audience heard a noise similar to a bird call. Everyone’s natural reaction was to call back. This happened a few more times before Chance himself came onto the stage and started off strong with a rendition of “Angels”. Then, he took the audience on a journey with him, along with a lion puppet named Carlos, and several other puppet characters. He started out by tugging on the audience’s nostalgia and rapping songs from his mixtapes, as well as doing an encore of “Ultralight Beam”, this time solo. Chance put on a confused persona, as he led us down his path of becoming the musician he is today through song, dance, speech, acting, and fireworks. During the performance of the entire six minute song “Finish Line/Drown”, he brought out Chicago Children’s Choir, with their angelic voices, Donnie Trumpet, for a solo, and Francis and the Lights, to show off his dance moves.
Just as the we thought the incredible show was over and Chance had walked off the stage, we heard another call, and as the audience whooped back, he came out full force, with the finale we never thought would come, “Summer Friends”. In an incredibly candid moment, Chance tripped over his words and messed up the second verse. He apologized to the audience, and restarted the song, this time making it through his self proclaimed favorite verse off of the album with flying colors.
I left the stadium after a shower of confetti and fireworks, happy and still in disbelief that I had witnessed a record breaking and amazingly exciting music extravaganza.